Ah, ambrosia, that Southern fruit salad that’s actually more like dessert. Brings back memories. This recipe will make you forget all about any other fluffy fruit concoctions.

A silver bowl filled with ambrosia salad with a bone-handle knife beside the bowl.

Ah, ambrosia. Brings back memories, don’t it? As author James Farmer recalls, “I remember reading in middle school literature that the gods on Mount Olympus feasted on nectar and ambrosia. This puzzled me because we were just Southern folks in a small town in Georgia and had ambrosia all the time. What was so special about this deity diet? If we ate it, it couldn’t be all that special, right?” He goes on to reminisce that whether ambrosia should have marshmallows or not is up to debate in the South, as is whether ambrosia should be just citrus and pineapple or if apples are allowed. Don’t even get a Southerner started on whether nuts have a place in ambrosia. These are things you’re just going to have to contend with using your own common sense and personal preference. As for Farmer, he takes the stance that “ambrosia is perfect any way,” which is oh so cordial of him, although we’re partial to his recipe that follows.–Renee Schettler Rossi


  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 2 H, 30 M
  • Serves 8 to 10
5/5 - 1 reviews
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If you have the time, chill a glass or metal bowl or the bowl for your stand mixer for at least 30 minutes. Then add the heavy cream, sour cream, and sugar to the bowl and beat with an electric mixer or your stand mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Ever so gently fold the grapefruit, mandarin oranges, pineapple, cherries, apples, pecans, marshmallows, and coconut into the whipped cream mixture. For the best taste, cover and let the flavors of the ambrosia come together in the fridge for at least a couple hours or overnight.

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Recipe Testers' Tips

Ambrosia is heavenly! This one has a few differences that make it better than most. Using jarred or canned fruit made the only hands-on time chopping the apples and nuts and whipping the cream. The whole dish can be completed in 30 minutes. I had toasted salted pecans on hand, which added a really nice crunch and salt factor to the mix. The whipped cream made the final product lighter than usual. I don't typically add grapefruit or apples to my ambrosia, and I liked the addition of both. I let my ambrosia set overnight, and the mixture was perfectly light. Not soupy at all. Will not last long now that husband knows it's there.

I haven't had ambrosia in a long time and had actually never made it myself, so I was excited to try this recipe. This dish tasted good and was very, very easy to make. It was colorful and reminded me of the past. I rested the dish overnight, and we loved the resulting pillowy texture of the marshmallows. I am curious if they would still have that texture with less resting time. I'd almost say that it needs to sit long enough for the marshmallows to become fluffy. I would make this again. Next time, I'd add more nuts and marshmallows, try swapping fruit juice for the heavy cream (as suggested in the head note), and maybe change up the fruit to see what it's like.

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