Watergate Salad Recipe

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. Watergate Salad is a retro dessert that is both fun and tasty.

Watergate Salad

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


Watergate Salad

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 chinks 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.

Watergate Salad

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4.91 from 11 votes
Watergate Salad
Watergate Salad
Prep Time
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
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.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 223 kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
  • 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
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the full contents of the pineapple cans and the pudding mix until smooth.
  2. Fold in whipped topping and marshmallows. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Sprinkle pecans on top before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Watergate Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 223
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

62 thoughts on “Watergate Salad Recipe

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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˜„

  9. 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.

  10. 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!”

  11. 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

  12. 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™‚

  13. 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

  14. 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!

  15. 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™‚

  16. 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™‚

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

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