Lemon Pistachio Cake

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

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This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

A couple of weeks ago (in the pre-pandemic times), Laura and I were wandering through Sam’s Club doing our usual monthly run.  You might wonder what a family of 2.5 people needs at a warehouse store.  The answer is everything!  Just kidding…sorta.

In truth, I find it so much easier to buy most of our household goods in bulk.  And in case you haven’t noticed, I like to bake.  So Sam’s Club is a great place to pick up the baking essentials like butter, sugar and nuts.  (Anyone else out there buy 8 pounds of butter at a time?  Hah!)  And I didn’t even mention diapers.  I think we saved a monthly paycheck by purchasing Robbie’s diapers and pull-ups in bulk!

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

As we were heading to the meat department (It’s almost time to make another batch of Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork), we cut down the snacks aisle.  Laura picked up a 17-pound (~8 kg) bag of pistachio nuts.  “Mind if we get these?,” she asked.  And into the cart they went.  I’m only kidding about the size of the bag…I think it was more like 4 pounds of pistachios.

Little did Laura know at the time, but I had my mind set on making a Lemon Pistachio Cake.  I knew I’d be absconding with a few of her pistachios to use as garnish on this cake.  She didn’t mind too much, though.  After all, she got to eat a slice after work yesterday!

Lemon Pistachio Cake

All of the pistachio flavors – and light green colors – in this cake actually come from pistachio pudding.  (There is a box of pudding in the cake and another box in the frosting.)  Have you ever baked a cake with pudding mix?  Hint: do it.  The cake is super moist and delicious!  And the frosting?  It’s downright creamy.  Add in the texture of the chopped or ground pistachios, and this Lemon Pistachio Cake was a gigantic hit in our house!

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

Most of the time, we send leftover desserts with Laura to work or with me to the curling club.  One bite of this cake, and we decided it needed to stay home.  We did slice it up and freeze the individual slices for consumption on future Friday evenings.  I like to think that freezing individually-wrapped slices is like forced self-control.  If we left the whole cake out, we’d eat the whole cake.  But since the rest of the slices are frozen, we have to make a conscientious effort to pull them out for dessert.  That is, unless you want to eat frozen cake…

The idea for this Lemon Pistachio Cake came from a small cafe that we wandered into on our trip to Germany and the Czech Republic last summer.  Since we were on vacation, I was already stuffed, but I still couldn’t help but step into the bakery just to look around.  My eyes landed on an amazing pistachio cake, and I immediately knew I wanted to make a version here at home.

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

Pistachio isn’t the easiest flavor to add into baked goods, but the pistachio pudding certainly did the trick!  Laura makes a matcha green tea latte (a Starbucks copycat recipe), and she uses a splash of pistachio syrup in it.  While that drink tastes amazing, I recognize that pistachio syrup isn’t the most common of ingredients.  (We ordered a bottle on Amazon.)  Thus, I set off to make this cake with pistachio pudding.  Sure enough, using one box in the cake and one box in the frosting was enough to bring a noticeable pistachio flavor to the finished product.  I hope you make this Lemon Pistachio cake sometime soon…and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

Did you make this Lemon Pistachio Cake at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  Happy baking!

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

Lemon Pistachio Cake

This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 727kcal


For the Cake

For the Buttercream Frosting


For the Cake

  • Grease and flour (3) 8” round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; set pans aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Using the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pudding mix; set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  • Pour liquid mixture into the bowl with dry ingredients; mix on low speed until well combined.
  • Add hot water; continue mixing on low speed until well combined. (Tip: Don't forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula.)
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cake cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning cake layers out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Buttercream Frosting

  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes on medium speed).
  • Add pudding mix, vanilla extract and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time); mix well after each addition.
  • Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing well after each addition, until frosting reaches desired consistency.
  • Beat on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, or until fluffy.
  • Place one layer of cake on large platter. Spread ~¾ cup of frosting on top. Repeat with 2nd and 3rd layers of cake. Use remaining frosting on top and sides of cake.
  • Before serving, garnish top of cake with chopped, toasted pistachios.
This Lemon Pistachio Cake uses pudding mix in both the cake and frosting for an extra creamy (and extra delicious) cake!

Looking for other tasty cake recipes?  Check out a few of these favorites, too:

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Packed with the flavor of speculoos cookies, this Cookie Butter Cake makes for one heck of a tasty dessert!  Serve up a slice tonight with a mug of coffee!

