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Creamy Cool Fruit Salad

This creamy cool fruit salad is actually more of a dessert than pre-dinner course or side dish. But it has fruit, so you can call it a salad if you want.

It’s very similar to the ambrosia salad my grandmother and mother used to make. However, it doesn’t have coconut, which is one of the main ingredients in most of the ambrosia recipes.

Bowl of creamy cool fruit salad topped with pecans and maraschino cherries.

Almost every potluck I’ve gone to has ambrosia on the salad table. Although I love coconut, a lot of people pass it up because they don’t care for it.

So I took the same recipe I used to use and left out the coconut. Without the coconut, it no longer qualifies as ambrosia, but I think it tastes just as good.

My husband likes it too. In fact, I think he loves it based on how quickly it disappeared.

This delicious treat has all of the other ingredients that ambrosia has, including pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, and fruit cocktail.

Of course, it also contains the whipped topping and pudding that give it the creamy, cloud-like texture.

Serving of creamy cool fruit salad scooped into a custard cup

Even though it’s very sweet, you still get the benefits of the fruit. According to the National Institutes of Health, fruit contains quite a bit of dietary fiber as well as many of the vitamins and other nutrients that you need in order to stay healthy.

Creamy Cool Fruit Salad Ingredients

In order to make this heavenly dessert-salad, you need three cans of fruit. After all, it is called fruit salad. You also need vanilla pudding mix, marshmallows, and whipped topping.

Mini marshmallows, whipped topping, fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, vanilla pudding mix, and pecans

You can make this creamy treat with either traditional fruit cocktail or tropical fruit cocktail. When I use the tropical version, I pour in a little bit of juice from the jar of cherries to give it a pinkish color.

Some people add mayonnaise or yogurt, but I prefer it the way I make it. However, you might want to scoop some out and try adding things to see if you like it.

I like to top it off with pecans and halved maraschino cherries to make it pretty. But you can leave it as-is or add whatever you like.

It’s your fruit salad, so make it your own with toppings you love. That’s what I do when I make any recipe.

For exact measurements of each ingredient and full directions, go to the recipe card at the bottom of the page. You can even print out the card by clicking on the “print” button.

How to Make Creamy Cool Fruit Salad

First, drain the cans of pineapple chunks and mandarin oranges. But leave the liquid in the fruit cocktail because you’ll need something for the pudding mix to interact with.

Next, pour all of the fruit into a mixing bowl. You’ll have the juice from the fruit cocktail.

Cans of fruit in a mixing bowl

Then, sprinkle the pudding mix over the fruit. Stir well.

You’ll probably notice that the liquid thickens as soon as it’s mixed with the pudding.

Pudding mix sprinkled over the fruit

Next, scoop the entire container of whipped topping into the mixture. Then pour the mini marshmallows into it.

Whipped topping and marshmallows added to the fruit and pudding mixture

Stir the ingredients until you have everything coated.

Finally, pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Because this is such a pretty dessert-salad, I like to use a clear bowl so the contents are visible from the side.

Creamy cool fruit salad in a serving bowl

If you want to garnish this delicious cloud-like mixture, sprinkle halved maraschino cherries and pecans over the top. Or add whatever works for you.

Other things you might want to consider using as garnish are colorful candies, almond slivers, colorful cereal, or whatever else you think is pretty.

Creamy cool fruit salad topped with pecans and maraschino cherries

More Recipes

Although this is called a fruit salad, as I mentioned above, it’s obviously more of a dessert. So if you want a real salad that you can eat before or with your meal, try this delicious chickpea salad or this delightful Greek olive and feta salad.

It’s also a great fruity dessert to have after this Instant Pot 15-bean soup or this other easy-to-make homemade bean soup.

We had it after eating this ground beef stroganoff that has become one of our favorite go-to dinners.

See this recipe shared at Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, and Full Plate Thursday.

Yield: 12 servings

Creamy Cool Fruit Salad

Fruit salad topped with pecans and maraschino cherries in a serving bowl

This refreshing creamy cool fruit salad is delicious and perfect for a special occasion or celebration.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 can of fruit cocktail (not drained)
  • 1 can of drained pineapple chunks
  • 1 can of drained mandarin oranges
  • 1 cup of mini marshmallows
  • 1 small container of whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup of maraschino cherries cut in half


    1. Pour all of the fruit into a large mixing bowl.
    2. Sprinkle the pudding mix over the fruit.
    3. Add the whipped topping to the bowl and stir until all of the fruit is coated.
    4. Add the marshmallows and fold it into the mixture.
    5. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and cherry halves over the top.
    6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 125Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 124mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 1gSugar 21gProtein 1g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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