Marshmallow Salad. The Salad That Sounds Like an April Fools’ Joke.

It seems very, very wrong to call this concoction a salad, but history in my family dictates that’s its name.  Marshmallow Salad. Similar to ambrosia but served with the meal not as a dessert.  SO weird, but it’s our tradition. 

I know it’s April Fools Day but a salad made out of mini marshmallows and canned fruit only seems like a joke.

For as long as that mushy thing in my skull  can remember, my family has served Marshmallow Salad at holiday dinners.  Marshmallow salad is also known as Ambrosia.  On occasion we’d call it Sour Cream Salad.  Truth is, we really never knew what to call it, other than an embarrassment.

We’re not the fanciest people on earth, but we’re fancy enough to know anything that includes marshmallows should at least be served as a dessert.  You see, for some reason we never serve Ambrosia as a dessert.  We served it as a side dish.  There it sits on the table, right beside the perfectly respectable green beans and mashed potatoes; a big bowl of marshmallows, fruit and coconut winking, “Here I am, in all my tacky glory.  Caught ya lookin’!”.

If marshmallow salad were a dinner guest, she’d be the sparkly, hooker-with-a heart-of-gold that your Uncle Nick brings to Easter dinner every year. An embarrassing, loud, colourfully dressed dish that you can’t help but love.

Plus it’s sort of understood you don’t talk about either one of them in public.

I’m not sure when it happened, but I’ve taken over the Marshmallow/Sour cream/Ambrosia Salad tradition.  It is now my job to smuggle it out of the house under the cover of ageing Tupperware, to all of our holiday dinners.   If the neighbours ask, I lie and tell them it’s something a little more respectable than marshmallow salad.  Like a 3 bean salad.  Or a shrunken head.

The good news is, this dish now officially has a name in our house.  One year it was dubbed White Trash Salad.   The name stuck.  And quickly.  Like Crazy glue to a hard hat.  Or sparkles to a stripper.

Here’s to strippers, hookers, marshmallows and not caring what other people do or think.  Here’s to … white trash salad!

Marshmallow Salad


10 oz. Can of Mandarin Oranges (drained very well)



14 oz. Can of Crushed Pineapple (drained very well)




1 cup Sour Cream

1/3 cup Maraschino Cherries (cut in half)

1/4 cup Sweetened Coconut

3 cups Mini Marshmallows (use the coloured ones for added trash)

Add all the ingredients to a bowl.

Like this.  Then fold everything together.  Cover it up and let set in fridge overnight.

Told ya the coloured marshmallows gave it that added zip.

And I vow here and now, on this very day not to hide the White Trash Salad anymore.  I just don’t have the energy.   I will carry it with my head held high to every family dinner we have.

Because it’s tradition, because it now has a really cool name and most importantly … because I like it.   And even though they may not admit it publicly, so does everyone else.

Marshmallow Salad (also known as White Trash Salad)

This is in no way a salad. Not even close. 
4.54 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 15 people
Calories: 97kcal
Author: Karen


  • 1 10 oz can mandarin oranges drained very well
  • 1 14 oz can crushed pineapple drained very well
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup maraschino cherries cut in half
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows


  • Add all the ingredients to a bowl and fold together.
  • Cover with plastic and let set in the fridge overnight.


Calories: 97kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 26mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.1mg

If you’re looking for another dish to horrify your guests with (until they try them) whip up these bacon wraps made from bacon, condensed milk, dijon, cheese and bread. You would NEVER those ingredients would make up anything even close to delicious but they’re a favourite of everyone who’s tried them.

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Marshmallow Salad. The Salad That Sounds Like an April Fools\' Joke.


  1. Heidi says:

    Candy salad is our name for it too.
    We decorate it with the cherries cut up and arranged like flowers and maybe a crushed candy cane border.
    Yes it is a salad and proud to see it on our table.
    I think we must all be related or at least distant cousins. I have never met any one else that has seen this before.

  2. Dear, dear Karen, thank you so much for posting this recipe, here is my bittersweet comment. You posted this recipe on April 1, the 2 month anniversary of my daughter’s passing. This may all sound kind of weird or bizarre, but it is sadly very true, it’s the little things I guess. My daughter, Morganna Thomas, lived in Austin, TX, and passed away suddenly on February 1 this year. I saw your post and couldn’t believe it. It brought back so many memories. My daughter loved this “salad”. My mother made the version with canned fruit salad, added canned mandarin oranges, coconut flakes, mini marshmallows, and I think the dressing was sour cream and cool whip. We always had it at family picnics and Easter. I carried on the tradition when I married and had kids of my own, however, eventually I stopped making this salad. Even as an adult my daughter, when she was home for holidays, would ask why I no longer made this salad??? I would answer with, do you know what the ingredients are?! Nowadays, we are all so worried about eating only the healthiest foods, maybe there should be exceptions? It may sound silly, but there are lots of regrets I have regarding my daughter now she’s gone, but you can add this to the list. As a dear friend of mine says, “it’s okay if we end up in heaven with a little Crisco on our hips”, well maybe we can add cool whip and marshmallow salad to that list! Thank you again for your post, it brought a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes.

