_Pistachio Cupcakes with Cool Whip Frosting
Sweet Recipes

 Mouthwatering Pistachio Cupcakes with Cool Whip Frosting

Cooks in 20 Minutes Difficulty Easy 0 comments

You can make the most delicious pistachio cupcakes with a few simple pantry staples. Topped with our pistachio cool whip frosting, they are the best cupcakes for the whole family. Make a batch of these large fluffy cupcakes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or because you love the great nutty taste of pistachio nuts. 

I am a pistachio lover, from the whole nut to the crushed bits in Jell-O pudding and smooth, creamy green ice cream. Yes, the world of the pistachio nut is a tasty realm. Each small pistachio is harvested from the Pistacia vera tree, a small deciduous tree native to the Middle East and Central Asia. I didn’t discover my love of this small nut until I was an adult, but I love its unique nutty flavor. 

The next step after deciding on the cupcake flavor I wanted was to determine how to add the rich, nutty flavor to the cupcake batter. I discovered something extraordinary that may not be shocking to regular cake makers. Still, for the average home baker, this is revolutionary! Pistachio emulsion, this culinary preparation that combines pistachios with a liquid component. The emulsion is generally made with actual ground nuts vs a regular extract, which is made by withdrawing the oil and flavor through chemical processes. 

When I first cracked the bottle on this emulsion, I was aware of how impactful its aroma was. This liquid’s pistachio flavor is intense, so using it like vanilla extract is perfectly acceptable when baking. That’s when I knew I had found my flavoring for the cupcakes. I knew I would frost it with my Cool Whip frosting recipe, which uses pistachio instant pudding. The lovely light green hue looks perfect for special occasions like St. Patrick’s Day. The frosting holds its shape well even though it’s super light without any added confectioner’s sugar. 

pistachio frosted cupcakes

What you will love about these tasty cupcakes.

The batter is simple. Aside from purchasing the emulsion, it’s a fundamental white cupcake recipe that whips up in a flash. 

One bowl recipe. This cupcake batter can be mixed up in one bowl with the outlined method. 

It’s so flavorful and fluffy. These sweet cupcakes are tasty, with the perfect cupcake crumb being dense yet fluffy. Each mouthful has a little taste of sweet nuttiness.

Let’s set to work making the batter first.

When you make cupcakes, the trick is not to overmix your batter. If you do, it can develop too many tunnels and become tough. So, focus on mixing only as much as needed to achieve the desired results. 

We follow a few easy steps in a large bowl to get the batter whipped up. You will start by adding the oil and white sugar. Oil in cupcakes adds a tenderness and uniform texture compared to butter, giving your cupcakes a softer, more delicate crumb overall. Next, crack open the egg in a measuring cup or small bowl and beat until well blended. Then, add that to the oil-sugar mixture and cream it until smooth and yellow. Why beat the egg? Beating the egg helps to emulsify it with the oil, creating a smooth and cohesive mixture. This is particularly important when using oil as the fat component, as oil and water (from the eggs) naturally repel each other. Emulsifying the egg with the oil helps create a stable batter that will hold together during baking.

Next, we measure the dry ingredients in the bowl. They are added to the sugar, egg, and oil mixture. Using a stirring implement, gently blend the dry ingredients and then work them into the wet mixture underneath. This will be very dry, so that you can add the milk a little at a time. Once all the dry ingredients are mixed with the wet ingredients, you want to mix lightly until all noticeable lumps are removed from the batter. I using mix everything by hand when making a cake batter. If you use an electric mixer, you want to cream these ingredients just enough to remove the lumps at a medium speed. 

The last step before filling the cupcake liners is to fold in the emulsion. The pistachio emulsion is a very intensely aromatic blend, and you may be hesitant to use the product, thinking it is too much due to its smell. I assure you it’s the correct amount to make the cupcake batter fully flavored. 

