Aunt Jessie’s Ambrosia Salad


I spent my twenties living in San Francisco, and a good portion of that time was spent in the audience at drag bars, hanging out with drag performers, and even dating one. There was one drag queen named Ambrosia Salad (which is a fucking brilliant drag name) and every time she performed, I was transported back to the couch at my Aunt Jessie’s house. Aunt Jessie is Bimpy’s younger sister and is famous for her sweet tooth. She always made her Ambrosia Salad recipe at every family gathering, and I am pretty sure I always consumed the majority of it.

Ambrosia Salad is named after the food of Greek and Roman Gods and is a common recipe that has many different ingredient variations: sour cream, cool whip, marshmallows, canned fruits, coconut, you name it! My recipe honors the recipe of Aunt Jessie, but like all my family recipes, has a fun Grossy spin. We are looking at a supermarket fantasy here, one that may not be for everyone, and that’s okay. When it works, Ambrosia Salad can be a mouthful of pure joy, whimsy and, of course, nostalgia.

Watch me make this recipe on Instagram!

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Aunt Jessie's Ambrosia Salad

Aunt Jessie’s Ambrosia Salad

  • Author: Dan Pelosi

What You’ll Need

  • 1 3 oz. box instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 8 oz. container of cool whip*
  • 1 15 oz. can fruit cocktail**
  • 1 5 oz. can mandarin oranges**
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple**
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes or shavings, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • It’c common is many Ambrosia Salad recipes to add lots of other ingredients like mini marshmallows and other types of fruits. Add them in to this recipe, they will work! I do not add them into mine, as it was not our family tradition!

What You’ll Do

  1. This recipe takes approximately 90 seconds to make and is pure joy. Let’s go.
  2. Mix the cool whip and dry pudding mix together in a bowl.
  3. Strain the juices from your canned fruits. Give the juice to Bimpy to drink then add the fruit into the bowl with the cool whip. Add coconut and nuts as well. Mix to combine until everything is evenly distributed.
  4. Place in your serving bowl and chill in the fridge before serving. This is a dish best served cold 🙂


*You can use whipped cream instead of cool whip if you like.

**You can use any combo of these canned fruits, just always use 30 ounces total combined.