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Retro Recipe: Ambrosia Salad

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This week’s cooking video is a throwback.  Ambrosia salad looks more like a dessert than a typical leafy salad, but it is a vintage favorite of summer picnics and barbecues!  

First known recipes of ambrosia salad date as far back as 1867, when citrus fruit was becoming more available. Recipes were often oranges and fresh pineapple layered together with sugar. 

In Greek mythology, ambrosia was defined as the food and drink of the gods on Mount Olympus.  Those who consumed it were given longevity or immortality. 

There are many different iterations and combinations of yummy ingredients that can be used to make this “salad” and potluck staple but the following recipe was used for this video in particular. Feel free to get as creative as you would like, depending on what you have on hand! 



Ambrosia salad

(1) 20ounce can of pineapple tidbits 

(2) 15-ounce cans of mandarin oranges 

(1) small jar of maraschino cherries 

(1) cup of sour cream 

(1) 10 or 12-ounce container of frozen whipped topping (like Cool Whip) 

(1) cup sweetened shredded coconut 

½ cup chopped pecans 

(1) 10-ounce bag of fruit flavored mini marshmallows 


Drain the pineapple and mandarin oranges. Drain the jar of cherries and pat dry.  

Mix together the sour cream and frozen whipped topping in a large mixing bowl. Add in the pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, coconut and pecans. Mix to combine. 

Fold in marshmallows. 

Refrigerate for at least two hours (overnight is best!) and enjoy! 


If this throwback recipe inspired you, here are some titles available from the Library to inspire your next retro cooking adventure: 

Retro Recipes From the ’50s and ’60s by Addie Grundy 

Retro Food Fiascos by Kathy Casey 

The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook by Rick Rodgers 

Rosie’s Riveting Recipes by Daniela Turudich 

Retro Breakfast by Linda Everett 

Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson (digital title) 

And here’s a funny story from NPR about the divisiveness of this salad: 

When Ambrosia Salad Spells Dread!