This Pina Colada Fluff Salad recipe came about as the result of last minute improvisation, and quickly became a family favorite! Super tasty!
I tried to do my “married to a Minnesotan” duty and make a batch of Watergate Salad for my husband... but for some reason, pistachio pudding mix is incredibly difficult to find here.
Rather than accept defeat, I bought a thing of vanilla pudding, and decided to riff on the basic idea of that light dessert.
I’d recently been using a lot of canned pineapple - a perfect addition to some of my sweet salads and chicken stir fries - and one of those uses was to make pina colada chia pudding.
The combination of pineapple flavors with coconut and rum extract has been like a little bit of warm sunshine on the cool days of late.
Necessity being the mother of invention is a great way to create new recipes!
(Well, “invention”, anyway. As it turns out, this was already a thing, as I learned when I started writing this post!)
Anyway, introducing my pina colada fluff salad!
This pina colada fluff recipe uses only a few simple ingredients and - unlike Watergate salad, apparently! - you should be able to find them in any grocery store.
A few notes on amounts and substitutes:
Instant Pudding Mix
The ingredient that led to the creation of this recipe!
We use one 3.4 oz Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix package, because that’s easiest to come by, here.
If I had better access to it, I’d probably use Instant Coconut Pudding Mix, for an extra hit of coconut flavor.
Mini Marshmallows are a staple of these kind of recipes, though preferred amounts can vary wildly.
This recipe uses 4 cups miniature marshmallows, as my husband loves a high ratio of marshmallows to ... everything else.
If you’d prefer less, you can cut it to 3 - or even 2 - cups.
Back in the USA, my husband would use an 8 oz container Cool Whip to make his Watergate salad, so that’s what we were going to use here.
... except you can’t get that size in Canada.
As a result, we bought a 1L container of Cool Whip - slightly bigger than the 8 oz container - and it worked fine.
So, if you’re in the USA, use an 8oz container. If you’re in Canada, use the 1 L container.
Either way, thaw it for a bit before mixing it in. We just left the container out at room temperature while I gathered and mixed the other ingredients.
We use an entire can of pineapple - 20 oz. (THIS one is the same in both countries, though!).
Some day, I’m going to try this with pineapple tidbits, as I think the bigger chunks would be nice.
Either way - juice and all! Don’t drain it!
The amount of Rum Extract is totally up to personal taste.
1 teaspoon rum extract would be the absolute minimum I’d recommend - you won’t get a ton of rum flavour from that amount.
We use 3 tsp, which provides a good amount of flavour.
If we were making this in the USA - with the smaller amount of Cool Whip - I could see 2 teaspoon possibly being enough for our tastes.
I recommend starting with 1 or two, getting the whole batch made, then adding a bit more if you’d like.
Rounding out this recipe, you will need:
... I just don’t have anything to add about these ingredients!
Serving and Garnish Ideas
If you’re not one to just snarf big spoonfuls of this delicious dessert salad straight out of the fridge, there are definite ways that you can dress up the presentation of pineapple fluff.
We’ve served this with some Toasted Coconut Flakes scattered on top, to really bring the tropical feeling home.
Maraschino Cherries also make a great garnish - especially alongside a little wedge of fresh pineapple.
Some day, I think I’m going to cut a fresh pineapple in half - top to botton - scoop out some of the pineapple, and serve this simple dessert in pineapple boats, just to be extra about it. 🙂
How to Make Piña Colada Fluff Salad
The full recipe is in the recipe box at the end of this post, here is a visual walk through.
In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, crushed pineapple, rum extract, and salt..
Add the coconut and pecans, stir well to combine.
Finally, fold in the mini marshmallows until evenly distributed.
Best served the next day, after the marshmallows have soaked up the pineapple juice.
This should theoretically last about 5-6 days in the fridge, we can never keep it around for more than 2-3 days, though!
More Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes!
Looking for even more fantastic gluten-free desserts that *everyone* will love? Look no further!
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Gluten Free Doughnut Holes
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Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bar Brownies
Gluten Free Puffed Rice Bars
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Mini Doughnuts
Gluten Free Raspberry Bars
Gluten-Free Schmoo Torte
Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Pudding
Also, be sure to check out our collection of Gluten Free Cookie Recipes!
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Pina Colada Fluff
- 20 oz Crushed Pineapple NOT drained
- 3.4 oz Instant Vanilla pudding mix
- 2-3 teaspoon Rum extract
- Pinch Salt
- 1 cup Shredded coconut
- ½-1 cup Chopped pecans
- 8 oz Cool whip Thawed (If in Canada, use the 1 L container)
- 4 cups Mini Marshmallows
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pineapple, pudding mix, rum extract, and salt..
- Add the coconut and pecans, stir well to combine.
- Scoop the Cool Whip into the bowl, stir will to break it up and fully combine it into the pineapple mixture.
- Finally, fold in the mini marshmallows until evenly distributed.
- Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Best served the next day, after the marshmallows have soaked up the pineapple juice