Watergate Salad is a holiday retro dessert called pistachio fluff with pistachio pudding mix, cool whip, marshmallows, pineapple and maraschino cherries!
Old-Fashioned Desserts like Homemade Turtle Candies, Pound Cake and Macaroons are favorite and classic holiday dessert recipes that just make us nostalgic.
WATERGATE SALAD (PISTACHIO DELIGHT)
Watergate Salad (Pistachio Delight) is a simple dessert salad made from pistachio pudding mixed with crushed pineapple, cool whip, mini marshmallows, and chopped pecans. Top this with Easy Whipped Cream and maraschino cherries with an extra handful of chopped nuts.
COOL WHIP VS HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM
The real crux of the favors you’re looking for here in this salad is the crushed pineapple with the pistachio pudding mix. Whether you choose to use a fresh whipped cream or a cool whip you can make either work with some careful planning. If you prefer a more natural route, you should be much more careful about how long you let this recipe sit out. Cool whip is a stabilized product whether you make it yourself or you use the pre-made variety.
A fresh made whipped cream will taste delicious fresh from the fridge but will soon fall and melt. So if you’re looking to create a more homemade version take care to serve it immediately. If using homemade, refrigerate until you make this recipe then freeze the recipe for 20 minutes before serving to keep it as cold as possible.
You can also (instead of using a classic whipped cream recipe), use Cream Cheese Stabilized Whipped Cream, which will not melt at room temperature.
NOT JUST FOR THANKSGIVING – PERFECT FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY AND EASTER
This salad has a really nice light green color, which is why it’s also called the “green stuff” or “pistachio fluff.” It’s perfect for Easter or St. Patrick’s day parties. You can turn this into a kid-friendly activity by making my homemade marshmallows first, then using them for this salad recipe!
MORE NOSTALGIC RETRO DESSERT SALAD RECIPES:
FAQ ABOUT WATERGATE SALAD
Watergate Salad was initially made by Kraft in the 1975 as a promotional recipe for their new pudding called Pistachio Pineapple Delight, rewritten and renamed by the media over time.
The name u0022Watergate Saladu0022 was originally coined by a columnist in Chicago, named for the presidential Watergate hotel scandal. The name just stuck, and now this is a popular salad for potlucks and parties across the country.
You can eat this dessert right away if you can’t wait, but I recommend the chilling step because it helps the pudding fully set, and it just tastes better cold. Ideally, make this the night before and let it set in the refrigerator overnight.
Make this watergate salad recipe with half pudding mix and half low fat cool whip to lighten up this recipe. You can also make it more indulgent by mixing half cream cheese (or cottage cheese) with half whipped cream, then adding the pistachio pudding mix.
Serve watergate salad in a graham cracker crust to make a pistachio pie.
Don’t drain the pineapple, it’s the juice from the can that turns the dry pudding mix into pudding. If you’ve accidentally drained it, add some water (or pineapple juice if you have it), according to the pudding mix directions.
Use canned pineapple in water or juice, not syrup. The syrup will be too thick and won’t work with the pudding mix as well as the juice, and the salad will turn out too sweet.
Watergate salad calls for pistachio pudding mix, but you could technically use this recipe with any flavor of pudding mix for a quick dessert. Try chocolate for a chocolate-pineapple dessert, or coconut for a piña colada version.
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ADDITIONAL MIX-IN IDEAS:
- You can add other toppings to this salad like mini chocolate chips, walnuts, shredded coconut, crushed pistachios, or sliced bananas. Add the toppings right before serving.
- Use rainbow marshmallows in place of regular mini marshmallows for a more festive presentation. Or choose just the red and green ones if making for Christmas Day.
- Add more maraschino cherries to the recipe just be sure to rinse them well then dry them well so the mixture doesn’t turn brown. Green + red = brown which won’t be as appetizing. But green + spots of red = cute Christmas tree dessert.
- Serve this with Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry Dessert Topping or Pineapple Dessert Topping for an easy sundae type dessert.
HOW TO STORE WATERGATE SALAD:
- Serve: Do not leave Watergate Salad out for more than 2 hours.
