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This pistachio pudding salad is a super easy and delicious dessert made with only 5 ingredients!  Sweet and simple and bursting with pineapple, pistachio and marshmallow flavors, you will have a new favorite dessert salad after you try this recipe!

Pistachio is so unique but has that unforgettable flavor! For more pistachio flavored dessert ideas, try Pistachio Cream Bars or No Bake Pistachio Cream Pie.

Pistachio pudding salad in a bowl topped with whipping cream and a cherry on top.

The Best Ever Pistachio Pudding Salad

It has been warming up around these parts!  I feel like my life has been so busy trying to get ready for friends and family to get here on their visits. My family and I are so excited and I can’t believe it is just a little over a week until my best friend arrives!  You know what also comes with warmer weather right? Barbecues!! It is my favorite time of the year and I absolutely love grilling season.  Especially when I know I will be cooking delicious treats like this pistachio salad for those I love so much!

We had our first real family BBQ last Sunday to kick the season off. The first recipe I knew I had to make was this pistachio pudding salad.  It has been a part of my family for years. I remember my mom would take it everywhere when I was little. I’m pretty sure you could go to any family reunion in Utah and this salad is guaranteed to be there. It is clearly amazing! The pudding is so delicious and creamy and the flavors combined with the pineapple and marshmallow are awesome. It makes such a cool summer dessert. If you give it a try it will become a favorite in your house as well!

What is Pistachio Pudding Salad or Watergate Salad?

This dessert salad is a delicious side that is so easy to make and fall in love with!  It is a simple combination of 5 tasty ingredients.  The classic recipe calls for pistachio pudding, canned pineapple, whipped topping, crushed pecans, and marshmallows. It Is also known as a Watergate Salad.  There are actually many nicknames for this creamy dessert such as: Pistachio Delight, Shut the Gate Salad, Green Goop, and Green Fluff to name just a few.   Although the origin of the name is debated, one thing is for sure, this is a very popular and highly favored dessert!  It is very similar to an Ambrosia Salad with the fruit and marshmallow combination.

What’s in Pistachio Pudding Salad?

This pudding salad is made of only 5 simple ingredients…Wow!  I love it when I don’t have a long list of ingredients where I am digging around my pantry for 5 minutes before I can even begin a recipe.  That is definitely not the case here.  Five things, most of which I have on hand a great majority of the time or I can find easily in the store.  I love it!

  • Crushed pineapple: Use canned and do not drain the liquid.
  • Instant pistachio pudding: Do not make the pudding, sprinkle the mix in until combined with the pineapple juice.
  • Whipped topping: Thawed to room temperature until it can be easily folded in to pudding mixture.
  • Mini marshmallows: Fold in to pudding mix with whipped topping for instant sweetness.
  • Pistachios: Chop up some salty pistachios (or pecans) for garnish (optional, but amazing!)

How to Make Pudding Salad Recipe:

Making this Pistachio pudding is fun for the whole family.  My kids love it when I make it because it is so easy for them to help! They pour in the can of pineapple and sprinkle the pudding mix in.  Then they help me fold in the whipped topping and marshmallows (some may get eaten in the happens!).  Finally, we sprinkle on the crushed pistachio (sometimes we leave this out if we are in a hurry or don’t have any on hand).  The hardest part is letting it set for a few hours before eating.

  1. Combine fruit and pudding mix: In a large mixing bowl combine the crushed pineapple and pistachio pudding mix.
  2. Gradually mix in other ingredients: Fold in the whipped topping and marshmallows.
  3. Garnish: Sprinkle with crushed pistachios.
  4. Chill: Allow to chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving, then enjoy!

Pistachio pudding salad ingredients in a glass bowl being stirred with a white spatula.

Storing Watergate Salad a.k.a. Pistachio Cream Pudding:

This pudding salad is best served chilled 1 hour to 1 day after preparing.  However, it can be stored as follows:

  • Refrigerator: Tightly wrap and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
  • Freezer: Freeze for up to 3 months.  Then, serve frozen (Think of it as an ice cream of sorts).  For best results do not thaw.

