Watergate Salad

5 from 1 vote
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Watergate salad is a delicious retro dessert that has been a favorite dish on holiday tables for years. A no bake dessert made with four ingredients, this recipe can be made in minutes.

Glasses of watergate salad topped with a cherry.


The best Watergate salad

Watergate salad, pistachio salad, or pistachio fluff, this recipe has been around since the 1970’s. Similar ingredients to ambrosia salad, its made with whipped topping and pineapple.

The origin of the name comes from the belief that this recipe was invented by a sous chef at the Watergate hotel however the true origin still remains a mystery.

Why you should make this recipe

  • Easy – This sweet salad is such an easy dessert recipe. Just 4 ingredients are needed.
  • Colorful – Pistachio pudding salad is a classic dish that adds delicious flavor and green color to any holiday meal. We love serving this green fluff for St. Patrick’s day, Easter, Christmas, and more.

Ingredients needed for pistachio salad

Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix – You can usually find this pudding mix in the baking aisle.

Cool Whip – Choose your favorite frozen whipped topping like Cool Whip. Make sure to thaw in the refrigerator before mixing.

Crushed Pineapple – One can of crushed pineapple is used. Be sure to drain the excess pineapple juice from the can.

Mini Marshmallows – Mini marshmallows are used for this recipe.

Optional – Crushed pecans, walnuts, or pistachios can also be mixed in. Use 1/2 cup of nuts. You can also top with a maraschino cherries for added color.

Bowl of cool whip, crushed pineapple, and pudding mix.

How to make Watergate salad

Step one: Place the pineapple tidbits in a large bowl. Stir in the dry pudding mix.

Bowl with a mixture or pineapple tidbits and pistachio pudding.

Step two: Stir in Cool Whip and mini marshmallows.

Bowl of mini marshmallows and green pudding.

Step three: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Recipe tips

  • Fold in the Cool Whip to help keep the salad fluffy. If you mix it too much, it will fall flat.
  • Don’t forget to drain the excess pineapple juice form the tidbits.
  • If you want a crunchier texture, add in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts.
  • To give the salad a greener color, add 1-2 drops of green food coloring.
  • When serving, try topping with a cherry or whipped cream and crushed nuts.

How to store pistachio fluff salad

Store: Place any leftover salad in an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Freeze: You can freeze this in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Cup of pistachio fluff with a cherry on top.

Watergate salad recipe FAQ’s

Can this salad be made ahead of time?

Yes, this salad can be made 1-2 days before serving.

Why isn’t my salad fluffy?

Make sure to gently fold the Cool Whip into the salad.

Do I have to use Cool Whip?

You can use homemade whipped cream as a substitute. I would recommend adding a tablespoon of sugar to the whipped cream for sweetness. Do not use canned whipped cream because it’s too liquidy.

More delicious dessert recipes

Glasses of watergate salad topped with a cherry.
5 from 1 vote

Watergate Salad Recipe

By Heather
Watergate salad is a old fashioned, no bake dessert that can be made in minutes.
Prep: 15 minutes
Chill time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 3.4 ounce box of instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 8 ounce frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows


  • Stir together crushed pineapple and pudding mix in a large bowl.
  • Fold in the whipped topping and mini marshmallows.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.


Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 0.03mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 2mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 0.4IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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1 Comment

  1. Nice dessert recipe.
    However, been making Watergate Salad for years using Cottage Cheese as base, then adding all the other ingredients you list. Try it. It’s much better. I took it to a Christmas dinner spread at work one year. Another co-worker brought yours. People lined up for my recipe.