Fruit Salad with Cool Whip and pudding is a light and refreshing fresh fruit salad in a creamy Cool Whip dressing that stirs together in minutes. Easy recipe to customize to your liking -- perfect for your next family gathering or special occasion.
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Cool Whip Fruit Salad is the best fruit salad ever.
And by salad, I mean salad-slash-dessert-- the kind that's a staple at summer picnics, church potlucks, and holiday meals here in the Midwest.
This traditional fruit salad with Cool Whip may not technically be an ambrosia fruit salad, but I think it could definitely be classified as a "food of the gods."
The mixture of delicious fruity flavors and textures and the sweet mandarin orange dressing is heavenly. Toasted coconut and pecans add nutty flavor and crunchy texture -- but they're totally optional if you're not into crunchy stuff in your fruit salad (I get it!).
The best part? This Cool Whip fruit salad recipe can easily live in harmony on the salad table next to the Tuna Macaroni Salad and English Pea Salad OR the dessert table with the Hello Dolly Bars and Coconut Dream Bars.
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
Cool and creamy fruit salad, perfect for cooling off in the hot summer months
Easy dessert salad recipe with simple ingredients
Versatile recipe to customize with different fruit and pudding flavors
Refreshing and light dessert salad (yes, that's a thing, lol)
Mandarin oranges. One 15 oz. can of mandarin oranges in water (usually labeled "no sugar added') mixes with the vanilla pudding mix and Cool Whip for the yummiest fruit salad dressing ever.
Instant vanilla pudding mix. You can use vanilla or French vanilla instant pudding mix. Be sure to use instant pudding -- cook-and-serve pudding won't set up. It's hard to tell all the boxes apart, so just remember that cook & serve pudding has a spoon on the box.
Fresh fruit. I chose green grapes, strawberries, and blueberries. You can use your favorite fresh fruit.
Canned pineapple. Fresh pineapple isn't recommended because it contains an enzyme that can affect the flavor and texture. Besides, who wants to break down a whole pineapple anyway?
Toasted coconut flakes. You can use regular coconut, but if you have a few minutes to toast the coconut, it's totally worth it.
Pecans. Toasted pecans add a crunchy element to the otherwise creamy vanilla pudding fruit salad.
Crushed pineapple. You can also mix the dry pudding mix into a can of crushed pineapple.
Instant pudding. Cheesecake or white chocolate pudding would also be delicious!
Fruit. Use your favorite fresh fruit or berries like bananas, kiwi, or raspberries, or drained canned fruit like peaches, maraschino cherries, or fruit cocktail salad.
Whipped topping. If you're not into Cool Whip, give Truwhip a try! Fresh whipped cream would also work -- just be sure to serve it right away or it can get runny.
Marshmallows. Go ahead and add some mini marshmallows!
Coconut. If you're not into coconut, leave it out.
Nuts. Use your favorite nuts like pistachios, walnuts, or almonds. Or skip them if you don't like nuts in salads.
1. Toast the pecans (if using, optional).
Warm a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans. Stir for 2-5 minutes until the pecans are fragrant and lightly toasted. Immediately remove from the heat and place on a cutting board or plate.
2. Toast the coconut (if using, optional).
Warm a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir for 3-4 minutes until the coconut is lightly toasted. Immediately remove from the heat and place on a cool plate.
3. Make the fruit salad dressing.
In a large bowl, whisk the undrained oranges and water with the dry instant pudding mix until combined.
Fold in the Cool Whip.
4. Assemble the salad.
Stir in the grapes, blueberries, strawberries, drained can of pineapple tidbits, and coconut and pecans if using.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
5. Serve and enjoy!
Serve with additional coconut, pecans, and fruit.
This salad is best enjoyed the same day it is made.
Store leftover fruit salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
After a day or so, the fruit will start to soften and release juices. The salad will still be very delicious, it just have a thinner consistency.
You don't have to toast the coconut and pecans, but it's definitely worth the time!
Customize with your favorite fruits or what's in season. Peaches, raspberries, kiwi, blackberries, bananas, or apples would all be delicious.
To make ahead of time, prep the fruit, toasted coconut, and toasted pecans, and store them in individual containers. The day of, make the dressing and stir everything together.
This Jello fruit salad with Cool Whip is a classic fruit salad recipe made by mixing a variety of fresh fruits with a mixture of instant pudding mix, mandarin oranges, and Cool Whip.
This is such an easy fruit salad recipe to customize -- you can use any combination of fruits you like.
Popular choices include fresh strawberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, and bananas. Fresh pineapple is not recommended because it contains an enzyme that can affect the flavor and texture.
You can also make this fruit salad with canned fruit, just be sure to drain it well first.
Yes, you can use homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip. However, keep in mind that the texture of the salad may be slightly different.
Yes, you can make this salad several hours in advance.
The best way to make it a day ahead of time is to prepare the fruit, toasted coconut, and toasted pecans and store them in separate containers. The next day, just make the dressing and stir everything together.
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Fruit Salad with Cool Whip
- 15 oz. can mandarin oranges in water, undrained
- 1 3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding (4 serving size)
- 8 oz. Cool Whip
- 2 cups green grapes, halved
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- ½ cup pecans
- Toast the pecans. Warm a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans. Stir for 2-5 minutes until the pecans are fragrant and lightly toasted. Immediately remove from the heat and place on a cutting board or plate.
- Toast the coconut. Warm a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir for 3-4 minutes until the coconut is lightly toasted. Immediately remove from the heat and place on a cool plate.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the undrained oranges in water with the dry instant pudding mix until combined. Fold in the Cool Whip.
- Stir in the grapes, blueberries, strawberries, drained pineapple, coconut, and pecans.
- Chill for one hour. Serve with additional coconut, pecans, and fruit. This salad is best enjoyed the same day it is made.