Holiday Ambrosia – A Divine Dessert

A Sure Sign of Christmastime

From the time I was a young girl, one sure sign to me that Christmastime was approaching was when I saw my mother in the kitchen sectioning oranges. That was a sure sign that she was making Holiday Ambrosia, one of my Dad’s favorite holiday dishes.  As long as Mom would keep making Holiday Ambrosia, my Dad would keep bringing home those wonderful Florida oranges. Dad could eat Holiday Ambrosia almost as fast as Mom could make it!  I take after my Dad in that respect as I love Holiday Ambrosia too! (Fortunately for me, none of my brothers liked coconut!)

How to Peel and Section Oranges

The most tedious work in making Holiday Ambrosia is the peeling and sectioning of the oranges.  I’ve found that a really sharp knife is essential to prevent frustration in completing this task.  Much care must be taken in cutting out the orange sections as the escaping juice makes the process that much more slippery and difficult.  Below is a good video showing how to peel and section an orange.

My family’s version of Holiday Ambrosia contains only 4 ingredients – fresh orange sections, flaked coconut, powdered or confectioner’s sugar and maraschino cherries.  Navel oranges are my preference as they are larger and therefore easier for me to peel and handle.  The oranges are peeled, taking off as much of the white pith as possible, and sectioned.  All the ingredients are placed in a bowl, tossing the mixture a few times to distribute the coconut and powdered sugar, covered and then placed in the refrigerator overnight for all the flavors to properly mingle.

Variations to this basic recipe include adding pineapple chunks, bananas, and other fruits, whipped cream and miniature marshmallows. The maraschino cherries probably started out as a garnish but it’s nice to have enough cherries in the recipe to have more than one in a serving. The confectioner’s sugar may be omitted, especially if the oranges are really sweet naturally. A little cherry juice may be added to the mixture to add a little more sweetness and some beautiful color as well. Orange zest could be added to emphasize the orange flavor. An “adult” version” of Holiday Ambrosia could be made by adding some Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur to the fruit mixture. I prefer the basic recipe –  I guess I’m a purist when it comes to Holiday Ambrosia!  My husband is from St. Louis and he likes to add in pineapple, bananas and whipped cream to ambrosia as his preferences.  

Holiday Ambrosia
Serves 6
A wonderful mixture of fresh orange sections, flaked coconut, powdered sugar and maraschino cherries, great for a holiday dessert!
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 6-8 Oranges (preferably Navel)
  2. 1/4 - 1/2 cup Powdered or Confectioner's Sugar
  3. 1 cup flaked Coconut
  4. 1 small jar Maraschino Cherries
  1. Carefully peel and section oranges. Place in a bowl.
  2. Add confectioner's sugar, coconut and maraschino cherries to the oranges and toss gently to combine all the ingredients.
  3. Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to allow flavors time to mingle. Serve in an attractive dish and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
  1. Powdered sugar may be omitted if oranges are really sweet naturally. Experiment to find out your preference for the amount of powdered sugar needed.

Holiday Ambrosia – A Divine Dessert

No matter which way you prepare Holiday Ambrosia, it is a divine dessert.  I was surprised to see it described recently as a “fruit salad” because I’ve always thought of ambrosia as a dessert.  In mythology, the consumption of ambrosia was typically reserved only for the gods.  Ambrosia was thought to cleanse all defilement from the flesh of the gods.  Ambrosia means “immortality” in the Greek, as it was often depicted as conferring longevity to whoever consumed it. Doves supposedly carried ambrosia to the gods in Olympus.  (Just a myth!)

Thankfully, us mortals can partake of wonderful Holiday Ambrosia after just a trip to the store for some oranges, coconut, powdered sugar and maraschino cherries!  Holiday Ambrosia is a great dessert for times when you want a lighter dessert than cake, pie or cookies.  

Create some delicious holiday memories of your own by making some Holiday Ambrosia soon!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!


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6 Comments on “Holiday Ambrosia – A Divine Dessert

  1. This recipes is so simply yet looks so delicious!
    Thank you for stopping by to share on the #OMHGWW and for linking back, I appreciate that!!!
    Have a great week!

  2. Where I hail from Ambrosia is a salad. Family friends we had Thanksgiving with every year when I was a teenager served it right along with the cranberry sauce. I actually have these ingredients right now! It will perk up my kind of left over clean out the fridge dinenr tonihgt. Thanks! Marry Christmas!

  3. Hi Linda, Thanks for stopping by and telling me about your ambrosia experiences! I think I always thought it was just so good it had to be dessert! Hope you enjoy it with your leftovers – it could definitely elevate any meal! Merry Christmas to you too! Blessings,Janet

  4. Yes Ambrosia reminds me of Christmas when I was a kid. Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday. See you again this week.

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