Appalachia Appalachian Food Christmas

Christmas Ambrosia

Fruit salad or ambrosia

Granny always made fruit salad for Christmas dinner. She calls her fruit salad Heavenly Hash. As I got older I noticed other folks called their fruit salad Ambrosia. I also noticed the ingredients in people’s fruit salad varies greatly depending on who’s making it.

Christmas ambrosia

My favorite Ambrosia Salad recipe came from Miss Cindy. It takes:

  • 2 large cans of pineapple chunks
  • 1 small can of Mandarin oranges
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1/4 of a large bag of shredded coconut
  • 1/3 of a bag of mini marshmallows
  • a handful of nuts-I like pecans the best
  • optional-a few spoonfuls or small jar of maraschino cherries (I never add them)

Drain all the fruit and mix with the rest of the ingredients. It’s better after sitting in the frig for a while, but I can never wait that long to try it.

It’s really such a simple recipe that I can’t for the life of me figure out why I only make it at Christmas.


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    December 17, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Our Dad always called that “(insert appropriate color) Fluff” not sure where he got that from. Our Aunt Marge makes green Pistachio Fluff that is the best in the world. I hope someone has her recipe for it or gets it from her cause – Yum!!!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    my florida family always has ambrosia at christmas. i had never heard of it before i came here. ours is just fruit and juice, citrus-based, though. no creamy anything. coconut and cherries in the oranges and grapefruit. no nuts that i recall…

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Oh, yummy! I haven’t made this for a couple of years beause I usually end up eating the entire bowl. I love this! Thanks for reminding me!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Another great recipe to try, though I must be truthful, I’d rather have marshmallows toasted over an open fire!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I make this with the pineapple in its own juice and drain the mandarin oranges and about 2 bags mini marshmallows and the sour cream. We call it holiday salad because it seems I only make it on the holidays too. Yes, it is alloy better when it sits over night.
    smjohns63 at yahoo dot com

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    That should be 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons flour..sort of makes a fruit juice roux…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Now that I have sobered up and reread the comments and new posts, I have an idea…”Oh no”, she says!
    Ed…Leave out the pineapple and add the fruit you love!
    Grapes…I forgot ‘they say’! Nope, there are grapes in the fruit cocktail..sometimes good grapes (no seeds) are used and cut in half…but very time then my hands are ready to fall off my wrists…
    Dan’s fruit salad…is delish’ and we call it Orange Fluff! I make it at Thanksgiving also!
    Mike M…recipe is gettin’ close to this Alabama recipe!
    Pamala..Mom made that too, loved it but can’t find a yours to Tipper!
    Ethelene…Sorry about the “preacher” reference! “Up jumped the Devil!”
    Sue C…Powdered sugar can be used..but careful it can produce a bitter taste!
    Sherry…I can’t believe that “Frog” wouldn’t like the green jello ambrosia…just kiddin’…sounds like my Uncles nicknames!
    Malcolm…Thought this was a diet recipe til I got to the mayo? I’m tryin’ thisn’.
    1/2 Cup sugar
    1/12 Tablespoons flour
    1 egg well beaten
    reserved juice from crushed pineapple..essential
    lemon juice (approximately 1 T.)
    Cool and fold into fruit…
    Drained crushed pineapple
    Drained manderin oranges
    One chopped apple or so
    Maraschino cherries
    pecans…now you can chop!
    These amounts are approximate..Just use the fruit you have on hand..Balance the cooled mixture with your fruit to make a slightly thick mixture..not liquidy…This is very very good anytime..
    Sorry Tipper, I am scrolling again!

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    December 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Granny made hers like yours Tipper, no cherries. We called it fruit salad. If the pecans were not good she used walnuts. I did not move up to calling it Ambrosia until I was grown and out of the house.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 17, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I love fruit salad. Usually I just
    drain a couple cans of mixed fruit,
    chop up an apple, add tiny little
    marshmallows, and cool whip. You’re
    right, it’s better the next day
    after sitting overnite in the frig.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

    We called our fruit salad “5 Cup” salad and used 1 cup each of pineapple chunks, mandarian oranges, coconut, mini marshmallows, and sour cream. The addition of nuts sounds good! I haven’t made this in a while maybe this year…..

