Watergate Salad (Pistachio Delight)

8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Refrigerate 1 hour
Total Time 10 minutes

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


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.


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.


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!



Who created 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.

Why is it called Watergate Salad?

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.

Why do I need to chill this salad?

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.

How can I lighten up this recipe?

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.

Can I turn this recipe into a pie?

Serve watergate salad in a graham cracker crust to make a pistachio pie.

Do I drain the pineapple to make this recipe?

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.

Can I used canned pineapple in syrup?

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.

Can I use different flavor puddings?

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.

Pistachio Fluff Salad



  • 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.


  • 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.
Watergate Salad with Pistachio Pudding and Pineapples

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Watergate Salad (Pistachio Delight)

Watergate Salad is a holiday retro dessert with pistachio pudding mix, cool whip, marshmallows, pineapple and maraschino cherries!
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder



  • 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.



Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.


Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Vitamin C: 6.7mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Keyword: pistachio delight, watergate salad
Watergate Salad Collage
Watergate Salad

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

      1. 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!!!!

  3. 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

    1. I realize this comment is very old, so I am so sorry for the delay in replying.

      The recipes are free Rose!

        1. I haven’t but it sounds rich and decadent! Let us know how much you decided to use and how it turned out!

  4. 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!!! ?

    1. When I make this for Christmas, I drain a small jar marachino cherries, halved and stir in. Great Christmas color!

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. pistachios. I tried it both ways, with the pistachio pudding this works best with chopped pistachios. Sorry for the confusion.

  7. 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.

    1. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!