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Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad

Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad is a tropical flavored fluff recipe. The recipe is a modern version of the traditional 50’s ambrosia side dish.  Ambrosia my aunt use to make and tell me it is called “food of the Gods”.  Like the traditional version of ambrosia, Pina Colada Fluff is made of whip topping, pineapple, and coconut in smooth vanilla pudding.  And I do not want to forget the mini marshmallows when you add is an adult version of the fun popular 50’s dessert.

Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad on a dark wood table with a gray napkin with a spoon dipped in

Any of the usual fluffy fruit salad side dishes are made of pineapple, mandarin oranges, coconut, nuts, and mini marshmallows.  I remember fondly as a kid many ambrosia dishes at all the holiday gatherings.  For Pina Colada Fluff I am switching it up to have coconut, chopped nuts, and rum extract which makes a perfect light side dish that can be a dessert for any dinner or card party.

Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad pinapple and pudding  in clear bowl with spoon and rum extract on the table

How to Make Pina Colada Salad – Dessert

The base of this recipe is a box package of Jell-O vanilla pudding. I like to mix the crushed pineapple and the juice with the pudding first to get the flavors mixed.

Next, you will add the rum extract, chopped pecans, mini marshmallows, and the shredded coconut, mix well.

The last step is to fold in the thawed Cool Whip. This being the last step help to keep the fluffy texture. You can add to fancy serving glasses or dessert cups. You can also put the whole salad in a serving bowl for a buffets style serving dish.

Just like an ambrosia salad, Pina Colada salad is best served chilled. You can make the dessert the day ahead as it keeps well for up to 2 days.

Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad all the ingredients in a clear bowl with marshmallow, coconut and pecans.

I am so excited to make the pina colada fluff for next month’s card party at our house.  A lot of our friends do not want heavy desserts after dinner. While I remember fluff being a side dish, it is perfect for a light dessert.  I can dish this up in parfait glasses and really put a wow factor to it.

Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad in a tall clear dessert glass a spoon in the dessert on a dark wood table

Try these Fluff Salads Family Favorites

If you like this recipe you will love the traditional Watergate Salad. Check out this delicious Watergate Salad Pineapple Pistachio Dessert.

Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad in a tall clear dessert glass a spoon in the dessert on a dark wood table

How to Reduce the Calories for Pudding Cool Whip Salad

One of my favorite flavors is Pina Colada but we do not have drinks out much and a lot of time they are too sweet.  I think you will love the tropical flavor without all of the sugar as I use a sugar-free version of vanilla instant pudding. You get the great taste with the beach feel with less sugar.

One of the other strategies I use is to purchase the light or fat free Cool Whip. I do not notice any difference in the taste.

Supplies Needed:

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Pina Colada Ambrosia Salad

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Light fluff dessert ambrosia salad with a tropical twist for a side dish or dessert for any party or holiday. 


Units Scale
  • 1 box of sugar-free Jell-O instant Vanilla Pudding, 1 oz box
  • 1 can of Crushed Pineapple in 100% juice does not drain, 20 oz can
  • 1/2 tsp of Rum Extract
  • 1/2 cup of chopped Pecans
  • 3 cups of mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup of coconut shredded
  • 1 Cool Whip 8oz thawed


  1. Empty the pudding mix into a large bowl. (no not follow the directions on the box).
  2. Add the whole can of pineapple with the liquid to the pudding and mix well to remove any lumps.
  3. Add the rum extract
  4. When this is mixed well add the pecans, marshmallows, and coconut and mix.
  5. Lastly, add the Cool Whip, and with a folding motion mix all together.
  6. Put on one large bowl for a buffet table and picnic or put in individual parfait glasses.


  • Serving Size: 8
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  1. This looks great, it reminds me of the desserts we use to beg for when I was young. I love the mixture of coconut and marshmallows.

    1. I always loved Jell-O desserts too when we were young. It is time to bring them back, quick easy and light.

  2. My Dad expected ambrosia salad every Thanksgiving so I enjoyed it for many years. Your “fluff” looks so good in those nice parfait glasses. Thanks for sharing with Fiesta Friday as I know there are lots of bloggers who have had a version of this holiday dish.

  3. What a fun way to change up an old classic. Thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

  4. Ohhhhmyword! I am inlove! Its like our Green Fluff, but tropical. Which this island girl is loving! Thanks for sharing! Going to pin this for later :)

      1. Thank you for noticing they sizes were missing. I updated the recipe. I used a small box 1 oz of pudding mix, and a large can 20 oz of crushed pineapple. Let me know if you have any more questions.

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