Frog Eye Salad Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 35 min. + chilling
With a name as fun as the dish itself, you can’t go wrong serving our frog eye salad as a show-stopping side dish.

Updated: May 13, 2024

The what salad? Yes, you read that right—frog eye salad! This yummy side dish is akin to other fascinating fruit salads (looking at you, ambrosia!) that are so sweet, delicious and beautiful, they teeter on the edge of dessert.

Our frog eye salad is made with teeny, tiny pasta noodles that are tossed in a gorgeous pineapple custard dressing and folded into chunks of marshmallows, pineapple, mandarin oranges and shredded coconut. It’s a fluffy and fruity side salad that’s packed with flavor and fun.

What is frog eye salad?

Frog eye salad is an old-school side dish featuring pasta, marshmallows, mandarin oranges, pineapple chunks, shredded coconut and a whipped topping. They’re all tossed together in a homemade pineapple custard dressing, creating a creamy, fluffy treat with bites of sweetness. It’s a refreshing dish that’s best eaten well chilled.

Frog eye salad gets its namesake from very tiny, circular pasta noodles—acini di pepe—that are said to resemble frog eyes.

Ingredients for Frog Eye Salad

  • Acini di pepe pasta: These tiny pasta shapes can be easily found in most grocery stores. See our tips below for substitutes.
  • Canned mandarin oranges: Little segments of sweet mandarin oranges add pops of bursting brightness to this frog eye salad, not to mention a vibrant orange hue.
  • Canned pineapple: Pineapple imparts a tropical sweetness that pairs perfectly with the oranges and coconut.
  • Miniature marshmallows: We prefer the mini size so they’re easier to eat. If you only have large marshmallows, cut them up into bite-sized pieces before tossing with the other ingredients.
  • Shredded coconut: Be sure to reach for sweetened (and not unsweetened) shredded coconut at the grocery store.
  • Whipped topping: A premade whipped topping like Cool Whip makes assembling this frog eye salad recipe easy-peasy.

Directions

Step 1: Create the custard dressing

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually pour in the pineapple juice, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.

Carefully slip in a small amount of the hot mixture into the bowl of lightly beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the hot egg mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and cook and whisk for two minutes longer. Remove the mixture from the heat. Gently whisk in the lemon juice.

Step 2: Allow to cool

Transfer the hot mixture to a large bowl. Cool the mixture to room temperature without stirring. Cover the surface of the custard dressing with waxed paper, and refrigerate until cooled.

Step 3: Cook the pasta

Cook the pasta according to the package’s directions. Drain the pasta, and immediately rinse it under cold water. Place the pasta in a very large bowl.

Step 4: Add the mix-ins

Fold the oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, coconut and dressing into the bowl with the pasta. Fold in the whipped topping until evenly incorporated.

Step 5: Chill

Cover the bowl, and refrigerate the frog eye salad until chilled. If desired, garnish with cherries.

Frog Eye Salad Served in dessert cups garnished with cherries; golden spoons; a small bowl of cherries;TMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Add a bit of crunch: Sprinkle in chopped nuts like almonds, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts for an added dimension of crunch. We recommend you toast the nuts beforehand to bring out their nutty sweetness.
  • Slice in other fruit: Sturdy fruits like strawberries and bananas can add color and extra sweetness to the frog eye salad. Avoid easily breakable fruits like raspberries and blueberries. They might not hold their shape very well when tossed with the other ingredients, making their colors run everywhere.
  • Use colorful marshmallows: Ramp up the fun even more with colorful mini marshmallows!

How to Store Frog Eye Salad

Store frog eye salad leftovers in an airtight container. Keep it in the fridge for up to three days.

Can you freeze frog eye salad?

No, you cannot freeze frog eye salad. Since the dressing is custard based, it will not freeze well.

Frog Eye Salad Tips

Frog Eye Salad Served in dessert cups garnished with cherries; golden spoons; a small bowl of cherries;TMB Studio

Can you use other types of pasta in frog eye salad?

Yes, you can use other types of pasta in frog eye salad. This recipe calls for acini di pepe, which are very tiny balls of pasta. If you don’t have acini di pepe on hand, you can use pastina, which is a small, star-shaped pasta. Orzo is also a good substitute, but it requires a little longer cooking time.

Can you use homemade whipped cream instead of whipped topping to make frog eye salad?

Definitely! You can make whipped cream from scratch in place of the store-bought whipped topping if you like.

How do you serve frog eye salad?

To serve frog eye salad, spoon individual servings into bowls or parfait glasses, or prepare the fruit salad in a large glass trifle bowl and let guests scoop for themselves. For extra flair, garnish the salad with stemmed maraschino cherries, mandarin oranges or piped whipped cream.

Watch how to Make Frog Eye Salad

Easy Frog Eye Salad

Prep Time 35 min
Yield 24 servings (3/4 cup each).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-3/4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 package (16 ounces) acini di pepe pasta
  • 3 cans (11 ounces each) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 cans (20 ounces each) pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • Maraschino cherries, optional

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in pineapple juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Gently stir in lemon juice.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl. Cool to room temperature without stirring. Cover surface of dressing with waxed paper; refrigerate until cooled.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a very large bowl; stir in oranges, pineapple, marshmallows, coconut and dressing. Fold in whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. If desired, garnish with cherries.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 240 calories, 5g fat (4g saturated fat), 16mg cholesterol, 72mg sodium, 47g carbohydrate (30g sugars, 2g fiber), 4g protein.

This frog eye salad recipe gets its name from the tiny acini di pepe pasta that looks like frog eyes when folded in with fruit and a creamy dressing. As much or as little Cool Whip can be added to taste, and if I have some mandarin oranges or maraschino cherries, I add a few to the top. My friends say this side dish is good enough to be a dessert! —Elaine Bailey, Bloomfield, Indiana