Orange Watergate Salad


This is a recipe for an Orange Watergate Salad. The recipe is extremely simple, and the ingredients you will need are on hand at most supermarkets. I have tried some similar recipes before and they have never turned out (I was left with a mouthful of orange pulp, which was not the tastiest sensation in the world). This recipe is slightly different because it uses sweet oranges instead of bitter ones.


Orange Fluff Salad is a childhood treasure. With a surprising mix of ingredients, it is full of sweet orangey flavor and comes together easily. It is a great accompaniment for a variety of  main dishes and has been a longtime favorite on many family tables.

This is an oldie, but goodie sort of recipe. You can call it “vintage”, if you want to. I don’t have any idea of its origins, but it has definitely been around a long, long time – decades. Like since I was a kid.

The number 1 reason that I am posting this recipe is because I can never find the recipe when I get ready to make the salad. I am a lousy puter-backer with recipe cards. They are forever getting lost.

Would you believe that I used to be enormously OCD? Then one day I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with reality and ever since that time the OCD thing began to unravel – which has had both advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that now I lose things and my house is chaotic. On the other hand, one of the advantages is that I can happily walk away from dirty dishes and laundry and hang out with my family and not feel guilty or anxious.

Orange Fluff Salad

The other reason that I am doing this post is because of the memories that that this salad brings back. Family recipes should do that, you know. There are variations of this orange beauty, but this is the one that my mother has always used. I’m sure that many of you have a similar recipe and will swear by the one with which you were raised.

I make no apologies for not introducing you to some brilliantly healthy new recipe. I do encourage you though, to embrace a time-honored recipe for a very easy family favorite. It presents a sumptuously pastel Easter table salad.

This is not just an “Easter” type of dish. It works equally well on a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. Try it anytime, too. It’s a great one for picnics, family reunions, Church socials, book club…whatever!

Plus, you can make it with the low’s, no’s and free’s. Low fat, no fat, sugar-free ingredients. Try low-fat cottage cheese, no-fat or lite Cool Whip, and sugar-free Jell-O. There’s also sugar-free marshmallows available on the market, but I refuse to submit to sugar-free marshmallows.

Orange Fluff Salad

This salad is full of sweet orangey flavor and comes together easily. It is a great accompaniment for a variety of  main dishes and has been a longtime favorite on many family tables.

Prep Time20 mins

Total Time2 hrs

Servings: 8


  • 1 (16 ounce) container cottage cheese (2 cups)
  • 1 (6 ounce) box orange Jell-O (can use regular or sugar-free)
  • 1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip
  • 1 (11 ounce) can mandarine oranges, drained
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows


  • To a large mixing bowl, add the cottage cheese. Sprinkle the Jell-O powder over the cottage cheese and mix together well. Allow to sit for a few minutes. The Jell-O may not completely dissolve at this point. Don’t worry about it.
  • Add the Cool Whip and fold together with the cottage cheese/orange jello mixture. 
  • Add mandarine oranges, pineapple tidbits, and miniature marshmallows. Fold together.
  • Cover and place in refrigerator until chilled and thickened. This is a soft salad and will be thick, but will not set “firm”.


For reasons unknown, sometimes this salad will set more firm than at other times. Either way, it is deliciously addicting.


I’m always looking for new ideas for quick and easy side dishes, and this one is delicious! The Orange Pineapple Fluff Salad pairs perfectly with ham or other meat on a dinner table, holiday brunch spread, or even as a light dessert.

A side shot of orange pineapple fluff in a blue bowl with a silver spoon

Have you ever tried a classic Watergate Salad? It’s a sweet dish that’s a pale shade of green — thanks to the pistachio pudding mix that’s combined with fruit, Cool Whip, and other tasty ingredients.

The original Watergate Salad inspired this orange-pineapple twist, largely because I was looking for an alternative to that strong pistachio flavor. My kids just don’t always love that taste, so this mild vanilla-based version has been a HUGE hit!

As someone who loves a sweet-and-savory combination, I think this fluff salad pairs perfectly with roasted turkey or carved ham for dinner. It reminds me of the ambrosia salad that I grew up with!

Best of all, it’s easy and versatile! I consider a bowl of this Orange Pineapple Fluff Salad the perfect potluck food — because everyone loves it and it goes with just about anything! Plus, you can prepare this fluff salad in advance and just keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat. It makes parties, holidays, or quick weeknight dinners so darn easy!

