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Pistachio Salad is a family favorite, classic dessert recipe that will take you back to your childhood.

Also known as Watergate Salad, pistachio fluff salad is made with instant pistachio pudding mix, crushed pineapple, miniature marshmallows, cool whip, and nuts.

Pistachio fluff salad in a serving bowl with a spoon.
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Why I Love Pistachio Salad

When I was a kid I always looked forward to my aunt’s visits, and my aunt’s Pistachio Fluff Salad.

My aunt was famous for her Pistachio Salad because it was always one of the first things to disappear at family gatherings. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it wasn’t my aunt’s creation but really it was a classic potluck side dish from the 70s.

This Pistachio Salad is:

  • A classic recipe and a beloved family favorite.
  • So easy to make – it only takes 10 minutes!
  • Made with 5 super simple ingredients.
  • A sweet treat but we get to call it a salad!

Ingredients

There are only 5 ingredients in pistachio salad. Here are the ingredients you need:

  1. Cool Whip (or Tru Whip) – I am partial to Tru Whip because it’s a little better for you and doesn’t contain corn syrup.
  2. Mini Marshmallows – these are a must in this Pistachio Fluff recipe! Or Cranberry Fluff salad. Or Sweet Potato Casserole. Or Rocky Road Cookies. I could go on and on because who doesn’t love marshmallows?
  3. Crushed Pineapple – this adds a tartness to contrast all the sweet and a little bit of texture, too. No need to drain the liquid, because it all soaks up when you dump it all in and combine it with the pistachio pudding mix.
  4. Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix – One of the most often asked questions is whether you need to mix this with milk first. The answer is – Nope! To make pistachio fluff, just sprinkle the dry mix in with the other ingredients and it will magically become a creamy, dreamy delight!
  5. Chopped Walnuts or Pecans – Depending on who I’m making pistachio salad for, I may opt to leave these out and you can too. I love the texture they add however, so I recommend using them.

How To Make Classic Pistachio Fluff Salad

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

  • Combine ingredients together.
  • Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • Serve as a side dish or dessert, topped with maraschino cherries and chopped nuts.
Pistachio salad in a bowl topped with pecans and cherries.

FAQs

Does Pistachio Pudding have nuts?

Pistachio pudding is a green pudding that’s made from pistachio nuts. It occasionally contains almond pieces. The instant pudding mix used in this recipe does contain nuts, so please be aware of that if you have an allergy.

How do you serve Pistachio Pudding Salad?

You can serve this as a dessert, or as a side dish like they did in the 70s. Who doesn’t want to eat marshmallows with dinner? It pairs great with my Pineapple Glazed Ham!

Why is it called Watergate Salad?

Pistachio Fluff Salad is known by many names, like “Watergate Salad,” “Pistachio Delight,” or even “Green Stuff.” The original recipe came from General Foods (now known as Kraft), created around the time of the Watergate scandal, hence the name.

It doesn’t matter to me where the recipe originated, I just know this creamy fruit salad is delicious. This is one of those classic midwestern recipes that you always find at church and family potlucks.

How is this a salad?

A salad is any combination of cold dishes consisting of foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, pasta, or fruit, prepared singly or combined, usually cut up, mixed with a dressing, and served cold. So while this may truly be a “dessert salad” this green fluff still qualifies as a salad.

How To Store

To store the salad, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should be consumed within 3-4 days for best taste and texture. To prevent the salad from becoming watery or soggy, it is best to wait to add the whipped cream until just before serving.

A small dish of pistachio salad with a cherry and a spoon.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Use Crushed Pineapple, not chunk pineapple or pineapple tidbits. And don’t drain it. You need the pineapple juice for mixing with the pudding mix.
  • Mix Gently: The directions are super simple and literally are just to mix the ingredients together, chill and serve. When mixing, do so gently and sort of fold the ingredients together.
  • Variations and Additions: I like to add some maraschino cherries to mine sometimes, and a few drops of green food coloring but those two items are completely optional.
  • Don’t Skip the Chilling: You definitely want to chill the salad for a couple of hours to let everything set and get all the flavors to combine and play nicely together.
  • Don’t Forget the Garnish: Save a handful of chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, or marshmallows for garnishing the top.

Must Try Classic Desserts

Recipe

Classic Pistachio Fluff Salad

4.70 from 10 votes
Pistachio Salad is a classic dessert recipe made with pistachio pudding, pineapple, marshmallows, cool whip and nuts.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces non-dairy whipped topping softened
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 4 ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 20 ounce can crushed pineapple undrained
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • maraschino cherries sliced in half
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Instructions
 

  • In a medium sized bowl, stir together the pistachio pudding and crushed pineapple until well combined. 
  • Add the marshmallow and nuts and stir until evenly distributed. 
  • Gently fold in the whipped topping until well combined. 
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  • Garnish with additional whipped topping, nuts or a cherry if desired. 

Notes

This recipe was updated in 2023, but the ingredients are the same.

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 235mgPotassium: 147mgFiber: 2gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 61IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 0.4mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Nicole M Krause says:

    I remember this from my childhood. Can’t wait to make this for Thanksgiving! BTW I typically don’t read the story either. However there is always a “jump to the recipe” button!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Thank you Nicole – I always try to provide access and options for every visitors needs! BTW, there is very little to no “story” in my recipe posts. I try to share mostly useful and helpful tips and information.

  2. Barbara Mattatall says:

    Thank you for the recipe I enjoy it however I’m a very busy person I don’t like reading the live history of the original cook the family likes and dislikes in this product over that product all I want is the recipe if you want to write a book about it do it after you get what’s the recipe

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Wow. That extremely rude comment must have taken you hours to write.

    2. Syddney says:

      So rude! If you’re so busy why even comment? Slow down to at least use punctuation and proper grammar.

  3. Sage Doucet says:

    Can you make this in advance?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Yes you can make it up to 24 hours in advance.

  4. Sue Sherman says:

    I always keep the ingredients on hand. It takes virtually no time. Watch for sales on the items needed. This is my go to recipe when something comes up, but is requested by family too.

  5. Rebekah Davis says:

    i really like this recipe my name is Rebekah i am only 8 i am in third grade i did a food show in 4-H and i made this recipe and i advaced to district!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi Rebekah! That’s so awesome, congratulations!! YAY!! I was in 4H too and remember competing in foods. And now food is my career! So happy to hear from you, thanks so much for leaving a comment. <3

    2. Sue Sherman says:

      Congratulations Rebekah!! I know you will be a great cook. Lots of great recipes on this site.

  6. Jacquelyn LaKenan-Pace says:

    Do you add the juice of the pineapple, too?

    1. Kristin says:

      Yes, everything from the can! 🙂

  7. Novella Ford says:

    Do you mix the pudding mix with milk before adding cool whip?Thank

    1. Kristin says:

      No, just the dry mix.

  8. Debra Griffin says:

    When making green stuff do you make it into pudding first then add other ingredients?

    1. Kristin says:

      Nope, just stir all of the ingredients together.