Watergate Salad Recipe

5 from 17 votes
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Watergate Salad, pistachio pudding fluff, that green stuff, no matter what you call it, this classic dessert is a year round favourite! If you love pistachio pudding this is the dessert for you! I first published this recipe when we were staying in Phoenix a few years ago and it was time for new photo and a how-to video as well!

Watergate Salad in Vintage Turquoise Sorbet Glasses topped with cherry
Watergate Salad

Classic Pistachio Pudding Watergate Salad Recipe

It actually took me until 3 years ago to make Watergate Salad myself. When we were at the Phoenix House (which is what it is referred to in our house) I turned over a package of my beloved pistachio pudding in my hands and read the recipe which was on the box. I can’t believe that I had never read the package and made Watergate Salad.   How could I have been ignoring a fabulous retro recipe all those years? Granted, I do only allow myself the pistachio pudding indulgence every few months, otherwise it might get out of control and you’d start seeing pistachio pudding chicken, pistachio pudding beef…it might get a little crazy on here.

close up of Watergate Salad in Vintage Turquoise Sorbet Glasses
Watergate Salad in Vintage Turquoise Sorbet Glasses

How to Make Watergate Salad Video

little girl Photographing the Watergate Salad
Photographing Watergate Salad

My little Rose was my photography assistant that day many years ago and while her brother definitely loves helping me, she has always been the one who loves getting behind the camera. Sometimes it’s nice to take a moment in the flurry of working on everything and see the joy in what I do, through her eyes. The Rose loves to tell me how she wants to do what I do when she grows up and I’m unsure all the time on what to tell her -other than “sure honey, after you go to University and get a degree”.

Her photo is SO cute and not bad at all for a 9 year old little girl!

close up of Watergate salad in a clear parfait glass
Watergate salad in a clear parfait glass

Why do they call it Watergate Salad?

It has been guessed that when this was debuted by Kraft as “Pistachio Pineapple Delight” a smart and wily editor for a Chicago newspaper called it “Watergate Salad” instead, as this recipe came out in the 1970’s. It is thought that he/she was trying to grab the public’s attention as the Watergate scandal was in all of the news at the time. Apparently they reprinted the recipe with the new name of Watergate Salad – and it has stuck ever since!

What is Watergate Cake?

Watergate Salad Cake is an amazing concoction that uses pecan cake mix, pistachio pudding mix and pineapple to bake up what is honestly one of my favourite cakes ever – because pistachio pudding, amiright? My recipe has a decadent pistachio pudding icing recipe to top the cake as well but you can always make my Pistachio Pudding Buttercream Icing for another delicious frosting.

Watergate Salad topped with a maraschino cherry
Watergate Salad topped with a maraschino cherry

Karlynn’s Tips & Tricks for Making Watergate Salad

  • This is best when left in the fridge for a few hours, but not overnight! The pineapple juice will eventually make everything watery instead of jelled together. Aim to make it the morning of an event or a few hours beforehand.
  • You can switch the pecans to another type of nut if wanted.
  • Top with extra whipped cream, maraschino cherries, whatever you desire!

This is definitely an evil recipe that I can only make every once in a while, as I could eat it for a week straight, no regrets. (Ok fine, I am sure I would regret it.)  It’s up there with my Pistachio Pudding Cookies as one of my favorite pistachio treats!

Love you more than chocolate  pistachio pudding,


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Watergate Salad, pistachio pudding fluff, that green stuff, no matter what you call it, this classic dessert is a year round favourite! If you love pistachio pudding this is the dessert for you! #watergate #dessert #pistachio #pudding #recipe #recipes #picnic #bbq # #marshmallows #pineapple

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Watergate Salad Recipe

Watergate Salad, pistachio pudding fluff, that green stuff, no matter what you call it, this classic dessert is a year round favourite! If you love pistachio pudding this is the dessert for you! 
5 from 17 votes
close up of Watergate Salad in Vintage Turquoise Sorbet Glasses
Prep Time
10 minutes
Total Time
10 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • one 20 ounces can crushed pineapple in juice undrained
  • one 3.4 ounces pkg. JELL-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup Miniature Marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1-1/2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping OR homemade whipped cream

Homemade Whipped Cream

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Combine the crushed pineapple and pudding mix in a large bowl. Stir until the pudding mix is dissolved into the juices. 
  • Stir in the marshmallows and pecans.
  • To make the whipped cream if you are using it, combine the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
  • Stir in the Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream and refrigerate for at least one hour. Scoop out and serve in bowls, topping with cherries or more whipped cream if desired. 

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

You can mix and match the nuts or leave them out entirely!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 6g, Calories: 241kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 48mg, Sodium: 21mg, Potassium: 71mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 525IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 0.3mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

Site Index Dessert salad Marshmallows Pistachio Pudding

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Emma says

    I make this all the time and everyone loves it. I was told to also add A cup of cottage cheese to the recipe to give it some protein and stability. I have never added extra pecans. That sounds really good. Thanks!5 stars

  2. AnEclipse says

    Your daughter is a wonderful photographer. Keep including your daughter and son in your blog and make sure you pay them for their photos. I was taught about business when I was very young and didn’t play too freely. Thank you very much for the Watergate Salad Recipe. My aunt would make this every time; she invited us for lunch. This salad is so delicious. ( I lost the recipe she gave me)5 stars

  3. Lydia Simpson says

    I make this all the time… my mother would put cut up apples and green and purple grapes halved in it as well. So good!!

  4. Norma (Davis) Cook says

    Could you please clarify the amounts of the ingredients? There seems to be a typo in the first two lines.

  5. MaryB says

    Love that you used homemade whipping cream! So much better than that oil stuff.5 stars

  6. Lana Moffatt Wilmot says

    Have made this for over 35 years ! So quick & easy .

    5 stars

  7. Dianne Trenaman Zarrelli says

    Used to make it all the time! Maybe this weekend

    5 stars

  8. Lorianne Ward says

    Not at all! With you in the business and your children taking an interest it’s incredibly smart, supportive and forward thinking of you!

    5 stars

  9. The Kitchen Magpie says

    It’s nice to know that I’m not too crazy 😉

    5 stars

  10. Lorianne Ward says

    I agree completely and know several people that have purchased websites for their kids.

    5 stars

  11. thespiritedthrifter says

    Done.  Good advice and I too love pistachio pudding ever since reading The Pistachio Prescription as a kid!  

    5 stars

  12. The Kitchen Magpie says

    Man, I’d be rich if I could have guessed lol!

  13. Melody Wike says

    I think it’s great advice. Who knows what the online/ business world will be like in 15 years; we certainty couldn’t have predicted 15 years ago where we are now.

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