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This Tropical Fluff Ambrosia is the 1950s marshmallow fantasy you’ve been dreaming of! This ambrosia salad recipe is a combination of fluff and dessert salad – it’s such a great potluck recipe.

clear bowl with marshmallows and cherries and other ingredients mixed together.

Tropical Ambrosia Salad Recipe

Ambrosia salad is my favorite kind of salad. It counts, right? For those unfamiliar, ambrosia salad is a fruity marshmallow no-bake dessert that is popular for gracing the tables of each and every housewife hostess in midcentury America. Ambrosia salad is synonymous with poodle skirts, sockhops, and summer evenings enjoyed in the suburbs; so it’s no surprise that so many of us grew up eating our grandma’s famous fluffy recipe

Ingredients Needed

  • Vanilla pudding mix – instant vanilla pudding (the small box)
  • Milk or Nondairy Milk – use any kind you like
  • Maraschino cherries – drained and patted dry
  • Canned pineapple – crushed, drained very well
  • Canned mandarin oranges – drained 
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Coconut – sweetened, shredded

How to Make Ambrosia Salad

  • Whisk pudding: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pudding mix and almond milk. Allow the mixture to sit for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes thicker. 
  • Slice cherries: Make sure that all of your prepared fruit is well drained, then cut the cherries in half.
  • Combine ingredients: Add the fruit, marshmallows, coconut, and nuts into the pudding mixture. Stir until well combined.
  • Chill: Place the salad in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for about one hour or until the salad has set. 
clear bowl with marshmallows and cherries and other ingredients mixed together.

Expert Tips

  • Use stemless maraschino cherries if you can. Its okay to grab the stemmed ones, but you’ll have to pluck them off later!
  • If you want to opt for fresh mandarins as opposed to canned ones, they’ll work just fine.
  • Make sure that your pineapple has drained as much as possible. You’d be surprised how much juice is in that can!
  • You can also use pistachio pudding mix to make this a Watergate ambrosia salad recipe.


How long does ambrosia last?

In a refrigerated airtight container, ambrosia salad will last up to three days.

When was ambrosia salad popular?

Ambrosia salad originated from the late 19th century but became especially popular in the mid-20th century. 

What is ambrosia salad?

Ambrosia salad is a mixture of marshmallows, fruit, and often sour cream or pudding mix. 

clear bowl with marshmallows and cherries and other ingredients mixed together.

Tropical Ambrosia Salad

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Tropical Ambrosia Salad is an easy ambrosia recipe full of oranges, cherries, and pineapple. It’s made with marshmallows and pudding mix, no sour cream!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 10 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 2 3.4 ounces each boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 16 ounce / 454g jar maraschino cherries , drained and patted dry
  • 1 20 ounces / 567g can crushed pineapple , drained very well
  • 1 15 ounces / 425g can mandarin oranges , drained
  • 2 ½ cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped almonds optional
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  • Whisk pudding and almondmilk in a large bowl. Let sit for 3-5 minutes until thickened.
  • Slice cherries in half. Make sure all fruit is drained well.
  • Stir fruit, marshmallows, coconut, and nuts (if using) into pudding. Chill until set, about 1 hour.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Video

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 319kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 242mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 36g
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Other Dessert Salads

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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  1. Fear of condiments – my son literally told me that he has this a few days ago. And now I just read your comment to him and he is jumping for joy to know he isn’t the only one!

  2. This looks amazing! I will definately give it a try!
    I hope I will manage as I am not a great cook!