Watergate Salad
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Watergate Salad

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Did you grow up eating a Watergate Salad? This recipe is truly a classic vintage recipe because it’s from my mom’s recipe card box. I’m pretty sure this Watergate salad recipe was passed around at church functions in the 1970s, particularly when people were part of potlucks.

This Watergate Salad has pineapple, pistachio pudding, mini marshmallows, pecans, Cool Whip, and coconut. Then you top it off with a few more pecans and of course, Maraschino cherries are optional. I like to use instant pudding mix since it’s so easy.

Watergate Salad

It’s creamy, a little sweet, and a little bit tart at the same time. The reason I love this fruit salad is that I usually have the ingredients in my pantry and the Cool Whip in the freezer. I can make this delicious salad at the last minute and let it set up in the refrigerator before bringing it out to be served.

What’s really great about this Watergate Salad is that you have most of these ingredients in your pantry and freezer. We can make this salad as a side dish for a party, church activity, or neighborhood get-together. It can also be served as a dessert salad if you need something special to top off a meal.

All you do is stir the ingredients together and refrigerate them for a few hours. You can sprinkle it with chopped pecans and garnish it with a few Maraschino cherries. You will love it!

Why We Love The Watergate Salad

  • The green color comes from the Pistachio Pudding mixed with pineapple juice.
  • The Cool Whip gives it a creamy texture. Whipping cream can be the whipped topping if you want to take the time.
  • The mini marshmallows give it that fluffy fruit salad taste and additional texture.
  • The crushed pineapple gives you that first sweet yummy bite.
  • The chopped pecans and Maraschino cherries are frostings on the salad.
  • During the summer we particularly love this salad since it helps cool us off, not only with the flavor but the temperature from the fridge.
  • It’s a great salad for any holiday.
Read More of My Articles  The Best Hot Chicken Salad

Watergate Salad


  • Crushed Pineapple
  • Pistachio Instant Pudding
  • Mini-Marshmallows
  • Cool Whip
  • Sweetened Coconut
  • Pecans

Step One: Drain the Pineapple

Drain the pineapple, and set the juice aside.

Drain The Pineapple Juice

Step Two: Combine Pudding and Juice

Combine the pudding with the pineapple juice and whisk until smooth in a large mixing bowl. It will start to thicken a little bit.

Pistachio Pudding

Step Three: Chop the Pecans

Chop the pecans with a food chopper. I used my Pampered Chef Chopper to chop these.

Chopping Pecans

Step Four: Combine Ingredients

In the large bowl, stir in the pineapple, coconut, and mini marshmallows. Now, fold in the thawed CoolWhip and thoroughly combine the ingredients, except for the chopped pecans.

Mixing the Watergate Salad

Step Five: Chill 2 Hours

Chill for at least 2 hours, 4 hours preferably. Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. 

Finished Watergate Salad

How do I store this Watergate Salad?

I store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze this salad?

I would not recommend freezing it, fresh is best.

How long can I store this salad safely in the refrigerator?

A Watergate salad is a fruit salad of sorts, so I would say 3-5 days at the most.

What is in Pistachio Pudding?

I quote Wikipedia: “Pistachio pudding is a green pudding made from pistachio nuts and occasionally contains small chunks of almonds.”

Watergate or Pistachio Salad Recipe

5 from 6 votes
Watergate Salad
Watergate Salad by Food Storage Moms
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
0 mins
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Author: Linda Loosli
  1. Drain the pineapple juice from the crushed pineapple pieces.

  2. Combine the pudding with the pineapple juice and whisk until smooth.

  3. Stir in the pineapple, coconut, and mini marshmallows.

  4. Now, fold in the thawed Coolwhip and thoroughly combine the ingredients.

  5. Chill for at least 2 hours, 4 hours preferably.

  6. Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. 

What are some other names this salad is known by?

This salad has been known by a bunch of other names over the years as listed below:

  • Pistachio Delight
  • Shut the Gate Salad
  • Green Goop
  • Scandalous Watergate Salad
  • Green Goop
  • Pistachio Salad
  • Green Goddess
  • Green Stuff
  • Green Fluff
  • Mean Green
  • Pistachio-Pineapple Delight
  • Ambrosia Salad

You may be wondering why this is called the Watergate Salad. Often times people try to capitalize on current events to draw attention to their authored work. As the story goes, the individual or company that created the recipe felt it would gain more appeal if it referenced Watergate, a scandal near the time of the recipe’s first publication. The recipe was first published by General Foods, now merged into Kraft Heinz.

See below the quote from Wikipedia for a reference to events in the 1970s that prompted the name.

“The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States during the early 1970s, following a break-in by five men at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972, and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s subsequent attempt to cover up its involvement.”

Watergate Cake Recipe

Final Word

I love sharing recipes like this Watergate Salad so we can teach the world how fun it is to eat at home. Please stock your pantry and your freezer as you can afford it. I believe hard times are coming, let’s teach the world to be prepared today, not next year. Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. Please keep prepping! May God bless this World, Linda

Copyright Images: Watergate Salad Pistachio Fluff AdobeStock_133153427 By Brent Hofacker

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  1. 5 stars
    I LOVE this stuff, except without pecans (allergy). I seem to remember hearing that a chef at the Watergate Hotel came up with this recipe but I’ll be 73 next week & sometimes I just make up stuff in my head & it falls out of my mouth. People think I’m brilliant! Hahaha

  2. Linda,
    I have eaten my fair share of Watergate salad. Did you ever have the recipe for
    Watergate Cake? If not let me know and I will see if I can dig my copy of the recipe up and send it to you.
    Thank You for sharing this recipe it brings back memories.
    Merry Christmas and happy new Year

    1. Hi June, oh my gosh, I just bought the ingredients for the Watergate Cake! I will be making that one very soon! great minds think alike! I love it! It really does bring back memories! Happy New Year! Linda

  3. 5 stars
    Ohhh…..I love this salad! It reminds me of my childhood! :)❤️ I have tried other versions of this recipe. Yours is my favorite!❤️ Thank you for another great recipe!

  4. Don’t know why I never commented when it was first posted, Linda!! You know how I post comments!

    We only had this one year when the recipe came out in a magazine. Mom hated it!! I don’t think she really hated it but it just was not the salad she was expecting. We always made a fruit salad with chopped apples, mandarin oranges (from a can), pineapple (from a can), mini marshmallows, walnuts, and whipped cream. Don’t know why I don’t make that anymore – it was a Thanksgiving staple.

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