  3. Barb says:

    Well ladies, have I got a West Virgina version for y’all! From a recipe passed down from my Grandma Loretta she called “Gooey”, I still make it for myself, only on a smaller scale. Using one bag of large marshmallows, cut each one into 4 pieces into a large bowl (keep your shears wet…it keeps the marshmallows from sticking to the blades). Add 2 small cans (or 1 large…or more, if you want!) of fruit cocktail mix, juice and all. Add about 1/2 to 2/3 of 1 quart half and half and mix well. The mixture is supposed to have a juicy texture to it, just not runny. You’ll need to add more of the half and half as it sits, as the marshmallows will soak up a lot of the juice and cream. And that’s it! This dessert is so unbelievably yummy and fruity and creamy…and takes me right back into my Grandma’s kitchen, mixing up a big bowl of Gooey! ❤

  4. Sigrid Olsen says:

    ok–this is commonly called ambrosia. However, I have served it OFTEN, and always get raves—as it is a nostalgia set piece that people secretly love. There is only one way to do this—you must toast that coconut rather toasty—even brown. Only add it in at the end (I put this together super fast because I chill everything before hand. I use white marshmallows. I use pinapple tidbits instead of chunks. Last year I gave a huge baby shower with the theme vintage 50s. Guess what: I served this, chicken salad—YOUR RECIPE!!!!—and 15 Bundt cakes. Let me say that it was a huge hit! Now that you posted this, I can finally thank you for the chicken salad recipe. I had abundant food and people were woofing everything down. The best part is that several “old ladies” requested I put up a plate for them to take home—I was tickled to do this.

  5. beks says:

    check out “strawberry pretzel salad ” recipes. My grandmother served it as a side dish with what she dubbed as “hostess chicken” (white bread and chicken casserole?) they both taste like love.

  6. Scout says:

    This is a great side dish. Like candied yams, or carrots. Sweet and sour pork and glazed ham are main events. If you’re not goin’ to a party tho……..use caution. Remember the gallon of yogurt not long ago? Remember the gallon of yogurt not long ago.

  7. My 19 year old daughter decided to host a BBQ for her friends and this was my contribution to the party 🤣. Must pass in the tradition to the next generation!

  8. Ian says:

    Yum. My grandma would make it with Orzo pasta and also the coolwhip version. And she peeled. Every. Single. Green. Grape. That was in it.

  9. Carole says:

    In my circle, we make something very similar and call it 5 Cup Salad or Angel Food, because it’s so white. (Angel Food is kind of a play on ambrosia, which in Greek mythology was the food of the gods.) The “salad” contains one cup each of mandarin oranges, coconut, crushed pineapple, miniature marshmallows (white only) and sour cream. I try to push it as far towards healthy as I can and cut back a little on the sour cream (though the marshmallows soak it up like crazy), use fresh pineapple cut in tidbit-sized chunks and add sliced toasted almonds. It is actually a pretty amazing combo.

  10. Jenna says:

    We call it “6 cup salad”. Always a big hit at potlucks, especially with the southern people who grew up on it. YUMMY stuff! If you live in Texas, you also add chopped pecans!

  11. Mary W says:

    My Mom always made this salad on holidays as a side and I’m 74 yo so it’s been a real hit for many, many years. I guess we have all ‘come out of the closet.’ Her dessert was store bought angel food cake sliced into layers and spread with a mixture of Dream Whip, canned/drained Mandarin oranges and shredded, sweetened coconut. It looked beautiful and tasted sweet so it was perfect for a dessert on special occasions.

  12. Eileen says:

    I am intrigued…..what do you eat it with?

  13. Sara Kelly says:

    YAAZZZ! QUEEN! Thank you for reminding me about this one. Love it SO much! Totally gonna make this. It’s not a midwestern potluck without it. In this case, I will just be sneaking bites of it every half hour while I work from home. You’re the best!!!

  14. Melissa says:

    OMG! I seriously thought we were the only family that made that salad and also serve it as a side dish not a dessert. My grandma made it for every holiday and has passed it onto us grandchildren. Holiday meals would not be the same without it! And like your family, it’s called something different every year but mostly it’s called the Fruit Salad with Marshmallows. Thanks for sharing this story as it’s made my day!

  15. Bertie George says:

    sweet stuff with meat stuff … chutney salad! A runaway looked-forward-to hit at every shameless, gluttonous family feast around here.

  16. Deborah says:

    OMG I grew up with Marshmallow Salad at all family feasts on my mom’s side! It was served in a crystal bowl. It is absolutely disgusting. And yet, somehow goes so well with turkey…. The sour cream is key to (attempt) to balance out the sickly sweet marshmallows. I think it must originate from some 1970s calendar recipe – how to make a ‘salad’ exclusively from your lazy susan. For many years, our family feasts also included an orange jello mould with grated carrots and celery – possibly originating from the same 1970s calendar….

  17. Gerry McAuley says:

    I have been making this salad for years. I serve it at every family bar-b-q.
    I’m looking forward to trying your version, I’ve never used maraschino cherries or sweetened coconut; only dessicated. I also use pineapple pieces not crushed.
    Thanks for the recipe.

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