We took a traditional side dish and turned it into the best Cranberry Ambrosia Salad. Loaded with cranberries, pecans, mandarin oranges and more. A holiday favorite!

Cranberry Ambrosia Salad Close Up

This delicious side dish, was born out of the desire to come up with different variations of our traditional basic creamy cranberry ambrosia salad. Sometimes it only takes one ingredient or a minor change to make another delicious dish with the same or similar ingredients!

Why You’ll Love This Cranberry Ambrosia Salad

  • This is an incredibly fool proof recipe that turns out amazing every time.
  • It can easily be adjusted, or added to if you desire.
  • Make ahead to prepare for you holiday event.
  • Looks beautiful on your holiday table.
  • and of course… absolutely delicious!

Extra Holiday Side Dish Recipes

This week I have shared Easy Cheesy Creamed Spinach, Sweet Skillet Cornbread, Best Easy Homemade Stove Top Stuffing

But if you need even more side dish recipes, these are our favorites!

And of course, this fabulous Holiday Cranberry Ambrosia Salad.

Three bowls of Cranberry Ambrosia Salad on a white board

Christmas Holiday Ambrosia Salad is a twist on a traditional classic ambrosia salad, made special for the holidays.

Because… why not?

It is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and any time in between. It’s also good, just because.

It tastes more like dessert than a side dish, but we don’t complain. It’s delicious! 

Can I add things to my ambrosia salad?

Yes! Don’t be afraid to add more of what you love in this dish, too.

Here are some easy suggestions:

  • extra thawed frozen cranberries
  • swap out the shredded coconut or try it with sweetened coconut vs unsweetened coconut
  • instead of pecans, change up the nut; try almonds, walnuts or macadamia nuts are all good choices!
  • other fruit – we’ve added sliced strawberries and sliced cherries as well
  • try a different flavor yogurt – strawberry yogurt is delicious in this as is lemon yogurt

You can absolutely add or take away what you want. It’s all optional, really. Just be ready to adjust the liquid amount a bit to keep the salad creamy and moist.

Beautiful Cranberry Ambrosia Salad for Christmas

Can I make my own whipped cream for Cranberry ambrosia salad?

Make your own whipped cream or use store-bought.

When we make our own, which we love to do, we change up the extracts involved to add different flavors for whatever we are making it for.

This particular salad is amazing with vanilla, BUT we’ve also really enjoyed:

  • rum extract
  • almond extract
  • cinnamon extract

You can really change up the flavors of this yummy Christmas Holiday Ambrosia Salad by changing what you put in it. This makes it a pretty versatile holiday recipe!

Cranberry Ambrosia Salad Overhead Shot

Make Ahead and Storage Information

This dish as written can be made ahead by about 48 hours. However, we have some other options to allow you to make it a few more days ahead if you’d like.

How to make ahead more than 48 hours in advance

If you find yourself prepping for an event several days in advanced, start by mixing up the fruits together. Store that mixture in an airtight container for up to a week.

In a separate container, mix the yogurt and whipped cream together, also store this separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

On the day you want to serve the dish, at least six hours ahead of time, remove the items from the refrigerator. Drain the fruit of its accumulated liquid. Gently fold the whipped cream/yogurt mixture into it. Add the marshmallows, coconut and pecans. Mix gently and cover in an airtight container and return to the refrigerator for at least 6 hours until ready to serve.

Can I freeze this?

We have had some of our readers freeze this dish before hand, and then complain later about the amount of liquid that is present after thawing, so I would caution you doing it this way unless you wait and perhaps add the marshmallows, nuts and shredded coconut after it has thawed to be able to absorb some of that liquid that will inevitably be there. It will still need to sit and meld the flavors for a good six hours or so.

Storing Leftovers

After serving, any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. As time goes by, liquid can be accumulated, so save some marshmallows and add a few and allow to sit for a bit before serving your leftovers. It is not necessary to allow it to sit for 6 hours, but I would definitely allow for at least 2 to allow the marshmallows to soften completely, because texture will be very different with fresh marshmallows.

More tasty holiday side dish recipes:

Cranberry Ambrosia Salad Overhead Shot

More dishes that go well with this salad:

Printable Recipe

Cranberry Ambrosia Salad Featured Image

Cranberry Ambrosia Salad

Nicole Cook
We took a traditional side dish and turned it into the best Cranberry Ambrosia Salad. Loaded with cranberries, pecans, mandarin oranges and more. A holiday favorite!
4.44 from 39 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Refrigerate 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 262 kcal


  • 14 ounces whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple drained
  • 11 ounces mandarin oranges drained
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 8 ounces whipped cream you might need a little more
  • ½ cups vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cups chopped pecans


  • In a large bowl, combine the whole berry cranberry sauce, pineapple and mandarin oranges.
  • Add the whipped cream and vanilla yogurt. Mix and combine well.
  • Gently fold in the marshmallows, coconut and pecans.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  • Serve chilled. Serve on lettuce or spinach leaves for holiday serving – looks incredibly festive!


Calories: 262kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 3gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 37mgPotassium: 189mgFiber: 2gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 339IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 1mg
Keyword easy holiday recipes, easy side dishes
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    1. If we are going to make it ahead, we usually only do it a day or two ahead. The main reason for this, is it can get filled with liquid pretty quickly from the ingredients. If you’re going to make it ahead and need it to be a little longer, you could very easily prepare each of the groups separately, and then six hours before (or the night before) serving, mix everything together and refrigerate. I will amend the post to give suggestions on how I think this would best work. Enjoy!

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