Watergate Salad

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Watergate Salad is a delicious retro recipe that can be whipped up in just 5 minutes! This easy pistachio fluff recipe is a classic recipe made with pecans, pineapple, and pistachio pudding! It can be served as a potluck side dish or even a dessert!

overhead view of Watergate Salad made with pecans, pineapple, and pistachio

What is Watergate Salad?

Watergate Salad might be just as classic as apple pie in some households. This retro dessert salad had been around for generations, dating back to 1975 when Kraft launched its pistachio pudding and called the dish Pistachio Pineapple Delight. The dessert blended pineapple and pistachio together with whipped topping and marshmallows for a sweet and fluffy dish.

How did Watergate Salad Get Its Name?

I love a dish with a little bit of fun history!  The famous dish got the name “Watergate Salad” when a Chicago column renamed it to garner interest. Given that the Watergate Scandal was just a year prior, I’m sure it caught several people’s attention when flipping through the newspaper. But this salad isn’t as scandalous as the Nixon administration and being downright delicious is the only crime it’s committing. And those crimes are against my waistline… “sorry, pants”.

Watergate salad topped with a red maraschino cherry in a clear bowl

How to Make Watergate Salad

Watergate Salad is super easy to make, simply stir and chill! Similar to an ambrosia salad, this easy Watergate Salad recipe contains both pineapple and coconut.  It also has pistachio pudding which adds amazing flavor and gives it its characteristic pretty green color!

Like most retro recipes, there are different versions of this salad (some containing cottage cheese or cream cheese) but this easy version is always a favorite! Soft and fluffy and just simply stir and serve! The tart pineapple and sweet coconut and pecans and that cream whipped topping and fluffy marshmallows, this dish is utterly irresistible. Plus, it only takes 5 minutes to whip up.

This recipe needs to chill before serving. The chilling part allows the flavors to blend but most of all allows the marshmallows time to soak up any liquid giving it a thicker consistency.  This simple, old fashioned dessert is perfect as a side or dessert at summer BBQs, everyone will be begging you for the recipe! Serve it up with my Strawberry Peach Slushies and these Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs.

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overhead view of Watergate Salad made with pecans, pineapple, and pistachio
4.54 from 15 votes
Review Recipe

Watergate Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author Rebecca
This Watergate Salad is a delicious retro recipe that can be whipped up in just 5 minutes! It’s loaded with classic flavors like pecans, pineapple, and pistachio!


  • 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

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  • 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

Calories: 242, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 173mg, Potassium: 153mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 29g, Vitamin A: 50IU, Vitamin C: 5.4mg, Calcium: 34mg, Iron: 0.5mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword best watergate salad, how to make Watergate Salad, watergate salad, watergate salad recipe
Course Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American


side view of Watergate Salad topped with a maraschino cherry, overhead view of the salad
side view of Watergate Salad topped with a maraschino cherry
About the author


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I’m Rebecca, and Sugar & Soul is where I blend my traditional roots and millennial imagination. I’m a self taught baker, photographer and traveler with a business degree and a dream. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Matt, and currently reside in Central Maine. I’m so glad you stopped in and I hope I can inspire you to bake a batch of cookies or head off on a new adventure!

More Posts by Rebecca

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Recipe Rating


  1. I have made Watergate Salad a lot. We don’t make it with coconut (this is the only recipe I’ve come across that includes it), but that sounds interesting. We usually omit the nuts because they can get a little un-crunchy mixed in with the other ingredients. I love the idea of adding them on top, though! Thanks for the ideas!

    Also want to note that this salad freezes really well. We always make it for Thanksgiving and I freeze it days ahead of time. You just have to remember to take it out and put it in the fridge ahead of time. We like ours really cold, so if it’s still a little frosty in the middle, that’s okay!4 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t love this as much as we do Lina. Thank you for trying it.

  2. True Watergate has NO coconut – 5 ingredients, nuts, whipped topping, a 4-serving instant pistachio pudding mix, pineapple & marshmallows BUT I do not like marshmallows & I do not like waiting SO, I’ve always made mine w/8 oz cream cheese & walnuts for the nuts. I use my stick blender & blend the cream cheese & pineapple juice first. Then add pineapple chunks cuz they taste better than crushed pineapple & using the stick blender makes it all the right consistency. Then stir in the dry pudding mix & nuts. & last, fold in the whipped topping. Then EAT, no waiting necessary! & I’ve been making this dessert for almost 40 years & there are annual family functions that I don’t show up to unless I’ve made a triple batch!!!

  3. My mother n law debra crews number 1 makes this salad every year for thanksgiving for me because i love it so much this year im making it myself for our thanksgiving dinner at her house. It is inexspensive and easy to make. A great desert for any occasion thank you for the recipe. I will try the others too. Hv a great thanksgiving.

  4. My mom used to make this for holidays like easter and the 4th (with marshmallow colors corresponding to the holiday of course). It’s a cool summer dessert. Ive made it myself and love it. But, Id suggest two changes…if adding coconut (which we never did, but love the idea)…id toast it first to add that nice toasted coconut flavor. And I like the idea of chopped walnuts better than pecans, they arent quite as salty and have a more satisfying crunch whereas I find pecans too brittle. Love the maraschino cherry idea, too. This recipe looks and sounds like a winner!5 stars

  5. My mom used to make this all the time, for whatever picnic we went to. I m going to make this probably within the week, just because. Yum yum memories5 stars

  6. How fun! I’m not a big fan of pistachios either, but anything with marshmallows is tasty treat as far as I’m concerned.

  7. It is amazing how sometimes food can be utterly alien to some, I have genuinely no idea what pistachio pudding is ;) Fab story behind the name though.

  8. Here I was thinking this was going to be a boring savory salad recipe… but then I realised it was a delicious sweet salad with pistachio, marshmallow and cream… yes please!!!

  9. Pistachio pudding! :) This IS retro, but in the best possible way. I am so buying that pudding and making this the next time I’m at the store!5 stars