Watergate Salad is an easy potluck go-to recipe straight from Grandmas era. Pistachio pudding with folded in whipped toppings and nuts take me right back to being 10 years old again with this traditional fruit salad recipe.
When I was a little girl I could always count on my grandma to make the best meals. And while the food was typically the same menu (after all, she didn’t have Pinterest), it was always amazing.
This scandalous watergate salad just reminds me of being free, of stealing a marshmallow out of a bowl, of playing in the back yard and it was literally at every family function till grandma stopped cooking.
I hope you fill find this retro fruit salad recipe as enjoyable as I do and it makes your next picnic super special!
Watergate Salad Recipe
Watergate salad is a fluffy, light and flavorful salad that has been on the holiday table for many generations. Pass down this watergate recipe to your kids and keep the tradition going! I know that we will be making it this Thanksgiving!
Over the years this recipe has been altered a thousand times and some add cherries or cottage cheese to it as well. I recommend making a simple watergate salad recipe first and then decide what variations you would love.
- 1 can, 20 oz, crushed pineapple (do not drain)
- 1 small package, 3.4 oz, pistachio pudding
- 3 cups mini marshmallows
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided
- 1 small tub, 8 oz, whipped topping, thawed
How to make Watergate Salad
Have you ever wondered why it is called watergate salad?
Fact: Yep, Watergate salad is thought to have actually been named after Watergate – the infamous hotel and home to the Nixon scandal.
It was originally a Kraft recipe and published under an entirely different name; Pistachio Pineapple Delight. But after a republication in a newspaper and a cheeky editor got a hold of it, the name became Watergate. This dessert salad has been a part of baby showers, weddings, and grandma’s picnics ever since.
Here is how to make your own pudding salad or pistachio salad. Whatever you call it, this is so fun to make!
There are just five very simple steps. Mix it all together and then chill it so it sets. Easy!
1. Place pineapple and pudding into a mixing bowl and mix well.
2. Add all your marshmallows and all but 1 tablespoon chopped pecans (which you will save till the end)
3. Mix all your ingredients thoroughly.
4. Fold in whipped topping with a spatula so it does not get overmixed.
Where to Serve Watergate Salad
This is the perfect dessert salad to take to parties and cookouts. I’ve seen this appear at potlucks and other large functions. If you are going to be taking this to a potluck or cookout, display it in your favorite decorative dish. The green fluff shows off incredibly well!
How long will watergate salad last in the refrigerator?
Your Watergate Salad Recipe should be chilled for 4 hours or overnight. If you keep it in an airtight container, it should last about a week in the fridge without losing any texture.
I would not freeze it. It will have a really strange texture with the pudding and whipped topping combined.
How to Serve Watergate Salad
Serve it chilled with remaining the chopped pecans and add cherries for a splash of pretty red color!
Another idea – if you want to go the extra mile – is to serve this beautifully green salad in individual ramekins at a party. It is such a bright and cheerful little dish. Kids will love it!
Is Watergate the same thing as Ambrosia salad?
There are a few differences between this green fluff and Ambrosia salad. Yes, they are both fruit salads with whipped topping and marshmallows.
But Ambrosia salad has the crunch of coconut in it. It also has only whipped topping, whereas Watergate salad has the pistachio pudding mixed in.
So if you just want fruit mixed in whipped topping, try to make an Ambrosia salad. Both are from the same time periods and both tend to still show up at cookouts.
Watergate Salad Variations
There are many variations with watergate salad. Here are some of the most popular ones I’ve seen:
- Add mandarin oranges to the salad
- Mix in cottage cheese
- Stir in cream cheese
- Add maraschino cherries on top
- Strawberry watergate salad
- Use lime jello instead of pistachio pudding mix
I personally love my basic recipe. It reminds me of my childhood. But definitely try different variations and have fun with it! It’s such a simple recipe that it can be changed and created into different things.
Need more side dish options?
- Fruit Salad
- Sweet Corn Pudding
- Hawaiian Cheesecake Salad
- Hawaiian Coleslaw
- Homemade applesauce (SO GOOD!)
What makes this side dish stand out is the combination of whipped topping, marshmallows, and nuts. It isn’t exactly a salad. Salads tend to be savory or salty. This is green fluff full of sweet cool whip, tangy pineapples, and that unforgettable pistachio flavor. My kids call it “that green stuff” – you’ll call it unforgettable.
Can you make watergate salad without pineapple?
You need the pineapple in juice to dissolve the pudding. So if you aren’t a fan of pineapple, maybe try making fruit and whipped cream salad without the pistachio pudding.