Pistachio Cake

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

This Pistachio Cake is sweet, moist, and dense. It’s made with real pistachios and is coated in a luxurious cream cheese frosting! This gluten-free cake is made with a few healthy ingredient swaps, but no one can even tell!

After making this cake, use up the leftover pistachios in these divine honey Pistachio Cookies.

Image of the Pistachio Cake slices stacked on top of each other

Let’s Break Down This Pistachio Cake Recipe

This recipe for a pistachio cake is a little unique because it’s quite a bit healthier than the other recipes you’ll see floating around the web. That said, we are not sacrificing flavor for nutrition here; this cake is a serious winner.

This recipe actually came to be from this cashew cake. I was making that cake yet another time (as per family requests) and came up short on cashews. (I mean with cashews being constantly channeled into weekly batches of that cashew cake, this Cashew Ice Cream, and this cake-inspired Carrot Smoothie, I can’t keep them in stock!)

With no cashews available, but a big bag of pistachios ready for the taking, I added them to the batter and haven’t looked back.

This pistachio cake is downright delicious. It’s perfectly dense with a nice moist crumb and a wonderful sweet nuttiness. And it happens to be quite a bit better for you than most pistachio cake recipes out there.

How?

  • No white flour. We use oats instead.
  • Far less sugar. This recipe has quite a bit less than most cake recipes that use 2+ cups.
  • Pistachios (of course). These nuts are loaded with good-for-you fats and nutrients among other benefits.
  • Protein-packed. Thanks to the nuts and eggs!
  • Plant-based milk (almond milk).
  • No pudding or gelatin mixes, or artificial food colorings (no pistachio pudding cake here!).

All this said, the cake still does have some sugar and the frosting (while optional) also has a fair amount of sugar. So as a whole, this cake stacks up pretty great nutritionally but certainly isn’t perfect (what I like to call some great moderation!).

Process shots-- images of the pistachios, browns sugar, and butter being added and it all being pulsed together

Pistachio Cake Ingredients

Below are a few ingredients in this recipe for Pistachio Cake that are worth diving deeper into:

  • Pistachios. Save time (and your fingers!) by purchasing shelled pistachios. We love roasted and lightly salted pistachios best — more flavor without any extra effort on your part. (Here’s what we use in this cake).
  • Old-fashioned oats. Although it would make sense that any oats would work since they’re getting blended anyways, it’s important to use old-fashioned to ensure you get the right measurement. Both quick and steel-cut oats are smaller, denser, and more compact, so measurements would be off and the cake would end up too dry.
  • Almond milk. Any milk will work in these bars; we tested them with cow’s milk and plant-based milk. The recipe is written with plant-based milk to keep these bars as nutritious as possible, but use whichever you prefer.
  • Corn starch. This is an important ingredient since we aren’t using flour and need some additional support and thickness.

QUICK TIP

While the ingredients in this cake are naturally gluten free, make sure to check all your ingredient labels to ensure they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten. If you have celiac disease, the small amount of contamination that could take place is enough to cause serious problems.

Process shots of Pistachio Cake-- images of the maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, and dry ingredients being added and it all being blended together

How To Make Pistachio Cake

This recipe is quick and easy to make, but you do need a good, powerful blender (think Blendtec® or Vitamix®) to break down the pistachios, butter, and oats.

We blend the entire batter in the blender in different stages. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides frequently (or as needed) to ensure all the ingredients are blending and incorporating. 

Once the batter is fully blended and smooth, transfer it to a pan and bake. While it’s baking you can whip together the optional frosting and then frost the completely cooled cake.

Process shots-- images of the blended dough being added to the pan and it being baked and frosted

Pistachio Cake Tips

  • Use a light-colored 8×8-inch pan and line it with parchment paper for easy cake removal. The light color helps heat reflect better.
  • Line the pan. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper for easy removal of the cake. Leave an overhang of parchment paper so you can pull up on the overhang to remove all the cake — it’s so much easier to cut cake squares out of the pan rather than in the pan.
  • Use fresh ingredients. For the softest and best possible cake, use fresh, soft brown sugar and fresh baking agents.
  • Don’t over-blend nuts and brown sugar. If the nuts are blended too long, you’ll end up with creamy pistachio butter which we don’t want!
  • Cut the butter into small cubes. This helps it blend and incorporate better.

Image of the Pistachio Cake frosted and cut into bars ready to be enjoyed

Cake Recipe Tips, Cont.

  • How to tell when the cake is done baking. This pistachio cake does slightly cave in the middle, but you’ll know it is done when it’s no longer glossy looking on top, the edges are firm and lightly browned, and a toothpick when inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Set cream cheese out at room temperature: We want the cream cheese to have plenty of time to soften, so start the process of making this cake by pulling it out of the fridge before you slide the cake in the oven. 
  • Only frost the cake once it has completely cooled– otherwise, the frosting will change textures from the heat of the cake.
  • Garnish with extra chopped pistachios for additional texture (crunch), color, and flavor!

