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Easy Ambrosia Recipe with Sour Cream

Easy ambrosia recipe for you that just takes a few ingredients and is really yummy. Dessert side dish with fruit and marshmallows our whole family loves. If you loved our pistachio pudding ambrosia creamy fruit salad this is an Old Fashioned Southern variation.

easy ambrosia recipe

This easy ambrosia recipe is a yummy sweet side dish that was always at our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I thought everyone made this until I got married. Then I went to my in laws house for the holidays the first year and asked “where is the ambrosia?” (post may contain affiliate links)

How to Make Ambrosia Salad

It’s quite simple with fruit, coconut and sour cream! I quickly realized after the first year I brought it to an event, it wasn’t something that everyone made. I brought it the every year after that, it was a HIT! If you’ve been looking for how to make this sweet pineapple mandarin oranges with mini marshmallows dish, we’ve got it.

Fruit Salad with Coconut

You can use fresh pineapple but typically I use canned (chunks or bits) so I can throw it all together in less than 5 minutes. Serve it right away or better yet leave it in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.

  • There are seriously only 5 ingredients to this classic ambrosia salad recipe.
  • Throw it all together in a serving bowl, let it chill and you can even serve it with a dollop of cool whip on top. Now that’s an easy dessert for the holidays.

The fruit cocktail, marshmallows and coconut soak up the “juice” and thicken it up which makes this ambrosia even more amazing!

ambrosia recipe

What kind of fruit is an ambrosia?

If you want to cut a pineapple with a fresh one you could, into small pieces though. Yes canned works but during the summertime it is better to cut it from fresh.

  • Pineapple – I like tidbits rather than chunks (drained but keep about 1/4 c. of the juice to add to your recipe)
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Plain white or fruit flavored marshmallows
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • Sour cream
    • could substitute greek yogurt if you really wanted

Can you make ambrosia with Cool Whip?

You could, it would just be sweeter like our Easy Fruit Salad with Cool Whip. The “sauce” would not be as rich and thick either. Believe me as it sits with the sugars in the fruit juice and marshmallows it becomes just perfect.

Ambrosia Ingredients

The main items are above and you can just leave it at that, many times we will. If you wanted to add extra wow or a bit of texture there are a few ideas below.

  • Chopped walnuts
    • Maraschino cherries and coconut together are great
  • Whipped cream can be added to top of each serving
  • You could cut a pear or peach to add some fresh pieces

You can use less or more coconut. Or leave it out if it isn’t your favorite, I’m kinda’ obsessed though. I have used light sour cream and regular and there isn’t too much of a difference so if you want to save a few calories just use the light version.

 ambrosia recipe

What does Ambrosia taste like?

If you think sour cream would taste weird with fruit, it isn’t what you’d think. With all the sweet juices it just makes this thick but isn’t the traditional taste straight out of the container. Tastes more like heavy cream in this dish. You can omit the marshmallows too but quite frankly that is the kids’ favorite part and you can call it dessert if you want.

It is sweet enough and my kids have opted for an ambrosia dessert rather than ice cream before. A great side dish for any BBQ or occasion. If you love our easy ambrosia recipe you should try our creamy fruit salad with Cool Whip too. A bit different but a similar idea though using fresh fruit and the dressing is a bit different.

Why is it called ambrosia?

The word “ambrosia” actually means delicious or fragrant. The word also was used to describe the magical fruit of the gods in ancient Greek mythology. The Gods on Mount Olympus ate ambrosia to maintain immortality and without it they became weak. It is also said that the gods bathed in ambrosia and used it as perfume. Who knew??

Where did fruit salad originate?

One of the oldest fruit salad is compote. This originated in England in the 17thcentury. A traditional fruit salad is prepared with ingredients like fresh seasonal fruits, which have been diced or sliced and mixed together.

Can I make fruit salad the night before?

Since ambrosia doesn’t contain fresh berries that can smash, or apples that can brown you can. I personally prefer to make this first thing in the morning, cover it, and leave it in the fridge all day. It gets sweeter that way. If you want to thin it out before serving just add a bit of pineapple juice.

  • For fresh salads, you could cut and slice pieces the day/night before. Bananas are best left out of fruit salads, as they get “slickery”.
  • Once cut, rinse white fruits in an acid liquid such as orange or pineapple juice or fresh squeezed lemonade to reduce browning.

Below is a printable recipe card for you too. Nutritional information with saturated fat etc are listed below but seriously, it’s the holidays. Just enjoy it and ignore all that boring stuff. 😉 Here’s a peek at that other version we have made with the addition of instant pudding. You could use any flavor.

Pistachio Pudding Ambrosia

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5 from 4 votes

Easy Ambrosia Recipe

Easy ambrosia recipe with sour cream for you that just takes a few ingredients and is really yummy. Dessert side dish with fruit and marshmallows our whole family loves.
Course Dessert, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword ambrosia, fruit, marshmallow, potato salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 185kcal
Author The Typical Mom



  • 1 can mandarin oranges drained
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits drain, but keep 1/4 c. juice aside to add into recipe at the end to thin out
  • 8 oz sour cream can use light
  • 1 c small marshmallows
  • 1/2 c coconut
  • 1/4 c walnuts crushed, optional


  • Add all ingredients together except marshmallows. 
  • Stir until coated
  • Gently fold in marshmallows and make sure everything is creamy and coated. Slowly add in the pineapple juice you set aside until it is the consistency you want.
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate for the best results, at least an hour.
  • Serve!


Nutrition Facts
Easy Ambrosia Recipe
Amount Per Serving (4 oz)
Calories 185 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 43mg2%
Potassium 214mg6%
Carbohydrates 24g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 20g22%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 425IU9%
Vitamin C 15.2mg18%
Calcium 58mg6%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
5 from 4 votes
Recipe Rating

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Saturday 27th of April 2024

So good! Definitely gonna be making this for a picnic soon!


Saturday 27th of April 2024

I love Ambrosia and I love the name. A must for any bbq picnic. Thanks!


Saturday 27th of April 2024

It was so simple to make and the addition of the sour cream gave it a tangy and creamy flavor. It was a hit at the potluck!

Sara Welch

Saturday 27th of April 2024

This was such a light and refreshing salad that does not disappoint! Quick, easy and delicious; always a hit in our home!


Sunday 11th of February 2018

I love this ambrosia recipe, thank you !

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