Watergate Sheet Cake Recipe

This Watergate Sheet Cake is nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped cream topping and coconut, this cake has it ALL, and it’s easy to make too!

We love making cakes in 13×9 baking pans. Our easy chocolate cake is always a winner. But don’t forget to whip up this delicious cream puff cake next!

Pistachio cake with pistachio frosting on a plate.

Why this Recipe Works

Hanging around my blog for any amount of time will not only result in weight gain, but you’ll see inside my soul.

You’ll see that I love homemade Rice Krispie Treats and Watergate Cake.

And it’s also why I have weight gain, haha!

But seriously, have you tried Watergate Cake yet? I’ve made every version you can think of…and today I’m sharing a sheet cake (or 13×9 cake).

Easy. Delicious. And portable. 

Perfect for holidays, parties, or just a Tuesday dessert! But first….

Watergate sheet cake slice topped with nuts and pistachio frosting.

What is Watergate Cake

Open up any church cookbook and you’ll probably find a recipe for this classic treat.

Watergate Cake is a delicious recipe packed with pistachio pudding, pecans, coconut, 7-up, and sometimes people even add pineapple.

How it got it’s name?

Well, the story is that JELL-O released it’s pistachio pudding mix around the same time as the Watergate Scandal in Washington. And the slogan was “pistachio pudding, full of nuts and cover up (frosting), just like Washington.”

Not sure if that’s true…but that’s what I was always told, so I’m sticking with it! 

Slice of pistachio cake with pistachio frosting on a plate with a bite taken out.

How to Make a Watergate Sheet Cake

For today’s recipe, I used my favorite Watergate Bundt Cake recipe and tweaked it for a 13×9 baking dish. 

So many of you have asked through the years if it can be made in a sheet cake, and the answer is yes!

Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9 baking dish with baking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, pistachio pudding mix, 7 UP, and eggs. Beat for several minutes until combined.

Fold in coconut and chopped pecans. Pour cake batter into baking dish.

Bake for 32-35 minutes. Cool completely before adding frosting.

Make the frosting while the cake is baking so it can set up for a little bit.

In a mixing bowl, combine pistachio pudding mix with milk. Whisk until combined.

Fold in Cool Whip. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

When cake is cooled, spread frosting over cake and top with extra coconut and pecans. Slice and enjoy.

Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Overhead view of watergate sheet cake sliced and on a plate.

A few tips about making Pistachio Cake

Be sure to use INSTANT pudding mix for this recipe. And try NOT to choose the “sugar free” option.

Some of you will ask if you can substitute anything for the 7 UP in the recipe. You can use other lemon lime soda, or even Fresca. You can also choose carbonated water (like La Croix). The carbonation helps create air bubbles in the batter, creating a light and fluffy texture!

This is why I LOVE my 7UP Pound Cake recipe! Have you tried that one yet?

If you choose to not use Cool Whip, you can substitute Dream Whip (2 envelopes mixed with the milk. Then add pistachio pudding mix and beat). Or you can make a homemade whipped cream and add pistachio pudding. 

The topping on this cake is meant to be light and fluffy! 

You can also make Watergate Cupcakes if you prefer! So tasty!

This cake is best served chilled.

Watergate cake slice topped with pistachio frosting.

More Pistachio Treats

I’m a sucker for pistachio flavored desserts and snacks. Here are a few of my favorites!

Easy, 4 ingredient Pistachio Fluff Salad, also known simply as Pistachio Salad or Watergate Salad! Best served with friends and family, this recipe makes a great potluck dish!

Delicious, no bake Pistachio Eclair Cake is the perfect dessert at the end of the day!

Delicious, No Bake Pistachio Cherry Cheesecake. You’ll love the layers of cookie crust, creamy pistachio cheesecake, cherry pie filling and whipped cream!

Crunchy Biscotti with CranberryPistachio and White Chocolate. I love keeping some Cranberry Pistachio biscotti on hand all year long!

More Cake Recipes

Yield: 24 servings

Watergate Sheet Cake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes

This Watergate Sheet Cake is nutty and moist thanks to pistachio pudding and pecans. Topped with a sweet, light whipped cream topping and coconut, this cake has it ALL, and it's easy to make too!



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


  • 1 container (8 ounce) Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 package (3 ounce) instant pistachio pudding
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup sweetened, shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In large mixer bowl at medium speed, add cake mix, oil, pudding, eggs, and lemon lime soda. Fold in chopped pecans and coconut. Pour into greased & floured 13x9 baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 32-35 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. To frost, while cake is baking, beat pudding with milk until light & fluffy, about two minutes. Fold in Cool Whip. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more then spread over cooled cake.
  4. Sprinkle with pecans and coconut. Refrigerate and enjoy.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 197mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 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.

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 March 12, 2019

Comments & Reviews

  1. Wanted to know what would be the consequence or affect to the taste or texture if sugar free pudding was used instead to reduce the total sugar content? The calories or fat are not a concern, but wanted to reduce the sugar, but if it’s going to have a detrimental affect on the recipe quality somehow I’d like to know??

  2. I made this delicious pistachio pudding cake for a group meeting and it went over fabulously!! Very moist and delicious!! Definitely a keeper!

  3. Thanks for this!! Today is hubby’s bday and I wasn’t going to make him a cake. But he loves pistachio so I might just do this today!

  4. The first thing required to make this cake is to PIN it to my favorite board so I don’t lose it. I grew up eating this cake but I’m loving your version. The pretty pistachio color is perfect for our St. Patricks celebration too and I love that it’s in a 9×13 pan. That makes it so much easier to serve and I can have as big a piece as I want!

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