This easy green pistachio cake starts with a boxed cake mix

Green pistachio cake on pink plate
Brittany Anas/Simplemost

When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, you can always depend on a few festive staples like corned beef and hash, green beers or a Guinness and minty desserts like McDonald’s popular Shamrock Shake. But to shake things up this year, how about baking a pistachio cake? With a Cool Whip topping and some green food dye, you’ve got a beautiful cake that’s two shades of green.

Ahead of the holiday on March 17, my mom and I spent an afternoon baking together, and we tried out this cake recipe from The Country Cook that’s akin to one my mom remembers making back in the 1980s. We absolutely loved how it turned out. It’s not too sweet, and it has a nutty flavor to it thanks to the pistachio instant pudding that has actual pistachios in it. The cake is light and the frosting is fluffy, and both are simple to make. If you’re someone who loves an almond croissant, this is absolutely the cake for you.

MORE: Shamrock pretzel pops are the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat

The recipe doesn’t require much hands-on time. It calls for a box of vanilla cake mix, plus a couple of packs of instant pistachio pudding (one for the cake and another for the frosting), some Cool Whip, milk, and eggs.

I also picked up green food dye from Dollar Tree to turn the whipped frosting a pastel green and to amp up the color in the cake mix, which was already slightly green thanks to the pistachio pudding.

I’m having some friends over this week, so thought it’d be a cute touch to top the cake slices with rainbow-striped Airheads Extremes candies, but you could also crush up pistachios to sprinkle onto your cake to give it a little crunch. Or, just leave it as is, because the two tones of green are definitely festive. Here’s a slice of the cake that I made:

Pistachio cake is perfect for St. Patrick's Day
Brittany Anas/Simplemost

I used about 10 drops of green food dye to get it a nice shade of shamrock green that lessened in intensity while it was in the oven. The cake batter looked perfect!

Green pistachio cake batter
Brittany Anas/Simplemost

MORE: Fireball-infused green gummy bears are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day

I used a 9-by-13-inch pan for my cake, and it worked perfectly. I baked my pistachio cake for 28 minutes and it filled my kitchen with a sweet, nutty aroma. I pulled it out of the oven and used a toothpick in the center to make sure none of the batter was still wet. Here’s what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

Baked green pistachio cake in pan
Brittany Anas/Simplemost

Next up, I let my cake cool for a good one and a half hours before frosting it with the pistachio pudding-Cool Whip topping.

The frosting was even easier to make than the cake. I dropped in another 10 drops or so of green food coloring.

Green food dye going into the Cool Whip topping
Brittany Anas/Simplemost

The next step is to frost the cake. If you notice the nubby texture, that’s because there were tiny bits of pistachio in the instant pudding mixture!

Frosted green pistachio cake
Brittany Anas/Simplemost

MORE: You can make McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes at home with these copycat recipes

I loved how when I cut into the cake, you could see another shade of green. While it certainly is festive for St. Patrick’s Day, I’d make this cake any time of the year!

Find the full recipe for Easy Pistachio Cake on The Country Cook’s website.

Desserts, Food, Holiday & Seasonal, Recipes

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About the Author
Brittany Anas
Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure.

I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. Visit Scripps News to see more of Brittany's work.

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