Watergate Cupcakes

Watergate Cupcakes are sweet and light with a fluffy whipped cream frosting. You’ll love the nutty pistachio flavor and crunchy pecans on top!

Make sure to try my classic Watergate Cake too! Pecan lovers will also love these easy Pecan Pie Truffles.

You're going to LOVE these Watergate Cupcakes! Extremely nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped frosting, which is perfect for summer!

Why this Recipe Works

I have a confession. I had to give away half these Watergate Cupcakes to a friend because I had zero willpower when it came to these gorgeous treats.

While I normally love a rich, fudgy, chocolate cupcake topped with a chocolate buttercream frosting, these Watergate Cupcakes are the exact opposite. Which makes them irresistible.

  • The soft pistachio pecan cupcake has the perfect crumb texture.
  • I frosted these with a pistachio pudding and Cool Whip frosting, with MORE pecans and a sprinkle of coconut. Seriously, even my coconut hating kids loved these!
You're going to LOVE these Watergate Cupcakes! Extremely nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped frosting, which is perfect for summer!

Ingredient Notes

White cake mix. You’ll need the entire contents of an 18.25 ounce box.

Lemon lime soda. Any brand of clear soda like Sierra Mist or Sprite is perfect.

Pecans. I buy the pecan pieces already chopped. If you only have whole pecans or halves, chop them before adding them to the recipe.

Pistachio pudding mix. Use the Instant Mix, not the kind you have to cook.

Pistachio Cupcake and Frosting

This Pistachio Pecan Cupcake recipe is so easy to make!

Make the cupcake batter.

Combine the cake mix with the pudding mix. Add in canola oil, eggs and soda. Beat until fluffy, then fold in chopped pecans.

Bake the cupcakes.

Divide the batter evenly into a lined cupcake pan. Bake until they’re lightly browned on top.

Watergate cupcakes frosting.

While the cupcakes are baking, combine pudding mix with milk. Fold in the cool whip.

Place the cool whip frosting in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. When the cupcakes are fully cooled, scoop frosting onto each one.

Sprinkle the tops with chopped nuts and shredded coconut before serving.

You're going to LOVE these Watergate Cupcakes! Extremely nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped frosting, which is perfect for summer!

Tips and Tricks

  • We use a metal cookie scoop to dollop the frosting onto each cupcake. It creates a perfect pretty mound of frosting.
  • Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator. Enjoy within 3 days.
  • For more pistachio flavor, garnish the cupcakes with chopped pistachios too!

Recipe FAQs

Why are they called Watergate Cupcakes?

Watergate Cake (and cupcakes) have been around since the 1970s. Legend has it that the first Watergate cake was inspired by a salad at the Watergate Hotel made with pistachios and cool whip.
Another theory says the name is a cheeky reference to the scandal of the same name.
Whatever the story behind the name, Watergate Cupcakes are delicious!

Can I substitute different nuts in this recipe?

You could, but then they won’t truly be Watergate Cupcakes. The pecans really are wonderful here.

Can I use regular whipped cream instead of Cool Whip?

Regular whipped cream won’t work quite the same here since it’s not stabilized. It’ll taste good but won’t hold its shape on top of the cupcakes.

You're going to LOVE these Watergate Cupcakes! Extremely nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped frosting, which is perfect for summer!

Love pecans and coconut? This Watergate Cupcakes recipe will blow your mind. With a soft light crumb and a dreamy whipped frosting, these pecan pistachio cupcakes are perfect for summer.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Watergate Cupcakes

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

You’re going to LOVE these Watergate Cupcakes! Extremely nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped frosting, which is perfect for summer!

Ingredients

FOR THE CUPCAKES:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz) white cake mix
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 package (3 oz) instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 cup lemon lime soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup Fisher Pecans, chopped

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 package (3 oz) instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ½ cup Fisher pecans, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp shredded, sweetened coconut (optional)

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with paper muffin liners. Set aside.
    2. In a large mixing bowl at medium speed, combine cake mix, oil, pudding mix, soda, and eggs. Beat for several minutes until light and fluffy. Fold in chopped pecans.
    3. Using a large metal scoop (about ¼ cup) fill muffin liners about ⅔ full. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove and cool completely before adding frosting.
    4. For the frosting, combined pudding mix with 1 cup milk. Whisk until blended. Fold in thawed whipped topping. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or more (you can do this while cupcakes are baking and cooling).
    5. Use a large spoon (or a 2 TBSP metal cookie scoop) to dollop the frosting onto each cooled cupcake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and coconut. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. ENJOY!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 191mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 3g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

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.

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Posted on July 1, 2016

Comments & Reviews

  1. These cupcakes are just perfect. I mean pistachio, pecan and coconut flavors in a CUPCAKE? I need that. Pinned!

  2. I love Watergate Salad so I will try this first, or the next time I bake cupcakes even if I don’t win!

  3. I am SO excited to see these! My dad always made us Watergate cake when he was alive. It was the best! These are just a smaller version. I will be making these very very soon! Thank you!!

  4. I am loving the pistachio in these cupcakes! I want one right now (and I would have absolutely NO willpower either 😉 )

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