The Best Watergate Salad Recipe

This Watergate Salad is a vintage pistachio salad recipe made with pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, marshmallows, and fresh whipped cream (no Cool Whip here).

Watergate Salad has been making its way into our potlucks and holiday gatherings since 1980.

Watergate Salad


This salad is traditionally made with pistachio pudding, Cool Whip, pineapple, marshmallows, and nuts. I didn’t realize until college that real homemade whipped cream actually existed. Cool Whip was used in every…single…dessert. Once, I knew you could actually make whipped cream from scratch I never looked back. 

This version of Watergate salad uses fresh whipped cream that has been stabilized so you can make it a day or two ahead of time if needed. Although it literally takes minutes to prepare so that’s not really necessary.


Seems like an odd name for a salad, right? Kraft Kitchens originally called this Pistachio Pineapple Delight in 1975. Apparently, when the food editor printed it in the newspaper column she renamed it Watergate Salad to stir more interest in the recipe. Watergate was the name of the presidential scandal at the time. 

Aside from the actual history, my family has a history of this recipe being present at every event since 1980. It always seemed to be my sister Shelly’s responsibility to make it and we never could remember what went in it so there were various versions through the years. 

watergate salad


This salad will keep chilled in the fridge for at least 2 days.

If you love this Watergate Salad, you’ll love these potluck recipes:

Four Layer Yummy

Chocolate Eclair Cake

Jello Pretzel Salad


Homemade Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 3.4 ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 20 ounces crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows


In a large bowl, whip the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with the whisk attachment (hand mixer works too) until soft peaks form. Fold in the pistachio pudding mix, crushed pineapple, and mini marshmallows. Chill until serving.


A thawed 12 ounce container of frozen Cool Whip can be substituted for the homemade whipped cream.

Salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

To make sure your whipped cream doesn’t break down, make sure you whip it until soft/medium peaks form.

watergate salad

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