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Watergate Salad

Review Recipe
a close up shot of Watergate Salad in a cup
Light and refreshing, this pistachio flavored Watergate Salad is the perfect easy summer treat!
Jump to Recipe
Table of Contents
  1. Why Do They Call It Watergate Salad?
  2. Watergate Salad Recipe Ingredients
  3. SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
  4. How To Make Watergate Salad
  5. How To Serve This Recipe For Watergate Salad
  6. How To Store a Pistachio Salad Recipe
  7. PISTACHIO SALAD FAQs
  8. More Easy Dessert Recipes You’ll Love
  9. JUMP TO RECIPE

Watergate salad is an easy dessert created by mixing together a packet of pistachio-flavored jello, crushed pineapple, and mini marshmallows. Folded in with creamy whipped topping and finally, topped off with crunchy pecans, the unique texture of this refreshing salad makes it a favorite vintage delight.

a close up shot of Watergate Salad in a bowl

Why Do They Call It Watergate Salad?

Before this salad was created, there was a cake named Watergate Cake which also was made with pistachio pudding and had a similar green hue. It is unknown the exact origin of the name. Some say that a chef at the Watergate Hotel invented it, while others say that a newspaper columnist printed it with that name to gain the attention of the recipe during the presidential scandal. No matter how the name came to be, we love how easy and delicious this salad is!

Watergate Salad Recipe Ingredients

Watergate Salad raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 2 boxes of instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 large can of crushed pineapple
  • 12 ounces of Cool Whip
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1½ cups of white mini marshmallows
  • Chopped pecans and maraschino cherries for garnish
  • OPTIONAL: 1 cup shredded coconut if desired

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

SHREDDED COCONUT: The shredded coconut on top is completely optional. It offers a nice crunch, and the flavor compliments the pineapple and pistachio wonderfully. If you are a coconut fan, you’ve got to try adding it.

NUTS: While we are using pecans in this classic recipe, you could opt for a different type of nut. Walnuts are a popular substitute, and almonds go great with pretty much anything.

FRUIT: You can add other canned fruit to the pistachio salad if you’d like. Try mandarin oranges or fruit salad.

CREAM CHEESE: For a thicker dressing, you could mix in cream cheese with the Cool Whip.

How To Make Watergate Salad

STEP ONE: In a large bowl, mix pineapple and dry pudding mix until the mix has completely dissolved and the pineapple is thick.

PRO TIP:

You can use the pineapple juice to dissolve the pudding mix.

pineapple and pudding mix mixed in a bowl

STEP TWO: Stir in the other ingredients, then fold in the whipped topping.

PRO TIP:

If using shredded coconut, add it in when combining the pecans and mini marshmallows.

Watergate Salad ingredients stirred in a bowl with the whipped topping

STEP THREE: Transfer to a serving bowl and top with chopped pistachios and cherries.

Watergate Salad transferred to a bowl and garnished with chopped pistachios and cherries

How To Serve This Recipe For Watergate Salad

This classic dessert salad is perfect for a side dish or as a dessert. It is a tasty treat to whip up for family gatherings or special occasions.

Don’t forget to top it off with delicious homemade whipped cream.

Serve our refreshing iced tearaspberry iced teasweet peach iced tea, or our southern strawberry sweet tea on the side.

Here are some other fun ideas for the perfect summer desserts. Both jello poke cake and no-bake cherry cheesecake are easy to make and create a light and fruity treat.

PRO TIP:

This simple salad tastes even better if you can let it chill for a couple hours before serving.

How To Store a Pistachio Salad Recipe

MAKE AHEAD: You can most definitely make this easy Watergate salad recipe ahead of time. In fact, I recommend making it the night before you plan to serve it. That way, it can sit in the refrigerator, and the flavors can blend together. It also allows the marshmallows to soften up a bit.

IN THE FRIDGE: Be sure to store your pistachio dessert salad in the fridge in an airtight container. It will stay good in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

IN THE FREEZER: You can freeze pistachio fluff salad, and it will keep for about 3 months. Be aware that the texture of the marshmallows won’t be the same once they’ve thawed out. Since this is such an easy recipe to make, it’s best to make it fresh.

Another fun idea is to use your leftover salad to make Watergate popsicles, using a popsicle mold. You can also spread it in a baking dish and scoop it up like ice cream, once it freezes for a yummy twist.

a close up shot of Watergate Salad in a cup

Creamy Watergate salad, often called pistachio pineapple delight or green goddess salad, is so delicious and easy to make. With its pistachio and pineapple flavors, mixed with creamy whipped topping, and topped off with crunchy pecans, this retro dessert is a winner every time. This light and refreshing dessert salad is a great summer side.

PISTACHIO SALAD FAQs

Can I freeze this salad?

This simple recipe can be frozen, but note that the texture of the marshmallows will likely change once thawed.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

It is actually best to make this vintage recipe ahead of time. It gives the salad time to let all the flavors mingle and combine together for an even tastier green fluff salad.

What is in the pistachio pudding mix?

Pistachio pudding is a creamy jello pudding that is made with milk and has small pieces of pistachio nuts in it. The pudding tends to be a light green color.

Does jello pistachio pudding have nuts in it?

Jello pistachio pudding has pistachios and sometimes small pieces of almonds as well.

Why is pistachio salad called Watergate salad?

There is not a clear answer as to why it is called Watergate salad. Some believe it is named after Watergate cake which is similarly made with pistachio pudding. Others believe it was created by a chef at the Watergate hotel. Some even believe that the newspaper columnist that printed it gave it the name to gain attention to the recipe during the political scandal.

More Easy Dessert Recipes You’ll Love

a close up shot of Watergate Salad in a cup

Watergate Salad

4.89 from 34 votes
Light and refreshing, this pistachio flavored Watergate Salad is the perfect easy summer treat!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 2 boxes pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 large can crushed pineapple
  • 12 ounces whipped topping
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • cups white mini marshmallows
  • chopped pecans and maraschino cherries, for garnish
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, if desired

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, combine the pudding mix and pineapple until the mix has completely dissolved, and the pineapple mixture has thickened.
  • Stir in chopped pecans and mini marshmallows, then fold in whipped topping. 
  • Transfer to serving bowl or glass and top with chopped pistachios and cherries.

Video

Notes

  • If using shredded coconut, add in when combining pecans and mini marshmallows.
  • You can use the juice from the pineapple to dissolve the pudding mix.
  • This simple salad tastes even better if you can let it chill for a couple of hours before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 42mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

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  1. Jill says

    5 stars
    This is so good. It reminds me of the Watergate cake that was popular when I was little. Iā€™d definitely add the coconut to it.

  2. Bobbie says

    I do think that shredded coconut would add a zing to this recipe, however, I love it just the way it is! Thank you for reminding us that it’s a fun holiday treat! šŸ™‚

  3. Laurie Mathews says

    i’ve never put coconut in watergate salad or Gorilla Snot Salad as it’s known in our house. my sister came up with the name when my son was little. The name has stuck ever since.

  4. Jennifer D says

    5 stars
    Watergate salad is one of my childhood favorites. People that have never heard of it always think it looks weird and then they love it!! I tend to make a basic recipe of just the pudding, pineapple, and cool whip. I’ve never been a huge fan of the marshmallows in it. I think I would try adding even more fresh pistachios to the recipe! I think that would add a nice crunch

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