Looking for a paleo-friendly fruit salad? Try this ambrosia salad with pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, shredded coconut, paleo marshmallows, and honey sweetened coconut yogurt. It’s subtly sweet, creamy, and easy to make!
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What is ambrosia salad?
If you lived through (or read about) the mid-20th century dessert-as-a-salad era, you’ll recall that ambrosia salad is a creamy fruit salad that often featured canned pineapple tidbits or chunks, canned mandarin oranges, coconut, and miniature marshmallows. Some ambrosia salad recipes also contain maraschino cherries, nuts (e.g., pecans, walnuts), fruit-flavored marshmallows, grapes, peaches, or even bananas.
It’s still a popular dish in the southern United States, and you can find it served at potlucks and holiday dinners. The name “ambrosia” comes from Greek mythology, meaning food of the gods, but it’s the furthest thing from hoity-toity; rather, this simple dish is a nostalgically homey and comforting dessert.
A paleo ambrosia salad!
My paleo version of ambrosia salad is a refined sugar-free and dairy-free riff on a version I grew up eagerly devouring as a kid (shoutout to the deli department at Draeger’s Market in Menlo Park, where my mom would buy cartons of this fluffy, creamy treat for our family feasts!).
But don’t fret: you won’t miss any of the tropical fruit flavor or creaminess in this healthier-for-you version. This ambrosia fruit salad is made with fruit canned in 100% juice (not heavy syrup), unsweetened shredded coconut, and paleo marshmallows—and everything is smothered in a honey-sweetened coconut yogurt rather than sour cream, Greek yogurt (or vanilla yogurt), whipped cream, and/or Cool Whip. Plus, this sweet treat comes together in minutes and can be made ahead of time!
- Unsweetened plain coconut yogurt (my favorite brands of coconut yogurt are CocoJune and Koko Kai)
- Vanilla extract
- Canned pineapple chunks in 100% juice (there’s no need to get all fancy and use fresh fruit—just grab a 14 ounce can and drain it!)
- Canned mandarin orange slices in 100% juice (no one has time to supreme some mandarin oranges—just grab a 10 ounce can and drain it)
- Paleo marshmallows (Instead of using technicolor mini marshmallows, I like to use Danielle Walker’s marshmallow recipe to make my own, but you can also buy paleo marshmallows online)
- Unsweetened shredded coconut
How to make paleo ambrosia salad
In a large bowl, whisk the coconut yogurt, honey, and vanilla together…
…until everything is smooth and uniform.
Fold in the marshmallows, coconut, and pineapple chunks with a rubber spatula.
Finally, gently incorporate the mandarin orange segments…
…until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or chill overnight.
After it’s chilled, transfer to a serving dish.
How to save leftovers?
You can store leftovers for up to 4 days in a sealed container, but your ambrosia salad may get watery if it’s left in the fridge for too long. If the yogurt separates, I just drain off any excess liquid and it still tastes great!
More paleo fruit desserts
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not!(Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).
Ambrosia Salad (Paleo, Dairy Free)
- 1 cup plain coconut yogurt (I like CocoJune or Koko Kai brands)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup paleo marshmallows, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1⅔ cups drained canned pineapple chunks, in 100% juice
- 1 cup drained canned mandarin oranges in 100% juice
- In a large bowl, whisk the coconut yogurt, honey, and vanilla together until smooth.
- Fold in the marshmallows, coconut, and pineapple chunks with a rubber spatula.
- Then, gently incorporate the mandarin orange segments until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or chill overnight before serving.
- 1⅔ cup drained canned pineapple chunks = the contents of a 14 ounce can, drained
- 1 cup drained mandarin orange segments = contents of 10 ounce can, drained
- You can make your own paleo marshmallows or buy them online.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The coconut yogurt can separate during this time, just drain off any of the watery liquid before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.