Sweet and fluffy, Watergate Salad is a classic recipe made with pistachio pudding, pineapple, marshmallows, chopped nuts, and Cool Whip.
Watergate Salad is one of those traditional, sweet, fluffy dessert salads that you find at every southern gathering, similar to Ambrosia salad or cranberry fluff.
What sets this dish apart is Watergate Salad is made with Cool Whip, or stabilized whipped cream, and pistachio instant pudding, which gives it that signature green coloring.
It’s sweet, creamy, fluffy, and totally delicious! This dish is perfect any potluck, or Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas feast!
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Thank you!
What Ingredients are in Watergate Salad?
As usual with a classic recipe that is loved by everyone, Watergate Salad has lots of variations. I’m sharing the recipe that my family makes but if you want to make a few changes, or have family traditions of your own, go for it!
- Instant pistachio pudding mix – Adds not only flavor but color!
- Crushed pineapple – Undrained! You’ll need that juice to blend in the pudding.
- Marshmallows – I use regular marshmallows, but some recipes call for fruity, multi-colored marshmallows
- Pecans – The nuts vary from one recipe to another. My family has always used chopped pecans, but I have seen recipes that use pistachios or walnuts. Do whatever you like!
- Cool Whip – I know some people prefer to use homemade whipped topping rather than Cool Whip. If you do, just make sure to use a stabilized whipped cream so it doesn’t lose its fluffiness as it sits out.
There are lots of ways to modify this recipe. You can any variety of garnishes such as coconut, mandarin oranges, or maraschino cherries. Feel free to play with this recipe to make this fluff salad your own.
How to Make Pistachio Salad
Step 1 – Mix pudding and pineapple. In a large bowl, combine the undrained pineapples and the pistachio instant pudding mix. Stir together until the pudding mix is fully dissolved. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minute to let the pudding firm up.
Step 2 – Fold Cool Whip. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and gently fold in the Cool Whip.
Step 3 – Add marshmallows and nuts. Add the marshmallows and chopped nuts and fold them in until they are well mixed.
Step 4 – Chill. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Why is it Called Watergate Salad?
You may be wondering why it is called a Watergate salad. Well, that depends on who you ask. Also known as Pistachio Delight, Green Goop, Green Fluff, and Green Stuff, some say it was because this dish was served every weekend at the Watergate hotel in Washington D.C. in the 1970s.
Others say it’s history goes back much further. The origin of the name may be a matter of debate, but one thing is for certain. This dish will be a fantastic addition to your party spread.
What Makes Watergate Salad Green?
The pistachio instant pudding is what gives it that lovely green color.
How Long Does Watergate Salad Need to Chill?
You will want to chill your Watergate Salad for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. This allows the ingredients to set for enhanced flavor.
Can Watergate Salad be Made a Day Ahead?
Yes! In fact I recommend you make it the night before, or first thing in the morning on party day. When it can sit in the refrigerator, all of those flavors will meld together, the marshmallows will soften a little, and the Watergate Salad will firm up a little.
How Long Does Watergate Salad Last in the Fridge?
You can store your Watergate Salad in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3 – 5 days.
Can Watergate Salad be Frozen?
You can freeze Watergate Salad, but it isn’t recommended. Freezing changes the taste and texture of the marshmallows and can impact the flavor of your dessert.
If you do wish to freeze it, store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Looking for More Easy desserts?
- Cherry cheesecake dip
- Millionaire cheesecake salad
- Mint Oreo layered dessert
- Banana split cheesecake salad
- Strawberries and cream cake
- Peppermint fluff dip
- No bake cherry cheesecakes
- More easy dessert recipes…
Like this recipe?
Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for more recipes like this.
- 3.4 ounce Pistachio Instant Pudding, small box
- 20 ounces Crushed pineapple, canned
- 8 ounces Cool Whip
- 1 cup Marshmallows
- ½ cup Pecans, chopped
- In a large bowl combine the undrained pineapples and the pistachio instant pudding. Stir together until the pudding mix is fully dissolved. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minute to let the pudding firm up.
- Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and gently fold in the Cool Whip.
- Add the marshmallows and chopped nuts and fold them in until they are well mixed.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I love this salad. So simple to make. The only thing I changed was using pecans instead of walnuts since pecans grow on trees in south Louisiana.
I got regular pistachio pudding…..is it okay to use it not instant? I am in a bind…..
Unfortunately I don’t think the regular pudding will set up the way you need it to since it usually requires being cooked on the stove top. The instant pudding works because it only need liquid to firm up.