Tropical Ambrosia Salad

4.00 avg. rating (79% score) - 5 votes

The summer season was made for cookout sides like Five Cup Ambrosia Salad made with sour cream, marshmallows, pineapple, coconut, and mandarin oranges.

Summer has arrived and cookout season is in full swing here in New England. Along with the picnic table and grill, no outdoor barbecue would be complete without the cluster of side salads alongside the hamburgers and hot dogs, beckoning with sour cream and mayonnaise-y goodness. For me, the most memorable (and visually jarring) of the bunch was always the bowl of Ambrosia Salad. The sweet, creamsicle-colored concoction of sour cream, mini marshmallows, mandarin oranges, coconut, and pineapple was a tropical fruit salad a giant step beyond the hollowed out watermelon filled with pineapple and cantaloupe. There were marshmallows in this stuff! Be still my sugar-loving heart.

ambrosia salad

Five simple ingredients and you’re on your way to Ambrosia!

Aimee Seavey

I’m calling it Ambrosia Salad here, but this version of the dish also goes by the name Five Cup Salad (since it uses five cups of each ingredient), and a host of other quirky names depending on where you grew up or how creative your mother was. Mine, for example, called it Sun Salad.

ambrosia salad

Dig in to the tropical flavors of summer!

Aimee Seavey

Ambrosia recipes started showing up in American cookbooks towards the end of the 1800’s, when coconut was a hot new available ingredient. They typically called for fruits like oranges and pineapple chunks to be layered with coconut and sugar in a bowl, sometimes with the addition of bananas, grapes, and nuts. As the decades passed and marshmallows came on the scene, the sugar was scrapped and marshmallows were brought in, along with sour cream to bind everything together.

ambrosia salad

Cold, creamy, sweetness in every bite!

Aimee Seavey

It might look a little strange, but on a hot day a spoonful of something cold, sweet, and creamy that takes just minutes to prepare is an easy win.

And did I mention the marshmallows?

Five Cup Ambrosia Salad Recipe Links
View and print the recipe for Five Cup Ambrosia Salad
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  • Sherri

    I grew up with ambrosia salad as well…but my grandmother always made it with whipped cream rather than sour cream. It was a shock to us kids when we’d see an ambrosia salad at a cookout, heap a big pile of it onto our plate, then dig in to find it was made with sour cream!


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