Up close photo of pistachio pudding in a bowl with a silver spoon on the side.

More Cool and Creamy Pudding Recipes:

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Pistachio Pudding Salad

4.72 from 7 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
A cool and delicious pistachio dessert that will be a hit at any gathering!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings


  • 1 can crushed pineapple 20 oz., drained
  • 1 package instant pistachio pudding 3 oz.
  • 1 container whipped topping 8 oz., thawed
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup pistachios chopped for garnish (optional)


  • In a large mixing bowl combine the crushed pineapple and pistachio pudding mix. Fold in the whipped topping and marshmallows.
  • Garnish with crushed pistachios and enjoy!



Updated on June 17, 2020
Originally Posted on May 22, 2014


Calories: 214kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 209mgPotassium: 156mgFiber: 1gSugar: 36gVitamin A: 72IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 3 stars
    The pineapple draining/undraining disambiguating needs to really be clarified. Shouldn’t have to go into the comments to get clarification and it’s still not really answered. I had to add green food coloring as with the pineapple yellow and green (pudding) make a bit of a brown hue.
    Flavor is nice.

    1. Do not drain the can of pineapple. Simply add the whole can to the mixture.
      No need to drain the juice then add separately.

    2. There is no need to drain the can of pineapple. Simple add the whole can to remaining ingredients

  2. Part of this write-up says not to drain the pineapple and another seems to infer to use the whole can as is. Which way is the best way?

  3. 5 stars
    I also couldn’t find the recipe that we used to make (I saw others had to go to the internet to reference too).
    Thank you for sharing this.

  4. 5 stars
    My Mother used to make this for holidays except she always added coconut. I had forgotten about it until my daughter mentioned it for Easter this year. I had no idea where her recipe went so was very pleased to find it here! It’s been 20 some odd years since we’ve had the “salad”. I always thought it should be a dessert because of the sweetness. We’ll be thinking of you & Mom when we eat Easter dinner, thank you!!

    1. You could try using orange juice instead! And you could use chopped up green apples for the fruit.

      1. I always add 2 small cans of Mandarin Oranges (drained) and 2 cans of Fruit Cocktail (drained). The fruity-er the better! 😋

    2. We usually add mandarin oranges with their juice to our “green goop” which is a staple at our cottaage. Summer is not complete witihout the goop at least one or twice or maybe three times!

  5. In one part of the recipe, it says to drain the crushed pineapple. But in another it says not to drain the crushed pineapple. Can you please confirm which is correct? I am very excited to try this recipe.

    1. Use the drained pineapple juice to mix with the pistachio pudding. Then add in the crushed pineapple with the other ingredients! I hope you love it as much as I do!

  6. In one section of the description it says to NOT drain the pineapple juice; in the recipe itself it says drained pineapple. So which is it???

    1. Use the drained pineapple juice to mix with the pistachio pudding. Then add in the crushed pineapple with the other ingredients!

  7. I make this every year and I call it Pistachio Delight.
    My mom calls it Heavenly Delight or Green Junk… lol
    You can also try adding a pinch of coconut which is optional.
    I add for garnish with red maraschino cherries and mint leaves to look like Holly Berry.

  8. Beeen making this for years. Sometimes add half cup cottage cheese and/or small can drained mixed fruit. Maybe some drained maraschino cherries on top for color.

  9. 5 stars
    I love pistachio pudding salad! I found your recipe and it is exactly the one I was looking for. For added color used the multi-colored mini marshmallows!

  10. 5 stars
    Looking forward to making this for Easter! I plan to double it, but might do half whipped cream and half sour cream. I just wanted to let you know that in the body of your blog you say do not drain the pineapple, but in the recipe itself it says drained. I plan to follow your directions above of not draining the pineapple. I love the simple ingredients of your recipe! Thank you!