Ambrosia is the perfect 10-minute side dish. It’s light and fresh, sweet and creamy, and absolutely packed with sweet fruit, fluffy marshmallows, crunchy pistachios, and chewy coconut.
I’m not gonna lie. I was NOT a fan of ambrosia salad growing up. You couldn’t get me to touch it with a 10 foot pole.
But I *think* it’s because I never had REALLY GOOD ambrosia . . . and let me tell you, THIS ambrosia . . . is REALLY GOOD. 😉
Trevor felt the same way, but I made him take a bite, and guess what? He couldn’t stop eating it!
What is ambrosia?
Ambrosia, also known as ambrosia salad, is a variety of fruit “salad” typically made up of canned fruit, mini marshmallows, and coconut.
The fun thing about ambrosia is there are SO MANY existing variations so you can really customize it just for you! Today we’re adding a little extra with pudding mix, cool whip, pistachios, and more!
Is ambrosia a dessert or salad?
I would classify it more as a dessert or sweet side dish than a salad but this can depend on how much you add to it. Some lighten it up with just fruit and a couple additions but others go all out with cool whip, marshmallows, pudding, etc.
This ambrosia recipe is definitely more of a dessert or sweet side…and it’s SO good!
My secret ingredients? Sour cream for some tang, pudding mix for extra flavor, and pistachios for crunchy texture!
- Sour Cream and Cool Whip – some recipes use just cool whip while others use just sour cream but I love to use both. The cool whip adds a fluffy, creamy texture, while the sour cream balances out the sweetness with a much needed tang.
- Vanilla Extract – adds a warmth and gives the cool whip more flavor.
- Pistachio Pudding Mix – again, helps to flavor the cool whip. Can’t find pistachio pudding mix? Try vanilla instead!
- Mini Marshmallows – adds delicious sweetness and chewy, yet fluffy texture.
- Shredded Coconut – I use sweetened coconut but unsweetened would work as well.
- Pistachios – roasted, salted, and roughly chopped so they can be well incorporated throughout the salad. Pistachios give ambrosia a much needed crunch.
- Canned Fruit Cocktail – typically a mixture of peaches, pears, grapes, pineapple, and cherries.
- Mandarin Oranges and Pineapple Chunks – use canned varieties for easy prep!
How to make
- Whisk together sour cream, vanilla, and dry pudding mix and mix until well-combined.
- Fold in the cool whip until evenly incorporated.
- Add marshmallows, coconut, pistachios, fruit cocktail, oranges, and pineapple and mix to combine.
- Chill in the fridge for an hour then serve and enjoy!
Do i have to use cool whip?
I really recommend using cool whip in this recipe. It’s basically stabilized whipped cream, so it holds up better than homemade whipped cream. Whipped cream will likely liquify.
If you absolutely can’t stand store bought cool whip, you could try making your own homemade cool whip instead! (*not tested)
- Use different nuts. Chopped pecans, walnuts, or sliced almonds would be delicious.
- Use another pudding mix. If pistachio pudding isn’t your thing, try vanilla!
- Add other fruit. Fresh or canned, really any fruit will taste delicious! Try sliced grapes, sliced bananas, diced apple, strawberries, mango, kiwi, you name it!
- Spice it up. Stir in some small pieces of crystallized ginger for a little kick.
- Use flavored marshmallows. Make it even fruitier with fruit-flavored marshmallows.
Can you make ambrosia salad a day ahead?
Ambrosia salad is great made in advance. Mix everything up, cover, and pop it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve!
How to store
Leftover ambrosia will keep in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
Can you freeze ambrosia?
I don’t recommend freezing your leftovers. When frozen ambrosia thaws it becomes watery and soggy.
Equipment for this recipe
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (3.4 oz) package pistachio pudding mix
- 1 (8 oz) container cool whip thawed in the fridge according to package directions
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows feel free to add more if desired
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped shelled roasted salted pistachios feel free to add more if desired
- 1 (15 oz) can fruit cocktail drained
- 1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges drained
- 1 (8 oz) can pineapple chunks drained
- In a large bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla, and dry pudding mix until well combined.
- Gently fold in the cool whip until evenly incorporated.
- Add in marshmallows, coconut, pistachios, fruit cocktail, oranges, and pineapple.
- Stir to combine.
- Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour, then serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.