This Watergate Salad Recipe, also known as “Pistachio Delight,” is a delicious dessert salad recipe made from a mixture of pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, whipped topping, chopped pecans, and mini marshmallows. Sweet, creamy, and so easy to make, it takes just 5 minutes to make!
What is Watergate Salad?
A Midwestern favorite, Watergate Salad goes by many names – Pistachio Fluff, Pistachio Delight, Green Stuff, Green Fluff, Green Goop, and I’m sure many, many others. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s fabulous, delicious, fun, and super easy to make! Made with pistachio pudding mix, canned pineapple, whipped topping, crushed pecans, and marshmallows, it’s light, fluffy, and sweet and the perfect dessert for potlucks, picnics, and holiday gatherings.
Why is it Called Watergate Salad?
The truth is, no one really knows where the name came from. One idea is that the name may be a promotional gimmick by Kraft Foods, who introduced its pistachio pudding mix in the 1970s, which was around the same time as the Watergate scandal. Some think that there may be a more direct connection to the Watergate scandal, but I find this highly unlikely. Finally, others debate that the dessert was actually a specialty at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Of course, as with the other theories, there’s no concrete evidence to support this.
Ingredients in Watergate Salad
- Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix: The pistachio pudding mix flavors and colors your Watergate salad. It combines with the juice from the pineapple, giving it a creamy texture and sweet flavor.
- Crushed Pineapple: Yummy crushed pineapple adds a tangy, fruity flavor that contrasts and complements the sweetness of the other ingredients. The small bits of crushed pineapple also provide a slightly chunky texture.
- Miniature Marshmallows: Not only are marshmallows sweet, but they’re also soft and chewy – a pleasant contrast to the rest of the textures in the salad.
- Whipped Topping (e.g., Cool Whip): Whipped toppings like Cool Whip are creamy, light, and airy. They’re also stabilized, meaning they keep their shape and structure even after mixing with other ingredients or refrigeration.
- Chopped Pecan or Chopped Walnuts: For a nice crunch!
Optional ingredients or variations:
- Shredded Coconut: Adds a lovely tropical flavor and unique texture. Definitely not for everyone, but if you love coconut in desserts, then I’d bet you’ll love it here.
- Maraschino Cherries: They can be mixed in or placed on top as a garnish. The bright red contrasts really nicely with the green of the salad and instantly turns this into a festive Christmas dessert.
Can Watergate Salad be Made with Whipped Cream
Absolutely, yes, with one main consideration. As mentioned, whipped toppings like Cool Whip are a stabilized product. This allows them to keep for longer periods without losing their shape and structure. Whipped cream, on the other hand, tastes best fresh from the fridge but quickly falls flat and melts, so you’ll want to be sure to serve it immediately.
How to Make Watergate Salad
1. Combine the crushed pineapple with the pudding mix in a large mixing bowl. Immediately, you’ll see the beautiful, bright green color of the pistachio-flavored Jell-O pudding mix mixing with the pineapple juice. Once combined, stir in the marshmallows and crushed pecans until fully incorporated.
2. Fold in the Whipped Topping: Stir in the Cool Whip (or whipped cream, if preferred), then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Garnish and Serve: Garnish with maraschino cherries, if desired, and serve.
Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Much longer than this, and the salad may turn soggy and the marshmallows will lose their fluffy texture. Note: Repeated temperature changes may affect its texture and freshness.
Can you freeze Watergate Salad? Yes, you can freeze Watergate salad; however, I have not tried freezing Watergate salad or any other dessert salad like it, so I can’t speak from personal experience. Should you like to give it a try, transfer leftovers to an airtight container with a little extra space at the top for expansion. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator.
More Dessert Recipes,
- Blackberry Cobbler
- Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler with Honey Butter Biscuits
- Blackberry and Blueberry Galette Recipe
- Easy Apple Crisp Recipe (How to Make Apple Crisp)
- Lemon Raspberry Cookies
- Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
If you try making this Easy Watergate Salad (Pistachio Delight) Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
- 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple - undrained
- 1 (3.4-ounce) package pistachio pudding mix
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 (8-ounce) container cool whip
- Add the crushed pineapple and pudding mix to a large bowl. Mix well. Once combined, stir in the marshmallows and pecans.
- Fold in the cool whip. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to chill.
- Serve garnished with maraschino cherries if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)