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Pistachio Cake (Best Recipe)

This pistachio cake is light, moist, and packed with pistachio flavor. If you think you’re not experienced enough to bake a pistachio cake, this recipe might just surprise you.

What if I told you that you can pull it off even with just a simple cake mix? It sounds impossible, but it’s true.

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Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Nuts

With this recipe, you’ll learn a brilliant technique that can turn even the most artificial-tasting cake mix into a magnificent work of art.

I’m sure you’re dying to find out what the secret is, so let’s begin!

Pistachio Cake 

If you’re looking for a cake to serve at your St. Paddy’s Day party, I don’t think there’s any cake more fitting than this one.

This mouthwatering thing of beauty is gorgeously green! More importantly, it tastes amazing.

A light and moist pistachio-flavored cake is smeared with a fluffy whipped cream frosting. It’s pure pistachio perfection!

Pistachio Cake Ingredients

What is Pistachio Cake Made Of? 

This recipe is a shortcut version that makes use of boxed cake mix and pudding. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity, though! It’s so light, moist, and flavorful it rivals any homemade pistachio cake.

  • Yellow Cake Mix – You can experiment with other cake mix flavors, as well.
  • Instant Pistachio Pudding Mix – It makes the cake ridiculously moist. This is pistachio cake, after all, so it makes sense to use pistachio pudding. 
  • 4 Eggs – They’ll bind the ingredients together. They’ll also help the batter rise into a rich, fluffy cake.
  • Water – To saturate the cake mix and create a batter.
  • Vegetable Oil – To make the cake extra moist.
  • Almond Extract – It complements with pistachios wonderfully. It also helps mask the artificial flavor of the cake mix.
  • Green Food Coloring – It’s optional, but highly recommended.
  • Pistachio Frosting – Made by combining Cool Whip and instant pistachio pudding mix.

How to Make Pistachio Cake 

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your pan. I used a 10-inch tube pan for this recipe, but there are other pan options, as well.

Grease the pan generously with oil and dust it evenly with flour. To get rid of the excess, flip the pan over onto a piece of parchment paper or baking sheet and tap it gently. 

Next, make the batter. Stir together the yellow cake mix and pistachio pudding until combined. Create a well in the middle and pour in the eggs, water, oil, almond extract, and food coloring.

The food coloring is completely optional, but I do love the light green hue it gives the cake. 

Beat the ingredients with an electric mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Don’t overmix to avoid a heavy cake. Stop as soon as the ingredients are well-combined.

Pour the batter into the greased and floured pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it springs back when you lightly press on it with your fingers.

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Let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Flip it over onto a wire rack – it should come off effortlessly – and cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together thawed Cool Whip and pistachio pudding mix until smooth and spreadable. 

You can also beat in 5 to 6 drops of food coloring to make it green.

If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk and whisk until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. 

Spread the frosting with a spatula over the cooled cake. You can use a piping bag and tips for a prettier presentation.

Top it with crushed pistachios and/or toasted coconut, if desired.

Slice it and enjoy!

Sliced Pistachio Cake in a Plate

What Does Adding Pudding to Cake Do?

Adding pudding is the not-so-secret trick to make a boxed cake mix super moist and light. No one will taste that artificial flavor that most people complain about in box mixes. 

With this creative technique, you can still make a homemade-like tasting cake with minimal effort.

Tips for the Best Cake 

  • The food coloring gives the pistachio cake a lovely, light green hue. It’s not a requirement, though! The cake will still taste just as good without it.
  • On the contrary, if you do love that tint of green, you can add food coloring to the frosting as well. You’ll need about 5 to 6 drops to color the frosting.
  • This recipe uses a combo of yellow cake mix and pistachio pudding to flavor the cake. Feel free to mix and match cake and pudding mixes to produce other flavors.
  • Stick to instant pudding for this recipe. Cook and serve puddings won’t work here.
  • Let the cake cool completely before you frost it. Otherwise, it will just melt into the cake.

How to Grease a Tube Pan

When it comes to tube pans, greasing and flouring is essential. Because of its irregular shape, lining it with parchment paper is close to impossible.

Merely greasing it with butter isn’t enough, either. The butter will only melt during baking, defeating its purpose.

