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Classic Watergate Salad Recipe (Pistachio Delight)

This Watergate salad recipe proves that you can’t go wrong with a classic. Bursting with nostalgic flavor, this simple treat has stood the test of time for good reason.

I have been enjoying this dish since the 1970s when it first came out.  This recipe is truly a throwback and anyone who grew up during that time knows exactly what this is.  You may not have had it in a while, but years ago, it is a vintage salad served at our local church potluck, baby shower, and every summer picnic.

It’s a beloved American classic that home cooks have been serving at family gatherings, potlucks, and graced holiday tables for a few decades now. This delightful dish, perfect as a side salad or dessert, features simple ingredients. A blend of pistachio-flavored instant pudding mix, canned pineapple, mini marshmallows, nuts, and whipped cream topping.

Classic Watergate Salad Recipe (Pistachio Delight)

Known as different names. Some call it a sweet side dish, while others call it a dessert (ambrosia salad), and some call it green fluff. Either way, it comes together in minutes. After chilling in the refrigerator for an hour, it impresses with its light and fluffy texture and colorful appeal. For an extra touch, garnish with crushed pistachios and maraschino cherries.

What Is Watergate Salad?

The Watergate salad, also known as Pistachio Delight, is a dessert salad or side dish made with pistachio pudding, canned fruit, whipped topping, and other ingredients. Using  General Foods products, the original simple recipe was published under the title “Pistachio Pineapple Delight.”

In 1975, a Chicago food editor renamed it “Watergate Salad” when she featured it in her column. Likely to capture readers’ interest in the wake of the presidential Watergate scandal of the time.

Pistachio Fluff Salad

Just Five Ingredients and Five Minutes

This easy recipe comes together in just minutes. Just one package of instant pistachio pudding mix and a can of crushed pineapple for sweetness. A cup of miniature marshmallows to add fluffiness to the salad. Frozen whipped topping to bring everything together. Add crushed walnuts or pecans for a delicious nutty crunch.

Classic Watergate Salad Recipe (Pistachio Delight)
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Classic Watergate Salad Recipe (Pistachio Delight)

This Watergate salad recipe proves that you can’t go wrong with a classic. Bursting with nostalgic flavor, this simple treat has stood the test of time for good reason.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Chilling1 hour
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas recipe, holiday dessert, potluck recipe, summer dessert, summer party, thanksgiving recipe
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 219kcal

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Kitchen Essentials


  • 3.4 Ounces Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix 1 (3.4 ounce) package
  • 8 Ounces Crushed Pineapple 1 (8 ounce) with juice
  • 1 Cup Miniature Marshmallows
  • ½ Cup Walnuts chopped
  • 4 Ounces Frozen Whipped Topping such as Cool Whip, thawed
  • ½ Cup Pistachios crushed, optional
  • ½ Cup Maraschino Cherries optional


  • In a large bowl, combine the instant pudding mix, crushed pineapple with the juice, mini marshmallows, and walnuts. Mix until combined.
    3.4 Ounces Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix, 8 Ounces Crushed Pineapple, 1 Cup Miniature Marshmallows, ½ Cup Walnuts
  • Fold in the whipped topping and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
    4 Ounces Frozen Whipped Topping
  • To serve, garnish with the crushed pistachios and maraschino cherries.
    ½ Cup Pistachios, ½ Cup Maraschino Cherries

Your Own Private Notes


Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 190mg | Potassium: 166mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 79IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

Make This Recipe Ahead of Time

This recipe is perfect to make the morning before a party as it needs to be refrigerated at least an hour before serving.

This pistachio salad will last in the refrigerator up to four days when stored in an airtight container.

Can You Freeze Watergate Salad?

Yes, you can freeze this when stored in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to three to four months. The marshmallows might change in texture a bit upon thawing.

Classic Pistachio Delight in a Serving Bowl

Delicious Summer Treat

Line a cake pan with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with oil. Add the dessert to the pan spreading out to an even layer. Freeze and remove from the pan using the plastic wrap to lift out of the baking pan.

Remove the plastic wrap and cut into squares. Serve frozen or place the frozen treat squares in an airtight container and place back in the freezer. Enjoy a treat whenever the sweet tooth strikes.

We hope you enjoyed this fluffy salad retro dessert. Here are other family recipes for you to try. Including a fluffy salad with fruity flavor.


You can find Victoria crocheting, quilting, and creating recipes. She has cooked in restaurants for over 20 years, including many larger parties. In her professional career, she has worked in management in a wide variety of businesses including higher education as a dean of a division. All the while attending college part-time to achieve her doctorate in higher education with an emphasis in e-learning.

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