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Orange Fluff Salad with Marshmallows, vegan-Friendly

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Classic retro ambrosia orange fluff salad has been made vegan-friendly with silken tofu and cashews. Add vanilla pudding mix, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, vegan mini marshmallows, bananas, along with orange drink mix and you’ve got a classic fruit salad you remember from your childhood – but made suitable for vegans!

flowered bowl of orange fluff salad with bananas sliced on top

I think we all have that family-favorite jello/pudding/fruit salad/ambrosia/dessert concoction from our childhood we remember and loved. And maybe some that were not so loved…but a tradition nonetheless.

In my family, there were Aunt June’s cranberry jello squares filled with apples and pecans, topped with mayo, and sprinkled with some unnamed red stuff. While none of the kids ever dared to bite into that strange quivery concoction, my mom assured me that by the time I had graduated to the “grown-up table”, I’d love it too…

Didn’t matter to us kids! We could ignore the weird red jello squares; because placed in the center of the kids’ table was always a big bowl of fruity fluffy orange concoction we affectionately called “Orange Fluff”. Was it a side dish or dessert? Again, it didn’t matter – we just ate it and enjoyed!

If only orange fluff was at all vegan-friendly. Sadly, it isn’t even close. Forget replacing the dairy cool-whip (or if you were fancy the whipped cream) with non-dairy whipped topping; you’ve still got the all-important and very non-vegan orange jello to deal with. And the mini marshmallows. Because you can’t have Orange Fluff without marshmallows!

It’s amazing what one can do with a little bit of vegan mystery science in the kitchen! I was able to create a tempting vegan orange fluff salad that will have you remembering the classic orange jello salad from your childhood too!

two glass bowls of orange fluff salad on a pineapple decorated cloth

Different types of orange fluff fruit salad

You might recall the two main different types of orange fluff salad. The kind wIth cottage cheese and the kind without. Both used orange jello and mandarin oranges. Both had mini marshmallows as an ingredient. Some used pineapple and both used a dairy whipped topping of some sort.

This veganized orange fluff fruit salad does not have “fake” cottage cheese as an ingredient. The cottage cheese version is the one from my childhood but I have not yet perfected the texture and tang of cottage cheese. I’m working on it though.

In the meantime, please enjoy my version of the classic orange full jello fruit salad, made suitable for vegans – without the cottage cheese. Whether you bring it to your next potluck or enjoy it at home for your special family event, I hope you love it as much as we do!

flowered bowl of orange fluff salad with bananas sliced on top

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two glass bowls of orange fluff salad with pinterest overlay text

Ingredients needed to make vegan-friendly crowd favorite orange fluff fruit salad

Read on to learn about some of the ingredients that make this classic jello fruit salad suitable for vegans. You will notice no jello and no dairy (or non-dairy) whipped topping. Some of the ingredients might surprise you!

  • raw cashews
  • silken tofu
  • 3 cans mandarin oranges
  • crushed pineapple
  • refined coconut oil
  • .09 ounce orange drink mix see below
  • 3.5 ounces instant vanilla pudding mix instant
  • vanilla extract
  • bananas
  • mini marshmallows (my favorite vegan brand)
ingredients needed for vegan orange fluff salad

A special note about some of the ingredients

Please read this section for interesting information about some of the ingredients.

Is Jello pudding mix vegan?

Besides the unknown source of the sugar, Jello pudding mix is known to be “accidentally vegan”. It’s not going to be labeled as such, and good luck getting anyone from the company to admit it. Read more in this article by forkly.com about accidentally vegan products. If this still does not meet with your ethics then consider some of the brands of vegan pudding mix recommended by PETA. Just ensure that the vanilla pudding mix you use is instant and 3.5 ounces.

Orange Crush drink mix

I needed a substitute for orange jello because, unlike the pudding mix, the orange Jello brand contains gelatin and is NOT vegan. Yes, there are brands of non-gelatin flavored “gels” but I wanted to bring you a recipe that required as little hunting for special vegan ingredients as possible.

