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Ambrosia Watergate Salad with Coconut (Pistachio Pudding Salad)

By Amber 0
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Ambrosia Watergate Salad with coconut is the classic green treat of a pistachio pudding salad (aka Watergate salad) mixed with an old-fashioned southern Ambrosia salad! Creamy pistachio pudding, fluffy whipped cream, crushed pineapple, tropical coconut, juicy mandarin oranges, sweet maraschino cherries, mini marshmallows, and crunchy pecans are mixed into a delightful dessert that’s perfect to serve for any holiday or shindig.

Ambrosia Watergate Salad with coconut and a cherry on top in an ice cream sundae glass surrounded by green decor
Call it what you will, but this Ambrosia Watergate Salad with coconut is fluffy, creamy, and so dang delicious!

What is Watergate Salad?

Watergate Salad is known by many other names across the country. Possibly even the world?

Pistachio Salad, Pistachio Fluff, Pistachio Fluff Salad, Pistachio Delight, Pistachio Pineapple Delight, Green Fluff, Green Goop, or even Ambrosia Watergate salad, but the recipe is essentially the same.

Pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, and the old-faithful cool whip make up the base.

Why do they call it Watergate Salad?

Watergate Salad is a delightful dish of the 70’s when instant gelatin was a new phenom and the closest things to greens in salads were the glowing chartreuse hues of pistachio pudding or lime-flavored Jell-O molds strewn across the Discos.

Watergate salad more than likely originated from the Jell-O corp when it introduced its pistachio flavored pudding in 1976, and NPR suggest “Watergate Salad” was named after the
“Watergate Cake” that also used pistachio pudding in its batter.

Ambrosia Watergate Salad with coconut ingredients: pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, whipped cream, mini marshmallows, mandarin oranges, coconut, pecans, and maraschino cherries.
Our son is obsessed with fruit, so let’s make an Ambrosia like Watergate Salad!

What are the ingredients in Watergate Salad?

My mother-in-law makes Watergate Salad several times a year, and I had to get the recipe from her originally when I first started making it. Of course, as a blogger, I ended up putting my own spin on it.

The Watergate Salad original recipe calls for:

  • 2 boxes instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed pineapple (don’t drain the juice)
  • 1 tub Cool Whip (thawed)
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)

What ingredients are in Southern Ambrosia Salad?

My grandmother’s old-fashioned Southern Ambrosia salad was made with:

  • Cool whip
  • sour cream
  • fruit cocktail
  • pineapple tidbits
  • green grapes
  • sweetened coconut flakes
  • maraschino cherries
  • chopped pecans

Ambrosia Watergate Salad With Coconut

My husband and son are cuckoo-for-pistachio fluff, and my mother-in-law makes Watergate Salad every chance she gets. I love Ambrosia so it makes ense that, over the years, I’ve made a few tweaks and turned an original Watergate salad into a combo of two ’70s classic.

With my fluffy green pistachio pudding ambrosia salad…

  1. I skipped the sour cream and cool whip and made homemade whipped cream instead.
  2. I tossed in 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (toasted or untoasted. Whichever!)
  3. I folded in a (10 oz.) jar of stemless marachino cherries (drained).
  4. I stirred in 1 (11 oz.) can of mandarin oranges (drained)
Close up with watergate salad in a sundae cup with mini marshmallows and a cherry on top
Ambrosia Salad add-ins mix with Watergate Salad made with pistachio pudding! So, so good!

More Fun and Fluffy Salad Recipes

Banana Fluff Pudding Salad
Oreo Fluff Salad
Waldorf Salad
Layered Jello Rainbow Salad
Great Grandma’s Frozen Fruit Salad

Watergate Salad in a glass sundae jar being ogled by a little boy with big hazel eyes
Ambrosia Watergate Salad is his favorite. Can you tell?

Ambrosia Watergate Salad is also the perfect shade of green to serve up for St. Patrick’s Day, for a spring fling, a summer shindig, or during the holidays!

Ambrosia Watergate Salad with Coconut in a sundae glass topped with a cherry surrounded by green decorations

Ambrosia Watergate Salad with Coconut

Ambrosia watergate Salad is a classic green treat loaded with creamy pistachio pudding, fluffy whipped cream, crushed pineapple, coconut, mini marshmallows, and pecans. It’s an excellent light dessert and a southern side dish to most any spring meal.8
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Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Side Dish, St. Patrick’s Day Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: Ambrosia, pistachio fluff, pistaschio pudding, Watergate Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Amber


For the Ambrosia Watergate Salad with Coconut:


For the Ambrosia Watergate Salad:

  • In a large glass mixing bowl, stir together the pistachio pudding mix and crushed pineapple w/ the juices until it turns a gorgeous Chartreuse green and is well combined.
  • In a separate large glass bowl and using a hand mixer OR using the bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy whipping cream vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in powdered sugar and beat a 1 minute more.
  • Fold whipped cream into pistachio pudding mixture until thoroughly mixed then stir in coconut, oranges, cherries, marshmallows, and pecans. Mix well.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 or until thoroughly chilled before serving.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SlimPickinsKitchen or tag #ministrymeals!


  • Ambrosia Watergate Salad lasts for up to 3 days in the refrigerator if properly covered and sealed. 
Ambrosia Watergate Salad with Coconut Pinterest Image
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