Guest Post: Ambrosia for All Seasons

There are two things in this world that seem to trigger your memory faster than any super computer and they are music and food. Do you ever have those moments when you get in the car and the radio comes on and it’s a song from your childhood or your wedding song and you just have to stop yourself for a minute to listen and let yourself be taken back in time, into your head and into those memories? Food can be the same way. You can smell something and it takes you back to your Momma’s kitchen or waking up to your Grandpa’s famous flapjacks and fresh maple syrup. It almost makes your heart swell because the memories are so sweet. Then, when you get a bite of something familiar, it just sends you over the moon and you almost feel like a kid again. There’s always a small part of us, I think, that’s always trying to recapture those moments of long ago.

One of my favorite desserts as a kid was fruit cocktail. Yep, straight from the can. My Mom would just put the cans into the fridge to get cold so they’d be ready for us to dig into. Such a simple little thing but I will still grab a can of fruit cocktail every now and then just so I can eat it cold right from the fridge like I did as a kid. So, it stands to reason that I love fruit desserts. Ambrosia, like many classic recipes, has lots of variations, but this one here is my favorite since it’s what I grew up with. It is made a lot around the holidays too because of the red and green colors and the whipped topping and coconut makes it look like snow. But this version is so versatile you can serve it anytime of the year. It’s a lighter, sweet way to end a heavier, wintertime meal. Plus, it’s one that can be whipped up very quickly for you to take to any party or for a quick dessert!

1 (8 oz.) tub of whipped topping, thawed
1 cup sour cream
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits, drained well
1 (15 oz.) can mandarin orange segments, drained well
1 cup red or green seedless grapes, sliced in half
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 (10 oz.) jar of maraschino cherry halves, drained very well
1/2 cup chopped pecans


In a medium bowl, combine whipped topping and sour cream. Add in coconut flakes and marshmallows.
Then gently fold in pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes and maraschino cherries and nuts.
Once combined, put some plastic wrap on it or put it in a bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

Cook’s Notes: You can easily switch out most of these ingredients for sugar-free options. This goes really well with angel food cake.


4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Ambrosia for All Seasons”

  1. This is a familiar version of Ambrosia, one my mom or an aunt would make around the holidays. My mother-in-law made a simpler version that involved much time spent sectioning oranges and grapefruit, plus cutting up a fresh pineapple into chunks. Sometimes there was fresh coconut on top. I know now that this dish was a labor of love she performed for her family. I’ll bet the younger generation of Southerners may not even know what ambrosia is or they have never heard of it. That is sad in my opinion. And I’ll bet they don’t know that a whole pineapple displayed at the house entrance was a symbol of hospitality.

    1. Oh, yes. That is real ambrosia to me. My mother made it with fresh orange sections and fresh grated coconut only.

  2. I am from South Africa.But I’m sure that your overseas readers will also not know what ‘whipped topping’ is. It is really irritating when recipes contain ready made ingredients rather than ones ‘from scratch ‘. The recipe sounds really nice and I would love to make it.

    1. Yes, I know that is frustrating. The good news is that you can usually find substitutions for most convenience foods online.

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