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Pistachio Cake Made from Scratch

Pistachio cake has a light texture, a lot of flavor coming from the pistachio, butter, and vanilla. This cake has tender crumbs and it stays super moist for days. The cake has freshly ground pistachios; it has no artificial coloring, and we are not going to use pistachio pudding or a cake mix. I have also included the recipe for a fail-proof icing that complements the flavor of the cake. Watch the video tutorial in this post to learn how to make both the pistachio cake and the icing!

Moist pistachio cake with icing.

I promised not to add artificial coloring in this recipe. Still, in case you wanted the cake to look green, then read (Tips for the best pistachio cake) below where I explain many things, from how to prepare the baking pan, the way to bake this cake, ingredient’s substitutes, plus other useful information!

If you enjoy cakes with different flavors, then you must try my Best Orange Cake, and if you are fond of chocolate, then my Moist Marble Cake is going to surprise you. I also have a flavorful rich cake that’s perfect with chilled milk or coffee, buttery, and moist, it’s the Perfect Pound Cake!

What do you need to make the perfect Pistachio Cake?

All-purpose flour: You can also use cake flour, keep the measurements the same. Using all-purpose flour will result in a light and moist pistachio cake, so there is no need to use cake flour.

Unsalted butter: In desserts, it’s best to use unsalted butter because some salted butter has more salt than others, and it might affect the flavor of the dessert. We are using butter in this cake to add more flavor and richness.

Pistachios: Use unsalted pistachios; it won’t add more salt to the cake batter. If you have salted pistachios on hand, then place the salted pistachios on a damp kitchen towel. Cover it with another damp kitchen towel, then place your hand over the top kitchen towel and roll your hand back and forth; this will remove some salt from the pistachios. Make sure the kitchen towel is damp and not soaking wet. Pat the pistachios with a dry kitchen towel and then grind it.

Buttermilk: The acidity in buttermilk combined with baking soda in the batter create moist crumbs. Make homemade buttermilk by mixing 1 and ½ tablespoon of white vinegar with the amount of milk mentioned in this recipe, stir this mixture and keep it aside for 5 minutes then use it in the recipe.

Eggs: Two large eggs.

Sugar: Use fins sugar; it takes less time to mix with the butter.

Baking powder, baking soda.

Salt: A pinch to enhance the flavor.

Oil: Adding oil keeps the cake moist for a longer time.

Vanilla: Use almond extract if you wish, but I prefer vanilla because it gives a fantastic flavor to the pistachio cake.

Close up image of pistachio cake.

How to Make Pistachio Cake

  • In a food processor, add the pistachios and pulse, break it down to fine crumbs. This process will bring out the green color and the oil in the pistachios for more flavor and texture.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
  • Add the fine pistachio crumbs to the flour and mix well. Do not worry; the pistachio texture will turn moist when you bake the cake, you won’t get a crunchy nut texture in your cake.
  • In a different bowl, cream the butter and sugar until soft and lighter in color about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add an egg to the butter mixture and beat until combined, then add the second egg and vanilla, beat until combined.
  • Add a little flour to the mixture and beat, then add some buttermilk and beat. Repeat three times while mixing on low speed.
  • Spoon the batter in a previously greased and dusted baking pan (How to prepare Bundt pan below).
  • Run a butter knife through the batter and then gently tap the baking pan two or three times against the kitchen counter.
  • Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. (More details in the recipe card below).
Steps by step image to making moist pistachio cake.

How to Prepare the Bundt Pan to Prevent the cake from Sticking

Always grease and dust the Bundt pan after preparing the batter. The heat from the kitchen might melt the butter, and the cake will stick to the pan.

  1. Use soft (not melted) butter to grease the Bundt pan. Make sure the butter covers every detail of the Bundt pan. Be generous with the butter. It’s best to use a pastry brush to spread the butter evenly in the pan.
  2. Add ¼ cup of flour to the Bundt pan. Swirl the pan allowing the flour to completely coat the pan. Place a parchment paper or a baking sheet on the counter to collect the discarded flour. Flip the Bundt pan and tap it one time over the parchment paper or the baking sheet. Discard the excess flour.
  3. Immediately pour the batter in the pan.
Freshly baked pistachio cake.

How to make Perfect Icing for the Pistachio Cake

Many complain about the icing melting into the cake or not having a firm consistency, but in this post, I will show you how to make the perfect icing that will make all your cakes look beautiful and it won’t seep into the cake.

  • In a mixing bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar.
  • Add half a teaspoon of vanilla or your favorite flavor.
  • Add one tablespoon of milk or water and mix well.
  • Add another tablespoon of milk or water and mix until you get a thick paste-like texture. The texture should be thick and drops off of a spoon within a few seconds.
  • The icing melts and seeps in the cake if it’s runny or if the cake is hot. Make sure the cake is completely cool before adding the icing.
  • Place a folded towel over the kitchen counter, Place the cake in a serving plate. Pour the icing on the top part of the cake, tap the serving plate gently against the kitchen towel; the icing will run down the cake beautifully.
A slice of pistachio cake on a plate.
Big slice of pistachio cake served on white plate.

How to Store Pistachio Cake

Room Temperature: Planning to eat the cake or serve it later, don’t pour the icing over the cake and place it in an airtight container. Leave it on the kitchen counter for two days. Fresh pistachio cake always tastes great but if your kitchen is warm you must refrigerate it.

Refrigerating: Wrap the cake with a plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can pour the icing over the cake and wait for it to set before refrigerating. From my experience, refrigerated pistachio cake tastes good and stays moist!

Freezing: Do not pour icing on the cake if you are planning to freeze it, or it will turn soggy when thawed.

Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and then wrap it with aluminum foil. Place the wrapped cake in a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month. You can freeze the slices by wrapping each with plastic wrap and then with foil and then place them in a Ziplock bag for up to one month.

To thaw a frozen cake, unwrap it and leave it on the kitchen counter at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, depending on how big the cake or the cake slice is.

Pistachio Bundt Cake.

Pistachio cake Video on YouTube; please Subscribe!

Easy pistachio cake recipe from scratch, plus many tips to make it perfect. No artificial coloring, and no pudding powder. Delicious and moist pistachio cake topped with icing. Perfect for baking in Bundt pan and regular cake pans. #pistachiocake #cakerecipe

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  1. A show stopper! I love pistachios and wish I could have a slice 🙂 Well done, Muna!

  2. Hi,
    Great recipe.. when should we add oil in the process..? You haven’t specified about it in the recipe card..

  3. Thanks for your quick revert..😊 I tried the recipe and it was the best cake I ever baked…it’s true and the cake was fluffy, moist and fabulous…..thanks for sharing this great recipe. ..

  4. hi muna,
    can we substitute any other nuts in place of pistas in this recipe?
    thank you

    • Arinacooking

      I never used other nuts, but pistachio has a lot of oil in it and adds moisture to the cake, other nuts may not give the same result.