Say Aloha to this Hawaii-inspired Ambrosia Fruit Salad made with whipped topping, coconut, and tropical fruits. It’s THE classic recipe for creating the creamy dessert salad that everyone knows and loves.
Vintage recipes are classics for a reason. They are popular recipes that home cooks depend on, year after year. They may start out as a fad but because they evoke such vivid food memories, they stay in our hearts and minds forever. Recipes like Homemade Tapioca Pudding and Turkey Pot Pie are vintage recipes that do double duty as comfort foods. What is your favourite vintage recipe?
Hawaiian Ambrosia Fruit Salad
The first time I tried Ambrosia Fruit Salad at Christmas dinner, I thought had hit the jackpot. One taste of this dreamy, cloud like ‘salad’ at nine years of age and I was in heaven. Forty years later, I’m still in love.
Vintage recipes sometimes have a habit of fading away, then coming back into popularity. At our ‘friendsgiving’ potluck this year, a friend brought his version of Ambrosia salad and everyone, including me, was thrilled! I was then inspired to share my Ambrosia fruit salad recipe with you.
You will adore the contrasting flavours of the tropical fruit in sweet, whipped cream and… the MARSHMALLOWS! My goodness, the mini marshmallows give this ambrosial fruit salad its signature texture and flavour.
Why is it Called Ambrosia Salad?
In the context of this salad, both definitions of Ambrosial apply. Ambrosia fruit salad is ‘exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; especially delicious or fragrant’ and ‘heavenly; being worthy of the gods’.
So, what makes it ‘Hawaiian’? This dreamy, creamy fruit salad doesn’t come from the islands of Hawaii, per se. It contains pineapple tidbits and sweetened shredded coconut, both ingredients that evoke memories of a tropical island, such as Hawaii. It takes you away on a tropical culinary adventure.
Variations on a Classic
Over the years, there have been many recipe variations on this classic recipe. In my family alone, there’s one that contains cans of fruit cocktail and another that contains sour cream, along with the whipped topping.
Other variations may include crushed pecans, chocolate chips or fruits such as bananas, or strawberries. The creamy dressing may also include mayonnaise, cream cheese, pudding, yogurt or even cottage cheese.
Then, there’s the famous Watergate Salad which contains pistachio pudding in addition to the whipped topping. That’s a vintage recipe for another day!
Ambrosia Fruit Salad Ingredients
When I make this salad at home, I always include the signature maraschino cherries as garnish but when I was a kid, they were part of the salad. I always felt like I had won a prize when I found more than one cherry in my serving of salad!
- Mandarin Oranges
- Pineapple Chunks
- Maraschino Cherries
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut
- Whipped Topping
No matter how you serve it, this ethereal fruit salad must contain, at bare minimum, pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes, and coconut. You can also add strawberries and bananas to the mixture if you prefer. I prefer a chunkier salad, so I use a can of pineapple chunks instead of tidbits.
Since this is a Hawaiian ambrosia salad, you can add lychee, passion fruit, dragon fruit, mango, or papaya for even more tropical flavour.
Some recipes call for the grapes to be peeled, but who has time for that?! I always say, keep it simple and keep it easy. This is one of those easy recipes and it doesn’t need to be complicated. You can use either green or red grapes (or a combination of the two) for this recipe.
You can use either shredded coconut or coconut flakes in this salad, if they are sweetened. I prefer the smaller size as it is less intrusive and more of a background flavour. If you want to get fancy, you can toast the coconut first.
As mentioned earlier, the creamy dressing may also include mayonnaise, cream cheese, pudding, yogurt or even cottage cheese. I have kept the recipe simple with a tub of whipped topping (Cool Whip) thinned out with a touch of milk. You can substitute real (sweetened) whipped cream if you prefer.
How to Make Ambrosia Fruit Salad
All you need to make this ambrosia salad recipe is a large bowl, a medium bowl, a spoon, and a can opener.
Since you are using mostly canned fruits in this recipe, it is important to thoroughly drain them beforehand, especially the mandarin oranges as they can contain a lot of moisture. Otherwise, the dressing may turn watery instead of light and creamy.
To begin, place the 2 cups sweetened coconut, drained mandarins and pineapple, grapes, and marshmallows in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the whipped topping and tablespoon of milk together until the mixture is smooth and slightly thinner.
Next, add the whipped topping mixture to the fruit bowl and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate the for at least an hour to allow the flavours to develop. During this time, the marshmallows will soak up some of the moisture and begin to soften.
Simply garnish with maraschino cherries before serving. Or, for best presentation, arrange extra mandarin oranges, marshmallows, or pineapple slices in a pattern, along with the cherries before serving.
This salad will keep in the fridge for up to five days. In the summer, you can freeze it overnight in a glass baking dish, then scoop and serve it as a fruity ice cream.
If you make this Hawaiian Ambrosia Fruit Salad recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
- 2 cups mini white marshmallows
- 1 (11 oz) can mandarins; drained
- 1 cup pineapple chunks; drained
- 1 cup green grapes
- 1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping; thawed
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- 1 cup maraschino cherries
- To a large mixing bowl, add the 2 cups coconut, drained mandarins and pineapple, grapes, and marshmallows.
- In a separate bowl, mix the whipped topping and tablespoon of milk together until the mixture becomes smooth.
- Add the whipped topping mixture to the fruit bowl and mix until well combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Garnish with marashino cherries before serving.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 335Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 4gSugar: 46gProtein: 2g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.