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24 Hour Salad

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1 (20 ounce) can can pineapple tidbits
2 (15 ounce) cans mandarin oranges
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup halved red grapes
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

24 Hour Salad

This fabulous smooth and velvety sweet fruit salad is a must on any holiday table.

  • Serves 8
  • Medium

About This Recipe

This fabulous recipe for 24 Hour Salad comes from my late mother-in-law. My husband’s family always serves this on Christmas Eve along with cheese fondue and lots of bread. And Christmas cookies, of course!

I always thought this was such a strange name for a recipe. Yes, the salad chills for 24 hours before you serve it, but the name doesn’t do the salad justice. It’s a smooth, rich, super creamy fruit salad made with and egg custard, marshmallows, whipped cream, and lots of fruit.

The salad is not difficult to make, but you must pay attention. A rich custard is made with lots of eggs, cooked until thick. The custard is chilled, then fruits and whipped cream are folded in and it chills for another 24 hours – thus the name.

I changed the recipe from the original. First, I do not like bananas and never will and will not use them unless it’s in Banana Bread or Banana Bars. I sometimes add sliced strawberries if I can find good ones in the market this time of year. Red grapes, sliced in half, are another good addition.

I had to post this recipe because other versions of it online aren’t as good. I tweak the recipe every year and it just keeps getting better.

When you make it, be sure to cook the custard (and you have to stir pretty constantly with a whisk, I’m afraid), until it boils and thickens. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan with the whisk as it cooks so the custard all thickens evenly.

And drain the heck out of the fruits! Putting fruits that still have quite a bit of liquid back into the custard will make it runny.

Enjoy this wonderful salad any time of the year.

Tips for the best 24 Hour Salad:

  • You must cook the custard until it is thick. If you don’t the salad will be runny.
  • And drain the fruits very well. I actually press the pineapple tidbits in a kitchen towel after I remove the liquid.
  • And yes, it has to chill for 24 hours. Don’t skip this step.

Why this recipe works:

  • Cooked eggs, flour, some type of liquid, and sugar is the classic way to make a custard or pudding. It should be cooked to 165°F if you want to use a food thermometer.
  • Melting some of the marshmallows into the hot custard ensures that the finished product will have good body and not be runny or loose.
  • Whipped cream helps stabilize the salad. The powdered sugar contains a bit of cornstarch that helps the salad set.
  • Use any fruits you’d like in this recipe, but the pineapple tidbits are essential.
  • The mandarin oranges are folded in last because they are very delicate and will break apart if you add them sooner.

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Drain the juices from the pineapple tidbits and the mandarin oranges. Measure to make 1-1/3 cups; discard remaining juice. If you need to add more liquid to get to 1-1/3 cups, add some water.


Combine the eggs, flour, sugar, and the 1-1/3 cups juice in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until thick and boiling. This should take about 10 minutes.


Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the mini marshmallows until the marshmallows are melted. Cover the pan and chill in the fridge until cold, about 4 hours. I whisk the custard once while it's chilling to make sure it's completely smooth.


When the custard is cold, fold in the pineapple tidbits, remaining marshmallows, and grapes, if using.


Then beat the cream with the powdered sugar until stiff. Fold into the salad. Then fold in the mandarin oranges.


Spoon the salad into a serving bowl, cover, and chill for 24 hours before serving.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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