Frog Eye Salad is a retro fruit salad from the 1970s! A refreshingly creamy, pineapple-flavored custard combines with tender acini de pepe to make a tapioca-like dessert, studded with flavorful mix-ins.
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Why You’ll Love This Frog Eye Salad Recipe
- Refreshing and Sweet: Served chilled, this refreshing and creamy Frog eye salad is a delightful combination of juicy fruit, sweet whipped topping, tender pasta, and fluffy marshmallows.
- Easy: This fruity salad is incredibly easy to prepare, which is great for busy days and hectic holiday meal prep.
- Make-Ahead Option: Planning an event? Frog eye salad can be prepared the night before and chilled in the fridge until the next day. Just give it a good stir and it’s ready to go!
- Kid-Friendly: Even the littlest chefs can help with stirring, adding ingredients, and of course, taste-testing! What kid wouldn’t want to try a fun fruit filled salad called frog eye salad?
What Is Frog Eye Salad?
The exact origin of frog eye salad is unclear, but it has become a long-standing favorite in parts of the U.S., especially Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. In those states, you will find frog eye salad on the table for almost every big occasion! It might even rival pumpkin pie for a Thanksgiving Day feast, depending on the household.
Frog eye salad gained popularity in the 1970s, and is still going strong, growing popular all over the U.S. Its unique, humorous name comes from the tiny round pasta used in the recipe: acini de pepe, or pastina.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
While there are a number of variations on the classic (and we’ll get to those in a few!), there are a few basic ingredients you’ll need to make this satisfyingly creamy dish. For full ingredient amounts and directions, scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Acini de Pepe: Tiny, round pasta, also used in Italian wedding soup, pastina, etc.
- Egg Yolks: For added richness to the custard.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar works best in this recipe.
- Pineapple: Canned, crushed pineapple and pineapple tidbits. Save the juice from the pineapple as well.
- Mandarin Oranges: Canned mandarin oranges, drained.
- Cool Whip: You can use an equal amount of homemade whipped cream instead.
- Marshmallows: Mini marshmallows work best.
- Coconut: Shredded sweetened, or un-sweetened, coconut will both work well.
Is Acini de Pepe the Same as Pastini?
Acini de pepe and pastini are similar, but they are not exactly the same. Acini de pepe is a tiny pasta that resembles small beads or pearls (or frog eyes!). When you get pastini, they could be a variety of different shapes – stars, squares, rice-shaped pasta, and tiny threads, to name a few. You can use pastini if you can’t find acini de pepe.
How to Make Frog Eye Salad
To make this dish, you’ll cook the custard gently on the stove for a few minutes, and cook the pasta separately. The rest of the process is just chilling and stirring!
- Make the Pasta and Custard: Cook the acini de pepe according to the package instructions, and then drain it and rinse it in cold water. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, pineapple juice, and flour in a saucepan. Stir and cook until thick and pudding-like.
- Combine the Pasta and Custard: Once the pineapple custard is thick, stir in the cooked pasta. Pour into a big bowl, cool completely, and chill for one hour in the fridge.
- Add the Remaining Ingredients: Stir the pineapple, mandarin oranges, Cool Whip, marshmallows, and coconut into the pasta mixture.
- Enjoy: Serve immediately, or refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Helpful Tips & Variations for Frogged Eyed Salad
So that’s how you make frog eye salad! But every recipe has its tips and tricks, so be sure to read through the tips below for the best results.
- Pasta: If you can’t find acini de pepe, feel free to use pastini as a substitute.
- Marshmallows: Both white and multi-colored marshmallows work well in this recipe, so choose your preference or use a combination of both.
- Add Lemon: Squirt a teaspoon or so of lemon juice into the salad for a sharper taste.
- Cherries: Top the salad with maraschino cherries for a lovely burst of color and flavor. If you like, you could also chop some maraschino cherries, pat them dry with paper towels, and stir them into the salad as well.
- Nutty Crunch: Stir in your favorite finely chopped nuts, such as pistachios or pecans, for an added crunchy texture and salty-sweetness.
- Berry Burst: Incorporate fresh strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries into the salad for even more fruity goodness.
How to Store Frog Eye Salad
To store this frog eye salad, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days. Make sure to give it a gentle stir before serving.
Can I Freeze This?
I would not recommend freezing frog eye salad, because the creamy custard can separate and turn watery once you freeze and thaw it. Not good! Instead, serve it fresh. You could also halve the recipe to make a smaller batch, if needed.
More Refreshing Salad Recipes
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
- Mango Salad Recipe
- Three Bean Salad
- Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint
- Easy Broccoli Salad
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Loaded Pea Salad
- Cranberry Jello Salad
Frog Eye Salad
- 16 oz acini de pepe, or pastini
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 ½ cups pineapple juice, reserved from the canned pineapple below
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drain and reserve the juice
- 1 (20 oz) can pineapple tidbits, drain and reserve the juice
- 1 (15 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
- 8 oz cool whip
- 2 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- Cook the acini de pepe according to the package directions. Drain and run under cold water to cool quicker.
- Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, pineapple juice and flour together in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until the pudding begins to thicken.
- Once the pudding begins to thicken, remove from the heat and stir in the acini de pepe.
- Pour the pudding into a large bowl and let the pudding cool completely, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove the pudding from the refrigerator, then stir in the pineapple, oranges, cool whip, marshmallows and coconut.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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