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This Mint Chocolate Chip Cake features three layers of decadent chocolate cake covered by a delicious mint green frosting.  Grab a slice for dessert tonight!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

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  1. 5 stars
    That’s the funny thing about those warehouses…you don’t know what you need until you get there, lol. And butter? Definitely need lots of that 😉 How lovely is this cake, David! What a yummy combo using lemon and pistachio. Such a fun (and delicious) way to welcome the first day of spring. Have a lovely weekend, my friend 🙂

    1. You’re telling me, Dawn! And when we do get there, I end up spending way more than I meant to. It adds up so quickly! But it does save time, so I’m ok with that.

      This cake is quite tasty, and I absolutely love using pudding in both the cake and the frosting. It’s definitely going to happen again with a different flavor! 🙂

  2. David, thid cake looks amazing. And beautifully decorated, too. I want to point out that frozen cake is often quite delicious. And even when it’s not, a slice of cake will defrost in a matter of about 15 minutes on the countertop. I don’t say this to burst your self-control bubble, because I do the same thing … there’s something magical about the freezer that I tend to forget about it when craving strike. I’ll rifle through the fridge and cupboards, but it’s as if my x-ray vision cannot penetrate the walls of the freezer, so I tend to not binge on whatever’s in there.

    Let me also add that I would love a cake like this for a St Paddy’s celebration. I especially like it when a cake’s color is related to its flavor, rather than merely a dye job.

    1. Oh, I’m well aware of how long it takes cake to defrost. Been there, done that. Many times. 🙂 But you make an excellent point about the freezer being off-limits. When I’m in a snacking mood, I hit the pantry or fridge. I never think about the freezer. And now I’m craving a slice of this cake…be back in 15 minutes!

  3. Haha! I’m glad am not the only one with sharing issues! I don’t blame y’all for not wanting to share this- this sounds phenomenal! There’s a bakery called Fabiane’s in Brooklyn that does a wicked pistachio cake- they don’t frost theirs like you have done- seeing frosting is the reason I eat cake, I am so loving your version! Btw, we are a 2-person household and we shop at Costco- and now during this situation, Iam kinda glad we do!

    1. Interesting. Now I’m intrigued about Fabiane’s pistachio cake…I’ll have to google it shortly! Hope you and Lil S are staying healthy down there. Also, don’t remind me about Costco…we still don’t have one up here! (But they are building one soon…maybe…)

  4. 5 stars
    Sounds like my kind of place to shop – I would be so tempted to buy it all!
    You never know what you might need, or where the inspiration will take you.
    (And the irony being, our shelves are empty now here!)

    This looks delicious – I love that colour! Pistachio is such a lovely ingredient to work with. I look forward to eating a slice myself!

    1. Oh, the irony is definitely strong, Alexandra! I wrote this post before the whole craziness started. Our shelves are bare here, too. Hopefully things recover soon!

      Pistachio really is a fun flavor, and we loved it in this cake. I hope you get a chance to make this one soon. It’s delicious!!

  5. The cake looks delicious. I love pistachios and could probably make my way through one of those bags in just a few days… AndI have to say, bulk buying sure does seem like excellent strategy these days. Our big box store is Costco, and I’ve never been so glad to have a stock of toilet paper in the house, lol!

    1. You’re telling me, Frank! I picked up a big thing of TP right before the craziness started, and I’ve never been so glad. Not a roll of TP to be found anywhere here! Hope you’re staying safe and healthy, my friend.

  6. 5 stars
    I love pistachios David. I’m glad you took the time to make this based on your inspiraton from sampling that lemon pistachio cake whilst on holiday in Germany and the Czech Republic last year. This looks amazing, you’re a dab hand at decorating too! Yum!

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Neil! I’m glad I doubled-down on this pistachio recipe, too. I wasn’t sure how to get the pistachio flavor in there, but then I remember those boxes of pudding. Pudding in cake (and frosting) is SO good! I’m definitely going to make another cake with pudding…just a different flavor next time. Hope you guys are staying healthy!

  7. 5 stars
    This is such a beautiful cake! And you’re so right, pudding mix makes cakes about a million times better. I’m adding this to my baking list, as soon as I’m willing to go back to Trader Joe’s to stock up on nuts :). (It’ll be awhile but eventually I’ll get there. . .) Stay healthy!

