Pistachio Salad recipe, or Watergate Salad, made with pudding mix, Cool Whip, pineapple and marshmallows is fluffy, light and delicious! Serve as an easy side dish or dessert salad for potlucks, parties, picnics or holidays. It's a classic retro recipe that's worth revisiting!
Easy pistachio salad is super simple to make, and it only consists of 4 ingredients, or 5, if you decide to add nuts. The original recipe for Watergate Salad called for chopped almonds or walnuts. But my kids hate nuts in their food, so I leave them out.
You may know this vintage Jello salad as Pistachio Pineapple Delight, Pistachio Fluff or Green Stuff. Bonus points if you know why it's called Watergate salad!
Like Strawberry Jello Salad and Orange Jello Salad, I got this retro recipe from my grandma's collection -- It was super popular in the 70's. As I recall, this dish was usually reserved for holidays, church potluck dinners or parties. I don't think we ever had it as part of an ordinary dinner.
The first time I made Watergate Salad for my family, my kids almost didn't try it. But, they loved it, and my youngest daughter insists on making it herself for holidays and sometimes, just because!
How to Make Pistachio Salad (Watergate Salad)
First, you combine crushed pineapple and a small box of instant pistachio pudding. This looks pretty wild, and you can see that the ingredients gave off kind of a weird glow.
But remember, this is from the 70's. So, I suppose that's normal, right?!
Then, you mix in a small container of whipped topping. And, the weird yellowish-green glow disappears!
If you want more of a crunch, go ahead and add some nuts. But, I think I'm going to agree with the kiddos on this recipe and say that it's fine without the nuts.
Finally, you fold in some mini marshmallows. And that's all, folks -- you're done! Traditionally, you use regular marshmallows. But, we think the fun-colored fruity marshmallows make this fluffy dessert salad extra fun.
Pistachio salad is one of those recipes that instantly takes you back. After one bite, you'll be thinking, Yes -- I remember this!
Like most mid-century recipes, every family has their own version of pistachio salad. Top it off with maraschino cherries, use sour cream or cottage cheese instead of Cool Whip. Stir in shredded coconut or add cream cheese instead of marshmallows. The possibilities are endless here!
Make Ahead of Time
You can make pistachio salad up to a day in advance or an hour before serving. It just needs time to set and cool down. It keeps for about 4 days when covered in the fridge.
- 1 3.4-ounce box of instant pistachio pudding mix
- 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple not drained
- 1 8-ounce container whipped topping thawed
- 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows
- Mix the pineapple with the pudding mix in a medium bowl
- Fold in the whipped topping
- Stir in the mini marshmallows
- Refrigerate until ready to serve
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
Want to know where Watergate Salad comes from? Truth is, nobody really knows now. Grandma always said it came from a chef at the Watergate Hotel, which became famous after the Watergate scandal. Some say it came from Kraft and got the nickname from a reporter. Who knows? We just know it's good stuff!
This post was originally published in 2016.