This Pistachio Salad is a fluffy and creamy Watergate salad that is easy to whip up and tastes even better the second day! It’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or anytime you’re craving a pistachio dessert! 

This vintage recipe makes 8 servings and costs $7.39, which is only $0.92 per serving. For more vintage dessert salad recipes, check out this Frog Eye Salad and this Cranberry Fluff Salad

Easy Watergate Salad

Pistachio Salad

This Watergate Salad recipe is always a hit at family celebrations and holidays. It’s dreamy, creamy, and always a crowd-pleaser. This Pistachio Salad is a favorite for 2 reasons: 

  1. It’s incredibly simple to make. 
  2. It’s perfect for literally every single holiday or get-together, no matter the time of year! This salad makes its way onto my Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas table. 

Why do they call it Watergate salad?

The origins of this salad are still a bit of a mystery, unlike the actual Watergate Scandal. This dish was first created in the 1970s, but it has nothing to do with the Watergate Scandal.

Many believe that the name was a way to gain attention and promote a food editor’s column based on the time’s current events. 

Does pistachio taste almond?

Pistachio flavoring is made with almond extract. So pistachio JELLO does have a hint of almond flavor in it. 

Here are some pistachio desserts from other bloggers that have caught my eye: Pistachio Eclair Cake, Pistachio Pudding Cookies, Pistachio Cake, and Pistachio Ice Cream.

How to Make Pistachio Salad:

A picture collage of how to make pistachio salad.

  1. Stir together pudding mix and pineapple juice. 
  2. Add pineapple marshmallows, pecans, and coconut. Stir until the marshmallows are coated in the pudding mixture. 
  3. Fold in Cool Whip, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours. 
  4. Garnish with maraschino cherries, pecans, and additional Cool Whip. 

Cook’s Tools – Pistachio Pudding Salad:

large measuring cup

fine mesh strainer

mixing bowl 

rubber scraper 

Watergate Salad recipe

How much will this Pistachio Salad recipe cost to make?



NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have.

  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple – $0.98
  • 3.4 oz box instant pistachio pudding – $0.98
  • 2 ½ cups mini marshmallows – $0.55
  • 1 cup pecans – $2.84
  • ½ cup sweetened coconut – $0.20
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip – $1.84

The Flavor and Recipe Variations:

You can whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream to use in this recipe instead of Cool Whip. Just note that you can only make this salad up to 24 hours in advance. This is so because the whipping cream is not s stable as Cool Whip.

How Long is it Good For:

SERVE: You can leave this pistachio salad out for about 30-60 minutes before you need to refrigerate it. 

STORE: This fluff salad will keep for about 2 days in the refrigerator. 

FREEZE: I do not recommend freezing the fluff salad. The mini marshmallows do not hold up well once frozen and then defrosted. 

More Classic Dessert Recipes: 

  1. Peppermint Patty Candy
  2. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
  3. Buckeye Candy
  4. Pecan Snowball Cookies
  5. Divinity Candy
  6. Pink Macarons
  7. Spiced Creme Brulee
  8. Homemade Banana Pudding
  9. Old Fashioned Fudge
  10. Homemade Caramel Corn
  11. Buttermilk Pie
  12. Peanut Brittle
Pistachio Salad in a clear glass.
5 from 9 votes

Pistachio Salad

Author Jillian - a Food, Folks and Fun original!
Recipe Cost $ 7.39
Serving Cost $ 0.92
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 5 minutes
8 people
This Watergate salad is a fluffy and creamy pistachio salad that is easy to whip up and tastes even better the second day!


  • large measuring cup
  • fine mesh strainer
  • mixing bowl
  • rubber scraper


  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple in juice
  • 3.4 oz box instant pistachio pudding
  • 2 ½ cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup pecans chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip thawed



  • Place a medium fine mesh strainer over a large measuring cup. Drain the pineapple and reserve the crushed pineapple in the strainer until ready to use.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 1
  • In a large bowl add the pudding mix.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 2
  • Stir in the pineapple juice until combined.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 3
  • Add the crushed pineapple, marshmallows, pecans, and coconut.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 4
  • Mix until combined and all of the marshmallows are coated in the pudding mixture.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 5
  • Fold in the Cool Whip.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 6
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
    How to Make Watergate Salad Step 7
  • Spoon the salad into serving dishes and garnish with cool whip, maraschino cherries, and pecans.
    Super easy Pistachio Salad recipe.



  • You can even use this Watergate Salad recipe as frosting! Just exclude the mini marshmallows, and you’re good to go! 
  • Instead of pecans, you can use chopped unsalted pistachios or chopped walnuts. 
  • Sometimes I like to add 2 small cans of drained Mandarin orange into this salad, too. I especially like doing this for Christmas. 
  • For the holidays, I like to punch up the green color of this salad by adding 1-2 drops of green food coloring during step 2 of the recipe below. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 209mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 92IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg

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Super easy Pistachio Salad recipe.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I grew up eating Watergate salad because my mom made it for every single potluck dinner we went to. She used to add mandarin oranges to hers. She never shared the recipe with me, so thanks for giving me a chance to relive my childhood!

  2. I made this last week and you were right, it was even better the second day! Loved it, thank you for the great share!

    1. So glad you loved this pistachio salad!

  3. This is really perfect for any occasion any get together!

  4. Looks and sounds so delicious! Perfect for any gathering!

  5. Love how quickly this dessert is to prepare. The flavours and fluffy texture sounds heavenly! Love the cherry on top too.

  6. Valentina says:

    Such a fun recipe, and so great to be able to make it ahead — and have it taste even better the next day. Brilliant.

  7. How fun is this! A great way to use pistachios too, which I LOVE!

  8. I love pistachios so this dessert looks totally yummy. Making it ahead for the next day is perfect, too!

  9. I too like pistachio flavors. I’ve heard the term Watergate Salad but didn’t realize what it was until this post.

  10. I REALLY love this recipe!

  11. Have made this for many years. We know it’s called Watergate , but we call it Green Fluff because it’s easier for the smaller kids to remember. We leave the marshmallows out because we prefer it that way. It is still good with out them.