Mama Mae's Ambrosia Salad


This is a fairly simple version of a Southern fruit salad favorite, which means you can add whatever to make it your own.

Mama Mae's Ambrosia Salad

Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Margaret Monroe Dickey, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood


This ambrosia salad is what one would call a "ladies luncheon" dish. It's almost lacy and delicate in its presentation. Most of the men in the family wouldn't waste valuable dinner plate real estate on this salad, but it embodied Christmas dinner to my grandmother, my mom, and me.

For three generations, this Ambrosia Salad recipe has been served in a beautiful clear grass-green fluted glass bowl that is almost 90 years old. My grandmother received that bowl as a wedding gift in 1929, and it has been adorning sideboards while holding that scrumptious orange and coconut concoction at countless Christmas meals over the years.

After my grandmother's passing, it graced my mother's dining room table each Christmas, and now it is at my house where we continue to use it and feel Mama Mae's spirit with us around the table.

Some Ambrosia recipes call for whipped cream, marshmallows, and fruit cocktail, but this recipe is classic Ambrosia Salad and has only three ingredients: oranges, pineapple, and sweetened coconut (no wonder I can remember how to make it each year). For the holidays, consider adding touches of red and green with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint leaves.

To balance out that heavy turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, and all those holiday cakes and pies, try making this lovely and light recipe this holiday season.


  • 2 oranges, peeled and chopped

  • 2 canned pineapple chunks or tidbits in unsweetened juice

  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

  • Chopped pecans (if you have any left over from your Pecan Pie)


  1. Mix fruit and coconut together, and refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with pecans and other optional toppings before serving.

Related Articles