Pistachio Pudding Salad

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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 process..it 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:

Pistachio Pudding Salad

5 from 3 votes
A cool and delicious pistachio dessert that will be a hit at any gathering!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
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


Serves: 8

Calories214kcal (11%)Carbohydrates40g (13%)Protein2g (4%)Fat6g (9%)Saturated Fat3g (15%)Cholesterol1mgSodium209mg (9%)Potassium156mg (4%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar36g (40%)Vitamin A72IU (1%)Vitamin C7mg (8%)Calcium37mg (4%)Iron1mg (6%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword pistachio pudding, pistachio pudding salad, pudding salad
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 5 stars
    We Absolutely Love this Salad!!!
    Annual staple at Thanksgiving and Christmas for sure. . .
    The only differences: We make it using
    2 boxes of the pistachio pudding mix,
    8oz of sour cream leaving OUT the marshmallows and fold in chopped pecans
    instead of pistachios.

  5. Making this for a church luncheon tomorrow and had the same question about using the pudding mix dry. I searched the website and found yours, and then discovered others had asked the same question. I’m good to go now! Thanks for resolving the question! I was hoping to put this in a 9×13 pan – hope it works.

  6. Alyssa,
    Thanks for the Pistachio Pudding Salad. Your recipe reads and sounds like what our mother made for us for years. And we look forward to trying your other items as well!

  7. I make this for every family get together. Our family just calls it green s@#t. LOL because one time someone couldn’t remember what it was called and called it that. Never enough left overs for more than a snack. We also add coconut to ours.

  8. 🙂 This is my family’s required salad at Christmas – we just call it Christmas Salad! Mom made it for years and years and years! And with her gone, we take turns making it each year. Any possible left overs are gone in a day!!

  9. I love this recipe. I use one like this from a church cookbook I have that my mother-in-law gave me a few years ago. I don’t make it often though since I am the only one of 5 in my family that eats it. Better to make it when I have company. Pinning this.

  10. I remember this from my childhood either from my mom or a church potluck. Thanks for the recipe. We have a BBQ at our home next Saturday and just maybe this will be on the table.

    My mom also made ambrosia which is another favorite of mine.

    Happy long weekend!!

    1. Just the powder, & if you want to make a lighter version, I use fat free/lite cool whip with diet instant pudding. I also use crushed pecans instead. Delicious!

      1. thank you. I was looking for the same answer to the pudding, mix or just add dry.

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