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24-Hour Salad – My Family’s Favorite No-Bake Fluff Dessert

24-Hour Salad: A No Bake Fluff Recipe

In my family, whenever my mom makes 24-hour salad (sometimes referred to Ambrosia Salad or Fluff), we know there is a special occasion. This is ALWAYS the first dessert that gets added to the menu for every holiday, birthday party, graduation, and any other special event that happens throughout the year. This recipe was originally published in my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and I’ve kept most of the ingredients the same while modifying the instructions slightly.

24-hour salad is a fruit salad mixed into a custard and folded into whipped cream. My family likes to add sliced almonds for a crunchy texture, although you can leave them out if you don’t like nuts.

If you are looking for a simple, no-bake dessert that is guaranteed to please, then this is the recipe for you.

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Ingredients for 24-Hour Salad:
Equipment
Draining and Drying Fruit
Pineapple draining in strainer

Drain the pineapple and reserve 2 Tbsp (26g) of the pineapple juice. 

Drain cherries and mandarin oranges in a strainer and dry all fruit (including pineapple tidbits) with a paper towel.  Discard the extra juice.  If you don’t dry the fruit, the extra liquid will thin out the salad and make it too watery.  For the cherries, I also like to cut them in half before drying them so the pieces are a little smaller and I can confirm there are no pits.  I do this before drying so the juice from the inside can be removed as well.

Cooking the Custard

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine egg yolks, reserved pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar, salt, and butter. 

Stir constantly with a silicone spatula until thickened.  Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan to avoid burning the custard.  It will take 10-15 minutes to cook the custard, but don’t be tempted to increase the cooking temperature to speed the process up.  If you let the custard boil, the eggs will scramble and the custard will curdle. 

Cook the custard until it reaches nappe (i.e., when the curd coats the back of a spoon and maintains a line when a finger is drawn across the spoon instead of dripping down to fill in the line) or approximately 180°F/83°C. 

Making custard for 24-Hour Salad

Pour the custard immediately into a large bowl so the custard stops cooking.  Allow the custard to cool to room temperature.  Add fruit, marshmallows, and almonds and stir gently to combine. 

Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the fruit mixture. 

24-Hour Salad: No Bake Fluff Dessert

The salad can be eaten immediately, but it is better if you cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Chilling the 24-Hour Salad allows the flavors to blend. 

Storing 24-Hour Salad
24-Hour Salad: A No Bake Fluff Recipe

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days.  The mixture will start to weep (i.e., water will begin to separate from the whipped cream) after a couple days.  Gently mix it together to re-incorporate the liquid before serving. 

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24-Hour Salad

Prep Time25 mins
Resting Time1 d
Total Time1 d 25 mins
Course: Dessert

Equipment

  • Digital scale (or dry and wet measuring cups and measuring spoons)
  • Strainer
  • Large bowl
  • Medium saucepan
  • Silicone spatula
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment (or hand mixer with large bowl)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound and 4 oz can (2½ cups/567g) pineapple tidbits with 2 Tbsp (26g) reserved pineapple juice from the can
  • 15 oz (1½ cups/425g) can pitted light or dark sweet cherries
  • 23.5 oz (2½ cups/665g) can mandarin oranges
  • 3 large (57g) egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp (32g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) white vinegar
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp (14g) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (120g) miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup (200mL) heavy cream – keep cold in fridge until ready to use
  • 2.25 oz (½ cup/64g) sliced almonds

Instructions

Draining and Drying Fruit

  • Drain the pineapple and reserve 2 Tbsp (26g) of the pineapple juice.
  • Drain cherries and mandarin oranges in a strainer and dry all fruit (including pineapple tidbits) with a paper towel. Discard the extra juice. If you don’t dry the fruit, the extra liquid will thin out the salad and make it too watery. For the cherries, I also like to cut them in half before drying them so the pieces are a little smaller and I can confirm there are no pits. I do this before drying so the juice from the inside can be removed as well.

Cooking the Custard

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine egg yolks, reserved pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar, salt, and butter.
  • Stir constantly with a silicone spatula until thickened. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan to avoid burning the custard. It will take 10-15 minutes to cook the custard, but don’t be tempted to increase the cooking temperature to speed the process up. If you let the custard boil, the eggs will scramble and the custard will curdle.
  • Cook the custard until it reaches nappe (i.e., when the curd coats the back of a spoon and maintains a line when a finger is drawn across the spoon instead of dripping down to fill in the line) or approximately 180°F/83°C.
  • Pour the custard immediately into a large bowl so the custard stops cooking. Allow the custard to cool to room temperature. Add fruit, marshmallows, and almonds and stir gently to combine.
  • Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the fruit mixture. The salad can be eaten immediately, but it is better if you cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. Chilling the 24-Hour Salad allows the flavors to blend.

Storing 24-Hour Salad

  • Keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. The mixture will start to weep (i.e., water will begin to separate from the whipped cream) after a couple days. Gently mix it together to re-incorporate the liquid before serving.

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