I used the Orange Crush drink mix because it is commonly available in most grocery stores in the powdered drink section and does provide that orange jello flavor. You can use any brand of orange drink mix you’d like. Just use one that is portioned out into individual packets suitable for mixing in with one 16.9 fluid ounce water bottle.

This drink mix does contain artificial sweeteners as do most of these types of drink mixes. Don’t use unsweetened drink mix like unsweetened Kool-Aid. If you do then you will need to taste and add in more powdered sugar because otherwise, it won’t be sweet enough. This recipe was developed using the individually portioned artificially sweetened orange drink mix.

The coconut oil

Coconut oil helps to solidify this creamy fruit salad recipe. No, this is not an oil-free dessert. And yes, coconut oil contains saturated fat – but then so do the cashews and tofu.

I had considered leaving the coconut oil out, but we are already adding saturated fat from the cashews and tofu, using sugar from the pudding mix and mini marshmallows, along with an artificially sweetened drink mix. What is it Edward says in Twighlight? “I’m breaking all the rules… anyway…since I’m going to Hell…” So no, this is not vegan health food, despite the tofu. Just enjoy your special event vegan fruit salad dessert!

Use refined coconut oil unless you want a slightly coconutty taste – which perhaps wouldn’t be horrible:) Make sure the coconut oil you use is the type that gets solid when refrigerated. That’s the whole point of using coconut oil in this recipe.

The silken tofu

Use silken tofu for this recipe. Silken tofu along with cashews makes the dressing nice and creamy. We don’t use cool whip in this recipe – nor even a non-dairy version for the cool whip.

If you absolutely can’t find silken tofu, then try soft tofu BUT I have not tried soft tofu and can’t guarantee the results. You will not be pressing the silken tofu. (See the directions below.)

The raw cashews – and an important disclosure!

First of all, you MUST disclose to anyone you are serving this orange fluff fruit salad that it contains cashews. Nuts are not normally found in recipes such as this so it is very important to let people know. I’ll often place a few cashews on the top for a visual. But do disclose and ask if anyone is allergic.

Please use only raw unsalted cashews in this recipe. If you absolutely must use salted and roasted cashews then soak overnight and triple rinse to remove the salt.

The mini marshmallows

One item is an absolute must for most ambrosia-style of fruit salad recipes – the mini marshmallows! Unfortunately, marshmallows are usually made with gelatin, unless the bag states otherwise. You can turn the bag over and with a quick scan of the ingredients see if it contains gelatin or not. I understand that some stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods *might* carry marshmallows made without gelatin. I get my gelatin-free mini marshmallows on Amazon – Dandies brand.

bag of vegan Dandies marshmallows opened with a few in the forground
I usually have a few bags on hand for when the mood strikes!

How to make orange fluff fruit salad

Make this classic recipe with all of the different flavors you remember from your childhood! Once you soak the cashews and prepare the other ingredients, this recipe has very little prep time.

Step one: Prepare the ingredients

  • soak the cashews in hot water
  • drain the mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple
  • open and drain the silken tofu

You will not need to press the silken tofu, simply open, drain, and pat dry with a paper towel.

patting dry the silken tofu

Step 2: Blend the ingredients for the orange fluff

Add the soaked and drained cashews and the drained silken tofu to a high-speed blender along with the orange drink mix, vanilla pudding mix, and vanilla extract. Blend on high for 3-5 minutes until nice and smooth and creamy:

taking a tasty swipe of blended orange fluff dressing

Step 3: Time for mixing!

To a large bowl, add the drained mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple along with the marshmallows sliced banans, and orange fluff. Fold everything together until well mixed.

mixing ingredients for vegan orange fluff salad

Serving suggestions

I recommend you chill in the fridge for two hours in order for the orangy sweet flavor to develop and for the orange fluff to set up. This is not as light and fluffy as the classic cool whip version but will still be creamy and delicious! I chill in my mixing bowl and then spoon into a serving bowl when I’m ready to serve.