The best approach is to grease it with butter AND dusting it with flour. 

Be very generous when greasing. Use a pastry brush to ensure every nook and cranny is greased.

Then, pour 1/4 cup of flour into the pan. Spread the flour evenly by swirling the pan. Flip the pan over a baking sheet or a piece of parchment paper, and tap it to get rid of the excess flour. 

Can I Use a Different Pan?

Absolutely. If you don’t have a tube pan, just use a regular cake pan! A 9×13-inch baking dish or 2 (9-inch) round pans will work perfectly.

The beauty about using these pans is that you can easily line them with parchment paper – no greasing and flouring needed.

You’ll of course need to adjust the cooking time. For a 9×13-inch pan, bake for 30 to 35 minutes. For 2 round pans, bake for 20-25 minutes. 

This recipe can also be used for cupcakes. Pour the batter into muffin tins 3/4 full, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Homemade Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Nut Toppings

How to Store Pistachio Cake

At room temperature, the cake will keep well for 1 to 2 days. It’ll last for up to 5 days in the fridge. 

Cover the cake with foil or plastic wrap to keep it moist and shield it from contaminants. 

For a longer shelf-life, pop the cake in the freezer. Place it on a tray and freeze it until the frosting is frozen. Double wrap it with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

To thaw, remove the wrappings and refrigerate overnight or at room temperature for 6 hours. 

Other Frosting Options

My cake recipe uses an easy Cool Whip frosting to coat the cake. There are a ton of other options, though, if you don’t mind the extra steps.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The combination of sweet and tart complements really well with the light and fluffy cake. Here’s how to make it:

1. In a bowl, add 4 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup softened butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. 

2. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minutes or until smooth, fluffy, and spreadable. Add more milk if the frosting is too thick.

Mascarpone Frosting

Mascarpone frosting is very light, so if you want the flavor of the pistachios to shine, this frosting is perfect.

1.  Beat 1 1/2 cups of softened butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 

2. Beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 6 cups of powdered sugar for 1 minute, or until smooth.

3. Add 1 1/2 cups of mascarpone and beat on low speed for 10 seconds. Mix manually with a spatula until smooth, creamy, and spreadable.

Vanilla Glaze

This basic glaze is ideal if your cake is baked in a Bundt pan. Besides the flavor, it also gives the cake a rustic charm. 

1. In a bowl, add 1 1/3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 1/3 teaspoon vanilla.

2. Combine the ingredients until the mixture is smooth. Add more milk to achieve desired consistency.

Pro-tip: do not drizzle the glaze until the cake has completely cooled. The glaze will melt into the cake if you do.

Chocolate Ganache

You can never go wrong with chocolate! It’s such a snap to make, yet it yields such a rich and decadent cake frosting.

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, pour 250 ml of all-purpose cream and 500 grams of chocolate buttons. Microwave at 70% power for 1 minute.

2. Stir the mixture and microwave for another minute. Stir again until chocolate is completely melted.

3. If more time is needed, microwave at 30-second increments until chocolate is completely melted.

Topping Options

  • This is pistachio cake, after all, so crushed pistachios are the perfect choice. Try other crushed nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews, too.
  • Sweetened coconut flakes add another layer of flavor and texture.

More Cake Recipes to Try

Banana Split Cake
Paula Deen Pound Cake
Orange Slice Cake
Pineapple Dream Cake
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Pistachio Cake (Best Recipe)

Servings

14

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes
Calories

242

kcal

Ingredients

  • For the Cake:
  • 1 1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix

  • 1 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix

  • 4 4 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 water

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 vegetable oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 almond extract

  • 7 7 drops green food coloring

  • For the Frosting
  • 1 1 (16-oz) container of Cool Whip

  • 1 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix

Directions

  • For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10-inch tube pan with butter and coat with flour. Shake out excess flour.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together yellow cake mix and pistachio pudding mix. Form a well in the middle and pour in the eggs, water, oil, almond extract, and food coloring. Beat the ingredients at medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until well-combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. The cake should spring back when pressed lightly.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Flip it over onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Whisk together Cool Whip and pistachio pudding mix until smooth and fluffy.
  • Frost completely cooled cake with pistachio frosting. Slice and enjoy!
Pistachio Cake

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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