When I was a kid I always loved eating dinner at my grandparent's house. My Grandma Betty, a spit-fire with a heart of gold, always made the best comfort food. Pork loin, fried chicken, lasagna, you name it. While the main entrees changed, one thing that was always present on the dinner table was her famous ambrosia salad. Known to me as "marshmallow salad," I couldn't believe my eyes the first time it was placed in front of me. "What do you mean there are marshmallows in this salad? Am I dreaming?" Today is the second anniversary of her death, and to honor her, I thought to eat and learn about ambrosia salad was more than fitting.

The History of Ambrosia Salad

Categorized as a jello salad, the ambrosia salad is named after the food of Greek Gods, which is said to give longevity or immortality to those who eat it. Created in the South, the first-ever recipe of the fruit salad was recorded in an 1867 cookbook titled, Dixie Cookery: or How I Managed My Table for Twelve Years written by Maria Massey Barringer of Concord, North Carolina. While the recipe is basic (it calls for coconut, sugar, and pulped oranges) it's easy to see where today's recipe came from. By the 1900s, the recipe had gained pineapple and whipped cream and in the 1970s people were adding anything from jello to mayonnaise and sour cream to their salads to bring over to the neighborhood potluck. At this time canned fruit cocktails reigned supreme at every party you attended. Remember Watergate Salad?

Today's recipe follows the classic preparation my grandmother used with canned mandarin oranges, Cool Whip, maraschino cherries, pineapple tidbits, pecans, and mini marshmallows. My grandmother always used to like using the rainbow miniature marshmallows.

How to Make a Classic Ambrosia Salad Recipe

Begin by combining the Cool Whip and sour cream in a large bowl and mix until combined. Fold in the marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple chunks (or tidbits depending on preference), maraschino cherries, and pecans. Gently fold in the mandarin oranges last to prevent them from breaking.

Cover and refrigerate the Ambrosia fruit salad for at least two hours before serving.

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Ambrosia Salad 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 0 minutes

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz Cool Whip
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 20 oz pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 10 oz Maraschino cherries, drained
  • 11 oz mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Instructions

Begin by combining the Cool Whip and sour cream in a large bowl and mix until combined.

Fold in the marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple tidbits, maraschino cherries, and pecans. Gently fold in the mandarin oranges last to prevent them from breaking.

Cover and refrigerate the Ambrosia fruit salad for at least two hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Ambrosia Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 381 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 35%
Saturated Fat 14g 70%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 71mg 3%
Potassium 264mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 42g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 35g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 27%
Calcium 6%
Iron 7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.