- Store: Watergate salad will last in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Cover the salad tightly with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
- Freeze: You can freeze watergate salad for up to 3 months. Freeze in popsicle molds to make watergate popsicles, or spread in a baking dish and scoop it like ice cream.
- 3.4 ounces instant pistachio pudding mix
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple , undrained
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 1/2 cup pistachios , chopped
- 1 1/2 cups cool whip
- In a large bowl mix the pudding mix, pineapple, marshmallows and pistachios well then add in the cool whip gently.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour and garnish with chopped nuts and maraschino cherry if desired.
Has anyone ever had this at the Watergate restaurant in the 60s?
All before the present buildings, a charming little restaurant….I have had the pleasure.
Love this recipe! My Grandma and my mom both used to make this. I made it today for tomorrow, Easter, for the first time, it’s so good. Thanks for posting it!
I’ve been making this desert for years. Always at Easter and various other times. It’s the quickest and easiest desert I know!! It’s really not nessary to add nuts. Just a bowl, a can of undrained pineapple, a package of pistachio instant pudding, a tub of Cool whip, and some mini marshmallows. Everyone loves it!! I think I’ve been making it since 1980!!!!
MY mother would make this a lot. I would love to save the recipe . what is the coast of getting it ? I would rate “TOP’S ” in my book . Rose
I realize this comment is very old, so I am so sorry for the delay in replying.
The recipes are free Rose!
Thank you have not made this for years. Going to make it this weekend2/ 20/21.
Just made this and it is yummy even before you put it in the refrigerator. I always love this at picnics and other occasions so I thought I’m just going to make some. It’s wonderful!!! ?
It’s such a classic! Thanks for the 5 stars, Mary.
Should this recipe be doubled for a pie crust size?
I know your meal is long gone now. I don’t think you’d have to double it, it won’t be a heaping pie, but some whipped cream on top would be great. Be sure you refrigerate well before cutting it.
It’s been years since I had this recipe. My mom made this on all holidays very special occasions.
I’m going to try and make at our Super Bowl game night.
I finished the salad and was wondering can I add another pistachio pudding mix to the completed salad. eg Cool whip has already been added.
I wouldn’t recommend it. It’ll be really thick if that’s the only part you double.
It calls for pecans in the instructions and I don’t see them in the ingredients?
Hi Marni, I use pistachios, sorry for that confusion, I edited it.
On your ingredients it doesnt say pecans or cherries
Cherries are just a garnish for the photo. Sorry for the pecan confusion, it’s pistachios.
Do you drain the pineapple?
No 🙂 Leave it undrained.
do you make the pudding or just throw the powder and mix with pineapple
No don’t make the pudding, just add the powder.
You change the nuts so which is it? Pecans or pistachios?
pistachios. I tried it both ways, with the pistachio pudding this works best with chopped pistachios. Sorry for the confusion.
I’ve made this for years and now it’s always requested by my grown-up kids and grandkids for family and holiday gatherings. The only difference is my recipe adds a 24oz tub of cottage cheese and an extra box of pudding mix.
Do u mix the pudding like the box says with the milk or just pudding mix only
You’ll just be using the mix for this recipe.
This is one of my all time favorite picnic salads!!!
Love this classic! Always reminds me of my childhood. 🙂 YUM!
I’m so glad you love it!
This was so good!! My kids loved it!
So glad you here, Toni!
This has always been my number one go to salad. I call it a salad so I can have another dessert. I also put in a container of cottage cheese (justifies the “salad” labeling). To me, it’s one of life’s comfort foods. Also got your new book, Sabrina. Wonderful recipes and ideas. Thanks
My Mom use to make something super similar to this and it was one of my favorites – I need to make this for my kids!
It’s such a classic!
We used to have this all the time as a kid…. and somehow noone had kept the recipe. Thanks for sharing it! The pineapple juiciness and the crunch of pistachios …. yep! Dreamy wonderful!
You’re welcome, Michele!
My mom makes something similiar so this dish always reminds me of home! It’s one of my favs.
I love that!