Watergate Cake

Watergate Cake: pistachio, coconut, and pudding in a delicious layer cake!

Watergate Cake: packed with flavor from pistachio pudding, coconut, pecans, and sweet frosting!

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Tomorrow is my birthday. I have loved celebrating my birthday pretty much every year.

And then comes this year. The year I turn…wait for it….



Looking back, my twenties were fun, but very busy. I got married very young, and we started a family a year after our marriage. My twenties were filled with babies and diapers, and babies, and more diapers.

My thirties have been filled with just plain fun. Vacationing, laughter, happiness, a complete sense of self confidence that I didn’t have in my twenties, watching my children grow into who they will become!

But, I think it’s official now. I’m old. You laugh?

Here’s how I can tell I’m old:

1– I like to watch birds out my window. I spend lots of money on bird food, just so I can see them while I sit at my computer. Yeah, can someone say “senior citizen?”

2– I pay attention to commercials that talk about eye brighteners, wrinkle reducers and other skin firming creams. I’ve even bought said brighteners and reducers (to no avail, the wrinkles are still there)

3– I find myself talking to people who have little kids and saying things like, “Treasure each moment, it goes so fast.” I hated when people said that to me, I’ll be honest.

When my kids were throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, whining, kicking, screaming and someone said that to me…all I could think is time drags in the grocery line. But wow, it’s so flipping true…my kids are big. And the bigger they get, the older it makes me.

4– I like pistachio cake. As a young person, you see a green cake covered in nuts and coconut and you think, “What the heck did grandma make us? Why can’t she make us chocolate cake?”

Now, as an old person, as an almost senior citizen, I LOVE green cake with coconut and nuts. Yep. Old.

Watergate cake topped with pecans and coconut on a white cake platter.

What is Watergate Cake

If you have any of those old-school church or neighborhood cookbooks – you know the ones, with recipes collected from all of the congregants or neighbors and sold as a fundraiser – I can bet you there will find at least one recipe for Watergate Cake.

If you’re younger than me and aren’t familiar with this recipe, that’s ok. Show it to your mom. Or grandma. Or dad. I bet they know what it is!

Watergate Cake is about as classic as it gets. There are probably a million variations within each family, but the general elements are white cake mix, pistachio pudding mix, 7Up, coconut and pecans.

I don’t know if anyone remembers why it’s called Watergate Cake (at least I’m not that old!), but I do know it’s delicious.

You may be familiar with this Watergate Salad recipe…seriously amazing!

Why this Recipe is the BEST

Every family has their version of a Watergate Cake recipe, and this is ours.

Some families make their Watergate Cake recipes as a Watergate bundt cake, Watergate cupcakes, or sheet cake, but I like that this one is a layer cake. It adds some extra drama to this retro recipe.

The great thing about Watergate Cake, though, is that it starts with a white cake mix, so it’s pretty quick and easy to make.

Adding pistachio pudding mix and lemon-lime soda makes it extra light and moist, and the chopped pecans and coconut add texture and flavor.

The frosting uses Dream Whip (a shelf-stable version of Cool Whip) as the base and is flavored with more pistachio pudding mix to get that classic Watergate Cake green color and flavor. It’s light and fluffy and super easy to make.

Watergate Cake is perfect for holidays. Or family reunions. Or church luncheons. The younger crowd might wonder where the chocolate is, but someday they’ll appreciate Watergate Cake for its nostalgia and classic flavors.

If you love my Watergate Cake recipe and are looking for some other senior citizen-style recipes, check out Dad’s Bread Pudding, Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes or Shortbread Cookies.

Tips and Tricks

Dream Whip- you can swap it out (and skip the milk in the frosting) and just use Cool whip combined with pudding mix.

OR, make homemade whipped cream and add the pudding mix to that.

Coconut- Adding coconut to the cake adds so much moisture. But, some people don’t like it ON TOP of the cake. Try toasting the coconut for a sweet candy crunch instead.

Refrigerate- Keep this cake chilled for best results. You can also freeze this cake by wrapping individual slices in a plastic wrap, then sliding them into a freezer bag.

More Cake Recipes

Yield: 12 servings

Watergate Cake

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

Watergate Cake: pistachio, coconut, and pudding in a delicious layer cake!


For the cake:

  • 1 box (18.25oz) white cake mix
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 pkg (3oz) instant pistachio pudding
  • 1 cup lemon lime soda
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • 2 (3oz) envelopes Dream Whip
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 pkg (3oz) instant pistachio pudding
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut


  1. In large mixer bowl at medium speed, add cake mix, oil, pudding, eggs, and soda. Fold in chopped pecans and coconut. Pour into greased & floured 9inch round baking pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
  2. To frost, whip dream whip & milk until peaks. Gradually add the pudding & beat until light & fluffy, about two minutes. Spread on first layer of cake. Top with second cake layer and cover cake completely in frosting.
  3. Press pecans and coconut into cake and refrigerate two hours or more. Serve cold!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 348Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g

Did you make this recipe?

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on October 24, 2018

Comments & Reviews

  1. Dream Whip? Whoa, that is old-timey. I remember watergate cake was popular during the time of the Watergate hearings and Richard Nixon’s impeachment. It did not have pineapple. The official word from Southing Living Magazine is the following: Watergate Cake is rumored to have been inspired by the salad, but with a nod to the 1970s’ political drama that wracked the nation and lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. You see, the cake version has icing to ″cover up” any mistakes and, like politics, is chock full of nuts. Feb 20, 2019 (Maybe we need a 2020 recipe!)
    Though I am a new “senior citizen” I will add nostalgia for times past when I hear songs that were on the radio when my teens were in high school. Nor only so I miss them, but I miss seeing their friends as well.

  2. Where can you find Dream Whip? I have been looking for it for other recipes as well. This sound right up my alley.

    1. It’s usually found in the baking aisle near the pudding and jello mixes (it is a powdered mix). You could exclude it and the milk and use Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream instead.

  3. Happy Birthday, Aimee!

    You think you’re old????? I’m 92 and honestly, I don’t feel much different than I did at 39! Except, of course, now I’m getting the bonus of grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great- great grandchildren! (The second one is due next month!) I’m still married to my wonderful husband! (We’re on our 75th!!) Life is good, as I wish for you, Aimee. I still like to cook and will probably make this cake soon. I made lemon curd today, so I will be making a lemon Bundt cake for company tomorrow.

  4. Can I use a 9×13 pan? Same question was asked 2 or 3 x ‘s, but never answered. I do not make layer cakes. TY for a response.

  5. Amiee, Don’t look back, keep looking forward and enjoy every day you have. Age is just a number and you are such a blessing to each and every one of us with your recipes and happiness. I wish you the very best of birthdays and many more to come. Keep up the awesome work, girl. Love you!

  6. I have one of the original recipes, the frosting was called “cover up frosting”  the cake was light, and green, and nutty

  7. So I’m making this cake soon, I’m confused on the Dream Whip. My store had a box with (2) envelopes, totaling 2.6 oz.  do I need another box? I’ve not seen a 3 oz box.

  8. Where is the pineapple in this cake. I plan to try this out but thicken a can of crushed pineapple and add to the top of a sheath cake and then ice. Watergate salad had pineapple.

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