Overhead image of the cake ready to be served

Pistachio Cake Storage

Frosted bars need to be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge since there is dairy in the frosting. The fridge will turn the bars stale quickly, so they are best consumed soon after being made. (This cake is best eaten within 2-3 days.) 

For unfrosted bars, store in an airtight container at room temperature. Unfrosted bars freeze nicely, but frosted bars don’t freeze as well because of the dairy in the cream cheese frosting.

To freeze*/thaw unfrosted bars:

  1. Cool cake completely before storing. Slice into bars.
  2. To freeze: Wrap individual cake bars in plastic wrap and then place all the wrapped cake pieces in large freezer bags.
  3. To thaw: Set out at room temperature or thaw frozen cake in the microwave.

*There is some loss of texture and flavor when freezing and thawing this cake.

More Delicious Baked Goods:

QUICK TIP

To get picture-perfect bars, run a knife under hot water for a few seconds, wipe to dry, make a slice, and repeat.

FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content.

Pistachio Cake

5 from 1 vote
This Pistachio Cake is sweet, moist, and dense. It's made with real pistachios and is coated in a luxurious cream cheese frosting! This gluten-free cake is made with a few healthy ingredient swaps, but no one can ever tell!
Print Recipe

Pistachio Cake

5 from 1 vote
This Pistachio Cake is sweet, moist, and dense. It's made with real pistachios and is coated in a luxurious cream cheese frosting! This gluten-free cake is made with a few healthy ingredient swaps, but no one can ever tell!
Course Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegetarian
Keyword pistachio cake, pistachio cake recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 37 minutes
Total Time 57 minutes
Servings 16 bars
Calories 108kcal
Cost $7.12

Equipment

  • High powered blender (Note 1)
  • 8x8-inch baking pan, parchment paper, & cooking spray

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup (140g) shelled pistachios (Note 2)
  • 3/4 cup (152g) light brown sugar (up to 1 cup -- See Note 3)
  • 8 tablespoons (113g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (53g) unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (106g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (Note 4)

Optional Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 ounces (56g) reduced-fat cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-3/4 cups (210g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • Optional: additional chopped pistachios to top

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (162 degrees C). Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside for now.
  • CAKE: Add the shelled pistachios and brown sugar to a large powerful blender (Blend-tec/Vitamix) and blend until pistachios are broken down and incorporated with brown sugar-- 20-30 seconds (don't blend too long we don't want to make pistachio butter!). Add in the cubed butter and pulse to break down butter. Scrape sides of blender and add in both eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add in the oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch. Blend until the batter is completely smooth, stopping and scraping down edges as needed, about 90 seconds.
  • BAKE: Pour completely smooth batter into prepared baking pan using a spatula to scrape out every bit. Smooth the top with the spatula and bake for 37-43 minutes or until cake is lightly browned at edges and set in the middle (toothpick when inserted in the center should come out clean).
  • FROST: Meanwhile, place softened cream cheese in a large bowl. (Give it ample time to set out so your frosting isn't chunky.) Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla and salt until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar (beating in between additions) until smooth and creamy and to the desired consistency. Add milk and beat until smooth.
  • DECORATE: Frost the completely cooled cake evenly with the frosting. If desired, top the frosting with chopped pistachios.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Blender: You'll need a good, powerful blender (think Blendtec or Vitamix) to break down the pistachios without overheating the machine.
Note 2: Pistachios: We love dry roasted and lightly salted pistachios best — more flavor without any extra effort on your part. (Here's what we use in this cake).
Note 3: Light brown sugar: Make sure the sugar is soft and fresh for the best possible cake texture. If you are used to healthier treats, use 3/4 cup brown sugar, but if you'd like a sweeter cake, use 1 cup. I usually go with 1 cup!
Note 4: Corn starch: This is an important ingredient since we aren't using flour and need some additional support and thickness.
Nutrition information is for the cake only.  With the optional frosting one serving has 227 calories.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 108kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.1g | Protein: 0.7g | Fat: 5.8g | Cholesterol: 15.3mg | Sodium: 3.5mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 9.1g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

More Recipes You'll Love

Apple Coffee Cake

1 hrs 10 mins

Apple Coffee Cake

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

3 hrs 15 mins

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Banana Crumb Muffins

33 mins

Banana Crumb Muffins

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Carrot Cake

1 hrs 15 mins

Carrot Cake

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

FREE BONUS

FREE BONUS

EASY MEAL SECRETS:
How to Make Mealtime Hassle Free!

5 secrets to easy, fast and delicious dinners.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




0 Comments

Never Miss a Recipe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.