As soon as the first juicy bite of this ambrosia salad hits my tongue, sweet mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple start doing a happy dance with velvety sour cream and shavings of tropical coconut on my tastebuds. A joyous flavor explosion of sunny citrus and tropical fruit with hints of vanilla and brown sugar begins – no wonder “ambrosia” translates to “food of the gods!”
I can’t think of another no-cook salad that delivers such decadent texture and flavor payoff for the ultra simple prep work involved. Each ambrosia salad spoonful literally melts in your mouth thanks to the lush, creamy dressing blanketing fresh fruit. Tiny flavor bursts of coconut and mini marshmallows woven throughout add bonus excitement.
This divine salad tastes incredibly luxurious and complex considering only 6 humble ingredients grace the mixing bowl. Yet once blended, a sweet symphony emerges that outshines fruit salads requiring 3 times as much effort. I’d proudly serve these irresistible ambrosia salad bites at a Nobel Prize banquet or the Emmys!
It may appear delicate and innocent upon first glance, mild ivory and coral colors belying what an flavor sensation lies beneath the surface. But make no mistake – ambrosia salad seduces your senses completely the instant you surrender and take a bite! The sweet, smooth pineapple and orange duo is impossible to resist when cloaked in velvety sour cream punctuated by dainty shreds of candied coconut.
This seductive salad easily steals the spotlight at gatherings by captivating tastebuds with contrasting notes of tropical fruit and nutty coconut against rich creamy dairy. Each spoonful promises a tiny sugary everlasting moment – a miniature escape to paradise on your palette. Let me divulge how blissfully easy it is achieve salad nirvana next! But I warn you – this ambrosia salad may become dangerously addictive
What is ambrosia salad?
Ambrosia salad is a sweet fruit salad made with whipped cream or sour cream, fruit like mandarin oranges and pineapple, coconut flakes, and often mini marshmallows or other sweets. The cream and fruit perfectly complement each other!
Is it really salad?
Well, it contains fruit and is served cold, so I say it counts! The texture is loose rather than crunchy like a veggie-based salad.
Where does the name come from?
In Greek mythology, ambrosia was the food of the gods! As this salad is sweet and delicious enough for Mount Olympus, it must have seemed fitting.
What fruit is traditionally used?
Common fruits are mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, maraschino cherries and sometimes grapes or strawberries. I always include pineapple for a tropical flair. Feel free to experiment with your own favorites though!
Are there variations?
Yes! Some omit the cream for a lighter dessert-style salad. Others add pecans, marshmallows, cool whip, vanilla pudding mix or shredded coconut. I add coconut because Great-Grandma Ruth always insisted that the coveted crunch makes the salad.
What are good mix-ins?
Mini marshmallows lend sweetness while weaving in familair flavors from childhood s’mores memories. Pecans or walnuts provide salty Protein adding moments of interplay with the fruity sweetness. Grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese is a pleasant surprise contrast.
What do you serve ambrosia salad with?
Picnics, potlucks and holiday meals! It goes great with fried chicken, BBQ ribs, pasta salads and grilled meats. The fresh, fruity flavors cut through heavy comfort foods. I also love ambrosia salad paired with spicy southwestern dishes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 1⁄2 cups shredded coconut
- 1⁄2 cup pecan pieces
- Begin by lining up all of the ambrosia salad ingredients neatly on your countertop. You’ll need full-fat sour cream, a bag of miniature marshmallows, crushed pineapple cans, mandarin orange cans, shredded coconut and chopped pecans. Check your pantry to ensure items are on hand before starting.
- Next, fill a mixing bowl with water and ice cubes to chill in the refrigerator while you prep the fruits. The cold bowl will provide the ideal temperature for our creamy salad.
- Open and drain the 20oz can of crushed pineapple into a colander, pressing gently with a spoon to remove any excess liquid. We want to prevent excess juices from diluting the luscious sour cream base later. Discard the drained syrup from the can.
- In another colander, drain the 11oz can of mandarin orange segments. Reserve a few perfect orange slices for garnish, then drain the remaining orange segments well. Gently pat the pineapple and orange pieces dry with paper towels.
- In a large glass mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of cool sour cream and 1 1/2 cups of miniature marshmallows. Using a spatula, carefully fold the ingredients together, continuously stroking bottom up the sides, until thoroughly blended. Be gentle yet persistent to soften the miniature marshmallows without crushing them entirely. This step will take 3-4 minutes of folding.
- Next add in the well drained pineapple and mandarin oranges. Continuing using the over-under folding method to gently coat the fruit pieces evenly with the creamy marshmallow dressing. Take care not to break up the fruit segments.
- Just before serving, sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of sweetened shredded coconut flakes and 1/2 cup of chopped pecan pieces over the fruity cream mixture. Slowly fold again just until combined, allowing coconut and nuts to retain a bit of their crunch.
- Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate ambrosia salad for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, to allow flavors to develop and meld together. The rested salad will have a richer, more intense tropical character.
- Just before presenting the salad, scatter decorative coconut flakes and fresh orange slices atop the ambrosia. For special flair, hollow out an orange half and perch it on the edge of the bowl. Offer chilled ambrosia salad forth to delighted guests! The sweet fruity indulgence bursting with tropical essences is ready be savored and enjoyed.
- Chill the bowl and utensils for extra cold, creamy texture.
- Play with different fruit combinations like strawberries and grapes depending on the season.
- Toasted coconut packs even more flavor. Toast it in a skillet over medium heat for 2-4 mins, stirring frequently.
- Blend cottage cheese into the sour cream base for a creamier consistency.
- Make it colorful! Use different kinds of oranges like cara cara or blood orange.
- Not too sweet? Stir in a tbsp of honey or orange marmalade.