Classic Watergate Salad

Share this post

With a fun mix of pistachio, pineapple, and marshmallow, the Watergate Salad is a retro dessert that still delights.

Classic Watergate Salad featured image above

As a journalist, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the Watergate scandal. I mean, the intrigue of a secret source, the dogged pursuit of reporters Woodward and Bernstein, and ultimately, the downfall of a U.S. president. It almost sounds made up, but we know that reality is often stranger than fiction.

So when I saw this recipe for Watergate Salad, I was immediately curious. I took a look at the ingredients—pistachio pudding, Cool Whip, pineapple, marshmallows—and realized that I’ve loved this salad for a long time—I just knew it by a different name. In my house, we called it Pistachio Salad; my husband’s family refers to it as the Green Fluff. A little research revealed that this is a salad of many names: Shut the Gate, Green Goop, and Shamrock Salad, among others. This salad of many names is a family favorite, along with other fruit salad mixes like Grape Salad and Citrus Mint Salad.

But Watergate Salad does have a particular panache. Apparently, there are lots of urban legends about how the name came to be attached to this simple but delicious salad. Some say it was simply a matter of timing: General Foods released the pistachio pudding mix in the 1970s, when Watergate was on the minds of most. Another source says that the salad was invented by a chef at the Watergate Hotel. My favorite story is that the name was derived from a similar dessert, the Watergate Cake, so called because the cake has “cover-up” icing and is full of nuts.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

No need for a specialty grocery store for this recipe: you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. This is a versatile dish that can be served as a side, snack, or dessert—any time of the year.

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP pistachio Jell-O instant pudding mix
  • 4 oz can crushed pineapple
  • 2 TBSP miniature marshmallows
  • 2 TBSP nuts
  • 1.5 oz container Cool Whip
Classic Watergate Salad ingredients

How to Make – The Steps

Step 1: Chop half of the nuts of your choice and leave the other half for garnish.

Classic Watergate Salad step 1

Step 2: Place the crushed pineapples in a bowl and add the pistachio Jell-O instant pudding mix. Mix until well combined.

Classic Watergate Salad step 2

Step 3: Add the miniature marshmallows and chopped nuts. Mix with a spatula until well combined.

Classic Watergate Salad step 3

Step 4: Now add the Cool Whip to the pudding mixture and gently fold it into the mixture with a spatula.

Classic Watergate Salad step 4

Step 5: Transfer the mixture into glasses and chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Once chilled, serve the Watergate salad cold. Enjoy!

Classic Watergate Salad step 5

Tips & Tricks for a Perfect Watergate Salad

  • I think the salad tastes best if you let it chill for at least an hour before serving; that gives time for the flavors to meld and the marshmallows to soften and swell.
  • Keep the juice from the crushed pineapple and add it to the mix, too. It enhances the flavor and helps set the pudding mix.
  • Make sure to mix the other ingredients really well before adding the Cool Whip for the best texture and consistency.
  • I like to toast the nuts before adding them to the salad for extra crunch.
Classic Watergate Salad featured image above

FAQs

Is this a summer-only dessert?

While the Watergate Salad can be a to-go dessert for summer barbeques, it’s also a refreshing option for parties year-round. (It’s even color-coordinated for Christmas!).

What variations can I try with this recipe?

This salad welcomes creative variations: throw in some extra fruits like cherries, apples, or bananas, or sprinkle in some coconut shavings. If you don’t like pistachio pudding (or don’t have it in your pantry), you can try a different flavor. You might even crush up cookies or crackers instead of nuts.

Can I make this recipe with fresh pineapple instead of canned?

Of course. But the juice from the can does kick up the salad a notch, so consider adding a bit of pineapple juice as well as the fresh fruit.

Classic Watergate Salad featured image below

Serving Suggestions

A perfect complement to nearly any meal, the Watergate Salad is a welcome treat for grill-outs, church carry-ins, or Thanksgiving feasts. It’s a fun treat for an afternoon snack or as an easy dessert for a weekday dinner.

Make Ahead and How to Store

You can make this salad a day before serving—in fact, it might even taste better! Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

Classic Watergate Salad featured image below

Watergate Salad

No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp pistachio Jell-O instant pudding mix
  • 4 oz can crushed pineapple
  • 2 tbsp miniature marshmallows
  • 2 tbsp nuts
  • 1.5 oz container Cool Whip

Instructions
 

  • Chop half of the nuts of your choice and leave the other half for garnish.
  • Place the crushed pineapples in a bowl and add the pistachio Jell-O instant pudding mix. Mix until well combined.
  • Add the miniature marshmallows and chopped nuts. Mix with a spatula until well combined.
  • Now add the Cool Whip to the pudding mixture and gently fold it into the mixture with a spatula.
  • Transfer the mixture into glasses and chill for at least 60 minutes in the refrigerator. Once chilled, serve the Watergate salad cold. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating