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.
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!
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
- 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.)
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
This recipe was originally developed for Go Bold with Butter, where I am a paid contributor.
40 Comments on “Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Frosting”
You see, that’s my idea of a cake; an adult’s cake! It’s beautiful, it sounds wonderful.
I LOVE pistachios! Yum!
Oh this is awesome! I made pistachio and white chocolate cookies today! We’re on the same page!!
Cake, pistachios, frosting? A trilogy of awesome! And it looks like the perfect ratio of frosting to cake…
What a nice looking cake.
I need to make a cake, it’s been a while.
Looks & sounds delicious. pistachios are healthy & need to be incorporated in baking more often. Thanks for recipe.
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!
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!!
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.
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!
I rare make layer cakes either, as my decorating skills are less than stellar, but this cake….oh my! Looks delicious!
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!
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.
well this cake is certainly worthy of your layer cake whims! I love all things pistachio and it sounds so perfect with white chocolate.
I’m planning to make this cake tomorrow. I could only find shelled raw pistachios. Should I toast them before chopping? Or just use as is.
Hi, Claudia. Either way is fine. Just go with your preference.
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!
That is gorgeous–totally my kind of layer cake! And I agree about pistachios!
Will work if I make only one cake and then split it in half orizontally to add the frosting?
Hi, Lily. That should be just fine. You’ll just have a higher frosting to cake ratio!
Hi, Did you use skated or unsalted pistachios? Thanks.
I used unsalted pistachios.
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.
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.
Hala, that sounds great!
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.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Molly!
Hi Jennifer! I’ve made this recipe and it came out perfect! Now I am curious if this can be used for cupcake recipe?
I’m glad it was a success for you, Brittney! It should work as cupcakes. I’d guess you’d get about 24 standard cupcakes. Just reduce the baking time by about 10%.
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 🙂
Hi, Kim. You can substitute almond extract if you like without changing anything else about the recipe.
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.
I’m so glad you liked it, Carla!
This cake was wonderful! Easy, unique, and delicious. Thank you!
I’m so glad you liked it!
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
I bake with full-fat sour cream. Greek yogurt or plain yogurt would likely be a good substitute. You could also try buttermilk or creme fraiche.
Is it going to work if I use less sugar? Like 2/3
Hi, Maya. I’ve not tried that, so I can’t speak to how the changes you asked about would affect the result. However, reducing sugar often leads to dry baked goods.