Frog Eye Salad

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Frog Eye Salad: a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, acini de pepe pasta, and whipped topping.

This salad is a holiday classic that pairs perfectly with other side dishes such as mashed potatoesroasted vegetablesbrussel sprouts, and/or a sweet potato casserole!

Up close photo of a dish of frog eye salad

Frog Eye Salad

As a born and raised Utahn, I’m no stranger to frog eye salad. In fact, this salad was a staple in my home growing up! My Aunt or mom made it (or this Watergate Salad) for every family potluck meal or holiday dinner.

Which brings us to the question everyone is eager to know…

Process shots for making this frog eye salad recipe -- pasta on the left and marshmallows on the right

Why do they call it a Frog Eye Salad?

While there isn’t necessarily an origination story (that I know of), frog eye salad is named after the acini de pepe pasta — it looks like tiny little frog eyes in this salad.

Despite the (slightly) creepy name, this salad is one of the most unique pasta salads. It’s a sweet salad that can easily pass as a dessert, but in Utah we like to call it a side salad to save room for 7 layer bars, carmelitas, and lemon bars. 🙂

This is not necessarily a healthy salad, but here are a few ideas to make it better-for-you:

  • Ensure the canned fruit is canned in JUICE not syrup.
  • Use a whipped topping alternative: such as Truwhip OR whip your own cream (higher calories, but less chemicals) OR for simply less calories use a “lite” whipped topping.
  • Use coconut sugar in place of white sugar — it gives this salad a more coconut-y flavor.

Process shots for making this easy frog eye salad

Main Dishes that pair well with this salad:

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Frog Eye Salad

5 from 3 votes
Frog Eye Salad: a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, acini de pepe pasta, and whipped topping.
Print Recipe

Frog Eye Salad

5 from 3 votes
Frog Eye Salad: a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, acini de pepe pasta, and whipped topping.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword frog eye salad, frog eye salad recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 as a side
Calories 206kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

  • 1 cup acini di pepe pasta OR pastina pasta
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits in JUICE (not syrup), drained but RESERVE THE JUICE
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in JUICE, drained but RESERVE THE JUICE
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cans (15 ounces EACH) mandarin oranges in JUICE
  • 1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping*, completely thawed
  • Optional: 1/3 cup miniature colored marshmallows, 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  • Prepare the pasta according to package directions to cook it al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in very cold water. Place in a large bowl in the fridge.
  • Drain out the pineapple tidbits to get 1 cup pineapple juice. (Use more juice from the crushed pineapple if needed).
  • Remove 1 tablespoon of the pineapple juice and pour in a small bowl. Pour the remaining pineapple juice into a medium-sized pot and set over medium heat. Briskly whisk in the egg. Add the flour to the reserved tablespoon of pineapple juice and whisk with a fork until smooth like a paste -- add to the egg and pineapple juice mixture, whisking constantly. Add in the salt and white sugar. 
  • Cook over medium-heat until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and allow to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Pour over the pasta and return the bowl to the fridge until both the pasta and the pineapple juice mixture are completely chilled.
  • Meanwhile, open the cans and drain the mandarin oranges, the crushed pineapple, pineapple tidbits. Make sure all the canned fruits are VERY well drained or your salad will be watery.
  • Add the drained fruit into the cooled pasta mixture and gently stir together.
  • Gently fold in the thawed whipped topping until all the ingredients are well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.
  • If desired, stir in colored marshmallows and shredded coconut right before serving.

Recipe Notes

* To make your OWN whipped topping: pour 1 and 1/2 cups COLD heavy whipping cream in a large bowl and using hand mixers, beat until stiff peaks form. You should have about 3 cups when it's done; use this in place of 1 container of whipped topping.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 206kcal

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Nutrition Facts for Frog Eye Salad Recipe

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24 Comments

    1. One bit and you’re hooked. You’ll never look at fruit salad the same. i’t s sweet and sparkly and fun. Hard to find Acini de Pepe anymore though. I had to order mine from Amazon. We’ve had this dish at every majou holiday for 10years now. it’s a family favorite for sure.

  1. I can’t say that I’ve heard of Frogs Eye Salad, but I bet that would totally freak me out if I didn’t know there were mini marshmallows in here! I am all about a lighter salad with colorful marshmallow goodness! Looks great girl!

  2. Frog Eye Salad (Tiny Stars Salad) will definitely be appearing on my Thanksgiving table this year. I think it sounds absolutely delicious! I am going to have to purchase the healthier version Truwhip and coconut sugar; those are 2 new products I haven’t tried yet. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Haha!! I don’t know how common it actually is so definitely don’t feel uncool 🙂 I’m sure I wouldn’t have heard about it without my mom making it ha! Thank you so much Ashley!!

  3. I love the name! Haha. The stars definitely make it less scary – but its almost Halloween so it’s all fun and games. When I was younger my aunt made a similar salad with pistachios and called it Goosebumps salad. I was terrified! This looks delicious 🙂

  4. My grandma called it Rosemarino… no idea where the name came from but it was pretty much the unhealthy version of your salad.

  5. Your Frog Eye Salad looks pretty! I know it’s delicious because my mother-in-law used to make it for special occasions. I make it occasionally, and people are always amazed that it is made with pasta.

    1. Absolutely! Most of my recipes call for salt, but feel free to admit the salt. I also have a lot of sugar-free recipes as far as dinner meals, but most of my desserts do contain sugar.

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