Frog Eye Salad Recipe

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Frog Eye Salad is a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, acini de pepe pasta, and whipped topping–and a silly name!

This salad is a holiday classic that pairs perfectly with other side dishes like Mashed PotatoesRoasted VegetablesBrussels Sprouts, and/or a Sweet Potato Casserole!

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.

And this brings us to the question everyone is eager to know…

images of acini de pepe pasta and miniature marshmallows

Why do they call it a Frog Eye Salad?

While there isn’t necessarily a documented original 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 truly a unique pasta salad. 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 a better-for-you choice:

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

Frog Eye Salad ingredients

Main Dishes that pair well with this salad:

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Frog Eye Salad

5 from 17 votes
Frog Eye Salad is a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, acini de pepe pasta, and whipped topping--plus a silly name!
Print Recipe

Frog Eye Salad

5 from 17 votes
Frog Eye Salad is a retro side or dessert “salad” with canned fruits, acini de pepe pasta, and whipped topping--plus a silly name!
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
Chelsea Lords
Calories 272kcal


  • 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 (Note 1)
  • Optional: 1/3 cup miniature colored marshmallows, 1/2 cup shredded coconut


  • 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 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, and 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 to overnight.
  • If desired, stir in colored miniature marshmallows and shredded coconut right before serving.


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Whipped topping: To make your own whipped topping: pour 1 and 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. You should have about 3 cups when it's done; use this in place of one container of whipped topping.
Nutrition information does not include the optional coconut or marshmallows.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 313mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 676IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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Recipe Rating


    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.

    2. 5 stars
      This salad is so awesome we will eat it for breakfast, midnight snack n its great at potlucks, formal dinner, on holidays, with turkey dinner or no matter what the main course is, the sky is the limit, with this salad.

  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. Hello there,
      I’m planning a Witches Afternoon Tea and I’ve been looking up Watergate salad & variations and your recipe caught my eye. However, one of the ingredients pictured in your recipe is not listed as an ingredient- cherries or some other dark red fruit I assume ?
      Thank you in advance and what a fun recipe ….

    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!!

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve made this since my children were young. One of their playmate’s mom’s gave me her recipe in the 1980’s. Recipe lost long ago so I wing it. I use the liquid from the pineapple, fruit cocktail, and the oranges and thicken it similarly to your recipe . After mixing (lots of marshmallows) I referigerate it overnight and add the whipped topping and mix well.
      Not knowing the name, I called it “Magic Salad, to intrigue young appetites. My oldest ( now a mother of many will eat every bite I make, morning, noon, and night .
      It’s fun ,too, to surprise people with the magic ingredient. Nobody ever guesses pasta. And, yes , I went to 3 stores before finding Acini di Pepe. Thanks for the recipe!

  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.

      1. 5 stars
        This is a very delicious treat.. my sister inlaw introduced me to it..I thought it was made with tapioca but she told me it was pasta. Our Family absolutely loves this and devours it every time.
        We call it fruit pasta 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.

  6. Hi Chelsea,
    I’m looking forward to making this. I’m wondering if I add sugar to the whipping cream if I whip my own?

    1. Just depends on the cream you are using and how sweet you’d like it; if you want it to more closely imitate Cool Whip, then yes I’d add a few tablespoons powdered sugar 🙂 Enjoy!

  7. If I can get the pasta here fast enough I will make this for our Thanksgiving Dinner. I need to make for 40 people. How would it be if I x4 but substitute in different fruit for x3 of the recipe?

  8. Hello! This looks so yummy! I was wondering if I could substitute tapioca bubbles for the pasta?

    1. I have actually made something similar many times using tapioca pearls and less sugar and a dash of vanilla. The pearls are a pain because it is a cook and rinse and repeat many times to get them the right consistency but when you are gluten free and this is a childhood favorite it is worth it.

      1. I would love your gluten free prep instructions if you would share! Frog eye salad is a great favorite in our house and we recently had to change my daughter’s diet to gluten free; so many years have been shed over the loss of this particular recipe.

  9. You don’t say to drain the oranges? I did.
    You don’t say how much of the pineapple juice to use – I looked up another recipe and it said one cup so that’s what I used. I used the mini marshmallows- turned out very good and I’ll make again.

    1. Hey Shannan, not sure what you’re seeing, but both of those instructions are in the instructions in the recipe card. Step 5 says to drain mandarin oranges really well and step 2 says to get 1 cup of pineapple juice

  10. 5 stars
    I made this for years to take to our extended family Thanksgiving dinners & became known for it❣️My frog eye salad is not the same, though, if I don’t include tons of sweet pomegranate berries, conveniently right in season at this time if year❣️

  11. 5 stars
    It was perfect! This was just what I’ve been looking for. I used to make it for my family, but one day I couldn’t find acini di pepe. Eventually I lost the recipe. Your recipe looked really familiar. I can’t wait for my grandkids to try this at our next family dinner. I know my kids will love it!

  12. 5 stars
    One of our families all time favorite sweet salads, it’s requested for every party, birthday or bbq. Worth every minute of prep. ❤️

    1. Hey Karol! I haven’t personally tried it, but maybe a chunky applesauce or finely diced strawberries would work!

  13. 5 stars
    This is such a fun recipe! I loved the texture, and the family did, too. I added some fresh raspberries for color. Will make again

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