5 cup salad is a sweet, tangy, and creamy side dish that combines pineapple, mandarin oranges, mini marshmallows, coconut, and a tangy sour cream dressing for an easy-to-make dish perfect for potlucks or summer barbecues.

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Simple 5 Cup Salad

This 5 Cup Salad (sometimes called Ambrosia Salad) is so quick and easy to make, and just as it’s called, you use 1 cup of each ingredient.

This Southern recipe combines pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, and mini marshmallows with sour cream in one bowl, then you cover and chill until you’re ready to serve – so straightforward yet so delicious!

A 5 Cup Salad may lack the lettuce of the traditional side and is not your typical fruit salad either, but it is a timeless classic that your family will love. While sour cream and fruit may seem like an odd combination, it’s the best creamy, creation with the best balance of sweet and tangy flavor.

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Why We Love This 5 Cup Salad Recipe

  • Quick and easy to make in minutes.
  • Only uses 5 ingredients.
  • No cook, naturally gluten-free recipe.
  • Sweet, creamy, comforting, and colorful.
  • Simple to serve as a side dish beside the main meal or saved for a refreshingly light dessert.
  • Perfect for a dinner party, potluck, picnic, or Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday dinner.
5 cup salad ingredients in different containers

5-Cup Salad Ingredients

  • Sour cream: You can use light sour cream for a lower calorie count.
  • Roughly chopped pineapple chunks, drained
  • Mandarin oranges, drained
  • Drained and halved maraschino cherries, no stems
  • Miniature marshmallows: You can use multicolored miniature marshmallows or plain miniature marshmallows. 

Substitutions and Additions

  • Sour Cream Swap: Instead of sour cream, you can use cool whip, cottage cheese, or vanilla Greek yogurt.
  • Pick Your Pineapple: You can substitute drained pineapple tidbits or drained crushed pineapples for the pineapple chunks.
  • Add Nuts: Feel free to add some crunch by including chopped pecans, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, or almonds in your salad.
  • Cherries Swap: You can substitute sweetened coconut flakes for the cherries.
  • Add more fruits: Feel free to add more fruit like chopped apples or grapes.
salad ingredients
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk

How to Make 5 Cup Salad

  1. Add the sour cream to a mixing bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.
  2. Fold in the pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, and miniature marshmallows until combined.
  3. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Serve while cold. Enjoy!

Tips For the Best 5 Cup Salad

  • If you’re looking to add some variety, feel free to substitute or add other ingredients like grapes, nuts, or yogurt.
  • You can use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • This dish can also be doubled or tripled if you need to feed a crowd.

How to Store 5-Cup Salad

To Store: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing.

5 cup salad in a cup

Is 5-Cup Salad a Side Dish or Dessert?

Honestly, it can be either! It depends on the meal I am serving. If I am doing it for a brunch or BBQ, I will serve it with the main dishes. If I am having a heavier dinner, I will usually put it out with the desserts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this 5 Cup Salad in advance?

Yes, you can absolutely make this salad in advance. In fact, I think this salad is best after the flavors have blended overnight. This naturally gluten-free salad will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Can I use large marshmallows if I don’t have mini marshmallows?

Yes, you can use large marshmallows by cutting them into quarters with kitchen shears to turn them into mini marshmallows. Eight large marshmallows is the equivalent of 1 cup of mini marshmallows.

Can I use fresh mandarin oranges instead of canned ones?

For best results, I prefer to use canned mandarin oranges. Fresh oranges have a pith (the white part) around each segment, which will affect the texture of the dish.

Can I freeze this salad?

No, this salad should not be frozen! If you freeze this salad, you will end up with a melted, watery mess when it thaws. 

5 cup salad in a bowl

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5 from 7 votes
5 cup salad featured image

5 Cup Salad

Serves — 5
A 5 Cup Salad is a quick and easy way to make a 5 ingredient simple side dish or light dessert. No cooking needed!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks roughly chopped, drained
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges drained
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries drained and halved, no stems
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows


  • Add the sour cream to a medium size mixing bowl, and whisk to remove any lumps.
  • Fold in the pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries and miniature marshmallows just until combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Serve while cold.

Jenn’s Notes

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • You can add nuts for an added crunch.
  • You can substitute sweetened coconut flakes for the cherries.
  • Feel free to add more fruit like chopped apples or grapes.
  • This dish can also be doubled or tripled if you need to feed a crowd.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 199mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 597IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. 5 stars
    I have made this twice since I first saw it on your site and it was a huge hit both times. Super easy and very delicious. Thank you for all the effort you put into this site.

  2. 5 stars
    This is the recipe that I want to try. I am all about the No-Bake Dessert! I have quite a collection of recipes, but this is not one of them. I like the substitutions ideas. Thanks!