Watergate Salad Recipe

5 from 3 votes

Watergate Salad is an easy dessert salad recipe made with pistachio pudding, pineapple, marshmallows, and cool whip. It’s a heavenly retro dessert!

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bowl of fluff with cherries on top

Easy Watergate Salad Recipe

If you need an easy last minute dessert or side dish for the weekend, this is the one you should make! I mean it’s a fluff SALAD and it’s green which makes it healthy! (HA)

This retro dessert will bring back memories at your family table: a Watergate Salad! Have you ever tried this fluff?

I’ll be honest: I’d never heard of it until I started blogging. Fluff wasn’t something we ate growing up. I think it’s more of a mid-western or southern thing because I’d never even seen dessert salad until apple salads started showing up in my Pinterest feed.

What is Watergate Salad?

In researching this salad recipe I found that it’s called by several funny names: Watergate, Green Goddess, Pistachio Delight, or Shut The Gate Salad or colloquially as Green Goop, Green Fluff or Green Stuff. I mean, I’m partial to Green Goop, aren’t you? LOL

(Why is #shutthegatesalad not a hashtag? SHUT THE GATE! LOL)

Watergate Salad got it’s start back in the 70s when Kraft Jell0-O came out with pistachio pudding mix. Can you imagine the conversation the Kraft kitchens chefs had?

“Dude, WTH do we do with PISTACHIO pudding mix?”

“I know, let’s mix it with pineapple and marshmallows and call it a SALAD!”

However it was developed or whatever it’s called, Watergate salad aka Pistachio Fluff is an iconic dessert that brings back so many family memories.

ingredients in Watergate salad photo: marshmallows, nuts, cool whip, pudding box, pineapple can

Ingredients Watergate salad

I have seen recipes all over the internet for making Watergate salad with cottage cheese or other fruit or even how to make Watergate salad with lime jello, but this is the traditional pistachio fluff recipe:

  • Pistachio pudding mix: be sure to get instant pudding
  • Crushed pineapple: a 20 ounce can
  • Cool Whip: an 8-ounce container
  • Pecans: you can use your favorite nut
  • Marshmallows: mini marshmallows are best

That’s it! You can have pistachio fluff in just 5 minutes!

How to make Watergate salad Fluff

1. First, add pineapple and pudding to a very large bowl. Don’t drain the pineapple – the liquid will make the pudding. Note: if you want a thicker salad, drain the pineapple first. This is personal preference.

bowl of crushed pineapple with pudding mix

2. Once those are combined, add the whipped topping and stir it together.

bowl of green pudding with cool whip

3. Add the nuts and marshmallows and stir together, then chill.

bowl of pudding with marshmallows and nuts


Like I mentioned, there are lots of different ways to make this recipe.

Can you make easy Watergate salad without pineapple?

You can if you want, but it changes the recipe a bit. I suggest making the pudding as called for on the box then adding the other ingredients. If you want the flavor of pineapple without the chunks, make it with 1 cup milk and ½ cup pineapple juice.

Can you make pistachio fluff with cream cheese?

Yes, but again that changes the recipe a bit. You can just add an 8-ounce block of cream cheese to the recipe. Make sure it’s room temperature and mix it into the pudding and pineapple before folding in the cool whip.

Making Fluff Salad Ahead and Storing

You can make Watergate salad up to 2 days in advance. In fact, it’s better the longer it sits. Store in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap.

bowl of fluff with cherries on top

Tips for making Easy Watergate Fluff Salad:

  • Make sure to use INSTANT pudding mix.
  • If you find sugar-free pudding mix you can also use sugar-free cool whip but remember that the pineapple has sugar in it.
  • Use walnuts in place of pecans if you prefer.
  • Don’t skip the marshmallows or your fluff will be too wet.

Other Fluff Recipes

Watergate Fluff Salad

Watergate Fluff Salad is an easy dessert salad recipe made with pistachio pudding, pineapple, marshmallows, and cool whip.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1 (8 ounce) container cool whip
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


  • Add pudding mix and pineapple with the juice to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Fold in Cool Whip. Then stir in marshmallows and pecans.
  • Chill 30 minutes before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 33mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword fluff

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bowl of fluff with cherries on top

Watergate Salad is an easy dessert salad recipe like ambrosia with pistachio and pudding! This is such an easy no bake and simple recipe for a crowd.

Last Updated on May 5, 2021

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12 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. My mom made this years ago and I had forgotten it until this recipe popped up in Facebook. A yummy memory! And so easy.

  2. What’s another pudding flavor that would be good with this (vanilla is kinda boring, IMO). Not a fan of pistachios. Thanks!

    1. I’ve made fluff with banana pudding and also Oreo pudding (you can search those on the site). Or use coconut or cheesecake pudding with the rest of the Watergate salad ingredients.

  3. You say add the puddin mix and pineapple together in a large bowel, do you mix the pudding as instructed on package first or just mix the dry pudding mix with the pineapple?

    1. Just mix the pudding mix with the pineapple – the wetness from the pineapple will help make the pudding.

  4. I have been making this for years as my go to potluck BBQ dish. Delicious! But now I need to try the pie version.

    1. You can try whipped cream (about 3 cups) but it won’t keep as long and will get watery after a few hours, most likely.

  5. I like making this and it’s so easy and delicious. Take it to office party and other gatherings with friends – this is a hit everyplace I take it.