In 2014, The New York Times mapped out which “most distinct” Thanksgiving recipes each state had been Googling. For some states, frog eye salad was the No. 1 result.
Nestled in the Jell-O belt, people in Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Nevada had been looking up frog eye salad, landing frog eye salad recipes with the highest amount of search volume for Thanksgiving sides. If you don’t know what that is, you’re not alone. Frog eye salad is decidedly a Western dish composed of ingredients that you may be surprised go together.
What is frog eye salad?
According to Atlas Obscura, “The crucial ingredients are a small pasta, normally acini de pepe, an egg custard, whipped cream or Cool Whip, and canned fruits.” The dish resembles pudding that is then topped with marshmallows and shredded coconut. It’s unclear why the dish is called frog eye salad, but some have speculated that it comes from the pasta — acini de pepe — that may look like frog eyes due to its small circular shape.
Frog eye salad does not involve frogs or eyes. It doesn’t even resemble a salad. This creamy side dish, beloved in the United States’ Rocky Mountain region, includes pasta, an egg custard, whipped cream, and canned fruits, topped with marshmallows and shredded coconut. pic.twitter.com/cNB6Nm18WR— Atlas Obscura (@atlasobscura) April 10, 2020
One food blogger at Food Folks and Fun said that she first tried the dish at her sister’s wedding luncheon in Utah.
Although she was hesitant to try it, she said that she has no regrets now that she has. “This creamy salad is sweet and full of fruity flavor,” she wrote. “It is a classic recipe that is a total crowd-pleaser. Making the homemade whipping cream instead of store-bought makes this salad extra fluffy.”
Who invented frog eye salad?
Like finding the origin of its name, discovering who first invented frog eye salad is tricky business. Matador Network said that while there’s no clear evidence to point toward a specific originator, conventional wisdom holds that Latter-day Saint women invented the fluffy sweet pasta salad.
Writing for the Mormon Times, Melissa DeMoux called the dish a “Mormon essential” and said that she doesn’t make frog eye salad, but that “it’s not bad.”
How to make frog eye salad
Maybe you’ve determined that your Thanksgiving needs this side dish or maybe you want to show up at your next church potluck or family reunion with a unique dish. Whatever the case, here are a couple of places where you can find frog eye salad recipes.
Latter-day Saint food blogger House of Nash Eats made a video of her making frog eye salad with instructions.
- Taste of Home’s recipe serves 24 people.
- Six Sisters’ Stuff published a recipe that only takes 35 minutes.
- Food Folks and Fun has a recipe that serves 12.
Make sure to serve frog eye salad after it has been chilled. My personal recommendation is to eat funeral potatoes as the main course and serve this for dessert.