Watergate Salad is a classic dessert that’s back in the spotlight! With over 250,000 views and going viral on Pinterest, this old-fashioned favorite is proving its timeless appeal.

Made with simple ingredients like pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows, and whipped topping, Watergate Salad is Perfect for potlucks, summer gatherings, or whenever you’re craving a taste of nostalgia. It can be whipped up in under five minutes, making it a true time-saver.

watergate salad served in a bowl.
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What is Watergate Salad

Watergate salad is a sweet and colorful dessert salad that was popular in the 1970s. It is typically made with pistachio-flavored instant pudding mix, canned pineapple chunks or crushed pineapple (including the juice), miniature marshmallows, chopped nuts, and whipped topping. The ingredients are simply combined and chilled until set.

Why is it called Watergate Salad?

Now, you may be wondering where the unique name for this dessert salad comes from. While there is no clear answer to that question, there are few fun theories. There’s no proof that the name actually has anything to do with the 1970’s Watergate scandal.

Some say it’s as simple as the idea that pistachio was Nixon’s favorite flavor. Others say the salad became a regular menu item at the Watergate hotel. However, one of the most common explanations is that the ingredients are “covered up” by whipped cream.
Watergate salad also goes by the names Pistachio Delight, Pineapple Pistachio Delight, Shut the Gate Salad (a play on “pistachio”), Green Fluff and Funeral Salad (due to its frequent appearance at potlucks)

Watergate Salad Recipe Ingredients

watergate salad ingredients.
  • Pistachio pudding mix
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Whipped topping (you can use Cool Whip or try our homemade whipped topping!)
  • Chopped pecans – While we are using pecans in our recipe, you could opt for a different type of nut. I’ve seen many recipes that use walnuts instead.
  • White mini marshmallows
  • Chopped pecans and maraschino cherries for garnish
  • Shredded coconut – The shredded coconut on top is completely optional. It offers a nice crunch and the flavor compliments the pineapple and pistachio wonderfully. If you are a coconut fan, you’ve got to try adding it.

How to make Watergate Salad

  1. MIX pineapple and pudding mix together
  2. STIR in the other ingredients (except whipped topping)
  3. FOLD in the whipped topping.
  4. TOP chopped pistachios and cherries.
stir all ingredients in a bowl. add whipped topping and stir.

How to Serve Pistachio Salad

The great thing about this dessert is that you can make it ahead of time. In fact, I recommend making it the night before you plan to serve it. That way, it can sit in the refrigerator, and the flavors can blend together.

It also allows the marshmallows to soften a bit. Be sure to store your salad in an airtight container in the fridge. It will stay good for 2-3 days.

watergate salad garnished with maraschino cherries.

Proper Storage

Refrigerate: Store your Watergate salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. The airtight container will help prevent the whipped cream from browning and the other ingredients from absorbing fridge odors.

Freezing (Not Recommended): Freezing Watergate salad isn’t recommended. The marshmallows will lose their texture and become icy upon thawing, affecting the overall mouthfeel of the salad.

More No-Bake Desserts

4.91 from 20 votes
watergate salad in a bowl.

Watergate Salad Recipe

Serves — 8
Watergate salad is an light and easy dessert that is perfect for the summer and can be made in just about 5 minutes.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes



  • 2 boxes boxes of pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 large can crushed pineapple
  • 12 ounces whipped topping
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • cups white mini marshmallows
  • chopped pecans and maraschino cherries for garnish
  • 1 cup shredded coconut *Optional


  • In a large bowl, mix pineapple and pudding mix until mix has completely dissolved and the pineapple is thick.
    2 boxes boxes of pistachio pudding mix, 1 large can crushed pineapple
  • Stir in other ingredients, then fold in whipped topping.
    ½ cup chopped pecans, 1½ cups white mini marshmallows, 12 ounces whipped topping
  • Transfer to serving bowl and top with chopped pistachios and cherries.
    chopped pecans and maraschino cherries for garnish

Jenn’s Notes

Store your Watergate salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. The airtight container will help prevent the whipped cream from browning and the other ingredients from absorbing fridge odors.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 72mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg

Watergate Salad is so delicious and easy to make. With its pistachio and pineapple flavors, mixed with creamy whipped topping, and topped off with crunchy pecans. This light and refreshing dessert salad is a great summer side.

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4.91 from 20 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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