I recommend waiting until just before serving to slice the banana to garnish the top of the dish. If you are going to garnish with sliced bananas then you will need two.

whole banana and sliced banana

I also garnish with pecans and sometimes a few cashews.

For some other delicious vegan side dishes to serve at your special family event, try

The printable recipe card for vegan orange fluff fruit salad

two glass bowls of orange fluff salad on a pineapple decorated cloth

Did you love this recipe? Want to share the love? It would thrill me to no end if you could leave five ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ stars and even a comment. Did you know that this will help google to find this recipe when others are looking for something similar? Thanks, Cindy

flowered bowl of orange fluff salad with bananas sliced on top

Orange Fluff Salad, Vegan Friendly

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, party food
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Orange fluff salad, vegan holiday food
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
chill time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 209kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Equipment

  • high-speed blender

Ingredients

Prepare ahead of time

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 33 ounces mandarin oranges, canned drained, see notes
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, canned drained, see notes

For the blender (along with the cashews)

  • 14 ounces silken tofu
  • 2 Tablespoons refined coconut oil
  • .09 ounce orange drink mix see notes
  • 3.5 ounces vanilla pudding mix instant
  • teaspoons vanilla extract

Fold in at the end

  • 1 cup banana sliced
  • 2 cups vegan marshmallows

Instructions

  • Soak the raw cashews in very hot water for about 1 hour. Drain.
  • Open the canned fruit and drain well in a strainer. Set aside. Wait to slice the bananas until just before folding the ingredients together.
  • Open and drain the silken tofu. Do not press it but gently dry with a paper towel. Allow to rest on a dry paper towel while you are preparing the other ingredients.
  • Add the soaked and drained cashews and the drained silken tofu to a high-speed blender along with the orange drink mix, vanilla pudding mix, and vanilla extract.
  • Blend for 2-3 minutes till nice and smooth.
  • Slice the bananas
  • Fold in the drained canned fruit sliced bananas and marshmallows.
  • Chill in the fridge for about 2hours. It will set up when chilled.

Notes

You MUST disclose to anyone eating this orange fluff dessert that it contains cashews and soy. They are both serious allergins and are not typically found in food such as this.
Please use raw unsalted cashews. If you use salted, roasted cashews then you will need to soak overnight and triple rinse to remove the salt.
The cashew soaking time is included in the prep time. Be sure to reserve time to chill – at least two hours. 
If you are here for the dairy-free orange fluff mixture, then use any marshmallows you’d like. If you are here for the vegan-friendly orange fruit salad, I like Dandies  vegan miniature marshmallows the best!  This affiliate link is for two bags. You will only need one bag for this recipe – including any extra toppings. That’s okay because I usually end up just eating half a bag anyway…
The serving size is for 12 one-half cup servings. It’s pretty rich and you won’t need a lot more than that. If you serve three-fourths a cup each then you will get 8 servings.
Use three 11 ounce cans of mandarin oranges, drained.
Use one 8 ounce cans of crushed pineapple, drained.
If you are oil-free you can omit the coconut oil. It might not set up quite as well though.
See the photo in the blog post for the orange drink mix I use. This is the type of drink mix that one would pour into a 16.9 fluid ounce bottle of water to drink. It is sugar-free but has sweeteners. Use any brand of orange drink mix you’d like that is portioned for one water bottle. 
This is best served right away. The bananas might start turning brown after day. You can always pick them out and add fresh bananas. The mixture might separate and get a little liquidy on the bottom. Just stir it together. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 308mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 1040IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg
By on February 25th, 2022

About Cindy Rainey

Veggie Fun Kitchen by Cindy Rainey
Welcome to Veggie Fun Kitchen where you will learn to recreate family favorites the plant-based/vegan way! Let me know if I can help. I'm here for you.

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