5 Cup Salad Recipe


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5 Cup Salad is an easy family favorite that even kids love, and it will remind you of the food your grandma used to make!

Five Cup Salad

Ambrosia Salad made with mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, fruit flavored marshmallows, shredded sweetened coconut, and sour cream is the perfect holiday or picnic side dish!

We normally serve it with our holiday dinners on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

5 cup salad in a white bowl.

Why Is It Called Ambrosia Salad?

This old fashioned recipe is called Ambrosia salad because the ingredients were considered so luxurious and exotic, so it was named after the food of the gods in Roman and Greek mythology.

It’s also called five cup salad because it has 5 ingredients, and you use 1 cup of each ingredient.

Is It A Side Dish Or A Dessert?

This is one of those dishes that doesn’t really seem to know what it is. It’s sweet like a dessert, but depending on the dressing, it can be light like a fruit salad.

I classify this as a side dish because I’ve seen it served as a side with countless meals, but I’ve never seen it on a dessert table.

A process collage showing the ingredients for 5 cup salad before and after mixing.

How Long Does It Last In The Fridge?

If you’re wondering if you can make it the night before, the answer is yes! In fact, I’d recommend making it 4 to 24 hours before you plan to serve it. This naturally gluten free salad will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Marshmallow delight in a white bowl with a fork.

Optional Adaptations

  • Top it with maraschino cherries or chopped pecans.
  • Use fruit cocktail instead of mandarin oranges and pineapple tidbits.
  • Instead of a sour cream dressing, you can try using cool whip, vanilla Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a combination of sour cream and cool whip.
  • I prefer using the fruit flavored marshmallows, but you’re welcome to use regular mini marshmallows if you like!

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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A Pinterest pin image with pictures of ambrosia salad and title text.

Side Dish Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out our entire side dish recipe section! Some reader favorite holiday sides are:

Yield: 8 servings

5 Cup Salad Recipe

An easy 5 cup salad or ambrosia salad in a bowl.

5 Cup Salad is a family favorite side dish that even kids love, and it will remind you of the food your grandma used to make!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 5 minutes


  • 1 cup canned mandarin orange segments (drained well)
  • 1 cup canned pineapple tidbits (drained well)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Maraschino cherries (for topping)


  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold the ingredients together.
  2. Refrigerate for 24 hours (or at least a minimum of 4 hours).
  3. Serve cold. Top each serving with a maraschino cherry.


Some people prefer Ambrosia Salad made with Cool Whip or vanilla yogurt. You’re welcome to use that instead if you prefer, but the flavor profile will be much sweeter. Another option would be to use half sour cream and half Cool Whip. You could also add a little bit of pineapple juice from the canned pineapple if you only want to sweeten it up a little bit.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 179Total Fat: 9.7gCarbohydrates: 22.5gNet Carbohydrates: 21.6gFiber: 0.9gSugar: 17.2gProtein: 1.6g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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Whether you grew up calling this Ambrosia Salad, 5 Cup Salad, or Marshmallow Delight, I hope you’ll try my Grandma’s recipe!

An easy 5 cup salad or ambrosia salad in a bowl.

6 thoughts on “5 Cup Salad Recipe”

    • Hi Dianne, You definitely could toast the coconut if you want! I don’t toast it because that would give the coconut a stronger flavor, and I don’t want the coconut to taste overpowering. It would also take away from the simplicity of this salad, which is one of the things I love about it. Hope that helps! -Alexa

  1. I make this all the time. I love to eat it as a dessert. I use 1/2 sour cream, 1/2 softened cream cheese and 1/2 cool whip. I sometimes omit the coconut. It’s really good.
    My mother would make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year but I love it all year long. I

    • Hi Phyllis, The combination of sour cream, cream cheese, and cool whip sounds like it would be delicious! Thanks so much for sharing your family’s take on it. -Alexa

  2. I make ambrosia salad every holiday but I make it with heavy cream and vanilla extract and sugar and mix it till it get puffy so much better than coolwip


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