This creamy Hawaiian fruit salad has been a favorite in our family for over 60 years! Not only is it super easy to make, it also pairs perfectly as a side dish or stands on its own as a dessert. Cool, refreshing, and always a hit at holiday meals or summer barbecues!
Grandmother’s Hawaiian Fruit Salad
I was talking to my mom about the potato salad I made last week. For the record, my mom (a.k.a. Granny) gave me the recipe and taught me how to make it over 30 years ago!
It’s her recipe!
But she had long lost the recipe and she still wanted to get it from me, because I told her how great it had turned out. That’s why this blog is here! To capture these old family recipes and to share them with others to enjoy.
While we were on the phone, she told me that I should make this recipe, what she calls Hawaiian Fruit Salad.
It goes by that name. It also goes by Marshmallow Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit Salad, or Coconut Marshmallow Fruit Salad.
This recipe actually came from my grandmother, my dad’s mom, who was called Grandmother. My mom says our family has been making this tropical fruit salad for over 60 years.
Related: For another fluffy fruit salad, try our Watergate Salad recipe too! (Also known as Pistachio Delight!)
What’s in Hawaiian Fruit Salad?
By now, you might be guessing that there is tropical fruit, marshmallows, and coconut in this salad.
You would be right.
I can’t explain the synergy of these ingredients together, but it becomes a sweet but not too sweet side dish. While the marshmallows might make it seem like it should be on the dessert table, I like to have it on my plate with my meal.
It’s not over-powering sweet because there is a secret ingredient. Sour cream!
Let’s talk more about the ingredients…
Hawaiian Fruit Salad Ingredients
- 1 can of pineapple — Chunks, or rings that you cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 can of Mandarin oranges — Reserve a few to garnish the top
- 1 cup of green grapes — Save a few to garnish the top
- Shredded coconut — The original recipe calls for sweetened coconut; but I used unsweetened, dried, desiccated coconut (because that’s what I had on hand) and it tasted great!
- Sour cream — Daisy is my favorite brand of sour cream but any kind will do
- Mini marshmallows — You’ll need at least a cup, with a few extra to garnish the top
Can I Use Fresh Fruit Instead of Canned?
Sixty years ago, pineapple and mandarin oranges were probably not a staple in the grocery store as they are now. However, canned fruit probably was easy to find and that’s why it’s used in so many recipes from that era.
I’m sure it would be great with fresh ingredients too, but for the most authentic taste, I’d go with canned fruit for this salad.
Plus, with the canned fruit there is no messy peeling or cutting! That contributes to the absolute easiness of this delicious side dish that you can prepare in minutes. It can be made last minute and you can put it in a pretty dish and be ready to go to a cookout or BBQ!
How to Make Tropical Fruit Salad
Did I mention this is one of the easiest recipes ever??
First, drain the canned fruit.
Now we’re going to add the drained fruit to a large mixing bowl with the grapes.
Then we add the coconut — I start with about ¼ cup of coconut. Since mine was finely shredded, this seemed to be about right. Then add the cup of marshmallows. Finally, add the sour cream and mix it all together.
To serve, put the mixed salad in a pretty bowl.
Place a few grapes and mandarin oranges on top. Then sprinkle a dusting of extra coconut over the whole thing.
Can you make this fruit salad a day ahead?
Sure! While it definitely tastes best within the first day or so, you can make it ahead if needed.
However, this is a really easy recipe and only takes about 10 minutes to put together in the first place, so if you’re pressed for time, it’s a great choice!
How long can you keep fruit salad?
Because it contains dairy (sour cream), be sure to keep this tropical fruit salad refrigerated most of the time. Don’t leave it out at room temperature for more than an hour or two.
When kept in the fridge, this fruit salad should last a couple days. Any longer than that and the juices start to seep out of the fruit and pool in the bottom of the bowl.
Hawaiian Fruit Salad Recipe (Printable Copy)
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Creamy Hawaiian Fruit Salad
- 1 can pineapple chunks
- 1 can mandarin oranges
- 1 cup sweet green grapes
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut unsweetened or sweetened
- 3/4 cup sour cream can be adjusted to more or less as needed
- Drain the canned fruit thoroughly.
- Combine the fruit, marshmallows, coconut, and sour cream in a mixing bowl.
- Put salad in serving bowl and top with extra marshmallows, oranges, and grapes.
- Sprinkle the top with shredded coconut.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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