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Southern Ambrosia Coconut Salad

In this post I’m sharing the recipe for a classic Southern Ambrosia Coconut Salad.

Simply called, Ambrosia, this sweetened special occasion fruit salad is a favorite at gatherings and holiday dinners. Ambrosia salad is popular in the South but also all over the country these days.

Midwesterners refer to this dish as millionaire salad due to the luxurious nature of the ingredients.

Original Old Fashioned Ambrosia

You may be curious as to why the ingredients might be considered luxurious. Once upon a time, they were. As the story goes, we can likely thank the railways for aiding the creation of the original ambrosia when we began to get access to exotic ingredients. 

We know that the original ambrosial has been around since at least the 1800’s. The classic ambrosia salad recipe was much more simple than today’s fluff version we’re all accustomed to. 

I very much enjoy the original version of ambrosia too and have served it for Christmas. A simple dish of sliced oranges, pineapple, coconut that is then glazed with a small amount of orange juice that is sweetened with a bit of powdered sugar. Simple, yet elegant.

Ambrosia for Christmas dinner - served in a green dish with a cherry on top

Ambrosia is still a pretty basic recipe. Today it resembles more of a fluff with the additional ingredients that have been added over the years, such as marshmallows and sour cream. 

There are many versions, some simply use fruit cocktail in the recipe. For a pop of color, you might even consider adding maraschino cherries. I choose to simple rinse a few cherries to use as garnish. Giving the cherries a rinse will keep your salad from turning pink.  

Marshmallow Fruit Salad

You can throw a batch of this favorite side dish together in a snap and have it chilling until read to serve. It’s a great make-ahead dish….in fact, it is best made ahead. That gives everything time to mingle together for the best flavor. 

How Long Will Ambrosia Last?

Properly stored in the refrigerator, ambrosia, just as any fruit salad will last three to five days. 

More salad side dish recipes you might enjoy:

Waldorf Salad

Classic Pear Salad

Carrot Raisin Salad

3 Bean Salad

What Are the Ingredients in Ambrosia?

I stick with the traditional ingredients of ambrosia while adding the modern touch we’re all accustomed to seeing at gatherings. You may feel the creative need to add your own twist and that’s perfectly okay. 

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy ambrosia salad: canned mandarin orange slices, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes, sour cream, baby marshmallows with a cherry on top if you please. 

How to make Southern Ambrosia Salad

Southern Ambrosia Salad

To assemble the salad, simply drain the canned fruits and add to a mixing bowl along with the other ingredients and mix everything together. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Ingredients in Ambrosia Salad Recipe

It looks like a big ole mess but it is delicious!

Christmas Ambrosia

Southern Ambrosia Coconut Salad Recipe

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Yield: 1 Side Dish

Southern Ambrosia Coconut Salad

Delicious Southern Ambrosia Salad for parties - sweet side dish in a pretty green milk glass bowl

Southern Ambrosia Coconut Salad is a true classic at holiday gatherings, luncheons and other special occasions.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 2 - 15 oz Canned Mandarin Oranges, drained
  • 20 oz Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • 16 oz Sour Cream
  • 2 c Shredded Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 2 c Miniature Marshmallows
  • Maraschino Cherries, rinsed to use for garnish if desired


  1. In a mixing bowl, stir to combine all ingredients then cover and refrigerate to chill.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl when ready to serve and garnish with maraschino cherries.

Nutrition Information:



Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239

Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you again real soon!

See this recipe shared at Weekend Potluck and Meal Plan Monday 

Southern Ambrosia Coconut Salad

Meet Julia

Author of Julia's Simply Southern

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