Watergate Salad Recipe

Sharing is caring!

Is it a side salad or a dessert salad? It’s either! Watergate Salad breaks all the rules. It’s a crazy delicious concoction of pistachio pudding, Cool Whip, pineapple, and marshmallows. This retro dessert is both fun and tasty.


Bowl full of Watergate Salad.

Set some pistachio-favored dessert salad out at your next Potluck and watch it disappear. It’s also a great salad to include for your Easter Meal.

Large bowl full of green fluff.


Most people either grew up with Watergate Salad or they don’t know what in tarnation it is. If you grew up in the south, you probably had a grandmother who made it for every special occasion or church luncheon. Watergate Salad was originally developed by Kraft under the name Pineapple Pistachio Delight in 1975 when they first introduced pistachio pudding.

The pistachio pudding gives it its characteristic mint green color and a good bit of its flavor. It is affectionately known as “Green Stuff” to many people.

If you’ve never had Watergate Salad, be prepared. It has a wild and crazy texture with tons of contrasts. The cool whip makes it a little airy and light, but there are small chunks of pineapple and a crunch from the pecans, giving your teeth a little something to sink into. And of course the marshmallows really stand out with their completely distinct soft but a little chewy texture. Once your senses get over the craziness of it all, you’ll discover that it is really quite delicious.

Watergate Salad is a dessert salad that tends to be appealing any time of year. Its light texture lends itself to the warm weather months, but throw a cherry on top and you have a perfectly festive red and green treat for Christmas. And of course its pastel color is fantastically fitting for Easter.

Try These Other Pistachio Flavored Desserts:

Watergate Salad in a alrge white bowl.


Never miss a recipe. Follow Spicy Southern Kitchen on Facebook and Pinterest.

Bowl full of Watergate Salad.

Watergate Salad

Course: Dessert, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dessert salad, Easter
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 223kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Is it a side salad or a dessert salad? It's either! Watergate Salad breaks all the rules. It's a crazy concoction of pistachio pudding, Cool Whip, pineapple, and marshmallows.
Print Recipe


  • 2 (8-ounce) cans crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
  • 1 (3.4-ounce) package pistachio instant pudding
  • 1 (8-ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped


  • In a medium bowl, stir together the full contents of the pineapple cans and the pudding mix until smooth.
  • Fold in whipped topping and marshmallows. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  • Sprinkle pecans on top before serving.


Calories: 223kcal

Originally published April 8, 2014.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

78 thoughts on “Watergate Salad Recipe

  1. I remember this dessert from when I was a child and decided to make it for a church potluck. It is very good and my kids really like it too.

  2. Ours is a little different. We use the sugar free pistachio pudding, small curd cottage cheese, sugar free non-dairy topping (cool whip), unsweetened crushed pineapple in pineapple juice and a cip of minature marshmallows. Wish I could figure out the calories!

  3. Back in the 1980’s I learned of a salad similar to this one. Only it was using Peach Pudding (similar to the Pistachio Pudding), Cottage Cheese, Whipped Cream, Mini Marshmallows, and the canned Fruit Salad (drained I think). It was such a pleasure to eat also. Haven’t made it in years but this Watergate Salad sounds heavenly…must try it soon! Thanks!!

    1. Not being a fan of pecans, I use chopped walnuts. I also us pineapple tidbits instead of crushed. My family loves it. But my favorite add in is sweetened shredded coconut.

    1. I make pudding as box directions, less about a 1/4 c milk. I prefer it a bit thicker, and dice up apples instead of pineapples, it seems to keep longer too. Also use the fruit flavored colored mini-mallows. Mix pecans sometimes walnuts and occasionally sweetened shreds of coconut into mixture with the whipped topping. I LOVE IT! MY children have issues with the textures and oddly enough state the mallows as their LEAST enjoyable part! More for my guilty pleasure at midnight..

    2. I omit the pineapple usually. Use diced apple, mix in pecans or walnuts, sometimes both. I prefer the mini fruit flavored colored mallows , sometimes i add coconut too!

  4. My family always made what we called “The Green Stuff,” and yes the recipe I have is actually titled that. It is very similar to this, except it is made with a large box of Lime Jello instead of pistachio pudding, so it must be cooked. Instead of marshmallows, you add 1 container of cottage cheese. The other instructions and ingredients are identical. We have loved it for as long as I can remember.

  5. I heard about this salad today at a funeral. We were talking about potlucks and one lady said she made this years ago. I’m ancious to try it

  6. I would like to know if your are suppose to make the pudding as directed on the box and then add it to the other ingredients Please let me know Thanks Tina

    1. No, just pour the box of pudding into the crushed pineapple with juice and mix until smooth.

  7. Just in time for me to make and take to a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Now I just have to make up my mind which version to make. Maybe both?

