This Thanksgiving Fruit Salad is the perfect fruit side dish for thanksgiving. It’s a fluffy, creamy, crowd-pleaser that’s welcomed at any holiday meal.

Looking for a fruit side dish for the big feast? You’re in the right place! This fruit salad is EASY-to-make from scratch with no Jell-O or Cool-Whip in sight.

(PS – It’s my kids favorite part of Thanksgiving!)

close up shot of fruit salad in white serving bowl

To me Thanksgiving is all about the sides and the side line-up wouldn’t be complete without a creamy, fruit salad.

This thanksgiving fruit salad is my favorite combination – with sweet chunks of pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, grapes and bananas.

It is a crowd-pleaser and always one of the first dishes to go at any get-together!

Why You’ll LOVE fruit salad for a Thanksgiving side!

  • Make-ahead dish
  • Perfect balance of sweet and tart
  • Creamy
  • Kid-approved
  • Best way to add a fruit side to your spread!

For more Thanksgiving sides, try this gluten-free sweet potato casserole, this gluten-free stuffing or this gluten-free cornbread stuffing. You also might like this full collection of gluten-free thanksgiving desserts.

Ingredients You’ll Need

overhead shot of ingredients to make fruit salad
  • Pineapple Custard: This recipe includes an easy, homemade custard made with pineapple juice from the canned pineapple.
  • Whipped cream: Use the real deal! This is a no cool-whip fruit salad.
  • Cherries: You want to use jarred or canned cherries packed in juice. You don’t want cherry pie filling or cherry topping. Royal Anne cherries are best if you can find them!
  • Apples/Banana: Save these two to add right before you serve the salad so they don’t get brown.

How to Make It

how to cook and whisk the custard
  • In the bowl of a double boiler, combine the pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and butter.
  • Set over a double boiler and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. This usually takes 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool before adding to the fruit salad.
whipped cream and adding fruit to the bowl
  • Combine all the ingredients except the whipped cream and bananas. Fold in the cooled pineapple custard and whipped cream.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
adding bananas and apples to the fruit salad

Before serving you’ll add the apples and banana. This way they’ll stay fresh and not brown.

Tips for Making Thanksgiving Fruit Salad

  • What makes this salad especially special is the addition of marshmallows that get soft and sponge-like as the salad sits overnight. Be sure to let it sit for at least 6 hours.
  • Use the right kind of cherries! You want jarred or canned cherries packed in thin, liquid juice. Do not use cherry pie filling or topping.
  • This fruit salad is incredibly versatile! You can use any fruit you have on hand. I also sometimes like to add 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
overhead shot of fruit salad in white serving bowl with small bowls of fruit salad on the side

More Thanksgiving Recipes

If you try this recipe be sure to leave me a comment/rating below! I’d also be happy to help with any questions. Happy Thanksgiving!

close up shot of fruit salad in white serving bowl
5 from 11 votes

Thanksgiving Fruit Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Resting Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 20 mins
Servings 6 -8 servings
This Thanksgiving Fruit Salad is the perfect fruit side dish for thanksgiving. It's a fluffy, creamy, crowd-pleaser that's welcomed at any holiday meal.
Looking for a fruit side dish for the big feast? You're in the right place! This fruit salad is EASY-to-make from scratch with no Jell-O or Cool-Whip in sight. It's my kids favorite part of Thanksgiving!

Video

Ingredients

For the Pineapple Custard:

  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice from the can of Dole Pineapple Chunks
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the Fruit Salad:

  • 20 oz pineapple tidbits drained (save 3 tablespoons for the pineapple custard)
  • 1 cup jarred cherries drained (not cherry pie filling or topping)
  • 15 oz mandarin oranges drained
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 2 cups marshmallows mini or large (halved if using large)
  • 1 cup whipped cream beat into firm peaks
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • 1 green apple diced

Instructions 

For the Pineapple Custard:

  • In the bowl of a double boiler, combine the pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and butter.
  • Set over a double boiler and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. This usually takes 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool before adding to the fruit salad.

For the Fruit Salad:

  • Combine all the ingredients except the whipped cream and bananas. Fold in the cooled pineapple custard and whipped cream.
  • Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours. Add the sliced bananas and apples just before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Tips
  • What makes this salad especially special is the addition of marshmallows that get soft and sponge-like as the salad sits overnight. Be sure to let it sit for at least 6 hours.
  • Use the right kind of cherries! You want jarred or canned cherries packed in thin, liquid juice. Do not use cherry pie filling or topping.
  • This fruit salad is incredibly versatile! You can use any fruit you have on hand. I also sometimes like to add 1/2 cup shredded coconut.

Nutrition

Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 476mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 1580IU | Vitamin C: 40.7mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1.5mg

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Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. I am so excited to make this and take it to Thanksgiving this year. My beloved aunt, who passed away this year, always made a fruit salad with fruit cocktail, Cool Whip, and marshmallows. I will bring this recipe in honor of her. ❤️

    1. My condolences to you and your family. I’m so honored you’re making this fruit salad to remember her – so sweet!

  2. 5 stars
    The crowd loves this salad! I brought this to our family gathering and I’m glad I got positive comments from them. Highly recommended!

  3. 5 stars
    This is my daughter’s favorite recipe ever! There is never a week where she is not asking when is the next time we get to have it.

  4. 5 stars
    I love fruit salad. It’s like healthy treat that is a perfect compliment to any meal! Canned fruit is the best- makes it so easy!

  5. This looks SO good! I could definitely eat my fruit every day if I had this on hand. Beautiful photography, too

  6. I was looking for a sweet and juicy fruit salad with marshmallows for my 4 boys. We all loved it and will make it for every holiday from now on! Thank you so much for this recipe!!!!! PS: My husband insisted on some extra slices of green apple!

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