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Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

If you’re looking for an easy layer cake that’s not your standard chocolate or vanilla, this Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting is for you. The pistachios give the cake just the right amount of crunch, and a sweet, nutty flavor.

Whole Pistachio Cake pictured with knife, small bowl, plates, and forks

Easy Homemade Pistachio Cake

When it comes to nuts, pistachios are pretty unappreciated and underused in baking, so I always get excited when I can use them in a dessert like this pistachio cake.

A generous amount of pistachios goes into each moist, delicious layer. The flavor is unlike any other cake I’ve ever had, and there’s just the right amount of crunch. To let the flavor of the pistachios really shine, I paired this cake with a simple white chocolate buttercream. Think of it as the best supporting actor, with the pistachios being the star of the show.

As I’ve mentioned before, making elaborately decorated cakes is not my strong suit, but luckily, minimalist cakes are on-trend! This pistachio cake keeps it simple; you just need to frost the top of each layer, which still gives you plenty of creamy frosting in each bite. Of course, if you’re a big frosting fan, make extra and frost the sides as well!

Overhead shot of Pistachio Cake ingredients

What You’ll Need

Here’s everything you’ll need to make Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting:

For the Pistachio Cake:

  • All-purpose flour – Read my primer on flours for some baking basics!
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter – Take this out about a half hour before you plan to start on the recipe to let it soften at room temperature.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs – Your eggs should be room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Sour cream – Sour cream makes cakes super moist!
  • Chopped pistachios – Buy them shelled if you can find them and save yourself some time!

For the White Chocolate Frosting:

  • Unsalted butter – Again, this will need to be softened.
  • White chocolate – Spring for a good quality white chocolate. There are some brands that taste like wax!
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Vanilla extract – You can use a clear vanilla extract if you don’t want to darken the frosting. (Just remember that those are imitation vanilla extracts.)
Two slices of Pistachio Cake on white plates

How to Make Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

If you’ve never made a layer cake before, this is a good one to start out with! Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350°F, then grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Overhead shot of dry cake ingredients in large bowl with spoon

Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine the wet ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla, mixing well to incorporate each addition.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add the flour in three portions, alternating with two portions of sour cream. Once the ingredients are just combined, fold in the pistachios.

Overhead shot of pistachio cake batter in two round cake pans with spoon

Bake the cakes. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and use a spatula to smooth the tops. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool. Take the pistachio cake layers out of the oven and place the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and place them directly on the wire racks to finish cooling.

Make the frosting. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the butter until it’s creamy. Pour in the melted white chocolate and beat until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and continue to beat the mixture until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Assemble the cake. Place the first layer of the cake on a cake plate and spread half of the frosting over the top. Next, place the other cake layer onto the frosted layer. Spread the remaining frosting on top of the cake. If desired, garnish the cake with pistachios.

Whole Pistachio Cake with serving plates and forks in background

Recipe Variations

  • Try pairing this cake with cream cheese frosting, vanilla buttercream, or chocolate buttercream.
  • Frost the sides of the cake and press chopped pistachios into them.
  • Drizzle dulce de leche over the cake before serving.

Tips for Success

Here’s how to make a perfect pistachio cake:

  • About the color! You might be surprised that this cake isn’t green. You didn’t do anything wrong! Many pistachio-flavored desserts have food coloring added because pistachios aren’t green enough to add much color naturally. You can add a drop or two of food coloring to the batter if you like.
  • Let the layers cool completely. Otherwise, the warm cake will melt the buttercream.
  • Refrigerate before cutting. This will help keep your slices nice and clean, as opposed to collapsing in a heap on your plate.
Pistachio Cake with two slices removed

How to Store Leftovers

You can store this pistachio cake in the refrigerator, either in an airtight container or tightly covered, for up to 5 days.

Can Leftovers Be Frozen?

You can freeze any leftover pistachio cake if it’s too much for you to eat in 5 days! Place the cake in the freezer uncovered until the frosting freezes through, then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. (This keeps the frosting from being ruined.) Let the cake thaw in the fridge before eating.

Two plated slices of Pistachio Cake with remaining cake in background

Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

Yield 12 to 16 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting is sweet, nutty, and wonderfully delicious!

