close up of ambrosia salad
Salads, Side Dish, Sweet Recipes

Easy Ambrosia Sweet Tropical Summer Salad With Coconut.


This easy Ambrosia sweet tropical summer salad with coconut is the food of the gods. Its delicious tropical coconut-pineapple flavor is balanced with fluffy mini marshmallows and canned fruit cocktail.  The simple sweet treat is always a big hit with kids old and young, making this lovely dessert salad disappear fast at all your summer BBQs.

Years ago, growing up, my traveling Granny (Gran) would stop in and take us girls out for lunch somewhere. At a salad bar, I first discovered this creamy fruit salad with hidden delights. As a child with a sweet tooth, I was instantly in love with pineapple tidbits and squishy mini marshmallows combined in one delicious mouthfeel. So, it was only natural to introduce my kids to this childhood treat when they came along. 

The origins of the classic Ambrosia salad can be traced back to Greek mythology, where Ambrosia was a food reserved exclusively for the gods. Fortunately, we don’t need divine status to savor this tropical fruit salad. I’m particularly drawn to its simplicity and the fact that my recipe yields a large batch, perfect for feeding a small crowd of dessert salad enthusiasts. 

If you love creamy fruit salads, try our orange cream-dressed mango and nectarine summer salad. It’s another winner for your family gatherings. 

chilled ambrosia salad served in small glass bowl

Why you will love this Ambrosia Marshmallow Salad 

It’s convenient. With canned fruits and a simple cream dressing of whipped and sour creams, you will love just how easy it is to pull together. 

Great for parties. If you have a summer get-together coming up, it’s perfect. 

Kid-friendly. Let’s face it: In the heat of the summer, feeding kids off from school can be a lot of work. When you make a big batch of this salad, you know they will have something yummy and moderately healthy to pull out of the fridge for themselves on a hot summer day. 

Alrighty, Let’s Get Making This Classic Salad!

First, use a large bowl,, and make several cups of the delightful sweet stuff. We begin by opening and draining the juices from our canned fruit cocktail. I like using the cherry fruit cocktail, as it saves on using more maraschino cherries later. However, any classic fruit cocktail will work as long as you are sure you have a large can rather than a small one, as this makes the base for the fruit salad. 

Next, drain the pineapple tidbits fully and add them to the salad bowl. Then, measure your shredded coconut and mini marshmallows. It’s important here to note that they should be white mini marshmallows because the colored fruity marshmallow flavor will throw the entire salad off. 

Once you’ve added those both to the salad bowl, go ahead and measure out half a cup of jarred maraschino cherries. These are packed in red sugar syrup and will be sticky, but ultimately, we want to cut them in half. There is nothing a bit of extra wash time can’t clean up. Add them also to the salad bowl. I adore a good salad in the summer that takes so little effort. So far, it’s been pretty straightforward. 

However, we must get the hand mixer to whip up the cream with one tablespoon of sugar. Do you have to use homemade whipped cream? Absolutely not. If you want to use premade, it’s fine, but it must be whipped cream, not whipped topping or Cool Whip. The flavor must be natural because we blend it with sour cream. This may seem odd, but once the salad sits, the flavor fully develops to make a delicious whipped topping on all the fruity marshmallow goodness. 

If you are making fresh whipped cream, beat it with the sugar until peaks form. Then, carefully fold in the sour cream. If you beat the sour cream in, you will lose some of the air you just added to the whipped cream. Once blended, add the entire topping to the ambrosia recipe and fold in carefully, ensuring that all the ingredients are covered in the topping. Place covered in the fridge for four hours to chill and allow the flavor to develop. 

Serve cold directly from the salad bowl at your next outdoor gathering. A big scoop of this can go a long way toward satisfying a sweet tooth without being overpoweringly sweet. 


Can of Fruit Cocktail: Adds a mix of tropical fruits, making the salad colorful and flavorful.

Canned Pineapple Tidbits: Brings a sweet and tangy taste to the salad, complementing the other fruits.

Medium Sweetened Coconut: Adds a chewy texture and a hint of tropical sweetness to the salad.

White Miniature Marshmallows: Provide softness and a touch of sweetness, making each bite delightful.

Jarred Maraschino Cherries: Bring a pop of color and a sweet, juicy flavor to the salad.

Whipping Cream: Makes the salad creamy and smooth, binding all the ingredients together. I use 35% heavy cream to make homemade whipped cream, which can be found in your local dairy aisle of the grocery store. 