​When I bake cupcakes, I use double-liners. It’s easier to see any fancy pattern the liner may have this way. The oils from the batter will soak into the liner and dull designs. In this case, I also used two liners because I prefer the bake I get. I attribute it to the added air the liner makes between the pan and the cupcake while it bakes. Either way, it will be alright if you use one or two liners. Or no liner if you are environmentally conscious. If you are not using liners, I recommend you spray the pan with nonstick spray to keep the cupcakes from sticking. 

The baking time for the cupcakes is twenty minutes in a high-temperature oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Test the cupcakes for doneness with a cake tester. I generally use a butter knife inserted into the deepest portion of the cupcake. This method may result in the cupcake in question falling. It’s generally not a huge issue since I only bake for my family and friends. With cupcakes, the tops are disguised anyway with a lot of frosting. An excellent cupcake-to-frosting ratio is essential in achieving the best cupcakes. 

When you use the butter knife method, you know it’s baked fully when the knife comes out clean. If there is batter remaining, it means it hasn’t been fully baked. You can start working on the frosting while the cupcakes cool on a wire rack. 

The Cool Whip frosting differs from other recipes that add icing sugar to the recipe because I rely on the frosting getting sweeter with the instant pudding. Plus, using instant pudding means you can flavor the frosting with literally any flavor of pudding out there. 

I used, of course, pistachio pudding instant powder in this recipe. It adds a slight green hue associated with the pistachio nut. It also has bits of artificial nuts, giving the cupcake a bit more texture. The instant pudding is blended with the cool whip and one cup of heavy cream on high with a hand or stand mixer until there are no bits of grit left from the pudding. The frosting is thickened from the pudding mix, making a light, airy mixture that holds up well to piping. 

I am by no means an expert at piping cupcakes. In fact, I first used a large star tip to do the cupcakes but discovered it was easier to cut the end of the piping bag for a large hole. Starting with the outer edge of the cooled cupcakes, you can pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Be sure they are thoroughly cooled so the frosting doesn’t melt. Work around the outside in a reverse spiral toward the center. You can mound up the frosting to an acceptable look on the pistachio cupcakes. Kids aren’t usually picky when sugar is involved; husbands want to dig in. 

If you want to practice your piping methods, do it on an empty plate. You can quickly scrap the frosting back up into the piping bag to reuse over and over while practicing how to hold the piping bag and how much pressure is needed to squeeze the frosting out consistently. It’s a trick to learn the right methodology ~kudos to cake decorators everywhere!

I used a disposable Wilton bag because the reusable piping bags are challenging to clean. Plus I have found that after repeated use the seams tend to split anyway. I don’t often pipe things, so I am happy with Wilton’s clear disposable baggie style. 

Once the cupcakes are piped, enjoy the fruits of your labors. Have one with a cup of tea or coffee. Make a big batch of smaller-sized cupcakes for a party or celebration. 

Uneaten pistachio cupcakes must be refrigerated in an airtight container in the fridge. Uncovered, and the cupcakes easily pick up fridge odors. The frosting will also get gummy if left in the air for long. Fresh is best when it comes to these. They lasted about two days after baking and decorating in the fridge. Mind you, 12 cupcakes won’t last long if you have a sweet tooth in your family. 


White All-Purpose Flour: The base of any cupcake batter adds to the overall structure of the cupcake while providing a neutral flavor. The flour also helps to absorb the moisture from the other cupcake ingredients, which aids in binding the cupcake together. 

White Sugar: This sweetener also adds to the tenderness of the finished baked good. It also gives the cupcake that beautiful golden color as the sugar caramelizes during baking. 

Vegetable Oil: Adds moisture to the cupcakes, resulting in a moist and tender texture. Its neutral flavor means it can go undetected in the cupcake base, allowing the emulsion to shine. 

Egg: Acts as a binding agent, which helps to hold the ingredients together. Egg also contributes to the leavening process, aiding the cupcake’s ability to rise and become light and fluffy.

Milk: Adds moisture and richness to the tender cupcakes. Using milk helps to create a soft and moist texture in the finished cupcakes.

Salt: Enhances the flavor of the cupcakes by balancing sweetness and adding depth. Salt also helps strengthen the gluten structure in the flour, resulting in a more stable batter.