      1. Where did you find mention of the metal bowl. I’ve made this several times and always used a metal bowl. If another type of bowl makes this better I’m not sure I could stand it. LOL

  8. I would like to have the recipe that’s made with lime Jello and cottage cheese and pineapple can you send it to me.

  9. My mom makes this often. It is delicious. A word of advice: Do not prepare this in a metal bowl or use metal utensils. The salad will turn brown. Speaking from personal experience.

  10. We make green stuff. It’s like jello,Cream cheese whipping cream,pineapple and marshmellows. It turns out more like a parfait. Old family holiday tradition. I believe the true name is Heavenly Hash.

      1. Do you have the recipe for the Heavenly Hash mentioned above by Rikki Johnson?
        If so I would appreciate it very much if you would send it to me!! I also want you to know
        I and my whole family loved your Watergate salad. Thank you for sharing!
        Lydia Shmitt

    1. Actually Heavenly Hash is different, but similar. You mix cherry or strawberry jello with 1 tub of coolwhip, 1 tub of cottage cheese and a large can of drained fruit cocktail. Mix well & chill overnight. Very delicious!!!

  11. I have been eating this since I was a child, making it for my family, they are now making it for their families! Wonderful Salad.

  12. My “Green Stuff” is very similar but I use the Kraft FunMellows and add maraschino cherries! There are never any leftovers!

    1. I bet the cherries really makes it. I’ve eaten this for years and I totally love it. I need to make some for my Bible Study tomorrow. Thank you for sharing the addition of the cherries. πŸ˜„

  13. Just made this for today. My husband and daughter have never had it. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never made it for them before, having grown up with it on our dinner table at all the holidays. The new tradition starts.

  14. I first had this salad back in the70’s at a Soroptimist Salad Luncheon in Arcata, California. I love it. So easy to make. It is a requested at every pot luck and family dinner I attend. It’s my “green stuff!”

  15. Wow! My doctor has been telling me to eat more salad. Now I can tell him that I have been eating lots of salad. LOL

  16. Wow…i gorgot about this salad! I am from Louisiana and used to eat tgus as a young girl….thanks for the recipe. I just made one and i can hardly wait until it is chilled. Do you think adding mardarin oranges would be good? Thanks again

  17. This was a favorite for Thanksgiving at my grandparent’s home in Alabama, and my mom and I carry on the tradition. Was always called Watergate Salad in our family. I just married a man from Iowa- he’s very confused about this being on our Thanksgiving day menu! He’ll get used to it πŸ™‚

  18. I’m dead set against mkaing anything with cool whip, but for some reason, I don’t mind instant pistachio pudding (a guilty pleasure). Anyway, in a moment of utter weakness, I’ve been known to make this recipe using freshly whipped cream (w/sugar and vanilla).Oh, I have a friend who brings this to church dinners and she insists it is a “salad”, and should be served as such – will move it from the dessert table to the savory food table. So funny.Ho, ho, ho,ButterYum

  19. I love Watergate salad and make this every Easter and Christmas and sometimes on Thanksgiving because it is as easy to make as it is delicious! One of my daughters does not like nuts so I make a bowl with nuts and one without. My mother-in-law makes a version with lime jello and cottage cheese but I personally prefer the pistachio pudding and cool whip!

  20. Wow, I’m having some serious flashbacks of being at my grandmother’s diner table! I’m not from the South but I remember my grandmother would make it for special occasions and holidays. It also reminds me of my mother’s old recipe box. I used to skim through it when I was a child and be mesmerized by all the “exotic” delights like Chicken Parmesan or Beef Wellington. Thanks for sharing the recipe and for the trip down memory lane πŸ™‚

  21. My mother used to make this! It’s fantastic! Very 1970s. (I was in high school during the Watergate scandal.)

    There was also a cake – recipe card in Mother’s recipe box – that I loved. Just delicious!

    I think that pistachio pudding is so good. (Not everyone agrees.)
    Maybe it was invented in the 1970s.

    1. Some recipes really bring back memories don’t they? An old church cookbook I have has a recipe for Watergate Cake that my grandfather submitted (he was the cook in the family). I’ve been waiting for a special occasion to make it πŸ™‚

  22. We make this with 1 1/2 cups of cottage cheese instead of marshmellows. Because my daughter is allergic to nuts I sometimes make it with cheesecake flavored pudding instead of pistachio and add a can of mandrin oranges (drained). Its all good!

    1. Cheesecake pudding sounds like a delicious alternative Beth! I will have to try that. And adding cottage cheese instead of marshmallows adds so much protein. Great idea πŸ™‚

    2. If you substituted the cheesecake flavor and used the pineapple, I wonder if you could add coconut instead of marshmallows?

  23. I have never had (or heard of!) watergate salad before! But I am smitten with that pretty green color! Pistachio anything is such a favorite of mine!

  24. I’ve heard of ambrosia salad but this is definitely new to me. I love learning about regional foods and new things in general. I didn’t even know there was instant pistachio pudding out there either! So much to learn. This would be a pretty dish to set out for Easter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating