Pistachio cake is super moist cake made with pistachio pudding and cake mix. It’s soft green color makes it a great holiday dessert for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Christmas.
My family loves pistachio cake. It is a light and fluffy, super moist cake recipe that starts with a box of cake mix and gets it’s light green color from pistachio pudding. Top it with a luscious homemade buttercream frosting and you’ve got the perfect cake for special occasions.
If you want a Saint Patrick’s Day treat that doesn’t involve mint like our Mint Oreo Lasagna or Mint Ice Cream Oreo Tart then pistachio cake is the way to go. You can easily make it green to be festive with only a few drops of green food coloring.
Of course, you can always serve this cake whenever you want a tasty cake that is ready in less than 45 minutes.
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Ingredients You’ll Need
When you are ready to make this cake, you’ll need to the following ingredients for the cake itself:
- Yellow cake mix – If you don’t want to use a box mix, you can use our recipe for yellow cake mix found here.
- Instant pistachio pudding – You should be able to find this with the other pudding flavors.
- Sour cream – You can use either regular or a reduced fat, but the reduced fat can make the cake a little less moist.
- Vegetable oil – If you don’t have vegetable oil, another light tasting oil will work just fine.
- Eggs – You can use either brown or white eggs.
- Green food coloring – This is optional and can give the cake a green tint.
- Pistachios – These add garnish and are optional.
For the buttercream frosting, you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter – Bring it up to room temperature before making the icing.
- Powdered sugar – Do not use granulated sugar for the frosting, it makes the icing gritty.
- Vanilla – We like using pure vanilla extract, but imitation would work too.
- Green food coloring – If you want to give the icing a bit of a green hue, you can use food coloring, but you definitely do not have to.
- Heavy cream – Heavy cream provides richness and fluffiness to the frosting.
If you are ready to make your cake and eat it too, follow these easy steps.
Step 1 – Mix the batter. Before starting the batter, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
As it heats, combine the cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, and vegetable oil in a large bowl and stir until the ingredients just come together.
Next, add the eggs 1 at a time and mix after you add each egg until it is incorporated into the batter. Finally, add the food color, if you are using, starting with 2 drops and mixing it well. You can add more, but a pale or light green is a good color for pistachio cake.
Step 2 – Prep and bake. When the batter is ready, prepare a 9 x 13 metal baking pan by lightly spraying with nonstick spray. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom to help with cake removal after baking.
Next, pour the batter into the pan and then bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Finally, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely.
Step 3 – Make the icing and frost. As the cake cools, you can make the buttercream frosting by adding the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of a mixer and using the whisk attachment to mix it together. Start at a slow speed to keep the sugar from flying everywhere. You can switch to a higher speed once the sugar is no longer dry.
Next, add the vanilla and continue to mix. If you want to color your frosting add 1 to 2 drops of green food coloring now for a pale green look. If the frosting is too firm, you can use the heavy cream at at 1 teaspoon at a time to make the icing a bit softer and reach your preferred consistency.
Once the cake is completely cooled, you can use a knife or spatula to frost the cake. If you want to get fancy, you can pipe on the icing. Sprinkle the top with the chopped pistachios, slice, and enjoy!
What Does Adding Pudding to Cake Mix Do?
Pudding helps cakes in three ways. The first is that it adds moisture to the cake. The second is that it helps with the structure of the cake and helps support the fluffiness. And pudding can also help add flavor to the cake. In this recipe, we use pistachio pudding to give the cake the right flavor.
Can You Make It From Scratch?
If you don’t like using boxed cake mixes, you can easily make your own mix from scratch. We have a yellow butter cake recipe you can follow to make the cake mix here.
When following this recipe, just use the dry ingredients listed in the recipe including the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Once you mixed the ingredients together, follow this recipe starting with the Instant pistachio pudding followed by the wet ingredients.
Can I Make Cupcakes Instead?
Yes! If you like cupcakes or want to more easily serve a larger group, you can definitely make the cake into cupcakes instead.
To make cupcakes add approximately 3 tablespoons per lined muffin tin and bake for 18 to 22 minutes in a 350 F oven. You should get about 24 cupcakes out of the recipe.
If you plan to make cupcakes for a party or get together, you can use our favorite cupcake carrier to transport them easily. It helps prevent them from tipping over and is very convenient and versatile, so you could leave some at home or divide them up to bring to different places..
How to Store It
Cakes store well for about 4 to 5 days depending on how you keep them. If you live in a warmer environment, we recommend placing the cake or cupcakes in an airtight container and placing them in the fridge. This helps keep the icing intact.
You could also store the cake in our favorite cake carrier. It doubles as both an easy storage solution and easy way to transport the cake if needed.
You can store the cake or cupcakes on the counter. Make sure to place it in an airtight container and move away from heat sources to help prevent the icing from melting.
Looking for More Cake Recipes?
- Sock it to Me Cake
- Lemon Pound Cake
- Hummingbird Cake
- Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Strawberry Angel Food Cake
- Caramel Apple Cupcakes
- Funfetti Cupcake Surprise!
- Mimosa Cupcakes
- More cake recipes…
- 1 box Yellow cake mix, 15.25 ounce box
- 3.4 ounce Instant pistachio pudding
- 3/4 cup Sour cream
- 3/4 cup Vegetable oil
- 3 large Eggs
- 2-3 drops Green food coloring optional
- ¼ cup Pistachios, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 cup Unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2.5 cups Powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla
- 1-2 drops Green food coloring, optional
- 1-2 tablespoons Heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl combine the cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, and vegetable oil. Stir together until the ingredients just come together.
- Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing after each egg until it is incorporated into the batter.
- If you are using food coloring add it now. Start with 2 drops of green food coloring, mix well and then add more if desired. I like to keep it a very pale shade of green.
- Prepare a 9×13 metal baking pan by lightly spraying with nonstick spray and then lining the bottom with a piece of apartment paper.
- Pour the batter into the pan.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- While the cake cools make the buttercream frosting. Add butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of your mixer and using the whisk attachment mix it together. Start slow so the powdered sugar doesn’t go everywhere. Slowly move to a higher speed to whip the frosting and make it light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and continue to mix. If you want to color your frosting add 1-2 drops of green food coloring now.
- You want a light, smooth texture to your frosting. If the frosting is still too firm add the heavy cream 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well in between each, stopping when you reach the right consistency. Note: It is possible you will not need to add any cream.
- When the cake is completely cooled use a knife or a spatula to frost the cake.
- Sprinkle the top with the chopped pistachios (optional).
- Serve and enjoy