Baking Powder: This leavening agent helps the cupcakes rise and become light and airy. 

Pistachio Emulsion: Enhances the overall taste and complexity of the pistachio cupcakes, giving them their signature flavor. It provides a unique and flavorful twist to the traditional vanilla cupcake recipe.

Cool Whip: Provides the base for the frosting, giving it a light and fluffy texture. The Cool Whip base also stabilizes the frosting, helping it hold its shape and structure.

Heavy Cream: This dairy product adds a creaminess to the frosting, enhancing its texture and mouthfeel. Using heavy cream also provides additional stability to the frosting, helping it hold its shape when piped or spread.

Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix: Provides color to the frosting, giving it a green hue characteristic of pistachios. It also thickens the frosting and helps improve its consistency, making it easier to spread and pipe.

pistachio frosted cupcakes

Substitutions and Add-ins For These Pistachio Cupcakes:

White All-Purpose Flour: Can be switched out for self-raising flour, which contains baking powder and salt mixed in. This may result in a lighter texture and slightly different flavor profile than recipes using separate baking powder and salt. Be sure to remove the salt and baking powder using self-rising flour. Alternatively, making these with another flour or blend would also be acceptable. Just remember that some flours, like oat flour, have a distinct flavor that may compete with the emulsion. 

White Sugar: This sugar was chosen because it creates a softer crumb while sweetening the cupcakes. You can substitute in brown sugar; however, straight brown sugar would have a slightly denser texture than white sugar. This may result in a darker color and chewier crumb. Alternatively, test other sugar options like coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Each of those sweeteners, though, has distinct flavors, which would reflect in the finished baked good. 

Vegetable Oil: You can use applesauce to switch up this for a lower-fat option. That will act as a lower-fat option and add moisture to the cupcakes. This may result in a slightly lighter and softer texture while adding a hint of apple flavor. Another fat option would be to use melted butter. Salted or unsalted butter will work fine. Remember, though, that it may result in a denser cupcake. 

Egg: This can be replaced with a commercial egg replacer, which provides structure and moisture. However, results may vary depending on the brand used. Follow package instructions for best results. Alternatively, you can use other egg replacements like flax seed meal, chai seeds, or silken tofu. I recommend sticking to the recipe unless you are familiar with incorporating those ingredients, as ratios will vary. 

Milk: Can be replaced with a non-dairy alternative with similar results. Alternatively, you can increase the richness of the recipe by using sour cream, Greek yogurt, or cream. 

Salt: It is best to use regular table salt; however, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or Kosher salt may result well. Remember that amounts may need to be adjusted slightly.

Baking Powder: *See flour. Alternatively, you can make a blend of baking soda and cream of tartar; the ratio is 1:2.

Pistachio Emulsion: Can be replaced with extract or even ground pistachios. Each change to the original recipe will yield different results, so you may need to play around to get the desired flavor and texture. 

Cool Whip: This is the base of the frosting. I recommend switching it out only if you want a different frosting, as it has a distinct flavor. You can, however, use the generic brand of Cool Whip just fine. 

Heavy Cream: The heavy cream was added to the frosting because the pudding mixture needed it to smooth the frosting out. If you don’t add heavy cream, you can use milk just fine, as the pudding mix was designed to be blended with cold milk. The ratio can stay the same. The pistachio frosting will be less creamy. 

Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix: I used Jell-O instant pudding mix because it blends with the cool whip and cold cream. Using another brand would be acceptable as long as the directions on the box are to blend it with cold milk. The soft green color of the instant pistachio pudding mix makes a lovely shade for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want more green in the frosting. Please don’t overdo it with liquid food coloring, though, as it’s liquid it will alter the recipe’s results. If you must deepen the color, I recommend using paste food coloring over liquid. It’s more intense, so you need less of it, and it won’t affect the resulting texture. 

Add some powdered sugar if your pistachio frosting isn’t as sweet as you typically like. Start with half a cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Remember, adding confectioner sugar to the frosting will make it stiffer. 

