Frog Eye Salad: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of the simplicity. Get together and eat and reflect upon your blessings. But the older I get the more I feel like Thanksgiving isn’t that simple; it’s busy for those of us who plan menus and host! That’s one reason why I really love the recipe I’m about to share: you make it ahead so you’re not busy working on it right up until you eat.

I grew up very close to my extended family on my mom’s side (literally, our houses were a stone’s throw away) and would have family meals on the first Sunday of each month, but Thanksgiving was special because we would have Frog Eye Salad (usually made by my aunt Beth). Yep, you heard me. Frog Eye Salad.

What is Frog Eye Salad, you ask? It’s like the fruit salad of awesomeness. It’s fresh and different! It’s like a little bit of desert snuck onto your plate.  The pineapple and mandarin pair perfectly with whipped cream and marshmallows. It also freezes well for leftovers. 

Picture of completed Frog Eye Salad in a glass bowl. This is only half of the finished recipe.

Since getting married two of my aunts have given me cookbooks with the recipe in it When I make this dish, I feel like I’m carrying on the delicious tradition and recall fond memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Let’s talk about the recipe. I like it because you make most of it the night before, then throw it together the day of. I’m a planner and I like to have things ready!!

First, you boil Acini Di Pepe pasta: the frog eyes. They’re just tiny pasta balls. While the pasta cooks, you’ll make the sauce with sugar, pineapple juice, flour, and two beaten eggs. Heat and stir that constantly until it thickens up. Drain the pasta and let the thickened sauce cool off. Combine pasta with sauce and let it chill overnight in the fridge. 

Next, drain your pineapple tidbits, crushed pineapple, and  mandarin oranges. If you drain them all in a colander together, put the mandarin oranges on top so they don’t break apart. They are fragile! Put the colander over a bowl and place in the fridge overnight so any excess liquid drains off and makes sure the salad doesn’t get runny when you combine everything. 

The last part is whipping cream. I’ve used cool whip in the past but this year I’m trying homemade whipped cream, beaten until stiff peaks form and chilled in the fridge. 

The next day, combine everything together including mini marshmallows if you’re including them. I think this dish is delicious both ways. Without marshmallows the flavor of the fruit is more prominent. With marshmallows the sweetness is more pronounced. 

Frog Eye Salad Recipe

  • Serves: 15-20 people
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Total Prep Time: Overnight/ 1-2 hours

Frog Eye Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 box Acini di Pepe pasta
  • 3 cans mandarin oranges
  • 2 cans pineapple tidbits
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 3/4 cup pineapple juice (taken from pineapple tidbits cans)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 12 oz Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream
  • 1-2 cups mini marshmallows (optional)

Frog Eye Salad Directions

  1. Cook the Acini di Pepe pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta cooks, put crushed pineapple and tidbits in a colander with a bowl beneath it to catch the juice. Measure out your pineapple juice for the sauce and then let the pineapple continue to drain while covered in the fridge.
  3. Combine pineapple juice, sugar, flour, salt, and beaten eggs in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until it’s thickened. Then let it cool off or chill it in the fridge for a few minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta, then combine with the sauce. Leave pasta and sauce in the fridge overnight to chill.
  5. Drain your mandarin oranges and let them chill overnight but keep them separate.
  6. (optional) make your homemade whipped cream with whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to taste.
  7. Next day, break up your pasta and sauce mixture until there are no chunks. Add crushed pineapple and tidbits. Then add your whipped cream. Add mini marshmallows if you’re using them. Lastly, add the mandarin oranges, making sure they don’t break apart.
  8. Chill in fridge until ready to serve!


  • This recipe freezes very well.
  • This recipe is huge. Make sure when you’re combining everything at the end that you have a 5-quart or larger bowl to put it in, or else split it between two bowls.
  • If you’re going for a lighter, more fresh flavor that emphasizes the fruit, then try making your own whipped cream and limiting the amount of sugar. If you’re going for a nearly-dessert level sweetness, use Cool Whip (this is what I grew up with)! You can also control for sweetness with the amount of marshmallows, or leave them out altogether.

Are you looking for a way to make your Thanksgiving a little more meaningful this year? My Thanksgiving Hosting Bundle digital download provides name cards, guided discussion questions, a brief history of Thanksgiving, a children’s maze game, and a blank menu template! Print these out at home on your black-and-white printer but look amazingly put together. Download it instantly from my shop!


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