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Watergate Salad – Spend With Pennies

This Watergate Salad recipe is as easy as it is delicious.

This is a simple pistachio fluff salad filled with crushed pineapple and pecans. It’s potluck perfect since it’s best made ahead of time

Watergate Salad with whipped cream and a cherry on top

What is Watergate Salad?

Watergate salad is also called Pistachio Delight or Shut the Gate Salad. It’s a dessert salad said to be named after the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC, where it was served during weekend brunches.

The color and most of the flavor for this green fluff comes from pistachio pudding mix. Great next to a holiday meal, this recipe is pretty and nostalgic, like Kool-Aid pie or ambrosia salad.

  • Watergate salad is easy to make and perfect for any holiday table!
  • It’s easy to make in one bowl and without having to heat up the oven! Just mix and chill!
  • This dish is best made ahead of time, making it potluck perfect!
ingredients assembled to make watergate salad, including marshmallows, pistachio pudding, whipped topping, pecans, crushed pineapple, and maraschino cherries

Watergate Salad Ingredients

Some versions of Watergate salad use cottage cheese or cream cheese, but this recipe is simple and sweet.

Pistachio Base – Pistachio pudding mix adds a sweet, nutty flavor and a pretty green color to Watergate salad. Whipped topping makes it sweet and fluffy.

Mix-Ins—For sweetness and crunch, I add chopped nuts while crushed pineapple adds a citrusy tang.

Variations – Swap the pecans for crushed pistachios or walnuts. Stir in fruit cocktail for extra color.

How to Make Watergate Salad

This salad is so easy to make for some old-fashioned fluffy fun!

  1. Whisk pineapple juice and pistachio pudding mix (per the recipe below).
  2. Stir in the mix-ins. Gently fold in whipped topping, cover, & refrigerate.
  3. Garnish with chopped pecans & a maraschino cherry for each serving.

PRO TIP: Toast pecans in a small pan and allow them to cool before adding them to the recipe. Toasting them intensifies their flavor and makes them extra crunchy!

Storing Leftovers

Keep Watergate salad covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Refresh it by folding in some extra whipped cream topping.

Watergate salad can be frozen for up to 3 months, but it won’t be as fluffy once it’s thawed. Leave some space in the container for it to expand as it freezes. Once it’s thawed, stir it and fold in some fresh whipped topping and miniature marshmallows before serving.

Side Dish or Dessert?!

Did you make this Watergate Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Watergate Salad with whipped cream and a cherry on top

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Watergate Salad

This Watergate Salad is a delicious retro recipe that needs just 5 minutes of prep.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 5 minutes

Chill Time 6 hours

Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes

  • Drain the juices from the crushed pineapple into a large bowl, reserving the pineapple in the can. Whisk the pudding mix into the pineapple juice.

  • Stir in the crushed pineapple, marshmallows, pecans, & coconut if using. Fold in the whipped topping.

  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours before serving.

  • Garnish with additional whipped topping and a cherry for serving.

Coconut is optional but we love it.  This dish is best made ahead of time so the marshmallows soften and the flavors blend.
Leftover Watergate Salad can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. Mix well before serving again. 
Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container; thaw, stir, and enjoy.

Calories: 242 | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 173mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 5.4mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dessert, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Watergate Salad with whipped cream and cherry on top and a title
bowl of Watergate Salad with whipped cream and writing
fun and flavourful Watergate Salad
plated Watergate Salad and close up photo with a title

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