Dreamy Watergate Cake Recipe

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This Watergate Cake recipe creates a creamy and delicious pistachio dessert that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. It’s been a family favorite for years, and it’s an easy dessert to make thanks to a box of pudding mix and Dream Whip.

Watergate cake on a plate.
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If you like Watergate Salad, then you’re going to love this cake! It’s topped with a delicious frosting that keeps the cake cold—perfect for hot days when all we want is something refreshing.

The moist cake and frosting have a nice, light green color thanks to pistachio pudding mix. (The green hue makes it a great cake for serving on St. Patrick’s Day.)

This Watergate cake is sure to be a hit at any gathering. It’s light and creamy, with just the right amount of sweetness. The nutty flavor from pistachios is subtle but adds a nice touch. The frosting is light and fluffy, and it’s the perfect topping for this classic cake.


For this pistachio pudding cake recipe, you need the following ingredients:

  • 2 boxes (3.4 ounces each) instant pudding mix, pistachio flavored
  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 1 cup 7-Up (or other lemon lime soda)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups cold milk
  • 2 envelopes of Dream Whip
Ingredients to make a watergate cake.

How To Make Watergate Cake

If you have never worked with Dream Whip, don’t let it intimidate you. Dream Whip is a commercial powdered mix to make whipped cream. If you have an electric mixer or hand mixer, you won’t have any problems with it.

To make Watergate Cake, start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). While it is warming up, grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan. Alternatively, you can use Baker’s Joy to prep the pan. Just spray a light layer over the bottom and inside.

For the cake, blend one box of instant pistachio pudding mix, a box of white cake mix, 7-Up, egg whites, and a cup of vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer for 5 minutes at medium speed.

What can I use besides 7 Up to make Watergate cake?

You can use any lemon-lime soda or even ginger ale. In a pinch you could use club soda.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely before making the pistachio frosting/whipped topping, aka cover-up icing. [I like to place the cake pan on a wire rack to allow air circulation and speed up the cooling process.]

For the topping, beat 1 package of the pudding mix, milk, and the Dream Whip. Beat at high speed until it is thick and soft peaks form.

Watergate frosting on a whisk attachment.

Spread the topping on top of the cake, cover it with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator. This cake will need to be kept cold at all times.

Frosted watergate cake in a glass baking dish.

If you plan on taking it to a family get-together, church potluck, or some other event, pack it in a container and include ice packs. Remember, the icing is made with a dairy product and needs to be kept cold.

To add a pop of color, serve slices of cake with a maraschino cherry on top.

Why is it called Watergate Cake? Is it because of the political scandal?

The cake is similar to Watergate Salad which is made with pistachio pudding, canned pineapple, whipped topping, crushed pecans, and marshmallows.

There are two possibilities of how “Watergate” landed in the name that unites both dishes, though no one knows for sure.

The first possibility is that the Watergate Salad recipe was developed by the chef at the Watergate Hotel – yes, that one that made the news thanks to President Richard Nixon.

According to Southern Living, the other explanation is that “the cake version has icing to ‘cover up’ any mistakes and,
like politics, is chock full of nuts.”

Slice of watergate cake on a white plate.
Watergate cake on a plate.

Watergate Dream Cake

This recipe for Watergate Cake has been enjoyed by my family for years. It's creamy and luscious and will have you wanting more.
4.45 from 61 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 cake
Calories: 436kcal


  • 1 3.4 ounce box instant pudding mix pistachio flavored
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 cup 7-Up
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Whipped Topping

  • 1 3.4 ounce box instant pudding mix pistachio flavored
  • cups milk
  • 2 envelopes whipped topping Dream Whip


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
  • Blend 1 box of pistachio pudding, cake mix, 7-Up, egg whites and oil in mixer for 5 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely.
  • Beat 1 box of pistachio pudding mix, milk and whipped topping. Beat until thick and peaks form. Ice/frost cake. Keep cake chilled.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 422mg | Potassium: 56mg | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 109IU | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 1mg
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Slice of cake with pistachio frosting.

Be sure to come back and tell us how your cake turned out!

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  1. My grandmother and mother-in-law have made this for years. And I guess so have I now😂 We have tweaked the recipe over the years. So we add a regular size can of drained Mandarin Oranges to the cake batter, instead of pistachio pudding we use yellow pudding, and for the frosting we use cool whip, yellow pudding, drained crushed pineapple and top it with coconut flakes and chopped pecans!

  2. Hi, I have all the ingredients and can’t wait to make this cake! I imagine it would be delicious using butterscotch pudding or even chocolate pudding as well. One question: do the egg whites make a difference in the recipe? I’ve read simiar recipes that called for the use of whole eggs and I’m wondering if anyone has tried it both ways?

    1. In the Watergate Cake version, if yolks were used, it would create a richer color whereas using just the whites keeps it nice and light allowing the batter to blend with the pistachio better.

    1. Hi Karen,

      Great question – thanks for asking!

      I imagine you must have been thinking that the caloric value was awfully low. And it was. I don’t know how many servings was originally input to the app that calculated the nutrition, so I thought I would check into the values and plug-in 12 servings.

      The program that I am using now did not have the information for the pistachio pudding mix, cake mix, or Dream Whip. I plugged-in the values and updated the nutrition information.

      If you cut the cake into 12 even pieces, each slice should have 436 calories.

      I am so sorry that the previous information was not accurate.


  3. Should it be 2 boxes of instant pudding mix pistachio flavored? I can’t wait to make this on my next day off.

    1. It does take 2 boxes of instant pudding mix. Though I had 2 boxes listed, they weren’t together and it was easy to overlook. I updated the post – I hope that it is clearer now. Thanks for your input.

    2. @Lynda, But you really need to indicate what size the instant pudding is, small box or large box. Because some people who have never made this before could be confused. This is one of my family’s favorite and I make it a lot, we love it. Also one box is for the cake and one box is for the icing.

      1. Thank you so much for your feedback. I updated the post to reflect that small boxes (3.4 ounces) are what needed. It really is a delicious cake, isn’t it?!

    1. I am not sure. I googled it and this is some info that I found:

      “Dream whip is a mix to make your own whipped cream – yes you can use it in place of Cool Whip. … whip cream is natural, dream whip is synthetic, and cool whip is pre-whipped synthetic. If it calls for dream whip, read the recipe to see if it mixes anything other that milk and vanilla into the powder.” From Askinlot.com.

      I imagine that you could probably blend the pudding mix with Cool Whip or make whipped cream by beating heavy cream and then add the pudding mixture to the cream.

  4. Lynda, Thank you for sharing a nice and easy recipe. I opted for lemon pudding, rather than pistachio, in the cake as well as the frosting for a nice summertime dessert. Yummy!

  5. I’ve made this for years,. It’s even better if you add drained crushed pineapple, You can even use the juice in the cake. And since I am diabetic it works just as well with the no sugar pudding.

  6. Think I remember a similar recipe fro years past. i would make it tonight, if I only had the dream whip! I should buy some to have on hand

  7. I haven’t used Dreamwhip in years! Oh, the great memories that are flooding my mind. Your watergate cake looks like a dream. I think I’ll make it for St. Patrick’s day. Wish I had a piece right now.

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