Sugar: White sugar enhances the sweetness of the fruits and cream, balancing the flavors perfectly and stabilizing the whipping cream.

Sour Cream:  Adds a subtle tanginess, complementing the sweetness of the other ingredients and creating a rich and creamy texture.

top down of ambrosia fruit salad

Substitutions and Add-Ins For This Classic Recipe:

Canned Fruit Cocktail: For a fresher taste, substitute freshly chopped fruits like apples, oranges, and grapes.

Canned Pineapple Tidbits: Fresh pineapple chunks or juicy mandarin oranges can be used as alternatives, bringing unique flavors.

Medium Sweetened Coconut: Unsweetened coconut flakes or toasted almonds can provide a similar texture and nutty flavor.

Mini White Marshmallows: Diced angel food cake can serve as a tasty alternative, adding sweetness and chewiness.

Jarred Maraschino Cherries: Fresh pitted or diced strawberries can replace maraschino cherries, offering a natural sweetness.

Whipping Cream: Coconut cream can be used instead, providing a creamy base with a slightly different flavor profile.

Sugar: This can be omitted altogether if you are not making homemade whipped cream.

Sour Cream: Greek yogurt can provide a tangy element similar to sour cream while adding richness to the salad.

Expert Tips, Serving And Storing Suggestions:

Tip #1: Drain Canned Ingredients: Drain the canned fruit cocktail and pineapple tidbits thoroughly to prevent excess liquid from diluting the creamy dressing.

Tip #2: Chill. Chilling the salad for at least four hours will allow the flavors to develop fully and produce a more delicious outcome.

Tip #3: Adjust Sweetness to Taste: Taste the salad before serving and adjust the sweetness level by adding more sugar or sweetened coconut if desired. Remember that the sweetness of the fruits can vary, so it’s essential to change according to personal preference.

Serve this easy ambrosia salad on special occasions to impress your guests. Whether it’s a backyard barbecue or a beachside gathering, this refreshing summer dessert will surely be a hit. Its combination of creamy coconut, juicy pineapple, and sweet cherries makes it the perfect addition to any summertime celebration.

To store leftover ambrosia salad, transfer the sweet salad to an airtight container and chill in the fridge to maintain freshness. This classic dessert salad can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, though it’s best enjoyed fresh. If the salad becomes too watery upon storage, drain any excess liquid before serving again.

I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts on this ambrosia fruit salad recipe in the comments below. Was it a crowd favorite at your gathering? Let me know how you personalized this classic dish for your special occasion. Your feedback and tips might inspire others to create their own delicious versions!

easy ambrosia salad

Easy Ambrosia Sweet Tropical Summer Salad With Coconut

Amber Bondar
This easy Ambrosia sweet tropical summer salad has shredded coconut, pineapple, and mini white marshmallows. Kids old and young delight in this sweet dessert salad perfect for all of your summer BBQs.
Prep Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 10


  • Large Salad Bowl
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • measuring cup
  • Can Opener
  • knife
  • Hand Mixer


  • 2 Cups Canned Pineapple Tidbits 19oz Can Drained
  • Cups Canned Fruit Cocktail 28oz Can Drained
  • 1 Cup Semi-Sweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Cup Mini White Marshmallows
  • ½ Cup Jarred Maraschino Cherries Drained and Halved.
  • ¼ Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Tbsp White Sugar
  • ½ Cup Whipping Cream 35% Heavy Cream Whipped


  • Open and drained the canned fruits. Add to large salad bowl2 Cups Canned Pineapple Tidbits.
    2 Cups Canned Pineapple Tidbits, 3½ Cups Canned Fruit Cocktail
  • Measure and add both the coconut and the mini marshmallows.
    1 Cup Semi-Sweetened Shredded Coconut, 1 Cup Mini White Marshmallows
  • Measure, drain, and cut in half the maraschino cherries and add to salad.
    ½ Cup Jarred Maraschino Cherries
  • In another bowl measure the heavy cream for whipping with the white sugar.
    ½ Cup Whipping Cream, 1 Tbsp White Sugar
  • Using a hand mixer blend the cream and sugar on high speed until soft peaks form. Approximately three minutes.
  • Gently fold in the measured sour cream to the whipped cream. Blending only enough to blend well.
    ¼ Cup Sour Cream
  • Add the cream dressing to the Ambrosia salad and blend just until combined.
  • Cover and chill for four hours before serving.
Keyword dessert salad, no bake dessert, summer salad

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