Acini Di Pepe Fruit Salad

5

Everyone loves Acini Di Pepe Fruit Salad. It’s bright orange and it tastes so sweet. It makes me think of little Italian children running around with baskets full of fruit and saying, “Ciao.”. If you’re interested in making fruit salad, this recipe is right for you! If you love fruit as much as I do, then you will be delighted to know that a fruit salad makes a wonderful dessert.

Frog Eye Salad (Acini de Pepe Salad)

Frog Eye Salad
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Frog Eye Salad (Acini de Pepe Salad) is a sweet and fluffy dessert salad made from eggs, pineapple, cool whip, and marshmallows, perfect for the holidays or a potluck!

We love using real homemade ingredients in our desserts, and especially the toppings like this Easy Whipped Cream, Homemade Cool Whip, and Chocolate Ganache!

FROG EYE SALAD (ACINI DE PEPE SALAD)

Frog Eye Salad (Acini de Pepe Salad) is the perfect fruity salad to bring to a potluck, made from Acini de Pepe pasta which is similar in texture to tapioca once it’s in this salad. This is also a lot like a fruit salad or ambrosia salad, but with pasta and a creamy custard topping mixed in. I like to throw this together for get-togethers or holidays because it’s always a hit!

HOW TO STORE FROG EYE SALAD

Frog Eye Salad should be covered in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Stir before serving.

If it separates or water forms on the top mix it well together again.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU GARNISH FROG EYE SALAD WITH?

  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Coconut flakes

CAN I FREEZE FROG EYE SALAD?

Freeze frog eye salad for 2-3 months, but keep in mind that this is dairy-based so the texture might be less creamy and you might find that it’s separating slightly. It is best to serve this salad fresh.

Frog Eye Salad with Cool Whip
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TIPS FOR MAKING FROG EYE SALAD

  • Add other fruits to your frog eye salad, like banana, coconut, or strawberries.
  • Any tiny pasta will work well in this fruit salad, if you can’t find the acini including tiny alphabet pasta or even couscous.
  • In a large bowl, mix custard together with spices to add flavor, like cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Frog Eye salad may develop some water on the top when in the refrigerator, just mix the salad back together before serving.
  • You can use fresh or crushed pineapple for this recipe. If you’re using fresh, pulse it in the food processor a few times to get the texture of the store-bought version. Personally, I prefer the pineapple packed in water or pineapple juice, as the syrup ends up with too much sweetness.
  • This recipe is best served chilled, so I recommend not skipping the refrigeration step in the recipe.
  • Make this recipe using my homemade cool whip, or if you’re going to serve it right away my easy whipped cream! If you’re really motivated, you can try using my homemade marshmallows.
  • Thicken your frog eye salad with a small amount of cream cheese, or extra cool whip, although the pasta should do a good job of thickening this salad.
  • If you don’t have mandarin oranges, you can substitute with cut up pieces of regular orange. But try to get mandarin oranges if you can find them, as they add a unique flavor to the dish.

ACINI DI PEPE PASTA SALAD

Acini di Pepe Pasta Salad is a creamy pasta salad with mandarin oranges, pineapple, mini marshmallows, AND whipped cream. The fact that this has “salad” in the title is a serious offense. But at the same time you can’t be mad about it. 

I literally sat at my computer for a solid 5 minutes trying to figure out if I should file this recipe under salads, pasta dishes, or side dishes. I couldn’t decide so I filed it under all 3 🙂

A bowl full of Acini de Pepe Pasta Salad.
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This recipe isn’t new to the world, not even close. I’m convinced this recipe has been around since the 70’s (if not earlier). It’s exactly the kind of “salad” I can picture my grandma bringing to a potluck.

And I can see why! This side dish is usually one of the first foods to go. Everyone loves it. Especially me.

I’m the food texture queen so I have to say something about the acini de Pepe pasta texture. I just love those tiny pasta balls so much! The texture they bring to this dish is unreal!

If you’re at all like me (you love and appreciate texture) then you’ll love this dish.

