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Whipped Cream Frosted Pistachio Poke Cake is a classic cake recipe that’s fluffy, moist, and tender. It starts with a mix making it a fast and easy recipe!

PIN this Pistachio Poke Cake recipe to make later!

Whipped Cream Frosted Pistachio Poke Cake


This retro Pistachio Cake is also known as Watergate Cake. There’s a discrepancy in why it’s called ‘Watergate’. One theory is it was first developed by the chef at the Watergate Hotel. While others claim it’s named after the presidential Watergate scandal because “the cake has a cover-up icing and is full of nuts.

This vintage recipe has many variations, but the main ingredients are pistachios, white cake mix, and a whipped cream frosting. Most use pistachio gelatin as well. Some versions have pecans and coconut. Whereas some family recipes make it into a Poke Cake and others make it into a Layer Cake.

I remember having Pistachio Cake at family gatherings but couldn’t find the exact recipe my mother and grandmother use. Therefore, I made my own recipe and it’s pretty amazing!

Whipped Cream Frosted Pistachio Poke Cake


This cake starts with a cake mix. It’s light, moist, and fluffy. If you’re a purist and don’t like to use a cake mix, you can certainly start with your favorite white cake recipe.

As well, you can use whole milk, 1% or 2%. I have not tested with almond or cashew milk.

I wanted an easy cake to travel so I baked it in a 9×13-inch pan. You can use two 9-inch round or square cake pans or three 8-inch cake pans. Use the cooking times on the box of cake mix.

I use low-fat whipped cream. However, if you’re making a layer cake, I don’t recommend you use low fat or fat-free Cool Whip. Full fat is sturdier and will hold better.

And, if you love pistachio try these yummy pistachio muffins.

square green cake with green frosting and nuts


I poked holes in the cake and poured sweetened condensed milk over the cake while it was warm. A whole can of sweetened condensed milk will look like too much, but it will soak into the cake. I let the cake cool for about 5 minutes. While it’s cooling I heat the sweetened condensed milk for 2 minutes in the microwave. I’m not sure heating the sweetened condensed milk is necessary, but it does seem to soak into the cake faster/better when it’s hot.


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Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary based on the products used.

Whipped Cream Frosted Pistachio Poke Cake
Whipped Cream Frosted Pistachio Poke Cake

Whipped Cream Frosted Pistachio Poke Cake

This delicious cake recipe starts with a mix for convenience but it's super tasty!
Author: Paula
5 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 16 servings



  • 15.25 ounce box white cake mix or yellow cake mix
  • 3.4 ounce box pistachio instant pudding just the mix, don't make the pudding
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs at room temperature
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk


  • 3.4 ounce box pistachio instant pudding
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip or you can make fresh whipped cream


  • Please read post above for substitutions and tips.


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, add the cake ingredients. (cake mix, pistachio pudding mix, milk, water, eggs, and oil) Beat on high speed for about two minutes.
  • Bake 27 to 30 minutes or until the cake is set in the center. You can test with a wooden pick or cake tester. Poke the center of the cake with the tester, the cake is done when no crumbs or dry crumbs remain on the tester when removed.
  • Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes.
  • While the cake is cooling, warm the sweetened condensed milk in the microwave. I pour it into a measuring cup with a handle and spout. Heat for 30 to 45 seconds. Stir.
  • With a knife, fork, or end of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the cake. Gently and evenly pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake. I like to pour more on the center because it will run to the sides. You can also use a knife to smear it evenly if needed.
  • Allow the cake to sit and cool completely before frosting or the Cool Whip will melt.


  • In a large bowl, whisk the pudding and milk until thick.
  • Using a spatula, gently fold in the Cool Whip.
  • Spread evenly over the cooled cake. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Store cake in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for 4 days.


Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 246mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 207IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. I made cake according to directions and mixed at high speed with my KichenAid mixer for 2 mins. Cake rose beautiful but deflated significantly with huge split down the center after cooling. I have never had this happen when cooking cakes normally. So wondering if this is the result of the extra eggs and milk added to the batter?

    1. You added just the ingredients listed didn’t you? Not the ingredients I have listed plus what’s on the cake mix box?

  2. Yes, all 5 go in the cake and all the cake ingredients (cake mix, pudding mix, oil, milk, water, and eggs) go in the mixing bowl at the same time. (the sweetened condensed milk is poured over the cake after it’s cooked.)

5 from 6 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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