Who remembers this Watergate salad? Pistachio Fluff is a retro dessert made with crushed pineapple, instant pudding mix, and whipped topping. This delicious Jello salad recipe comes together in minutes and is the perfect side dish for any occasion.
Growing up I remember a bowl of this green fluff being a staple at every church potluck or holiday dinner we went to. It is a classic recipe that has been around since the 70's and goes by many different names.
Maybe you have had it and heard it called pistachio dessert, Watergate salad, green goop, or pistachio pudding salad. It doesn't matter what name you call it, as long as you call it delicious and amazing!
This easy 5 ingredient dessert is light and fluffy and is great served as a side dish at holiday dinners or as a dessert at church picnics. I love that a bowl of Pistachio Fluff is so easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and takes less than 5 minutes to stir together.
What is Pistachio Fluff?
It is a Jello salad that is made with instant pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, and Cool Whip. The fluff salad is a common side dish in most Midwest states, although we always had it at church dinners in the Northeast too.
Most fluff recipes will call for nuts and marshmallows to be added to the dessert salad. I have also seen variations that have mandarin oranges, fruit cocktail, pistachios, or cottage cheese in them.
This is an old school recipe, and everyone likes to make it different ways. We prefer to make our fluff salad using these 5 ingredients.
- Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix - This instant pudding mix is what gives the fluff salad the green color and pistachio flavor.
- Crushed Pineapple - Look for canned pineapple that says 100% juice on the label. It is very important that you do NOT drain the pineapple!!!
- Cool Whip - Adds the light and fluffy texture that you know and love in fluff desserts. You can use 3 cups of this Whipped Cream with powdered sugar in place of the whipped topping.
- Nuts - Any chopped nut will work in this pistachio dessert, but we prefer to use pecans.
- Marshmallows - Feel free to use white or pastel marshmallows. I love the soft texture that they get after sitting in the pudding salad for a little while.
Looking for a sugar free option? Use a sugar free pudding mix and sugar free Cool Whip. Leave the marshmallows out. Eliminate the natural sugar from the fruit by using 2 cups cottage cheese in place of the pineapple.
How to make Pistachio Fluff
I love making this pistachio fluff salad because it seriously comes together in minutes. All you do is stir, chill, and devour. It's a great last minute recipe to make because of how quickly you can make it.
- Mix together the whole can of crushed pineapple with the juice and the pudding mix in a large bowl.
- Fold in the Cool Whip gently until no white streaks appear.
- Add the chopped pecans and mini marshmallows and stir gently.
- Refrigerate at least one hour, so it can thicken and the flavors can deepen.
- Add more nuts to the top before serving.
How to Store Pistachio Fluff
For the best texture, refrigerate the fluff salad for at least one hour before serving. This allows the pistachio salad time to thicken, and it also give the marshmallows time to soften.
Keep the pistachio fluff salad in a tightly covered bowl in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It will start to get a little bit runny the longer it sits. Give it a good stir before eating.
- Do not drain the crushed pineapple because the juice is what activates the instant pudding mix.
- Toast the nuts before adding them to the fluff salad. It gives them a nuttier flavor that is amazing.
- Chill the fluff dessert in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. It really is best when completely chilled and thickened.
- Change it up by adding other ingredients such as shredded coconut, chopped pistachios, halved maraschino cherries, or drained mandarin oranges. I love adding the cherries when we serve pistachio fluff salad at Christmas because it gives the salad a great red and green color.
- Double the recipe if you are taking this pistachio fluff to a church event or picnic. This recipe always disappears in a hurry.
- Serve it in a large bowl for picnics or in individual cups for dinner parties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can this pistachio pudding dessert be made ahead of time?
Yes. It is a great recipe to make 1 day ahead of time because it needs time to chill.
Can you make this fluff recipe without pineapple?
You sure can. Use 1 cup of 2% milk in place of the pineapple and juice. You can also use 2 cups of small curd cottage cheese instead of the pineapple.
What can you use instead of Cool Whip?
Feel free to use 3 cups of a stabilized whipped cream. It should hold up just as well as the Cool Whip.
Other Fluff Salads
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- 1 - 3.4 ounce box instant pistachio pudding mix
- 1 - 20 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice
- 1 - 8 ounce container Cool Whip, thawed
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Mix together the pineapple with juice and instant pudding mix.
- Fold in all of the Cool Whip gently.
- Stir in the marshmallows and nuts.
- Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 2g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and are not guaranteed to be accurate. If you need special diet advice, please see a registered dietician.