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This old-fashioned Marshmallow Fruit Salad is an easy dish to take to a party or get-together. This vintage recipe is an oldie but a goodie, takes 10 minutes to put together, and is bursting with fruity flavor.
Are you a huge fan of dessert salads like I am? Try my Snickers Salad the next time you have a bunch of apples on your hands or this super sweet Strawberry Fluff Salad after you visit the strawberry patch.
Get ready for a blast from the past with this fluffy Marshmallow Fruit Salad — an old-fashioned dessert that’s still a hit today! Canned fruit, soft marshmallows, and fluffy whipped topping combine to make this retro treat.
You might know this sweet salad as Ambrosia Salad, Mixed Fruit Salad, or simply Fluff Salad, but no matter what you call it, it’s always a winner at potlucks, picnics, family gatherings, and holiday parties.
It’s a total breeze to make requiring just 10 minutes and a handful of simple ingredients. And you know what? You can easily customize it by swapping out the fruits, adding nuts, and so much more.
Grab your ingredients and a big bowl, and let’s take a tasty trip down memory lane to make this sweet fruit salad.
Ingredients for Marshmallow Fluff Fruit Salad
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Mixed Fruit Cocktail — Canned fruit cocktail provides a variety of different fruits so you get several different flavors. Yum! I use fruit cocktail in light syrup, but fruit in juice works fine too, since you’re draining it either way. You can also use “no sugar added” fruit cocktail.
- Mandarin Oranges — They add a bright citrus flavor to this fruit fluff and are firm enough to hold up well over a few days.
- Pineapple Chunks — Sweet and tart pineapple is a must in a good fruit salad. Pineapple tidbits work great if you like your fruit in smaller pieces.
- Frozen Whipped Topping — Adds creaminess and makes the fruit salad light and fluffy. I use Cool Whip, but a store brand works fine. Remember to thaw in the fridge overnight before beginning. Or use homemade cool whip.
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes — For added texture and sweetness. If you’d like yours a little less sweet, unsweetened shredded coconut is fine.
- Mini Marshmallows — Provide texture and make the fluff salad extra sweet as they soften and their flavor blends in with the rest of the ingredients. White or fruity mini marshmallows both work well in this recipe.
Equipment You’ll Need for Fluff Salad
To make marshmallow fruit salad, gather these kitchen tools:
- Mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Measuring cups
- Plastic wrap
How to Make Marshmallow Fruit Salad
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: In a large bowl, add the drained fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, and pineapple chunks. Stir gently until mixed.
Step 2: Gently fold in the whipped topping, coconut flakes, and marshmallows. Stir gently to mix — you don’t want to deflate the Cool Whip.
Step 3: Cover and chill the marshmallow fruit salad in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Serve cold, straight from the fridge. Garnish with maraschino cherries, if you’d like.
Serve Cool Whip fruit salad as a side dish along with your meal or in individual dessert cups as a sweet treat after dinner. It’s also yummy layered with granola to make a breakfast parfait!
Storage and Freezing
Refrigerate leftover ambrosia salad in an airtight container or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I do not recommend freezing marshmallow salad as the texture of the whipped topping and marshmallows do not hold up well to freezing and thawing.
Ambrosia Fruit Salad Tips and Tricks
- Keep your marshmallow salad from getting watery by draining the canned fruit very well before mixing with the other ingredients. I even go a step further and lay the drained fruit on a few layers of paper towel for a bit to soak up any excess moisture.
- Adding fresh fruit to your salad? Prevent it from browning by tossing the fruit with a little bit of lemon juice before adding it to the salad.
- Make sure your whipped topping is completely thawed before making the salad. It will incorporate more easily with the rest of the ingredients that way.
- For clumpy marshmallows that are sticking together in the package, separate them and toss with a little powdered sugar before adding to the salad to prevent clumping.
Additions and Variations for This Creamy Fruit Salad
Make it vegan. Replace the frozen whipped topping with a brand that’s dairy-free. You’ll also need to replace the mini marshmallows with vegan ones. Dandies and Yummallo are both vegan brands that can be found online and in many grocery stores.
Sub sour cream for the whipped topping. If you prefer a less sweet version, substitute sour cream for some or all of the Cool whip. Some people like that the tanginess of the sour cream cuts through the sweetness of the fruit and marshmallow
Reduce the sugar. Use “no sugar added” canned fruits and zero sugar whipped topping. Swap out the sweetened coconut for unsweetened. You’ll still get sugar from the marshmallows, but they’re worth it.
Customize with different fruits. Grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, and other fruits are delicious in this salad, too.
Add nuts. For a little crunch, add chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds to the mixture.
Try it with cream cheese. Make this taste more like a cheese cake by combining half of the whipped topping with half a block of cream cheese.
Yes, you can use fresh fruit in place of most of the canned fruit. Chop the fruit into bite-sized pieces, and adjust the quantity as needed. However, I recommend using canned pineapple instead of fresh pineapple because the enzymes in fresh pineapple can break down the proteins in dairy products, making your mixture watery.
Make sure you drain the canned fruit very well. You can also pat it dry with paper towels before adding it to the whipped topping.
Absolutely! It tastes even better if it’s made the day before and is allowed to chill overnight to let the flavors meld together.
It depends on who you ask! It’s really a regional thing — in the Midwest, folks tend to serve this along with other side dishes, especially at holiday dinners. Others eat it as a dessert only. Personally, I don’t think there’s a bad time to enjoy it. I even like it for breakfast!
You can use homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip, but it may deflate more quickly. I recommend using homemade stabilized whipped cream instead.
More Easy Dessert Salads
Looking for another dish like this easy fruit salad recipe to take to your next potluck or holiday party? Try one of these recipes!
- Watergate Salad – aka Pistachio Delight or Green Fluff, a delicious variation for your holiday parties.
- Blueberry Fluff Salad – made with blueberry pie filling and perfect for hot summer days.
- Orange Fluff Salad – an easy 4-ingredient dessert salad made with orange jello.
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad – always a hit at cookouts; everyone will ask for the recipe!
Marshmallow Fruit Salad
- 30 ounces mixed fruit cocktail drained
- 15 ounces mandarin oranges drained
- 15 ounces pineapple chunks drained
- 8 ounces frozen whipped topping thawed
- ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes or shredded coconut
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- In a large bowl, stir together the fruit cocktail, oranges, and pineapple chunks until mixed.
- Add the whipped topping, coconut flakes, and marshmallows, and stir to mix.
- Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
- Store in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Do not freeze marshmallow fruit salad. It will change the texture and become watery after thawing.
- A great recipe to make ahead. Tastes even better when made the day before and allowed to chill overnight.