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!

Click HERE to save recipe to Pinterest

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 watergate 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.


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 Watergate Cake, 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!


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.



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
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • 2 (3oz) envelopes Dream Whip
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 pkg (3oz) instant pistachio pudding
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 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: 348 Total Fat: 30g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 24g Cholesterol: 49mg Sodium: 102mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 10g Protein: 4g
*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.
Today’s recipe for Watergate Cake was originally published on Shugary Sweets on July 19, 2012 and has been republished in October 2018.


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. This cake looks so good. Love pistachios. Will definitely have to make this someday. I’m hoping I can leave out the coconut & that it doesn’t alter the cake in any way. As for this aging thing, it beats the alternative. I’m in my 70’s & feel about the same way as I did in my 40’s. I wish the outside could reflect how I feel on the inside. I’m very energetic & can move as fast as my kids. I’m grateful for every day & plan on living until 100 – maybe more. So Happy Birthday, Aimee, & remember – age is only a number. You certainly don’t look “old” or anywhere close to an “almost” senior citizen. I’M a senior citizen! LOL

  2. This brings back memories of my grandma. I once asked her why it was called a Watergate cake, and her reply was “Because it’s full of nuts.”. Guess that explains it pretty well. Lol

  3. Dear, Sweet Aimee, Thank you for publishing a recipe that is so easy to print. I am going to make this cake this weekend. Now, I just turned 89 and while I have heard of and made Watergate Salad, this is the first time I have heard of Watergate Cake. Does it ever look and sound delicious!! I guess it is because I am so young!!

    I just remarried after my husband of 58 years passed away. My new husband and I just made a driving trip from Vermont to Florida and several other side trips.
    Just think of all the time you have left. I do not feel old. If you keep thinking young. Thank you again,

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

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