This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy.

Watergate salad takes 5 minutes to put together and it is so yummy! Bring this salad to a potluck and I promise people will be begging you for the recipe!

Watergate Side Dish in a white bowl with a cherry on top.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Easy Watergate Salad Ingredients
  2. How to Make Classic Watergate Salad Recipe
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Storing the Best Watergate Salad
  5. More Easy Fruit Salad Recipes
  6. Watergate Salad (5 ingredients + 5 minutes prep time!) Recipe

Have you ever forgotten that you’re supposed to bring a side dish to a potluck until a few hours before? Well, this is the dish for you! You seriously throw the ingredients together, leave them in the fridge for a couple of hours, and ta-da! Your friends and neighbors will love this dessert salad filled with pineapple, marshmallows, pecans, and pistachio pudding.

This classic Watergate salad is known by many names – Pistachio Salad, Pistachio Delight, Pistachio Fluff, Green Stuff, Green Fluff, Fluff Salad, and my least favorite, Green Goop. The fluffy texture of the marshmallows, the crunch of the nuts, and the creamy pistachio pudding all combine for a delightful treat. You won’t have to worry about leftovers either, I guarantee the bowl will be licked clean!

Easy Watergate Salad Ingredients

Only six ingredients to make this delicious Watergate side salad. It is easy to inexpensive to pick up the ingredients from the store and create this side salad within minutes. Each ingredient is drained and dump and go into the bowl ingredient. Simple and doesn’t take any effort!

  • Pistachio pudding mix – This is a unique pudding that is needed for this recipe. The pudding mix has all the flavor for this pistachio salad. It also creates the green coloring in the Watergate salad.
  • Pineapple – Crushed pineapple is delicious and has a refreshing flavor.
  • Pecans – Adds a crunchy texture with a sweet and savory bite.
  • Mini marshmallows – Pick out pastel-colored mini marshmallows that have a sweet and tangy flavor. If not, the mini white marshmallows work great too!
  • Cool whip – This is the creamy base and texture that the ingredients are folded into. It is light and airy with a sweet flavor to the salad.
  • Maraschino cherries – Slice the cherries in half or in small pieces that give just enough of the sweetness ot the side salad.
Pistachio salad or Watergate salad with nuts sprinkled on top

How to Make Classic Watergate Salad Recipe

This is a simple and easy salad that is perfect for when you are needing a side dish quickly. It is cool, fresh, and amazingly delicious. It is loaded with a soft, creamy, and crunchy texture in every bite. This Watergate salad usually doesn’t last long at potlucks. Simply, combine all the ingredients and store it in the refrigerator until ready to eat!

  1. Combine – In a large bowl combine the instant pudding mix, crushed pineapple, pecans, and marshmallows. Stir well. Fold in Cool Whip until well blended.
  2. Refrigerate – Cover and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  3. Garnish and serve – To serve, top with Maraschino cherries and extra chopped pecans.
Two bowls of Watergate Salad topped with cherries.

Additions and Substitutions

5 from 5 votes

This watergate salad is AMAZING just by itself. However, if you are wanting to jazz the flavor up a little bit, there are some things you can do. Add in more fruit or nuts for extra flavoring. Even cherries or whipped cream can be substituted. The possibilities are endless!

  • Fruit – Some people like to add more fruit like mandarin oranges or bananas. However you want to serve it – your guests will love it!
  • Change the salad – To make this more of an ambrosia salad, you can replace the crushed pineapple with a can of fruit cocktail and add coconut. The pastel-colored mini marshmallows can also be used in place of the mini white marshmallows.
  • Sweetness – You can also lean into the sweetness and top it with whipped cream and maraschino cherries. The bright red cherry is the perfect complement to the green color of the salad.
  • Garnishes – You can add some garnishes! Top it with chopped nuts, either pistachios, walnuts, or pecans.

“Very light and refreshing. We enjoyed this as a side at our potluck.”

Watergate Salad in a green bowl, topped with pecans and a cherry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called Watergate salad?

There are several urban legends about where the name of this salad came from. However, the most common story is that a sous chef at the historic Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. came up with this recipe. It was served at brunch most weekends and eventually gained popularity after the Watergate Scandal. People say it’s the perfect name because the Cool Whip is a great “cover-up” for all the ingredients and it is full of nuts!

When was watergate salad invented?

The Watergate salad was invented was thought of in 1976 when the pistachio pudding mix came out. It was two years after President Richard Nixon resigned because of the Watergate scandal. IT was still fresh on the American’s minds and was called just that because it was a surprise within the salad.

Storing the Best Watergate Salad

Watergate salad is easy to store. Simply, place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for three to five days. When ready to enjoy, stir the mixture together and serve. I love to sneak a small bowl at night occasionally, it is that good!

More Easy Fruit Salad Recipes

Hopefully, the weather will be warming up soon and you and your friends and neighbors will be planning your spring picnics and potlucks. I get tired of bringing the same old thing, so I like to try something new every once in a while. Check out some of our other potluck favorites for you to try out next time!

Watergate Side Dish in a white bowl with a cherry on top

Watergate Salad (5 ingredients + 5 minutes prep time!)

5 from 5 votes
Watergate Salad takes 5 minutes to put together, then chill and serve. Bring this salad to a potluck and I promise people will be begging you for the recipe!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8



  • 3.75 ounces instant pistachio pudding mix dry
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1/4 cup pecans halves or chopped
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 1/2 cups cool Whip thawed
  • maraschino cherries optional, for topping


  • In a large bowl combine the instant pudding mix, crushed pineapple, pecans and marshmallows. Stir well. Fold in Cool Whip until well blended.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.
  • To serve, top with Maraschino cherries and extra chopped pecans.


Tips for Watergate Salad

  • Make sure the Cool Whip is thawed correctly. Cool Whip is frozen when you purchase it. Don’t leave it out on the counter at room temperature! This will cause it to become runny and the salad won’t set. The proper way to thaw Cool Whip is to place it in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight. 
  • For a more colorful salad, try using the colorful marshmallows. The Jet Puffed brand calls these “Fun-Mallows.” The Great Value brand calls them mini fruit marshmallows.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1gCalories: 165kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 219mgPotassium: 74mgFiber: 1gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 55IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg

Love this recipe?

We want to hear from you! Please leave a review.

Rate and Review

Share This With the World


About the author

Kelsey Crist

Kelsey lives in Washington with her husband, Alex, and two cats, Diana and Nova. Her happy place is in the kitchen listening to an audiobook and trying new recipes. When she's not in the kitchen you can find her hiking, shopping at Trader Joe's, or playing Animal Crossing. Her favorite food is pasta and Alex loves when she makes Homemade Oreos.

More about Kelsey Crist

Similar Recipes

Leave a comment

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

How many stars would you give this recipe?