Pistachio Fruit Salad (or Watergate Salad)
This creamy pistachio fruit salad (also known as Watergate salad, pistachio fluff salad or green fluff salad) is a delightful, old fashioned recipe. Whether you serve it as a dessert or a side dish, there’s never any left at the end of the meal.
This pistachio pineapple dessert salad is the perfect combination of sweet, fruity, and nutty without being too sweet. Great for taking to a potluck dinner, putting out for a buffet, or serving for a holiday dinner.
It’s super easy to make and tastes even better after it’s been sitting in the refrigerator for a day.
Which means you can (and should) make it ahead of time. My favorite kind of party food!
You may wonder after looking at the ingredients if this is a dessert or a salad. You can serve it as either, so it’s also a very versatile dish.
If you’re in need of more than 16 servings, then you can easily double the recipe to make more.
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These are the ingredients you will need for your pistachio fruit salad.
- Pineapple – I used one 20-ounce can of diced or crushed pineapples in juice (not syrup).
- Pistachio instant pudding – One 3.4 ounce package of instant pudding is needed. The small box!
- Fruit cocktail – One 15-ounce can of fruit cocktail, drained. Optional, but encouraged. You could also substitute mandarin oranges if desired.
- Mini marshmallows – You will need one cup of miniature marshmallows.
- Maraschino cherries – ½ cup of cherries plus more for garnishment
- Pistachios – ½ cup of lightly salted chopped pistachios. You can also use chopped pecans or walnuts if preferred. I like to use salted nuts because it dulls down the sweetness in the Watergate salad. The nuts can be omitted, but I think the recipe tastes better with the extra crunch they provide.
- Cool Whip – One eight ounce container of Cool Whip. For a healthier version, some people use cottage cheese instead (although that completely changes the flavor and texture of the dish).
How to Make Pistachio Fruit Salad
Make sure to thaw the Cool Whip prior to using it in this recipe.
Chop 1/2 cup of maraschino cherries in half.
Chop 1/2 cup of salted pistachios.
Drain the juice from the fruit cocktail. (Don’t do this for the pineapple!)
Combine Pineapple and Pudding Mix
First, in a large bowl, combine one can of diced pineapple with the dry pistachio pudding mix. Do not drain the pineapple juice as it is needed for the dry pudding mix.
Stir until all of the pudding has been dissolved in the pineapple juice.
Next, mix in the unsweetened fruit cocktail (if using), miniature marshmallows, chopped maraschino cherries, and chopped pistachios.
Fold in the Cool Whip
Finally, fold in the container of Cool Whip.
Mix just until combined. You don’t want to stir it too much or the whipped topping will start to lose its fluffiness. This is also why it is added at the very end.
Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to three days before serving.
I like to let it chill for at least one day. That allows the flavors to blend together and the marshmallows to soften. And it just tastes so much better.
Before serving, garnish with chopped pistachios and a cherry.
Some people think that the Watergate name is derived from the classic Watergate cake as they are both made with pistachios and shades of green.
You can blend the ingredients together to make a beverage that is similar to a smoothie or milkshake.
The flavors of pistachio pudding are smooth and nutty. Pistachio pudding has a very distinct flavor that stands out in any recipe.
More Dessert Recipes You Will Love
- Frozen Mousse Recipe
- Red, White, and Blue Fourth of July Desserts
- Piña Colada Fluff
- Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins
- Cherry Cheesecake Muffin Recipe
Pistachio Fruit Salad
- large bowl
- mixing spoon
- plastic wrap
- 1 3.4-ounce package pistachio instant pudding
- 1 20-ounce can diced or crushed pineapple in juice (not syrup)
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- 1 15-ounce can unsweetened fruit cocktail drained (optional)
- ½ cup chopped maraschino cherries plus more for garnish
- ½ cup chopped, lightly salted pistachios plus more for garnish
- 1 8-ounce container Cool whip thawed
- In a large bowl, combine 1 can undrained diced pineapple with the dry pistachio pudding mix. Stir until smooth and creamy.
- Mix in 1 can unsweetened fruit cocktail (if using), 1 cup miniature mini marshmallows, ½ cup chopped maraschino cherries, and ½ cup chopped pistachios.
- Fold in 1 container of Cool whip until completely combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
- Before serving, garnish with chopped pistachios and a cherry.
- This dessert tastes much better if made at least a day ahead of time. This allows the flavors to combine and gives the marshmallows time to soften.
- Substitute walnuts or pecans for the pistachios if desired.
- Unsalted nuts will work, but I find the added salt cuts down on the sweetness of the dessert.
- Omit the fruit cocktail, or replace with canned mandarin oranges or fresh fruit if desired.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Have comments or questions about our pistachio fruit salad? Tell us in the section below.
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This post was originally published on May 22, 2021 but was updated with new content on February 20, 2023.