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+ servings

Watergate Salad Recipe

This vintage pistachio salad is a classic sweet treat -- with just 5 minutes of prep!
Course Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Green Fluff, Pistachio salad, watergate salad recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 218.3kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, NOT drained
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box instant pistachio pudding (or use a 1-ounce box of sugar-free instant pudding)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), thawed
  • Maraschino cherries, for topping


  • In a large bowl, stir together pineapple (and its juice), dry pudding mix, marshmallows, pecans and coconut. Gently fold in the whipped topping.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (and up to 24 hours).
  • Give everything a gentle stir just before serving. Garnish with maraschino cherries.


  • How to make Watergate Salad fluffy: Do not thaw the Cool Whip on the countertop. Instead, allow at least 4-5 hours for the Cool Whip to thaw in the refrigerator. This will maintain its fluffy texture. Next, make sure that you gently fold the Cool Whip into the salad -- do not stir. This will maintain the air in the whipped topping.
  • Prepare the Salad in Advance: The salad needs at least 1 hour to chill in the refrigerator and "set up" before serving, and can easily be made a day ahead. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. After about 24 hours, however, the texture of the salad is less fluffy.
  • Can I freeze Watergate Salad? I do not recommend freezing this recipe, since the texture of the marshmallows will be "off" when thawed. The salad will not maintain its fluffy texture, either.
  • Some versions of Watergate Salad incorporate the maraschino cherries into the salad (rather than just using them as a garnish). If you'd like to do this, I recommend rinsing the cherries and patting them dry first. Otherwise, they will turn your salad pink.
  • Any nuts will work in this salad, so feel free to swap out the pecans and use walnuts, almonds or pistachios instead.
  • If you're looking for a similar green fruit salad, you can try this version with lime Jell-O and cottage cheese.


Serving: 1/8 of the salad | Calories: 218.3kcal | Carbohydrates: 31.5g | Protein: 1.7g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3.6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 114.9mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 12.5g