This pistachio cake is super moist, full of nutty flavor, and the prettiest pale green color! Best of all, it’s so easy to make, it’s practically effortless!

close up of pistachio cake showing cross section served in a baking dish

You know I’m all about box cake mix hacks and other upgrades for cake mixes like poke cakes, and this pistachio cake is the perfect example! If you like pistachio salad and other pistachio-flavored treats, you’re going to love how you can make a nutty pistachio cake by combining yellow cake mix and pistachio pudding mix!

top down image of pistachio cake served in a casserole baking dish with two servings of pistachio cake on plates

Easy Pistachio Pudding Cake Recipe (AKA Watergate Cake)

If you’re not a fan of nuts in cakes, don’t worry—this pistachio cake is infused with pistachio flavor thanks to the instant pudding, but it doesn’t contain any actual nuts! (Of course, if you do like adding a nutty crunch to your cakes, you can mix some chopped pistachios into the batter.) The pudding mix is in the cake itself and the creamy whipped frosting, for double the flavor!

This great recipe is easy to customize, too. If you want your cake to be a little more green, you can add extra green food coloring to the batter. Add almond extract to amp up the flavor. Top it with chopped nuts, or even with some fresh fruit if you prefer. Maraschino cherries make an excellent topping for each slice, too!

You’re going to love this delicious recipe as much as my Watergate Salad!

ingredients to make pistachio cake


See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

For the Cake:

  • Yellow cake mix – You could use white cake mix, if you prefer. It will be an equally delicious cake!
  • Instant pistachio pudding mix
  • Large eggs – Here’s a list of egg substitutes for baking.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Whole milk – Be sure to use whole milk for the best texture!
  • Green food coloring

For the Frosting:

  • Instant pistachio pudding mix
  • Whole milk
  • Cool Whip – Let this thaw first! You could use homemade whipped cream instead, but it won’t store as well.
steps to make pistachio cake

How to Make Pistachio Cake

1. Prepare

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a 9×13 baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.

2. Make the Cake Batter

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake mix and pudding mix. Add the eggs, oil, and milk to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Stir in 7 drops of green food coloring and mix until fully incorporated. 

3. Bake

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack before frosting it.

4. Frost

To make the fluffy frosting, add the pudding mix and milk to a large bowl. Fold in the Cool Whip. If you want, add a few more drops of green food coloring. Spread the frosting over the top of the cool cake and either serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

serving of pistachio cake served on a white round plate

How to Store Pistachio Cake

This cake will stay fresh, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. If you want to make it ahead of time, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. Let the cake thaw overnight in the fridge before serving. (Don’t store this cake at room temperature.)

fork digging into a serving of pistachio cake


How Do You Make a Simple Pistachio Cake?

This simple pistachio cake only requires a few ingredients, so it’s super easy to make! Instead of fussing with shelling and making ground pistachios, this easy pistachio cake recipe is made with a box of cake mix and pudding mix. The frosting is made with pudding mix and Cool Whip, but cream cheese frosting can be used instead.

What Flavors Go Well With Pistachio?

Pistachio pairs well with white chocolate chips, other nutty flavors like almond and hazelnut, and it also goes well with raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. You can use any of these to garnish your cake and take it to the next level!

How Do You Make Pistachio Colored Frosting?

Without the food coloring, you’ll end up with a very pale green frosting for this pistachio cake. I recommend using a little bit of food coloring to make it greener. This would be great for St. Patrick’s Day!

More Easy Dessert Recipe Ideas

Pistachio Cake

This pistachio cake is super moist, full of nutty flavor, and the prettiest pale green color! Best of all, it's so easy to make, it's practically effortless!
4.19 from 16 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • Cake:
  • 1 18.25oz box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 3.4oz box of pistachio instant pudding
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 7 drops of green food coloring
  • Frosting:
  • 1 3.4oz box of pistachio instant pudding
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 tub Cool Whip thawed


  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, add the cake mix and pudding mix and stir to combine.
  • Add eggs, oil, and milk. Stir until just combined.
  • Stir in 7 drops of green food coloring and mix until fully incorporated. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting, add the pudding mix and milk to a mixing bowl. Stir in the Cool Whip (and a few more drops of green food coloring if you want.)
  • Spread the frosting evenly over the cake.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.


  1. 4 stars
    This recipe is very easy to make. It tastes pretty good, I wish it had a bit more flavor. I searched tons of pistachio cake recipes before I decided to make this one. Some mentioned adding almond extract for extra flavor. If I make again, I may do that. Thank you for this easy recipe!

4.19 from 16 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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