My overnight Fruit Salad recipe is jam-packed with fruit and sweetened up with marshmallows and a luscious creamy lemon custard sauce. Get a jump on meal prep; this make-ahead salad recipe gets better as it sets!

Three small bowl with 24 hour fruit salad.

The Midwest has a very flexible definition of “salad.” Green vegetables tossed in a bowl or served on a plate? Most definitely. Fruit or even candy bars combined with Cool Whip (as you might know and love from my Snickers Salad)? You betcha, that too!

This 24 Hour Fruit Salad is the epitome of balance. It features fresh and canned fruit for ease and affordability, plus marshmallows to please the picky eaters and a silky lemon custard sauce to amp up the dessert-like factor. In my family, we often serve this easy make-ahead salad recipe at Thanksgiving and Christmas since it can be tossed together up to 24 hours in advance, but there’s truly no wrong time to share it.

It’s a lightly sweetened, refreshing fruit salad that’s particularly perfect for the dead of winter when fresh fruit is not at its peak. (By the way, my Citrus Salad will also steal the show in the colder weather months.)

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step by step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. 24 Hour Fruit Salad Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for 24 hour fruit salad.

Ingredient notes

  • Lemon juice: You’ll need the juice from 2 to 3 fresh lemons. Instead of measuring out ¼ cup from a bottle of store-bought lemon juice, squeeze it fresh it you can. The perky flavor from fresh is worth the extra couple minutes of effort.
  • Canned cherries, pineapple chunks, and mandarin oranges: These pantry staples are affordable and always in season. To use them in this fruit salad, simply open the cans and drain off the excess liquid. Feel free to substitute an equal amount of fresh fruit if you like.
  • Mini marshmallows: Omit if desired, but I adore the chewy texture and sweet flavor these add. The marshmallows are particularly tasty after they soak up some of the lemon custard.

Step by step instructions

  1. In the bottom of a double boiler, bring 1 inch water to simmer. Combine eggs, lemon juice, and sugar in top of double boiler and cook until thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Yellow liquid being whisked in a bowl over a saucepan.
  1. Using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in cooled custard sauce until combined.
White cream in a bowl.
  1. In a large bowl, add grapes, pineapple, oranges, cherries, marshmallows, and banana, then add cream sauce and stir to combine.
White pudding cream mixture being poured over fruit.
  1. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.
24 hour fruit salad in a blue serving bowl.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: My 24 Hour Fruit Salad recipe makes eight 3/4-cup servings, ideal as a side dish, brunch buffet item, or potluck party menu addition.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered for up to 2 days (the salad is safe for up to 4 days, but some separation may occur).
  • Make ahead: The custard sauce can be made 2 days in advance. Stir in the whipped topping just before assembling the salad.
  • Switch up your citrus: A lime juice-based custard would also taste terrific.
Three small bowls with 24 hour fruit salad.

Recipe FAQs

What other fruit could I use in 24 Hour Fruit Salad?

When they’re in season, consider fresh berries instead of grapes. Sliced kiwis, chopped stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots), and mangoes would also be marvelous. Just aim to steer clear of fruits that tend to oxidize quickly and turn brown, such as pears and apples. Melons are also best suited for other uses.

Fruit Salad

Freshen up your menu with an easy, make-ahead Fruit Salad that’s tossed in a zippy honey and citrus dressing. Toss it together, then allow this crowd-pleasing Fruit Salad to chill for an hour (or more)…

1 hour 25 minutes
View Recipe

More Midwestern salads

A small bowl of 24 hour fruit salad.

24 Hour Fruit Salad

My overnight Fruit Salad recipe is jam-packed with fruit and sweetened up with marshmallows and a luscious creamy lemon custard sauce. Get a jump on meal prep; this make-ahead salad recipe gets better as it sets!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Chilling Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Servings 8 servings (¾ cup each)
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Calories 283

Ingredients 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons, see note 1)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes halved
  • 1 cup canned cherries drained (see note 2)
  • 1 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges drained
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows (see note 3)
  • 1 banana sliced

Instructions 

  • In the bottom of a double boiler, bring 1 inch water to simmer. Combine eggs, lemon juice, and sugar in top of double boiler and cook until thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  • Using a standing mixer or electric hand mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in cooled custard sauce until combined.
  • In a large bowl, add grapes, pineapple, oranges, cherries, marshmallows, and banana. Pour cream sauce over and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Lemon juice: You’ll need the juice from 2 to 3 fresh lemons. Instead of measuring out ¼ cup from a bottle of store-bought lemon juice, squeeze it fresh it you can. The perky flavor from fresh is worth the extra couple minutes of effort.
  2. Canned cherries, pineapple chunks, and mandarin oranges: These pantry staples are affordable and always in season. To use them in this fruit salad, simply open the cans and drain off the excess liquid. Feel free to substitute an equal amount of fresh fruit if you like.
  3. Mini marshmallows: Omit if desired, but I adore the chewy texture and sweet flavor these add. The marshmallows are particularly tasty after they soak up some of the lemon custard.
  4. Yield: My 24 Hour Fruit Salad recipe makes eight 3/4-cup servings, ideal as a side dish, brunch buffet item, or potluck party menu addition.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered for up to 2 days (the salad is safe for up to 4 days, but some separation may occur).
  6. Make ahead: The custard sauce can be made 2 days in advance. Stir in the whipped topping just before assembling the salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cupCalories: 283kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 3gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 33mgPotassium: 203mgFiber: 2gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 696IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

    1. Hi Stephanie, if you don’t have a boiler that’s okay! Just put a heat safe bowl over a regular pot and you’ll be good to go. Hope you enjoy. – Meggan

  1. Old family receipe from my great grand mother. Huge family favorite.
    We use pineapple juice instead of the lemon juice. My favorite left over, along with a turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich..
    Happy Thanksgiving Y’all

    1. Hi Lynn, we used sliced canned pineapples in this recipe then drained and diced them. Hope this helps! – Meggan

    1. Hi Amita, I’m sorry I haven’t tested an eggless version of the custard part of this recipe. My first thought would be to substitute the egg with some aquafaba or other egg substitute, or possibly omit the eggs use a coconut custard instead, and add sugar to taste. I hope this helps! – Meggan

    1. Hi Sharon, YES! I think my mom always makes it that way. Way easier right? Good luck and Merry Christmas! -Meggan

  2. Very interesting version of what we used to call ambrosia. I’m going to try it today and I like to add some coconut. I already had the big marshmallow so I just cut them into quarters. Most of your salad recipes look very very good. Thank you

  3. We are sitting around my table now eating our family’s version of this out of Marion, Ohio our version does not have banana and we add a can of fruit cocktail, and a jar of green (not mint) flavored maraschino cherries, and we use red maraschino cherries instead of the canned cherries. And there is the a cup of pecan halves added as well. I always wonder the history behind the dishes that come to our table. Thanks for sharing your version. 

  4. Being from the Midwest myself, I feel a special love for this recipe. Looks perfectly sweet and creamy- perfect for BBQs or family parties!5 stars

    1. Awww, thanks Karly! In the era of “fresh everything” this fruit salad is rare, but it’s an “oldie but goodie” as we say in my family. :) Have a wonderful week and thanks for reading!