Gluten free Ambrosia or "Alligator Eyes" salad made with tapioca
Gluten Free, Recipes

Gluten Free Ambrosia, “Alligator Eye Salad”

For Easter, I made a gluten free version of one of my favorite spring dishes- a light and fluffy “salad” made traditionally with acini di pepe pasta, cool whip, custard and canned fruit. Some people also put marshmallows and coconut, but I prefer it without.  Since gluten free pasta is very finicky and doesn’t exist in the acini de pepe form (that I know of), I decided to try making a gluten free version with tapioca pearls.  While this isn’t a very healthy dish, it is a very yummy treat! Note, the tapioca pearls in this recipe have to be soaked overnight!

Gluten free ambrosia or frog eye saladRecipe for Gluten Free Ambrosia “Alligator Eye Salad”


  • 1 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drain, but save pineapple juice!
  • 1 16 oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 8oz light cool whip
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 TB gluten free flour blend or corn starch
  • 1 cup uncooked small pearl tapioca, soaked in 4 cups water overnight at room temperature


1. Prepare tapioca:

Cook pre-soaked tapioca for about 20-30 minutes on the stove until pearls are translucent. I cooked the tapioca with water instead of milk, since I didn’t want to make a pudding out of it. Rinse cooked tapioca in a fine mesh strainer. Tapioca become very gelatinous after cooking, and kind of meshes into a gooey mess. This is okay, I just rinsed some of the goo off the pearls, but ended up mixing some of it into the salad and it still turned out delicious!

Cooked tapioca
Keep a close eye on the tapioca as it’s cooking. I might have overdone mine a little but it still tasted delicious!

2.  Prepare custard

Combine pineapple juice, 2 eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup sugar and GF flour/cornstarch in a small sauce pan.  Simmer and stir constantly until mixture forms a thick gravy like consistency.  Custard can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

3. Combine Everything

Pour custard over cooked tapioca and drained fruit. Chill for 1-4 hours until cool. Mix in cool whip before serving. Ambrosia or “alligator eyes” salad is great the next day too!

  1. Gluten free "alligator eyes" salad with tapioca
    Gluten free “alligator eyes” salad with tapioca

4 thoughts on “Gluten Free Ambrosia, “Alligator Eye Salad””

  1. I was there for the ‘eat’n’ and can attest to how enjoyable this dish is to the palette! It’s really a comfort food. Very soothing and has an amazingly luxurious texture!


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