This light and fluffy Watergate salad recipe is a quick and easy salad that tastes like dessert. It’s a fluffy mixture with pistachio pudding and our favorite add-ins and hard to resist.
It has just the right amount of tart crushed pineapple, coconut, and crunchy pecans with a cherry on top. Watergate salad is a colorfully unique addition to any table! This retro family favorite recipe is just the way Grandma used to make it!
What is Watergate Salad?
Watergate salad has also been called Pistachio Delight, Shut the Gate Salad, and even Green Goddess Salad. It most likely got its name from the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC where it was offered during weekend brunches.
This fluff salad gets it’s color and delicious flavor from a box of instant pistachio pudding mix. The addition of nuts and coconut add texture while marshmallows and whipped topping make it fluffy. Great next to a holiday meal, served as a dessert or with Strawberry Peach Slushies
A Fave Fluff Salad
- Watergate salad is a classic salad recipe that’s easy to make and perfect for any holiday table!
- It’s easy to make in one bowl and without having to heat up the oven! Just mix and chill!
- This dish is best made ahead of time making it potluck perfect!
Watergate Salad Ingredients
Some versions of Watergate salad use cottage cheese or cream cheese, but this recipe is kept simple and sweet.
PISTACHIO BASE Pistachio has a clean, nutty flavor and a pale green color that gives this salad its unique appeal. Pineapple juice gives this recipe a citrusy tang that blends all of the other flavors together.
MIX-INS Watergate salad is known for its perfect combination of sweet and crunchy mix-ins. Crushed pineapple, sweet coconut, and crunchy pecans are folded into a blend of whipped cream and mini-marshmallows.
Crushed pistachios or walnuts can be used in place of the pecans, and for some extra color and texture, a can of drained fruit cocktail, sliced bananas, mandarin orange segments, fresh blueberries, or diced red apples can be added as well.
PRO TIP: Be sure any added fruit is thoroughly drained so it doesn’t water the salad down.
How to Make Watergate Salad
This salad is so easy to make, for some old-fashioned fluffy fun!
- Whisk pineapple juice and pistachio pudding mix (per the recipe below).
- Stir in the mix-ins. Gently fold in whipped topping, cover, & refrigerate.
- Garnish with chopped pecans & a maraschino cherry for each serving.
PRO TIP: Toast coconut and pecans in a small pan and allow to cool before adding to the recipe. Toasting them intensifies their flavor and makes them extra crunchy!
Keep Watergate salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Refresh it by folding in some extra whipped cream topping.
Watergate salad can be frozen for up to 3 months, but it won’t be as fluffy once it’s thawed. Leave some space in the container for it to expand as it freezes. Once it’s thawed, give it a stir and fold in some fresh whipped topping and marshmallows before serving.
Side Dish or Dessert!?
- Ambrosia Salad – a classic dish
- Berry Fluff Jello Salad – fun & fruity
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad – perfect for a potluck
- Cherry Fluff Salad – so fresh & flavorful
- Easy Fresh Fruit Salad – so bright & colorful
Did you make this Watergate Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple in juice NOT SYRUP
- 3.4 ounces instant pistachio pudding mix 1 box
- 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 8 ounces whipped topping
- maraschino cherry for topping
- pecan chips for topping
- Drain the crushed pineapple juice into a large bowl, reserving the pineapple in the can.
- Stir the pudding mix into the pineapple juice until fully combined.
- Stir in the crushed pineapple, marshmallows, pecans, & coconut until combined.
- Fold in the whipped topping.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours.
- Garnish with pecan chips and a cherry when serving.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
More fruits favorites: and these Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs.