Watergate Cake

You probably remember Watergate Salad, but do you remember Watergate Cake? It’s a vibrant green pistachio-flavored cake of the same era that’s as satisfyingly sweet as it is nostalgic.

The story really begins with Watergate “salad,” which was originally known only as “pistachio salad” and featured pistachio pudding, pineapple, marshmallows, Cool Whip, and chopped nuts. It was born in the era when “instant foods” were first on the rise but wasn’t renamed with its Watergate moniker until a decade or two later.

The cake version probably came to be in the 70s as well, fashioned after the salad but with slightly different ingredients – pistachio pudding, white cake mix, club soda (no pineapples or marshmallows) and a frosting made from more pistachio pudding and Dream Whip, which is the powdered version of Cool Whip.

Like the salad, it got its name sometime after the Nixon scandal though the dessert has little (if anything) to do with the break-in. It’s very green, but it’s also a light yet moist cake with plenty of pistachio goodness going on. It uses plenty of shortcut foods, but it makes good use of them – it’s a truly tasty cake with a retro vibe.

Watergate Cake

1 hour to prepare serves 8-10


  • 1 (16 oz) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz) box instant pistachio pudding
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 (3.4 oz) box instant pistachio pudding
  • 1 envelope Dream Whip / dry Cool Whip mix
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • Chopped nuts, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 10-inch bundt or tube pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the white cake mix, pistachio pudding, eggs, oil, and club soda with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in nuts and pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.
  3. Remove and let cool completely. While cake cools, make frosting:
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the pistachio pudding, dream whip and cold milk until stiff. Frost and enjoy!