A close up side shot of orange pineapple fluff in a blue bowl topped with marshmallows

I served this on our Easter table this year because the sweet salad was a perfect contrast to the salty Kite’s Country Ham that we enjoyed with biscuits. The salad is a special and fun way for the kids to eat their fruit, too! And if a sweet fruit salad isn’t your “thing” for dinner, then it’s also a great brunch option or a light and refreshing dessert. See what I mean? It’s versatile and appropriate for just about any occasion!


  • Serve with roast ham or other roast meats
  • Serve as part of a holiday brunch spread
  • Serve as a light dessert or snack

Quick and Easy Watergate Salad

Made with only five ingredients, this Quick and Easy Watergate Salad is the perfect dessert to make during your holiday get together! 

This recipe is another one that has remained in my family for years.

At every holiday get together, this salad is always, always, always on the menu.  I can’t think of a time when it hasn’t been made. It originally came from my mother, who then passed it on to my sister, who then gave it to me.

You don’t have to wait for the holidays to come around to make this though.

It’s a great ‘dessert salad’ to make during the summer due to the pineapple and oranges that are inside.

Just toss everything in a bowl and mix, mix, mix until everything is well blended.

The marshmallows and chopped pecans are optional ingredients.  Leave em’ in or leave em’ out.  Whatever floats your boat.

Here’s to the end…errrr…middle of summer…middle-end of summer??

Ah heck….celebrate by making this NOW 😉


Quick and Easy Watergate Salad

Made with only five ingredients, this Quick and Easy Watergate Salad is the perfect dessert to make during your holiday get together!Serving Size: 1/2 cup 

Prep Time:5 minutes

Cook Time:20 minutes

Total Time:25 minutes

Serves: 8 people

Calories Per Serving: 177


  • 1 small box of Jell-O’s INSTANT Pistachio Pudding
  • 8 oz. container Cool Whip
  • 1 little can of crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 cups of mini-marshmallows (optional)
  • Chopped pecans for garnish (optional)


  • With a big spoon, mix all of the above ingredients in a big bowl until well blended.
  • Garnish with chopped pecans and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Libby’s Notes

Recipe Source: My sister and mama


Calories: 177kcal


The famous Watergate Salad is a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, pistachio pudding mix, whipped cream, and crushed pistachios.

Watergate Salad is a holiday classic that pairs perfectly with other side dishes such as Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts, and/or a Sweet Potato Casserole!

Watergate Salad

This salad was a staple in my home growing up! My aunt made this for every family potluck meal or holiday dinner. I don’t think we ever had a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without her famous Watergate Salad. Back in the day when fresh fruit was hard to come by in the winter, this fruit salad took advantage of canned fruits to add some goodness to holiday meals.

And growing up I always wanted to know…

Why Do They Call It A Watergate Salad?

Seems like a strange name, no? Well, it turns out there are a few different theories out there on where the name came from. A lot of sources agree that a chef in the Watergate Hotel (in the Washington, D.C. area) created this dish and served it there as a specialty item. The dish became synonymous with where it was served, hence the name, Watergate Salad.

An alternate theory is that in 1975 when Kraft Foods introduced their pistachio pudding mix, they promoted it alongside this very recipe. It’s said that an editor in the Chicago newspaper reprinted the recipe and named it “Watergate Salad” to go along with the political scandal of the time.

So there you go! 🙂

Whatever you call it or believe this salad’s history to be, it’s easy to make and so delicious!

Read on about how to make this salad, what ingredients are in it, and some different variations you can try.

How Do You Make Watergate Salad?

Start by stirring together crushed pineapple with pistachio pudding mix. Next you’ll add in marshmallows, mandarin oranges, and pistachios. Finish by folding in the whipped topping. Chill the salad for about 45 minutes to an hour before serving.

Ingredients In This Salad

While Watergate Salad recipes vary quite a bit, I think over the years I’ve tried just about every combination! I’ve found less is more and for me, the “perfect” Watergate Salad combines crushed pineapple, pistachio pudding, mandarin oranges, mini marshmallows, pistachios, and whipped topping.

Making a Watergate Salad with mandarin oranges isn’t completely traditional, but we’d never make it without them! We’ve also tried this salad with cottage cheese (a common ingredient in a lot of retro salad recipes) and it was not a huge hit. If you do opt to add in cottage cheese, I’d recommend leaving out the marshmallows and testing a little bit first.

A Few Variations To Try:

  • Try Watergate Salad with cherries by adding 1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries.
  • Colored mini marshmallows instead of white mini marshmallows add an additional fruity flavor and fun color.
  • Additional fruit: Try adding in an extra can of drained mandarin oranges, a can of drained fruit cocktail, or a sliced banana (add right before serving).
  • For a lower calorie version, try using lite whipped topping.

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