How to make Acini di Pepe Pasta Salad

  1. Cook the acini di Pepe pasta until al dente. Run under cold water. Tip: place the pasta in a fine mesh strainer, this will make your life MUCH easier! (The tiny noodles are too small for a colander). Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. A close up photo of cooked acini de Pepe pasta.
  2. Make the sauce by stirring the reserved pineapple juice, reserved mandarin oranges juice, sugar, eggs, salt, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Tip: use a whisk to keep the sauce nice and smooth.  A saucepan full of sauce for acini de Pepe pasta.
  3. Once the sauce is thick, remove it from the heat and pour it over the cooked pasta. 
  4. Refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Add the good stuff! Once cold, and right before serving, stir in the crushed pineapple and oranges, whipped topping, and marshmallows. Note: you CAN add more oranges and marshmallows than what’s called for. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want the salad to be overloaded with the fruits, but that’s just me!
  6. Surprisingly our pasta salad kept in the fridge for 3 days! Wahoo! I thought the whipped topping would lapse and the salad would turn runny at some point, but it didn’t.

Acini de Pepe Fruit Salad Recipe

Frog Eye Salad sounds like something you should serve at a Halloween party, right? Do not let the name fool you, though; it is a staple at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter parties. 

This salad is also known as Acini de Pepe Fruit Salad because the recipe calls for Acini de Pepe pasta. It is a creamy, fluffy, sweet salad that can be served as a side dish or a dessert.

While it is perfect for holiday dinners, it can also be served at summer potlucks, BBQs, and even family reunions because everyone loves it! The dish is a unique and vintage recipe that everyone’s grandmother always made.

People may have forgotten about this dish, but we are bringing it back in full force with some shortcuts to help make it even easier to make. Using instant pudding and store-bought Cool Whip, make this such a simple recipe that even your kiddos can learn to make on their own. 

For the best results, be sure to let the pudding and pasta mixture chill in the fridge overnight. Then the next day, fold in the pineapple, marshmallows, mandarin oranges, coconut, and cool whip. You will create a crowd-pleasing, cool and fruity dish that will become a holiday staple for your family and loved ones for years to come. 

RECIPE VARIATIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS

  •  Instead of Cool Whip you can use 2 cups of whipping cream whipped to stiff peaks (so 4 cups of whipped cream).

STORAGE TIPS

Serve: As with most recipes with dairy products in them, you shouldn’t leave this out for longer than two hours. 

Store: Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to three days. 

Freeze: This is not a recipe that freezes well, so we do not recommend freezing it. 

COOK’S TOOLS

  • mixing bowls
  • whisk
  • rubber scraper
  • large bowl
  • liquid measuring cup
  • measuring cups
  • large pot
  • colander

RECIPE FAQs

What is frog eye salad made of?

The salad is made with pasta, pineapple, marshmallows, mandarin oranges, coconut, and cool whip. You can then garnish it with more cool whip, mandarin oranges, and maraschino cherries.

Is acini de pepe the same as tapioca?

No, that are different. Acini de Pepe pasta is similar in texture to tapioca once the pasta is mixed in with the rest of the ingredients. But tapioca is little balls that come from cassava root starch, while Acini de Pepe is a type of pasta.

Frog Eye Salad in a clear glass with a spoon on the side.
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GET KIDS INVOLVED

Ages 2-3: Have them help you dump the ingredients into the bowl. Practice counting as they pour in the cups of mini marshmallows.

Ages 4-5: Teach your child how to drain the juice from the pineapple cans. Then have them mix the liquid with the pudding mix. 

Ages 6-8: Have them pre-measure all of the dry and wet ingredients for you. Then teach them how to fold in the ingredients with the pasta.

Ages 9-11: Supervise them while they prepare the entire recipe. Remember to have them read it twice before beginning the recipe. 

Ages 12+: Let them prepare the entire recipe, unsupervised, while you do the happy dance in the corner!

BUDGET TIPS

We like to stock up on tubs of Cool Whip when they go on sale. They are easy to store in your freezer to use as needed for recipes like this one. 

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