This Pistachio Fluff is a retro dessert that takes me right back to childhood. I remember eating it at family gatherings. And I totally forgot about it until I came across it in an old family cookbook. I seriously LOVE this stuff! And if you love pistachios or pistachio pudding, you're going to love this too.
What's not to love about whipped cream and pistachio flavors in a quick 5 ingredient dessert? This great recipe goes by many names, but I'm going to go with Pistachio Fluff recipe because that sounds the yummiest of them all! And is it ever yummy... It makes a great summer potluck dessert, but it's wonderful any time of the year!
This Pistachio Fluff, also known as Watergate Salad, Pistachio Delight, Pistachio Mallow Salad, Pistachio Fluff Salad, and "green stuff," is a simple dessert made with pistachio pudding, canned crushed pineapple, marshmallows, pistachio nuts, and real whipped cream. It's a delicious, easy, light, and airy classic dessert that's quick to throw together, making it the perfect last-minute dessert!
Pistachio Fluff is a good name for this recipe because it perfectly describes the texture of this dessert- light, airy, and cloud-like fluffy!
You only need a handful of simple ingredients for this pistachio fluff:
- whipped cream * I use real whipped cream (many recipes use whipped topping)
- pistachio instant pudding mix
- mini marshmallows
- canned crushed pineapple
- maraschino cherries (optional toppings)
📖 Variations & Substitutions
Make it Dairy-free
Pistachio pudding mix (Jell-O) is dairy-free so if you use dairy-free milk AND dairy-free whipped cream (like Nutri-whip), this can be a completely dairy-free dessert!
Make it Weight Watchers Friendly
The only way to make this dessert WW friendly is to use lighter whipped cream (like a non-fat Cool Whip) and you can bring down the points substantially by using a sugar-free pistachio pudding mix and sugar-free marshmallows. Personally, I just take the hit on the points because I don't like using artificial sweeteners. If you're interested in WW desserts that aren't sugar-free, then check out my Weight Watchers friendly desserts without artificial sweeteners. I have also seen some people use cottage cheese to replace the mini marshmallows. You get a similar texture, but without all the sugar and points!
Make it Gluten-free
Use gluten-free mini marshmallows! (affiliate link) and Jello Pistachio pudding is naturally gluten-free.
If you're looking for green food, this is naturally green, although it's lighter green color. If you want it greener for St. Patrick's Day or Christmas, you can always add some green food coloring.
You may know this dessert by the name 'Watergate salad' or 'pistachio pudding salad', but I just can't bring myself to call it a salad. Sweet salads with marshmallows just bring back too many traumatic memories. I think they were called Ambrosia salad. Remember those strange crunchy textured jell-O salads that were popular back in the day? You know, the ones that contained not only fruit, like mandarin oranges and such, but sometimes even vegetables ?!Ugh.
Some people even put weirder things like cottage cheese, nuts, or pretzels in them. Also known as "Jell-o salads", they were popular in the 1960s, '70s and unfortunately, my Grandma was carrying on the trend into the '80s. These salads lured kids in with their colorful jell-o and marshmallows, only to discover that they weren't actually a dessert. Yet they weren't actually a salad either. I always felt duped. Rest assured- this is not that salad. This really is a dessert salad with no crunchy weird stuff.
💭 Why do they call it Watergate Salad?
When the recipe for what is now known as "Watergate Salad" was published by General Foods (which is now Kraft Heinz), it called for two General Foods products: Jell-O instant pistachio pudding mix and Cool Whip whipped topping.
Kraft also developed a recipe for "Pineapple Delight" in 1975, which seems to have been combined with the Cool Whip and pistachio pudding mix and morphed into this pistachio dessert.
However, Kraft didn't refer to it as Watergate Salad until consumers started requesting the recipe for it under that name. And according to Kraft Kitchens, when the recipe for "Pistachio Pineapple Delight" was sent out, an unnamed Chicago food editor renamed it "Watergate Salad" to promote interest in the recipe when she printed it in her column. As this was around the time of the Watergate scandal, there was a trend and appetite for satirically-named recipes, such as Nixon's Perfectly Clear Consomme and Liddy's Clam-Up Chowder. There was even a 'Watergate Cake' recipe floating around. However, neither the editor nor the article has been tracked down.
But this recipe has origins dating back as far as 1925, when Helen Keller published a similar recipe, calling for canned diced pineapple, nuts, marshmallows, whipped cream, and other ingredients. It was referred to as "Golden Gate Salad." It's also known as Shut The Gate Salad, Green Goop, Green Goddess, and Green Fluff. Interesting how one dessert can have so many different names! You can read more about the history and origin of Pistachio Fluff HERE.
👪 Serving size
This Pistachio Fluff Fruit Salad recipe has 10 servings, but you can adjust it for the number of people you need to serve (it's best to half, double, triple, or quadruple it, however). Simply click on the blue serving size in the recipe card, select the number you need and the ingredients will adjust accordingly.
This recipe can be made Weight Watchers friendly if you use lighter whipped cream (like a non-fat Cool Whip) and you can bring down the points substantially by using a sugar-free pistachio pudding mix and sugar-free marshmallows. I have also seen some people use cottage cheese to replace the mini marshmallows. You can plug the ingredients into the recipe builder in the app to see the points value for your plan.
You'll need an electric mixer (affiliate link) and a mixing bowl for this old-school recipe.
Store this pistachio fluff in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It does not stand up well to freezing.
This dessert is a great last-minute light dessert for bringing along to a summer potluck, picnic, or backyard BBQ. But it's also quick and easy to throw together when you just need a sweet fix. It makes a great dessert side dish too! So if you're looking for fluff recipes, you'll love this one!
Most versions of this simple dessert are made with Cool Whip, but I prefer to use real whipping cream. It just tastes so much better! And although I'm not really a big fan of marshmallows, this dessert, like my Cherry Cha Cha dessert, is an exception. Something magical happens when the whipped cream and marshmallows meld together in this delicious dessert. I truly understand why it's also named Pistachio Delight!
But whatever you choose to call it, if you are looking for a easy desserts, this tasty Pistachio Fluff dessert is delicious, quick to throw together, and won't make you or your kids feel like they were duped into eating salad for dessert!
📋 Pistachio Fluff Recipe
- 3 cups whipped cream * this is1.5 cups of whipping cream (will double in volume when whipped)
- ¼ cup pistachios, chopped can substitute pecans
- 3.4 oz -pkg. of instant pistachio pudding mix (dry mix)
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 14 oz can crushed pineapple (with pineapple juice)
- additional whipped cream
- maraschino cherry
- pistachios, chopped
- Beat whipping cream to stiff peaks.
- Fold in pistachio pudding (dry mix) into whipped cream (or Cool Whip or Nutri-whip), whichever you are using,
- Add crushed pineapple with juice and marshmallows, then pistachios.
- Pour into large bowl and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
- Garnish with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherry and extra nuts (chopped pistachios) if desired.