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The Best Watergate Salad Recipe

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Watergate Salad, also called Pistachio Delight, is a light, creamy dessert that is easy and delicious. Its simple combination of sweet pineapple, crunchy pecans, and fluffy marshmallows makes it the perfect treat for any occasion.

watergate salad in a bowl with pecans and marshmallows in background


 

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I had never heard of Watergate salad until this guy I was dating mentioned it. He asked me to make it for him, and I gave him the side-eye because I had no clue what it was. After dating for months, I got invited to his family reunion and decided to make a recipe for the event. I followed a recipe on the side of a box of pistachio jello pudding.

The recipe was really good. The Watergate salad I brought was all gone by the end of the reunion. About a year and a half later, that guy I was dating became my husband. If anyone asks him what made him decide I was his wife, he always mentions Watergate salad. 

watergate salad on spoon

Over the years, I’ve adapted the original recipe and added a few ingredients I preferred. The original recipe called for using a jar of Cool Whip.

This recipe uses homemade from scratch cream cheese and heavy cream that I whip together. I’ve also subbed pecans for walnuts and added way more marshmallows than the original recipe called for.

In my opinion, these little changes have made it the best Watergate salad recipe.

Ingredients Needed

  • For the cream mixture – creamed cheese, heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract
  • Pistachio pudding mix
  • Mini marshmallows, crushed pineapple, chopped pecans

How to make Watergate Salad

First, place 8 ounces of softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until fluffy. This should take about 1-2 minutes. 

cream cheese whipped in bowl

Next, slowly pour 1 cup of heavy cream into the bowl while mixing on medium speed. Pour heavy cream about ¼ cup at a time until it is fully blended into cream cheese. Once all heavy cream is poured in, add ¾ cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and then mix until soft peaks form. 

whipped cream cheese and whipped cream in bowl

Add a 3.4 oz box of pudding mix, 3 cups of marshmallows, a 20 oz can of crushed pineapple (undrained), and 1 cup of chopped pecans, and use a spoon or spatula to stir into the cream cheese mixture.

watergate salad in glass bowl

Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Serve and enjoy.

watergate salad in white bowl

Notes:

  • This salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. 
  • This salad is similar to Waldorf salad or ambrosia salad but with a totally different flavor profile. 
  • Watergate salad is an interesting name for a dessert salad. How watergate salad got its name. 
  • You can substitute lime jello for pistachio pudding mix in the recipe if you prefer it.

Looking for more dessert recipes? Try these out:

watergate salad in a bowl with pecans and marshmallows in background
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5 from 3 votes

The Best Watergate Salad Recipe

This Watergate Salad Recipe is so good, it landed me a husband. This dessert, also known as pistachio delight, is a light creamy marshmallow fluffy salad made with pineapples and chopped pecans for the perfect dessert. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword dessert salad, watergate salad recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 389kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3.4 oz instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 20 oz crushed pineapple undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  • Place cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until the cream cheese has become fluffy. This should take about 1-2 minutes.
  • Next, slowly pour heavy cream into the bowl while mixing on medium speed. Pour heavy cream about ¼ cup at a time until it is fully blended into cream cheese. Once all heavy cream is poured in, add powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and then mix until soft peaks form.
  • Add pudding mix, marshmallows, crushed pineapple, and chopped pecans and use a spoon or spatula to stir into the cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Serve and enjoy.

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Notes

  • This salad can be made ahead of time. It can last on your fridge for up to 3-4 days. 
  • This salad is similar to Waldorf salad or Ambrosia salad but with a totally different flavor profile. 
  • You can substitute lime jello for pistachio pudding mix in the recipe if you prefer it.

Nutrition

Calories: 389kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 234mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 689IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg
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This post was originally published on February 25, 2020. It has been updated with some new photos and information.

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Recipe Rating




Jody Padfield

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

You need a special rating system for visually appealing. This literally makes me WANT to make it. Good choices for the menu.

Tanya

Thursday 16th of June 2022

Thank you so much Jody :)

Bob

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

I've made this salad so many times and it's always a hit and gone immediately. Much better than the store-bought stuff. Thanks Tanya!

Britton

Friday 4th of September 2020

I love your story! Thank you for sharing it along with the recipe.

Laura

Tuesday 25th of February 2020

I grew up on this salad over some 50 years ago. My mom called it "Martha Washington salad".

Wanda Pryor

Tuesday 25th of February 2020

Looking forward to trying your way my Mom use to make this treat for us omg...I loved it