This timeless recipe for Watergate Salad might just be even better than your grandma’s! Retro recipes are coming back in a major way, so show off to all of your friends with this classic 70’s dessert salad. Also known as “pistachio delight,” this recipe features pistachio pudding mix, pineapples, marshmallows, and more!

A spoon is digging into a small white ramekin filled with watergate salad.

Watergate Salad

I have such a soft spot in my heart for retro recipes. Have you ever seen those pictures online of crazy gelatin molds that are filled with ingredients like lettuce and shrimp? I may not exactly be rushing into my kitchen to whip up a savory gelatin ring, but I do have an appreciation for just how much fun it must’ve been to be a 70’s housewife preparing for a dinner party!

One 70’s recipe I’ve always loved and that has withstood the trials of time is the Watergate Salad. It’s an easy no bake recipe that’s cool and refreshing, making it a dream to serve during the summertime! Plus, it’s always fun to serve at parties because most of your guests will feel pretty nostalgic taking a bite. Oh, and just look at that signature green pistachio color – it photographs like a dream.

Watergate Salad is an instant pudding mix based recipe that features key ingredients like marshmallows, fruit, crunchy pistachios, and whipped topping. It’s just as sweet as it is refreshing! It also couldn’t be easier to make, which is a huge relief if you’re preparing for a party or other kind of get together. I think a lot of those ladies had it figured out in the 70’s – why stress out over dessert when there’s so much else to do? Just make a delicious Watergate Salad and call it a day!

The ingredients for watergate salad are in a bowl and have not yet been mixed.

How to Make It

The steps to making a perfect Watergate Salad are delightfully short and sweet!

Mix together most of the ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together the pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows and 1/2 the pistachios.

Add the whipped topping. Fold in the whipped topping, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Top it off, and enjoy! Serve with additional whipped topping, nuts and top with a cherry, if desired.

Whipped cream and cherries top a bowl full of watergate salad.

Why is it called Watergate Salad?

When you hear the word “Watergate,” I’m sure the 1972 presidential scandal is the first thing that comes to mind! Funny enough, this salad has no relation to any political scandal… The origin of its name is far less exciting! This recipe was first whipped up by a chef at the Watergate Hotel, and the salad ended up being named after the hotel.

Variations to Try

It seems like everyone’s mom or grandma has their own special twist on the Watergate Salad. While this recipe is by far my favorite just the way it is, here are a few ways you can personalize it without changing it too completely.

  • Instead of chopped pistachios, try chopped walnuts. You’ll still have that signature crunch either way. While pistachios and walnuts are the most common choices, really any nuts will work!
  • Make this recipe dairy free by using a plant based whipped topping.
  • You can also make this recipe more homemade by using freshly whipped cream instead of frozen whipped topping.

How long will Watergate Salad stay fresh?

In an airtight container in the fridge, your Watergate Salad will stay fresh for about 3 days. I wouldn’t keep it much longer than that, as the juices from the fruits will start to release over time. If you do open the container to scoop out some Watergate Salad, make sure to only use a clean utensil! Any new bacteria introduced to the dish will cause it to spoil at a fast rate.

I do not recommend freezing this recipe.

A dollop of whipped cream and three cherries is placed on top of watergate salad.

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A dollop of whipped cream and three cherries is placed on top of watergate salad.

Get the Recipe: Watergate Salad

A retro classic, this easy Watergate salad is a pistachio fluff salad dessert that's sweet and simple to make!
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Ingredients

  • 1 3.4 ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 3/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1 8 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • Maraschino cherries, optional

Equipment

  • mixing bowl

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, mix together the pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows and 1/2 the pistachios.
  • Fold in the whipped topping, cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with additional whipped topping, nuts and top with a cherry, if desired.

Notes

Any nuts can be substituted for the pistachios.
Substitute homemade whipped cream for the frozen whipped topping, if desired.
Calories: 234kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 253mg, Potassium: 192mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 88IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 1mg