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Frog Eye Salad Recipe

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If you are looking for the perfect easy frog eye salad recipe, you will love this version of the classic sweet side dish.

Main image for recipe of Frog Eye Salad. Salad in a bowl with a spoon full held above.

If you have never heard of a frog eye salad recipe, you are in for a treat and maybe a history lesson today. 

This is one of those vintage dessert salads that got super popular in the 60s and 70s. I don’t think there was a holiday table set that didn’t have some version of a dessert salad then.

Luckily, these desserts-disguised-as-salads have stuck around so when you really want dessert as part of your main course, you have an option to eat this and then the official dessert too!

Cornstarch and pineapple juice

What is Frog Eye Salad?

It is a delicious, fluffy, sweet fruit salad with pasta. I know that sounds crazy. But it’s delicious.

It has classic citrus flavors using pineapple, mandarin oranges, all mixed in a delicious sweet custard with marshmallows, tiny pasta balls, and cool whip blended in. 

Notice there are no frogs eyes included in this salad.

sugar, salt, egg yolks and pineapple juice in a pot.

Why is it called Frog Eye Salad?

Now that you know there are no actual frog parts in the salad, you may be wondering about the name. 

The tiny balls of pasta which are officially named Acini di Pepe, fill the bowl and look like tiny frog eyes in the salad.

Maybe a four year old named the dish. Maybe a fantastic aunt who wanted to keep the dessert salad to herself and watch the children squirm as she brought it to the table.

No one really knows the origin of the name, but whether you think the name is funny or choose to call it “acini di pepe salad” instead, you will love this tasty and fluffy dessert salad.

Cooked Acini de Pepe in a bowl with sauce added.

What ingredients do you use to make Frog Eye Salad Recipe?

  • Cornstarch: this thickens the pineapple juice we use to make the custard
  • White Sugar: we use sugar to sweeten the homemade custard
  • Salt: even in dessert salads, salt makes everything else taste better
  • Egg Yolks: this is the base for our homemade custard
  • Pineapple Juice: use the juice from the pineapple cans, no need to get an extra ingredient
  • Acini di Pepe: this pasta is tiny balls that will give the “frog eye” look and texture to the salad
  • Crushed Pineapple in Real Juice (not syrup): it needs to be in real pineapple juice so we can use it to make the pineapple custard
  • Pineapple Tidbits in Real Juice (not syrup): these are smaller pineapple pieces that blend into the salad and we use this juice for the custard too
  • Mandarin Oranges: drain them and have perfectly sweet orange fruit to mix into the salad
  • Cool Whip: be sure to thaw 2 of these in the fridge overnight so they are fluffy and soft enough to mix into the salad
  • Miniature Marshmallows: soft, fluffy, and sweet they are the perfect addition to this creamy salad
  • Coconut: Nutty coconut adds texture and flavor!
Acini de Pepe with sauce, Pineapple and mandarin oranges all in a bowl, unmixed.

How to make Frog Eye Salad Recipe:

  1. Dissolve cornstarch in pineapple juice.
  2. Combine custard ingredients and heat until thick.
  3. Let the custard cool.
  4. Cook Acini di Pepe, drain, and cool.
  5. Combine pasta and custard sauce.
  6. Mix in fruit.
  7. Add cool whip and marshmallows and mix.
  8. Chill, mix, and serve!

Pro Tip: do not be scared of making your own custard. It tastes so much better than using a packaged option, and it’s not that much work. Cooking the egg into a custard is easier than you think.

Marshmallows and cool whip added to Acini de Pepe.

Where did Frog Eye Salad originate?

No one has traced the official origins of this salad. But dessert salads rose to popularity in the 60s and 70s and even in different regional and religious communities.

One place to find a frogs eye salad: mormon households (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). They have often served it at big gatherings so perhaps it originated in one of their kitchens.

Frog Eye Salad Recipe blended and ready to serve.

Can you freeze Frog Eye Salad Recipe?

No. When this thaws, it gets extra runny and doesn’t mix as fluffy as the original recipe. Just make it fresh.

Can you use orzo for Frog Eye Salad Recipe?

If you do then, it’s not an Acini de Pepe frog eye salad.

Orzo is a smaller pasta that looks more like a flat grain of rice. Some people use it and like it.

But there are other options that will give you more of a “frog eye” look to your salad. Pastini are small star shaped pastas. 

Or you can use couscous. Regular couscous will give you very small pieces, but pearl couscous will look almost exactly the same as acini di pepe pasta in the dish.

close up of frog eye salad in a serving bowl

Is Frog Eye Salad ambrosia?

No. It’s really similar though. 

Ambrosia salad does not include pasta. This recipe has acini di pepe pasta and a pineapple custard in addition to cool whip.

zoomed out top view of frog eye salad recipe in a bowl.

Do you make Frog Eye Salad with Tapioca?

No, tapioca isn’t found in this easy frog eye salad. Tapioca comes from the cassava root, and when it is harvested for tapioca, it becomes tiny balls. 

Using the acini di pepe pasta mixed with cool whip and custard might remind you of tapioca. 

But tapioca is gluten free and a root vegetable. The pasta in our frog eye salad recipe is a grain.

side view of salad in a bowl with a spoon holding a portion up above bowl.

More Recipes with Fruit You’ll Love…

This creamy, fruity, fluffy dessert salad is the perfect side when you need something sweet on  the table, and the name frog eye salad recipe is sure to make you laugh no matter when you eat it.

Yield: 15 Servings

Frog Eye Salad Recipe

close up of frog eye salad in a serving bowl

If you are looking for the perfect easy frog eye salad recipe, you will love this version of the classic sweet side dish.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes


  1. Drain pineapple cans and save the juice.
  2. In a small bowl combine cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons reserved pineapple juice. Mix well making sure cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. In a medium pot, combine sugar, salt, egg yolks, cornstarch mixture and 1 ¾ cup pineapple juice from cans.
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened. Set aside and cool completely.
  5. Cook Acini de Pepe according to package directions.
  6. Drain and set aside to cool.
  7. Once sauce and pasta are completely cooled, assemble salad.
  8. In a large bowl combine pasta and sauce. Mix well.
  9. Add crushed pineapple, pineapple tidbits, mandarin oranges and mix well.
  10. Add in the cool whip, marshmallows and coconut and mix well.
  11. Chill 4 hours - overnight. Mix again before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 2g

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Thursday 2nd of May 2024

I love this salad. Tip : if you need to quickly make and instant version use instant vanilla pudding instead of the custard. Add a 1 tsp vanilla and 1/8 tsp of Cinnamon ....enjoy


Saturday 30th of March 2024

What size box of pasta? I bought a 16 oz but it looks like alot.

Num's The Word

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

I'd go with about half of that.


Monday 4th of September 2023

Can this recipe be cut in half?


Thursday 9th of November 2023

Hi Kayci! Great question as it does make A LOT! Yes you can cut it in half. The egg yolks will be the hardest part as it's an odd number. But everything else will easily be cut in half - or even 1/3.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

I grew up knowing this salad from a few potluck sort of things in Colorado. I don’t know where the recipe comes from, but it’s a winner every time! Thank you for this! God bless you.


Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

You are so welcome. My sister is OBSESSED with it and this is her recipe. It's a tasty salad with a fun name!


Sunday 14th of May 2023

When do you add in the corn starch mixture?


Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

Great question Kari! That would be a helpful thing to put in the recipe card. Ha ha. Whoops! I've updated the recipe card to reflect when to add the cornstarch mixture! Thanks for pointing it out!

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