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

    We have this at thanksgiving too. We call it orange fluff.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr
    December 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Great dish anytime, not just at Christmas.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Tipper: Your recipe is what I have always made. BUT that Arkansas fellow’s just may be the recipe I try this Christmas. Thanks for keeping us inspired!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    December 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for the memory flashback. My Aunt Ida, use to always bring that to Grandma Cardwell’s for holiday dinners. Her’s was minus the cherries too, thank goodness!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 17, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I hate to be a fly in the fruit salad but I don’t like pineapple.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I use lots of fresh fruit and a cup of strawberry yogurt and a cup of sour cream and a heaping spoon of mayo and a tad of sweet and low and mix well put in fridge for a bit and , it’s raedy and a big hit . Ciejay loves it .

  • Reply
    December 17, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Reading the various versions of Ambrosia,and it is such a favorite of mine. I remembered something gross one of my uncles from Arkansas remarked when seeing a bowl of this made with green jello. ( You do not have to post this) My Dad had 5 brothers: Joe, Frog, Tater,J.T.and Peck. Tater said, “That looks like it’s done been et once.”
    After moving to Florida, we picked navel oranges off the tree and added coconut! Ummm good!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    December 17, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Our ambrosia was also just oranges, coconut & pecans with a bit of powdered sugar. My favorite part of Christmas dinner.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Your recipe for ambrosia made me hungry for some this morning! I didn’t have it as a child, but in my early married life, I “found” the recipe–or was served some probably in a home of my young preacher-husband’s church member’s. From then on, ambrosia became one of those dishes we had each year at Christmas. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    December 17, 2013 at 8:22 am

    My Mom made something similar, but she froze it in muffin pans.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 17, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I guess Ambrosia takes on many forms. My mother’s mother ALWAYS had ambrosia at Christmas in central Alabama and it was simply orange slices with shredded coconut and pecans. My wife, whose family is also from Alabama makes Ambrosia much the same way.

  • Reply
    Jerry in Arkansas
    December 17, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Fruit salad was always a tradition in our family for Christmas dinner. We always got apples, oranges, and nuts in our Christmas stockings. I was just reading some letters to Santa from back in 1909. Some of the kids asked for grapes, raisins, bananas,cranberries, and coconuts along with the apples, oranges, and nuts.

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    December 17, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I have another favorite that is equally easy that I make every year. It is an orange version. I am pretty sure Don Casada had some at Christmas when we worked together, I always bring it in.
    – large can of drained pineapple tidbits
    – large can of drained Mandarin oranges
    – large container of cottage cheese, I prefer small curd
    – large box of orange jello
    – large container of cool whip
    Mix it all together and let it set in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours, over night is better. Like Tipper, I ALWAYS have to have a spoonful, or two, right after I make it. Cleaning the bowl is always tasty too. And of course I can’t waste that pineapple and Mandarin orange juice. Gives you a little something to drink while you are mixing.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    December 17, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Mama made nearly the same recipe except she added sliced fresh grapes, decreased the pineapple to one can, and used frozen coconut. Every year my daughter or I make ambrosia even though she will not eat one bite. I can’t imagine Christmas dinner without it. Mama sometimes served it at Easter or Thanksgiving, too.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 17, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I love that fruit salad too, I’ve had the recipe so long and have no idea where I got it. I think it was told to me as Five Cup Salad but it actually had six. LOL
    The Deer Hunter loves it too. There are never any leftovers if He and I are there!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 17, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Mom always made a big bowl of fruit salad every Christmas. She made plenty and we always took home with us a quart mason jar full to eat the next day. I make what I call fancy fruit salad. Use fruit that you like, such as peaches, pineapple chunks, frozen strawberries, bananas , but then sprinkle a small box of vanilla instant pudding and 2 Tbs. Tang on top and mix gently. Yum!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 17, 2013 at 7:20 am

    We also have Ambrosia at Christmas, thanksgiving too. The only two holidays of the year we do. For Easter we have a fresh fruit salad with nothing but cut up fresh fruit.

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