Whole Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting


For the cake:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (226g) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup (80g) chopped pistachios, plus more for garnish

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces (170g) white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (55g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. You may also line the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour in three portions, alternating with two portions of sour cream. Mix just until blended. Stir in the pistachios.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Spread evenly.
  6. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Then, transfer the cakes from the pans to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add the melted white chocolate and beat until combined.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  3. Place one layer of the cooled cake on a cake plate. Spread half of the frosting over the top of the cake.
  4. Place the other cake layer on top of the frosted cake layer. Spread the remainder of the frosting on top of the cake. If desired, garnish the top of cake with pistachios.

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This recipe was originally developed for Go Bold with Butter, where I am a paid contributor.

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    40 Comments on “Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting”

  1. You see, that’s my idea of a cake; an adult’s cake! It’s beautiful, it sounds wonderful.

  2. Oh this is awesome! I made pistachio and white chocolate cookies today! We’re on the same page!!

  3. Cake, pistachios, frosting? A trilogy of awesome! And it looks like the perfect ratio of frosting to cake…

  4. What a nice looking cake.
    I need to make a cake, it’s been a while.

  5. Looks & sounds delicious. pistachios are healthy & need to be incorporated in baking more often. Thanks for recipe.

  6. I’m not a huge layer cake person most of the time — I usually do unfussy cupcakes, upside down or bundt cakes. Special occasions are another story, and this cake is so worthy of a grand occasion. It’s beautiful and looks so delicious!

  7. I love how buttery pistachios get when used in baking. I agree they aren’t used as often as they should be. Great looking recipe. Can’t wait to make one!!

  8. This is really unique! I’ve been looking for a way to use up my pistachios and cake sounds like a great way! Will be trying this over the weekend.

  9. We just finished off some home-made pistachio and white chocolate ice cream. I’ll have to try this out next time I have some white choc and pistachios hanging around!

  10. I rare make layer cakes either, as my decorating skills are less than stellar, but this cake….oh my! Looks delicious!

  11. I’m not a cake baker often either. I resort to cupcakes usually, but for some reason lately I’ve been making cakes and not cupcakes. I better make this one before that streak runs out. LOVE pistachios and white chocolate!

  12. Twelve comments but no one baked the cake. Will I baked the cake and not only did it look good but it tasted even better.

  13. well this cake is certainly worthy of your layer cake whims! I love all things pistachio and it sounds so perfect with white chocolate.

  14. Mmmm, that cake looks awesome. I’ve never made anything with this particular flavor combo (white chocolate + pistachio) but now I must… I imagine it’s delish!

  15. That is gorgeous–totally my kind of layer cake! And I agree about pistachios!

  16. Will work if I make only one cake and then split it in half orizontally to add the frosting?

  17. Hi, Did you use skated or unsalted pistachios? Thanks.

  18. Hi Jennifer,

    Beautiful cake! I just baked one cake using half of the measurements. But either it did not rise or it’s just not tall enough to be called a ‘cake’. If you don’t have 2 9-inch cake pans lying around, could you make one with the original measurements and then cut it into two layers? Or could you bake the cakes one by one or would that not be possible because of the baking soda in the batter?

    • You can try baking in one pan and cutting the layers, but it may be tough to get it baked thoroughly in the center without overbaking the outside. I wouldn’t bake the batter at separate times because the baking soda will already be activated. You could make the cake as written in a 9″x 13″ pan.

  19. Pistachio and white chocolate.. what a combination. I am new to this blog but this cake is amazing.
    My colleagues bought a pistachio cake the other day but I can tell there is a pinch of cinnamon in it.
    Do you think it would be ok to add some?

    Thanks for the wonderful recipes.

  20. This was really simple to bake. I added at least a teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom—I just threw a bunch in—and the flavor was strong but complementary. Also, I used a coffee grinder to make the pistachios powdery (a food processor would make them buttery), so the cake was more green than chunky, and ground up extra pistachios to sprinkle over the top. It was a great birthday cake and would make a lovely and indulgent snack with tea. 

  21. Hi Jennifer! I’ve made this recipe and it came out perfect! Now I am curious if this can be used for cupcake recipe?

    Thank you!!

  22. Has anyone made this cake with almond extract instead of vanilla? I find that whenever I buy pistachio desserts, almond extract is the prominent flavor I enjoy about them. Wondering if it would substitute nicely 🙂 

  23. Just made this cake, and now enjoying a piece with a cup of afternoon tea. Very glad I found the recipe. A big thumbs up.

  24. This cake was wonderful! Easy, unique, and delicious. Thank you! 

  25. Hey I look forward to trying. Could you please suggest substitute for sour cream? And also what was the fat content of the sour cream used

  26. Is it going to work if I use less sugar? Like 2/3

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