This retro dessert takes me right back to childhood. 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 dessert goes by many names, but I’m going to go with Pistachio Fluff because that sounds the yummiest of them all! And is it ever yummy…
This Pistachio Fluff recipe, also known as Watergate Salad and Pistachio Delight, is a simple dessert made with pistachio pudding, canned crushed pineapple, marshmallows, nuts and real whipped cream. It’s a delicious, easy, light and airy retro 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!
Pistachio Pudding Salad
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. Remember those strange crunchy textured jello salads that were popular back in the day? You know, the ones that contained not only fruit, like mandarins 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 “Jello salads”, they were popular in the 1960’s, ’70’s and unfortunately, my Grandma was carrying on the trend into the ’80’s. These salads lured kids in with their colorful jello 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.
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 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.
Pistachio Pineapple Delight
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. Around that time there was a trend 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 know 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 this HERE.
This dessert is great last minute 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.
Most versions of this 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, this easy and 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!
- 3 cups whipped cream * 1.5 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
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- 14 oz can crushed pineapple (with juice)
- additional whipped cream
- maraschino cherry
- pistachios, chopped
- Fold in pistachio pudding mix into whipped cream, add crushed pineapple with juice and marshmallows, then pistachios.
- Pour into bowl and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
- Garnish with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherry and a few additional chopped pistachios, if desired.