Home Recipes Easy Watergate Salad Recipe (Just 5 Ingredients)

Easy Watergate Salad Recipe (Just 5 Ingredients)

Looking for an easy side dish that tastes like dessert?

This Watergate salad is fluffy, flavorful, and takes just minutes to prepare.

It’s a sweet and creamy treat that’s perfect for potlucks, holidays, and family get-togethers. Plus, you only need 5 simple ingredients!

Watergate Salad with Mini-Marshmallows and Cherries
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Watergate Salad

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

It’s a classic recipe made with instant pudding mix, juicy pineapple, miniature marshmallows, and whipped cream.

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

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!

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


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 pineapple adds a fruity, tropical, tangy flavor. Plus, the juice helps turn the pudding mix into actual pudding.
  • Mini 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.

Tips & Tricks

  • 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.
Bowl of Homemade Watergate Salad

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:

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


How to Store

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Watergate salad can be frozen for up to 3 months. However, it won’t be as fluffy when thawed, so fold in some fresh whipped topping and mini marshmallows before serving.

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 allows the flavors to meld together, making it even more delicious.

Perfect for potlucks and family gatherings!

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 mini marshmallows

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

  • 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!


  • Top it off with a maraschino cherry for a sweet and juicy pop of flavor.
  • Chill the salad for at least 2 hours before serving to let the marshmallows soften and the flavors meld.
  • Leftover watergate salad will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Store in an airtight container.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months. Refresh with whipped topping and mini marshmallows before serving. Mix well.
Watergate Salad

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
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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