Alternatively, replace the cool whip frosting with a pistachio-flavored cream cheese frosting. Note that cream cheese frostings are a different recipe; you must adjust the ingredients accordingly. 

Make these perfect pistachio cupcakes with a sprinkle of whole real pistachios on top of the frosting for a sweet treat everyone will love. Or try adding some chopped pistachios into the batter for a crunchy addition of texture to the cupcake base. 

If you want to shake up these pistachio cupcakes entirely and make it your own, try replacing the pistachio emulsion with vanilla or almond extract for a great white cupcake. Or juice a whole lemon into the cupcake batter with added lemon zest for a lemon cupcake. 

If you love cupcakes be sure to try our chocolate velvet cupcakes with lemon whip frosting.

frost cupcakes with pistachio frosting

Expert Tips, Serving and Storing Suggestions:

Tip #1: Have room temperature ingredients. Room-temperature ingredients blend more easily, resulting in a smoother batter and a better rise during baking. This helps create cupcakes with a tender crumb and even texture.

Tip #2: Be mindful not to overmix the batter. Overmixing can develop too much gluten, resulting in dense and tough cupcakes. Mix the batter until the ingredients are combined and no streaks of flour remain. Use a gentle folding motion when incorporating dry and wet ingredients to avoid overmixing.

Tip #3: Don’t overfill liners. The liners need approximately a quarter-inch of space for the cupcakes to rise sufficiently. 

By following these expert tips, you’ll be well on your way to baking perfect cupcakes every time. Consider ingredient temperatures, mixing technique, and portioning for the best results. Happy baking!

Store uneaten pistachio cupcakes with frosting covered in the fridge for up to three days. For the best freshness, eat the cupcakes the same day. Plain, unfrosted cupcakes can be successfully frozen for up to three months. Follow best freezing practices and label your baking to know when it was baked. 

Have you tried these pistachio cupcakes? We would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below the recipe card. We love hearing from you, our readers.

_Pistachio Cupcakes with Cool Whip Frosting

Mouthwatering Pistachio Cupcakes With Cool Whip Pistachio Frosting

Amber Bondar
This easy one bowl pistachio cupcake recipe makes the perfect flatter topped cupcakes. Ready for soft creamy pistachio Cool Whip frosting the flavorful cupcakes are great for celebrating St. Patrick's Day. This recipe makes 12 large cupcakes or 24 medium cupcakes.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 12


  • 1 Large 12-cup Muffin Pan
  • Cupcake Liners
  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • Mixing Tool Easily Mixed By Hand
  • 1 Electric Mixer For Frosting
  • 1 Medium Mixing Bowl


The Pistachio Cupcake Batter

  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Lrg Egg Beaten
  • 2 Cups White All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tsp Pistachio Emulsion Or Extract

Pistachio Cool Whip Frosting

  • 1 Lrg Tub Cool Whip Or 4 Cups (Thawed)
  • 1 Box Jello Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
  • 1 Cup 35% Heavy Cream 35%


Making the Cupcake Batter

  • Measure the oil and white sugar into a large mixing bowl. Mix together well.
  • Crack the egg into a cup and beat before adding the sugar mixture.
  • Cream the egg, sugar mixture until blended to a creamy light yellow.
  • Measure the dry ingredients in on top of the other ingredients.
  • Using a mixing tool mix the dry ingredients together slightly before blending in with the wet ingredients.
  • Add the milk alternating between blending and adding milk until all the milk has been incorporated.
  • Measure and add in the pistachio emulsion blend batter well.
  • In large size muffin pan add the cupcake liners and fill cups leaving ¼" of space.
  • Bake in hot 375℉ oven for 20 minutes or until the cupcakes test for done.

Making the Pistachio Cool Whip Frosting

  • In a medium mixing bowl measure the Cool Whip.
  • Add in the pudding mix. Blend with electric mixer well.
  • Measure and add in the heavy cream blending until the frosting is no longer gritty. Approximately two to three minutes.
  • Frost the cupcakes with piping bag or by hand. Enjoy!
Keyword baked donuts, cupcake, party food, pistachio, St. Patrick’s Day, sweet snacks

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