Lemon Pistachio Cake

This Lemon Pistachio Cake is the best easy recipe when you need a quick cake to wow your guests. This is actually a hack for a box cake mix made with pudding and topped with light and fluffy whipped cream. The result is a super moist and pretty layered cake that is so good your guests will never guess that it’s only halfway homemade!
We never did reach a resolution regarding The Great Frosting Debate. So for this cake, I decided to go with a light and fluffy whipped topping with the slightest hint of lemon. I actually prefer whipped cream to top a cake over frosting or glaze any day of the week, that way the cake is the main event and it’s not overshadowed by an overly-sweet frosting situation (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
And that’s another thing I love about this cake. It’s a dessert that isn’t super bitingly sweet.  When left to it’s own devices (read: without any frosting) it makes an addictive snacking cake. But throw on some fluffy whipped cream and sprinkle it with some pistachios and you have a naked cake that is so pretty and delicious, it’s worthy of even the nicest dinner party- and they’ll never know it involves a boxed cake mix unless you tell them!


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Lemon Cake Mix
  • 2 pkg. of Instant Pistachio Pudding
  • 5 extra large eggs (I used large because that is what I had on hand)
  • 3/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup of confectioner's sugar
  • The zest of two lemons
  • Crumbled pistachios for sprinkling


  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line the bottom with a sheet of parchment (I do this by tracing the bottom of the cake pan onto the parchment paper and then cutting it down to size). Then grease them. Set your pans aside.
  2. In your main bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, pudding mixes, oil and water. Mix until just combined.
  3. Split your batter between the two pans and bake for around 30 minutes (begin checking it around 25 minutes just to be safe).
  4. Once the cakes have cooled, remove the first layer from the pan, onto your cake plate.
  5. Next spread half of the whipped cream (recipe below) onto the cake in an even layer.
  6. Place the second layer onto your first layer and spread the rest of the whipped cream evenly on the top. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios and lemon zest and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
  7. Whipped Cream Topping:
  8. Place the pint of cream into your mixer and begin mixing it on high. As it starts to thicken, add your sugar and most of the lemon zest (reserving a small amount to garnishing the cake).
  9. Whip until it forms nice fluffy peaks (try not to over-whip it) and spread it onto the cake as per the above directions.
  10. Enjoy!

I've found that the easiest way to get a clean middle layer of whipped cream is to put a small portion of the whipped cream topping that you've reserved for to go between layers into a sandwich baggy and snip the corner off of it. Carefully use the bag the way you would a pastry bag and draw a clean line of whipped cream around the outside edge of the bottom layer and then fill it in with the remaining whipped cream.