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Watergate Salad (The BEST Pistachio Delight)

Watergate salad combines pistachio pudding, juicy pineapple, miniature marshmallows, and whipped cream.

It’s a sweet and creamy treat that’s perfect for potlucks and family get-togethers. Plus, you can whip up this crowd favorite in just 5 minutes!

Sweet and Creamy Watergate Salad with Pistachio Nuts

Watergate Salad

This creamy dessert salad is often referred to as Pistachio Fluff, Watergate Salad, Pistachio Dessert Salad, and Syracuse Cake.

It’s a stunningly sweet, tangy, and nutty dessert that’s perfect to round out any meal. But light enough that you don’t feel guilty.

Best of all, it’s insanely easy to prepare. Simply dump all the ingredients in a bowl, mix, and chill!

It’s perfect for potlucks, parties, and holidays. And did I mention that it’s super affordable?

Just don’t expect any leftovers. This surprisingly simple salad is a crowd-pleaser!

Why Is It Called Watergate Salad?

Unfortunately, no one really knows why this delicious dish is called Watergate salad. Though, like the famous scandal of the same name, conspiracy theories abound. 😉

Here are the three most popular internet theories:

  1. A chef at the Watergate Hotel invented it.
  2. It was served for breakfast on the day the Watergate scandal broke.
  3. It tastes like another popular dessert, Watergate cake, and thus took a similar name.

Personally, I don’t really care what anyone calls it. I just want them to make enough for me to have seconds, thirds, and more!

Watergate Salad Ingredients - Pistachio Pudding Mix, Crushed Pineapples, Miniature Marshmallows, Chopped Walnuts and Whipped Toppings

What Is in Watergate Salad?

You only need a handful of ingredients for this fluff salad.

  • Pistachio Pudding Mix. You don’t have to prepare the pudding beforehand. Simply mix it with all the other ingredients.
  • Crushed Pineapple. The pineapples add a fruity, tropical, tangy flavor. Plus, the juice helps turn the pudding mix into actual pudding.
  • Miniature Marshmallows. These add fluff and chewiness.
  • Chopped Walnuts. The nuts add texture and crunch. You can use whatever nuts you like best, but walnuts pair well with the other ingredients.
  • Whipped Topping. Mixing in the whipped topping gives the whole dessert a fluffy, creamy texture.

How to Make Watergate Salad

Making Watergate salad couldn’t be simpler. You simply dump all the ingredients in a bowl and mix! Then, chill the salad for at least 2 hours.

And there you have it — all the steps for making Watergate salad.

Can You Make Watergate Salad Ahead of Time?


In fact, this dessert salad is best served chilled, so you should make it at least a few hours in advance.

Let the salad chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. This will give the pudding time to set and also allow for the flavors to marry.

Tips & Tricks for the Best Watergate Salad

  • Pick canned pineapple in water or juice. Pineapple with syrup is way too thick and won’t combine well with the pudding mix. The syrup will also make the salad much too sweet.
  • You can also use fresh pineapples for this recipe. Canned pineapples are more convenient, but they aren’t your only option. Slice fresh pineapples into chunks and pulse in a food processor to crush them.
  • Don’t discard the pineapple juice. This ingredient is crucial in turning the dry pudding mix into actual pudding. If you drain it by accident, you can use water instead.
  • Vary the fruit. Not a fan of pineapple? You can use canned fruit cocktail or mandarin oranges instead.
  • Make homemade whipped cream. Be sure to whip the cream until it becomes medium stiff. That way, it has the right level of fluffiness. Just keep in mind that salad with homemade whipped cream won’t last as long because the cream will deflate much faster than Cool Whip.
  • Make it lighter. Use low-fat whipped topping and a can of crushed pineapple in water instead of juice.
Watergate Salad with Pistachio Nuts in a Bowl

Toppings and Variations

Here are a few other things to try:

  • And a cherry on top! Top the salad with some sweet and juicy maraschino cherries for an extra burst of flavor. Plus, the color combination of the green fluff and red cherries just looks gorgeous!
  • Add a pop of color. Instead of regular marshmallows, use rainbow marshmallows to give your salad a splash of color! Pick out color combinations to suit every occasion. 
  • Turn it into a faux pie. Simply serve it on a graham cracker crust. Delish!

Furthermore, you can’t go wrong by adding whatever toppings you like best. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Chopped walnuts
  • Shredded coconut
  • Sliced bananas
  • Crushed pistachios
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolate chips


How to Store Watergate Salad

Store your dessert salad properly for maximum freshness. Do not leave it out at room temperature for over 2 hours.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. It will last for 1-2 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.

Looking For More Quick & Easy Side Dishes?

Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Trisha Yearwood Grape Salad
Grandma’s Macaroni Salad
Picnic Side Dishes
1905 Salad Recipe

Watergate Salad



Prep time






  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant pistachio pudding mix

  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple (with juice)

  • 1 cup 1 miniature marshmallows

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 chopped walnuts (or almonds)

  • 1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping (thawed)


  • In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, crushed pineapple with juice, marshmallows, and nuts. Mix well. Fold in whipped topping. Chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Watergate Salad (The BEST Pistachio Delight)

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Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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