    1. Thanks so much, Kelsie! I knew you would be on board the pudding cake train. 🙂 Have you ever tried pudding in frosting? It’s insane! I highly recommend it. Hope you’re staying healthy, Kelsie…and not going stir-crazy!

  8. 5 stars
    From all possible warehouses, we only go to Costco as their packages appear not that gargantuan as you described from your experience, and that’s sufficient for us. But honestly, I wouldn’t mind that 17(or 4) pound package of pistachios – that would be enough for a couple of days haha 🙂 And this cake looks and sounds splendid! The combo of pistachios and lemon is delightful, and its colour screams “spring” to me! Would you ship me a huge slice, please?

    1. I wish we had a Costco here in our area, Ben! They’re supposedly building one, but I’ll believe it when it actually opens. In the meantime, Sam’s Club does the trick for us. I mean that bag of pistachios went to a good use, right? 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    With just 2 in our house, I always buy butter 10# at a time, and olive oil by the gallon, lol! So I totally relate to your warehouse habit.

    Beautiful cake, David! And love the idea of freezing individual slices.

    1. *High-five* I totally get the whole buying butter in bulk. And we do the same with olive oil! We use a decent amount of both, but it just makes sense cost wise, too, since I know we will use it up. Either way, thanks for the kind words about this cake, Marissa. It’s delicious! If you’ve never tried pudding mix in cake AND frosting, then this is the time to try it out. 🙂

    1. This cake really is delicious, Dawn, and it’s not very hard to make at all. The pudding mix is the key for that boosted pistachio flavor. Laura calls this one of her all-time favorites…so that means something! 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    David this looks FABULOUS!!! Talk about the perfect color! I absolutely LOVE this green! And what a great idea to use pistachio pudding mix to up the pistachio flavor. Oh my goodness I too fell in love with pistachio cake in Czech Republic! There was an AMAZING bakery, Saint Tropez Bakery, in Prague (inside that gorgeous Art Nouveau Mall in New Town that I unfortunately can’t remember the name of!) and this bakery made the best pistachio cake. I was so hooked I had at least one a day every day I was in Prague haha. I will definitely be making your cake so I can enjoy that gorgeous pistachio flavor again. This is such a beautiful cake!

    1. Hey Shannon! So I was really struggling with how to get the green color as well as the pistachio flavor. Turns out the pudding mix was the answer! Wait a second. I think we might have been at the same bakery in Prague. My memory is a little fuzzy, but it sounds pretty close! (Also, that mall was insane!) I’m going to say it’s 95% that it was the same place. Fun!

      I highly recommend this cake. The pudding mix in the frosting is a different twist, but I love how it turned out!

  11. What a pretty cake this is! I always love how you mention sharing your delicious creations with the people around you.. I’m sure it’s made you very popular! 🙂 I have used pudding mix in a cake and you’re right, it makes it so moist!

    1. Hah! Yes, I guess I am popular at the curling club (or Laura’s popular at work) because I often come bearing desserts. But here’s the thing: I have an ulterior motive. If I kept these treats at home, I’d eat them all!

      I’m a huge fan of pudding in a cake, but now I’m a fan of pudding in frosting, too! Give the frosting a try. It’s so creamy and delicious!!

  12. I’m about to make this cake for my husband’s birthday tomorrow. While gathering the ingredients, I noticed the pistachio pudding mix calls for 1- 3.4 oz package. I have 4 packages that are 1 oz each. What would you suggest I use for the batter and the frosting. We live out in the middle of nowhere, so running to the store is not an option. Should I use 2 – 1 oz packages for each. Your immediate response would be appreciated.

    Thank you Debbie

    1. Well, I feel quite stupid, I figured out🤪guess I wasn’t quite awake. Going to have to have more coffee!

      1. Hey Debbie! I was going to hop in here and give some thoughts, but it looks like you beat me to. I do love the pudding in this cake and frosting. The 3.4 oz size is the larger package, but I totally understand not being able to go to the store…plus with the whole quarantine thing, it’s probably best to stay home. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we do. My wife calls it one of the best cakes I’ve ever made…and I make a lot of cakes! 🙂

  13. Thanks for getting back to me. Got the cake done. Will serve it tomorrow. It looks very pretty and have a good feeling that it is going to be delicious.

    1. Awesome! So glad the cake got baked yesterday. Let me know how it turns out! 🙂 We still have a couple of slices frozen in the freezer here…maybe tonight is a good night to pull them out!

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