Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia Salad is an Easter classic! I doubled up the mandarin oranges because there are never enough, right? This dreamy creamy fruit salad is kind of hard to stop eating. 

Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad from The Food Charlatan

Today Charlotte was taking a survey of everyone in the house. Not to brag or anything, but Charlotte just turned 6 and can read and write with ridiculous proficiency. (Okay so that’s totally bragging, sorrynotsorry.)

Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad from The Food Charlatan

She asked Dieter, a friend who was over playing, (he’s 4) whether he would like to A) Visit 100 years in the past or B) Visit 100 years in the future?

Dieter: Past

Charlotte: But Dieter. The future hasn’t happened yet!

Dieter: I want past.

Charlotte: But the past already happened. The future is what WILL happen. In the future!

Dieter: So wait, what happened in the future?

Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad from The Food Charlatan

I’ve never seen Charlotte be so adorably exasperated. So what would you pick?? Past or future? Eric pointed out that if you went back 100 years ago to 1917 you might catch the Spanish Influenza. No thanks. What if technology moves forward as fast as it did in the last 100 years? FLYING CARS?? I feel like my imagination is being pretty dull here. A CLOTHES-FOLDING MACHINE? Now we’re talkin.

Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad from The Food Charlatan

In the future I bet they will still have Ambrosia. This recipe will last through the ages if you ask me. Did you grow up eating this salad at Easter? I didn’t, we always had Sea Foam Salad, another grandmother-era classic. But I’m a solid convert. I asked a few of my friends a while back what sides they have at Easter and they mentioned Ambrosia. I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about. Then I ate half the bowl and skipped dinner that night.

Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad from The Food Charlatan

I really never would have thought that mixing together some creamy stuff with fruit, coconut, nuts, and marshmallows (of all things) would get this kind of result, but I’m telling you, this stuff is delicious. It is the perfect quick side dish for Easter!

If you would like some more Easter ideas, check out all my Easter-ish recipes here on the blog. I also have an Easter Pinterest board you could take a look at!

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One year ago: Tropical Mango Coconut Granola
Three years ago: Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Blondies 
Five years ago: Mashed Potatoes (from heaven)

Mandarin Orange Ambrosia Salad

Yield: Serves 8-10

Recipe by The Food Charlatan


  • 1 8-ounce tub cool whip, regular or lite (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix* (goes in the salad as dry powder)
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts. Pecans are good too.)
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained well
  • 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, slightly drained (reserve juice)
  • 14 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained well


  1. In a large bowl, add cool whip, milk, sour cream, and pudding mix.
  2. Add the coconut, nuts, and marshmallows. Stir well.
  3. Add the mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, and cherries. Gently fold in the fruit.
  4. Add some of the reserved pineapple juice if it seems thick. (This is just personal preference)
  5. Serve immediately. Or cover and chill until you are ready to serve. You can make it up to 24 hours in advance.


*I've heard pistachio pudding mix is delicious too!


More Easter sides you can make this year!

Sea Foam Salad (Creamy Pear Jello) << classic!

Sea Foam Salad (Creamy Pear Jello) from The Food Charlatan


Creamy Strawberry Banana Jello

Creamy Strawberry Banana Jello from


Coca-Cola Jello Salad with Cherries

Coca-Cola Jello Salad with Cherries from


More Ambrosia recipes:

Ambrosia Salad from Mom on Timeout << Trish is the QUEEN of fluff recipes like this.
My Favorite Ambrosia from FoodieCrush
Ambrosia Cupcakes << whaaaat!!!





  1. Kayci says

    I have a 100 year old grandma. I will totally have to ask her if she grew up with this kind of salad. It looks delicious!
    It also makes me torn on the past or future thing. Grandma has lived through quite a few incredible things that would be cool to see but there is also the potential greatness of the future…. good question.

  2. stephanie says

    yes! i remember eating this as a kid at my gramma’s for various holidays. then this past year, at thanksgiving one of my friends who was staying down in florida with her dad, posted a picture of ambrosia on instagram. she was like, “what the heck is this? a southern thing? marshmallow salad? it came with our thanksgiving dinner, i’m throwing it out.” i was like “noooooo! it’s a classic! i’ll eat it!” i guess greeks from boston don’t do ambrosia, lol. more for me. (although admittedly i haven’t had it in ages. time to change that.)

  3. says

    I love preparing this dish and yes it is a Easter favorite, I worked for a assistant living community and the seniors loved it,my rule of thumb when following recipes is most seeing the ingredients so you can see the balance of them , you can always adjust them as to your preference, like the cool whip you can always make your own just by using your mixer and fresh heavy cream, add your powdered sugar, vanilla , and whip away careful not to go to far or you’ll have butter . I love your recipe, can I post your image on my site and link it back to this page that allows visitors to get the recipe from your site, it would dress up my side bars and I get more content and you get traffic,I’ll wait for your OK ,Permission
    Thank You

    • says

      Hey Ernest, thanks for your thoughtful comment! Good idea whipping your own cream, I might try it next time. And sure, you’re welcome to post the image if there is a link back! Thanks!

  4. Kris says

    I LOVE Ambrosia Karen, but I don’t think I’ve ever made it with pudding mix. I will have to give this a try. I think the times I’ve made it I’ve used whipped cream and the the fruit, marshmallows and coconut. I think this recipe may be making an appearance on my Easter Table, along with some of your delicious balsamic asparagus and a spinach-strawberry salad! Looking forward to this!

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