This pistachio salad recipe is sweet, creamy, and loaded with all different kinds of textures, from crunchy pecans to pillowy soft marshmallows and pineapple. It’s perfect for a potluck!
Whether you call it green goop, pistachio fluff salad, green fluff, or Watergate salad, there’s one thing no one can argue: pistachio salad is delicious! If you’ve ever had ambrosia salad before, this is similar. It’s a creamy, dreamy mixture of fruit, nuts, and marshmallows that is always a hit.
Classic Pistachio Salad Recipe
So what exactly is pistachio salad? It’s a mix of chopped nuts, pistachio pudding mix (hence the name!), along with canned pineapple, mini marshmallows, and whipped cream or Cool Whip. Sometimes other ingredients like maraschino cherries, grapes, or shredded coconut are added in as well, so if you want to mix things up and make this salad recipe your own, go for it!
There’s no set recipe for the salad because every family seems to have their own version that they swear by. This is the recipe I grew up eating at potlucks and family get-togethers and it’s my go-to whenever I’m asked to bring a side dish to share. Once you give it a try, it might be your favorite pistachio salad recipe too!
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Instant pistachio pudding mix
- Crushed pineapple
- Miniature marshmallows
- Pecans – Shelled pistachios or another type of nut can be used instead, if you prefer.
- Cool Whip – You’ll need to thaw the whipped topping before starting the recipe.
How to Make Pistachio Salad
1. Combine the Pudding and Pineapple: Empty the can of pineapple (including the pineapple juice) into a medium mixing bowl, along with the instant pudding mix. Stir to combine.
2. Add the Remaining Ingredients: Once the pineapple and pistachio pudding mixture is well-combined, stir in the mini marshmallows and chopped pecans. Fold in the Cool Whip.
3. Chill: Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill the pistachio salad for at least an hour before serving.
How to Store Pistachio Salad
Pistachio salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. Simply cover the serving bowl with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.
No one really knows! The most popular theory is that it’s because the salad was created by Kraft around the time of the Watergate scandal and a food editor gave it the name Watergate salad to drum up interest and intrigue. Others say that Watergate salad got its name from Watergate cake—and Watergate cake got its name because it’s full of nuts, just the Watergate hotel in Washington, DC. (Get it? Har har!)
Pistachio salad is typically served as a side dish like other Jello salads, but it can also be enjoyed as a dessert since it’s so sweet. It’s perfect for potlucks, picnics, and barbecues because it can be made ahead of time!
Fruit salad is typically a mix of fresh or canned fruit that is tossed in a light dressing. Ambrosia salad is similar, but it also includes nuts, marshmallows, and whipped cream or Cool Whip. Both are delicious, but ambrosia is definitely more of a sweet treat!
Pistachio salad can be frozen for up to 3 months, but the texture is best when fresh. If you do decide to freeze it, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight and give it a stir before serving.
Yes, you can make pistachio salad the night before; some people even prefer it after it’s had several hours to thicken up in the fridge. Cover the salad with plastic wrap and keep it chilled until you’re ready to enjoy it.
More Recipes With Pudding Mix and Jello
- 1 3.5oz box instant pistachio pudding mix
- 1 20oz can crushed pineapple
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- ½ cup pecans toasted and chopped
- 8 oz Cool Whip thawed
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pudding mix and crushed pineapple (with the liquid) and stir to combine.
- Stir in the marshmallows and pecans.
- Fold in the Cool Whip.
- Refrigerate for one hour before serving.