Pistachio Fluff - Watergate Salad Recipe - Num's the Word (2024)

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Whether you call it Pistachio Fluff, Pistachio Fruit Salad or Watergate Salad, this creamy green fruit salad with marshmallows is a hit among children and adults! A family favorite side dish at any meal which requires one bowl and can be made in advance.

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If you love a good fruit salad, then why not try this pistachio fluff recipe? All you need is a bowl, a spatula, and a handful of ingredients to make this easy pistachio fluff salad!

I am honestly the worst at remembering to make side dishes for my family’s meals. Most meals at my house consist of our main dish and some kind of vegetable. The only time my kids get their pick of numerous side dishes is on Sundays when we eat with my in-laws. If I’m the cook, however, they’re lucky if they even get presented two.

I talk about my mother-in-law, Liz, a decent amount on here, but I have to say she makes the absolute BEST side dishes. Whether it’s a fresh fruit salad or this tasty pistachio fluff dessert, it seems like she always has a new recipe for us to try on Sundays.

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Fruit salad has become one of our favorite side dishes and a regular staple at our Thanksgiving table! This pistachio fluff salad recipe would make a great side dish to your holiday dinners, too! You can also serve this at a baby shower or a St. Patrick’s Day party, since that blast of color really helps the table.

It’s so easy to whip up. All you need is to set aside 10 minutes of your time to toss a few simple ingredients into a bowl and refrigerate it!

We find that this pistachio pudding fruit salad tastes best after you let it rest in your fridge for an hour or so. That allows the pudding fully dissolve and mix into the pistachio fruit salad, so you get a creamier taste. If you decide to eat it right away, you might find it a little grainy.

If you love fruit salad and making easy side dishes, then I insist you give this pistachio fluff fruit salad a shot!

Thanks for this great recipe for pistachio pudding fluff, Liz!

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Are Fruit Salads Really Side Dishes?

It seems odd calling a fruit salad of all things a “side dish”. After all, any side dish that’s made with marshmallows and whipped cream seems much closer to a dessert, if anything. Green fluff salad with pistachio pudding sounds like an odd combination, for sure.

Even so, fruit salads with marshmallows have managed to become popular summer and winter side dishes here in America. You can also sneak in a good amount of fruit into this pistachio fluff to trick your kids (and maybe even yourself) into eating more fruits for dinner!

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What is a Fluff Salad?

The first time I ever heard of fluff salad, I was sure it was a fruit salad mixed with marshmallow fluff, since that was the only “fluff” ingredient I thought existed.

Interestingly enough, fluff salads don’t usually contain marshmallow fluff in them. Instead, it’s a dish that routinely changes and evolves as people continue to mix and match different fruity combinations. Some people (like me) add marshmallows to their fluff salads, while others do not. Some may also add in instant pudding (again, like me), while others don’t.

The only ingredients that are consistent in all fluff salad recipes are fruit (which can either be fresh or canned) and whipped cream. You’ll find that I made this pistachio fruit salad with Cool Whip. (My sweet tooth can only be sated for so long!)

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Are There Pistachios in Pistachio Pudding Mixes?

Yes, most pistachio pudding mixes are made with actual pistachios and not from artificial flavoring, which can be unfortunate for those with allergies.

However, if you look at the ingredients listed on the boxes beforehand, you may find a pistachio pudding mix that doesn’t contain any real pistachios. Use that in your fruit salad made with pistachio pudding instead.

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What Fruit Goes Best With Pistachio Pudding?

I personally like a good pistachio pineapple fluff, but you can mix any fruits into this pistachio fluff! There is no one way of how to make pistachio fluff.

You can easily swap the fruit I use in this recipe for fresh or canned strawberries, apricots, grapes, apples, or even grapefruits!

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Why is it Called Watergate Salad?

You may have heard pistachio fluff salad being called a variety of different names, mainly Pistachio Fruit Salad, Pistachio Delight, Shut the Gate Salad, Green Goop, Green Goddess, Green Fluff, Green Stuff, or even Watergate Salad.

Though most people would quickly associate the term “Watergate” with the President Nixon scandal, this fluff salad has nothing to do with it. In fact, companies that first began promoting this recipe on their pudding boxes still have no real idea why it’s called “Watergate Salad”.

This recipe won’t get you impeached – unless you’re extremely creative. Promise!

But, just to be sure, I did some digging.

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According to Wikipedia, there are several conflicting origin stories on this dish. Kraft claims that when they first published the recipe in 1975, consumers began to request this dish under that name – for whatever reason. They blame an unnamed Chicago food editor who renamed it “Watergate Salad” in her column promoting the recipe, but neither the article nor the editor has been tracked down.

Alternatively, the Denver Post also published a recipe for Watergate Salad on June 27, 1976. They claim that Watergate Salad was created by a sous chef at the Watergate Hotel, the very same hotel connected to the presidential scandal.

This seems the most likely origin of the salad’s name, but the Denver Post article doesn’t actually verify if this rumor is true. Most of the sources cited in the article are obscure or difficult to find.

In 1997, household advice columnists Anne Adams and Nan Nash-Cummings reported that the name came from the “Watergate Cake”, a cake that shares most of the same ingredients as this fluff salad. They state that the cake recipe debuted at the same time as the Watergate scandal – hence the name.

Back in 1922, Helen Keller published a similar recipe. She referred to it as “Golden Gate Salad,” since she first ate it in California. Other fruit salad recipes like it were published in the 1910s, too.

Other Salads with Fruit You’ll Love…

  • Fruit Salad with Cool Whip
  • Grape Salad
  • Winter Fruit Salad Recipe
  • Cranberry Jello Salad
  • Cranberry Fluff
  • Lemon Jello
  • Strawberry Salad

Other GREEN Dishes You’ll Love…

  • Green Tomato Bread
  • Green Beans with Bacon and Brown Sugar
  • Pistachio Bread
  • Green Chocolate Puffcorn
  • Easy Chip Dip

Yield: 8 servings

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If you love fruit salads, then you've got to try this Pistachio Fluff. 1 bowl, 1 spatula and a few ingredients. Whip it up in 10 minutes and chill for 1 hour! EASY!

Prep Time10 minutes

Inactive Time1 hour

Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 (8 oz) carton of cool whip, thawed
  • 1 (12 oz) cottage cheese, I use 2%, however any will work
  • 1 (3.4 oz) pkg. pistachio instant pudding mix
  • 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple (juice & all)
  • 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges (drained)
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows


  1. In a medium bowl add cool whip, cottage cheese & pistachio pudding mix (dry). Mix until well incorporated.
  2. Fold in the crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges and marshmallows. Fold until well incorporated.
  3. Cover and chill for 1 or more hours.
  4. Serve cold.


Nutritional Information is estimated, not exact

Nutrition Information:


Amount Per Serving:Calories: 206Total Fat: 8.5gSaturated Fat: 6.9gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 253mgCarbohydrates: 25.4gFiber: 0.6gSugar: 21.1gProtein: 7g

Originally Posted: January 22, 2015

Photos & Text Updated: November 9, 2018

Pistachio Fluff - Watergate Salad Recipe - Num's the Word (2024)
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