Pistachio Layer Cake

This fun spring green cake is beautiful and oh so tasty! It’s picture-perfect for a birthday celebration for your friends who love pistachios and … the color green! The pistachio flavor derives from chopped pistachios in the cake batter, as well as pistachio pudding mix used in the frosting.  You can make a beautiful layer cake or you can make 24 cupcakes!

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Perfect Spring Green Pistachio Cake with Pistachio Buttercream Frosting

One thing I would suggest if you decide to make this cake is to sift out and discard as many of the tiny nut fragments as possible from the pistachio pudding mix when making the frosting. I encountered some blockages in my cake decorating tips due to the tiny bits of nuts. If you want to decorate with the flowers I used on top, use a # 824 open star frosting tip, which makes it pretty easy to create these giant swirly looking flowers! Okay, not that easy, I made several attempts, by scraping off the frosting and putting it back into the pastry bag, but with a little practice, you will get it, I promise! But, if you are good at making frosting roses with the rose nails, they would be beautiful on this cake for springtime!

I’ve been using Wilton’s cake strips to make the cake layers nice and flat. This has truly been a cake-baking lifesaver for me! By wrapping the layer pans with a dampened cake strip, the cake comes out nice and flat on top. Before using these, my cake layers were always a little bit like Mt. Vesuvius, with a great big hill in the center, or sometimes a crater. Now I can always count on them being perfectly level. This helps a great deal when it comes to putting the layers together and frosting the cake! 

Here is a quick video of how to make the frosting flowers on the top of the cake or on cupcakes. And you can do this starting at the outside edges and end in the center for the cupcakes and reverse it for the flowers on top of the layer cake.

Pistachio Layer Cake

Roasted pistachios make this cake extra rich with a little bit of crunch in the cupcakes and then it’s topped with a pistachio buttercream frosting.
Servings 12
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • 3 8-inch cake pans If you plan to make cupcakes, you will need two regular sized cupcake tins plus the paper liners.
  • 1 pastry bag
  • 1 #824 open star cake decorating tip
  • 1 set of the matching couplers to attach the tip to the bag
  • 1 food processor for chopping the nuts


Pistachio Cake

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter 3/4 cup, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. pistachio pudding mix, nuts sifted out reserve the remaining mix for the frosting
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk 2% or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt I used Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour sifted with other dries
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups finely chopped pistachios unsalted and roasted use 1 1/2 cups for cake and 1/2 cup for garnishes on top and around the cake.

Pistachio Buttercream Frosting – Makes enough to frost between layers and on top of an eight-inch 3-layer cake including the decorative flowers on top. (They take a lot of frosting:)

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter 1 pound
  • 1 3.4 oz. package pistachio pudding mix sift out the little nut pieces
  • ¼ cup milk +/-
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 8 cups sifted powdered sugar +/-


Pistachio Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare three 8-inch layer pans by greasing and flouring the entire inside surface and fastening the damp “Bake-even” strips around the outside edges of the pans. (if you don’t have these, you can still bake this cake, but trust me, they are well worth the investment.) Note * If you are making cupcakes, prepare 2 cupcake tins with paper liners. Spray the inside of the paper liner with cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 1/2 cups pistachios, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and 1 tsp. sifted pudding mix until fluffy and smooth. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
  • Add egg whites and beat until well integrated, scraping sides of the bowl as you go. Add the yogurt and beat just until blended.
  • Now, add dries alternately with milk, beating with each addition until well incorporated,scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Begin and end with dries.
  • Divide batter into the three prepared pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the pan.
  • Remove cakes from oven and cool completely on a cooling rack. Once cooled, remove cakes from pan. While the cake is cooling, make your frosting. Recipe below.
  • To assemble cake set aside about 1/3 of the frosting for decorations on top. Then, place the first cake layer on your cake plate. Spread about 1/2 -3/4 cup of the frosting over the first layer. Repeat with the remaining two layers. Then frost the sides.
  • Now, if you want to add the frosting flowers on top, using your pastry bag and #824 large open star tip, start piping the frosting in a spiral to create the decorations on top. You can also make smaller stars along the bottom edge of the cake if you have enough frosting, but for those, use a smaller open star tip. See video in blog above.
  • Garnish the top of the cake around the flowers with the reserved chopped pistachios.

Pistachio Buttercream Frosting – Makes enough to frost a 3-layer cake and the decorative flowers on top

  • Dissolve the remaining pistachio pudding mix in 1/4 cup of milk. Whisk until dissolved. This prevents your frosting from becoming grainy.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy and fluffy. Beat in the pistachio pudding-milk mixture and blend well. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts. 
  • Now, add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add milk as needed for consistency. Continue to add powdered sugar alternately with milk until you reach desired spreading consistency. If it’s too thick, add a little bit more milk and if it’s too thin, add a little more powdde sugar, each a little bit at a time.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: layer cakes, pistachio cake, pistachio layer cake

Join the Conversation

  1. Could I use Crisco instead of butter, in the icing?

    1. Hi Angie! Thanks for your question! Yes, you can definitely substitute shortening for the butter (1:1 ratio) and some people like it even better. They say it makes a frosting that has greater stability (especially in warm temps), that it is super fluffy and has great texture. And if you’re making a vanilla buttercream it gives you a brighter white. They also love the flavor and, it’s a great alternative for people with dairy allergies. All of that said, I have not made this frosting with Crisco before, so if you do try it, please write back to let me know how you liked it! Good luck!🍰

  2. Do you mean 3.4 oz pudding mix? I don’t see a 4.3 oz package

    1. Yes, Sue, that is right. Thank you so much for the catch and so sorry about that! I just checked my box of pudding mix and it is indeed 3.4 oz. Also, we just posted a new Chocolate Pistachio Cake using pistachio butter in place of the pudding mix for flavor. It is not quite as green, but it was sooooo delicious! https://treksandbites.com/chocolate-pistachio-layer-cake/

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