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Pistachio Milk Cake, also known as Pistachio Tres Leches, is a delectable and moist cake that’s infused with flavors such as pistachio and cardamom. This Indian-inspired version of the cake is a shortcut version by using a boxed cake mix, yet it retains that homemade, delicious taste. Perfect for special occasions and a total crowd-pleaser.

Pistachio Milk Cake topped with whipped cream, ground pistachios, and dried rose petals.
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Tres Leches is easily one of my all-time favorite desserts. Surprisingly, my favorite Tres Leches can be found in the fresh bakery section at Whole Foods.

There are so many Indian Fusion versions of this cake, specifically speaking, Ras Malai Tres Leches. Despite this, I still wanted to make an Indian-inspired version of this cake, so I decided on Pistachio Tres Leches flavored with cardamom, of course! 🙂

More Indian Fusion Desserts

Here are a few you will love – Ras Malai Mousse, Kulfi Tiramisu, Rose Water Cake, and Eggless Mawa Cake.



Can you tell the difference when using a boxed cake mix?

Originally, I wanted to make this entire cake from scratch, however my sister assured me no one would make this cake and to keep it simple. That’s when I decided to use a boxed vanilla cake mix (from Trader Joe’s) and doctor it up so you can’t tell the difference – trust me.

With that said, the three-milk mixture and whipped cream are both from scratch, so you’ll definitely have that homemade element.

This Pistachio Milk Cake is mindblowing and delicious, I promise you, and it’ll be a HUGE hit at your Diwali party. I had 10 people try this cake, including family, friends, and my son’s teachers, and trust me, everyone LOVED it.


Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Quick & Easy Version – Using a boxed cake mix cuts down the preparation time of this cake, and yes, it tastes homemade. You can’t mess it up!
  • Make Ahead Option – you can easily make this cake up to 2 days in advance. Tres Leches actually taste better when made in advance since the cake soaks up the milk.
  • Creamy & Moist – Since this cake is soaked with 3 types of milk, it is incredibly creamy, moist, and delicious.
  • Crowdpleaser – Everyone who tasted this cake loved it.
  • Visually Appealing Cake – This cake is topped off with whipped cream, ground pistachios, and dried rose petals. It’s a beautiful cake that’s perfect for special occasions.

Eggless Version – Made from Scratch!

For an eggless version, you’ll need to make a soft sponge cake from scratch. I recommend using my Almond Cardamom Cake recipe, however this cake is made with eggs.

For an eggless version, replace the 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of whole milk yogurt. A couple of people have tried this and it has worked great. Please refer to the comments section of the recipe.

Additionally, replace 1/2 cup almonds in the recipe with 1/2 cup ground pistachios and skip adding additional almonds on top of the cake. Lastly, add some green food color and 1/2 teaspoon of pistachio extract.


Ingredients

Ingredients for Cake and 3 Milk Mixtures

Ingredients for Pistachio Milk Cake.
  • Vanilla Boxed Cake – For this cake, I used a Trader Joe’s Vanilla Boxed cake mix that uses butter instead of oil. Use any boxed cake mix you like, but I highly recommend using one with butter if possible – only because it’s been tested.
  • Green Food Color – I used a nontoxic green food coloring, so I had to use more than usual for that subtle green color. If you’re using green color with proper food color, you will need to use less, perhaps a drop or 2.
  • Pistachio Extract – In order to get a bold pistachio flavor, I used pistachio extract, a little bit goes a long way. Here is the brand I used which you can find on Amazon.
  • Raw Pistachios – The raw unsalted fresh pistachios need to be dry roasted and blended in a mini food processor. The pistachios should be finely chopped or slightly powdery, however don’t blend it to the point where it turns into nut butter.
  • Three Kinds of Milk – You’ll need whole milk, evaporated milk, and half a can of sweetened condensed milk. Since I’m using a boxed cake mix which tends to be very sweet, I used half a can of sweetened condensed milk to control the sugar.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – Make the whipped cream from scratch and use an electric mixer to form stiff peaks. Do not overmix the cream or else you’ll end up with butter.
  • Dried Rose Petals – You’ll need dried rose petals as a garnish – this is optional, however it looks very pretty. You can easily find edible rose petals on Amazon.
  • Basic Ingredients – Eggs at room temperature, Melted Butter, Vanilla Extract, Powdered Sugar, and Cardamom Powder.

*See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.*


3 Steps for This Recipe

  • Make the pistachio cake recipe using a boxed vanilla cake mix.
  • Prepare the three-milk mixture by combining whole milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
  • Make the whipped cream.

How to Make Pistachio Milk Cake Recipe

Step 1 – Roast and Blend Pistachios

1. In a medium-sized pan, dry roast the pistachios on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Once you can smell the aroma, take it off the heat, or else the pistachios will burn. (Image 1)

2. Blend the pistachios in a mini food processor. The pistachios should be finely chopped. (Image 2)

TIP: Do not over-blend the pistachios else you will end up with nut butter.

Dry roast and blend pistachios in mini food processor.

Step 2 – Make The Pistachio Cake using a Boxed Mix

1. Follow the instructions for your vanilla cake mix – preferably one that uses butter instead of oil. I’m using Trader Joe’s cake mix. In a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter, milk, eggs, and cardamom powder. Mix well. (Image 1)

2. Add all the dry ingredients from the boxed cake. Mix until well incorporated, however do not over-mix. (Image 2)

3. Add green food color. I used a nontoxic brand of food color, hence I needed more. (Image 3)

4. Add 1/2 cup of ground pistachios. Fold into the batter. (Image 4)

Mix egg, butter, milk, flour, and add pistachios.

5. Here is your batter. (Image 5)

6. Butter a 9×13″ baking dish or baking tray. Dust some flour on top to prevent the cake from sticking. (Image 6)

7. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes in my case, however for timing, follow the instructions on your cake mix. (Image 7)

8. Cake is ready. Let it cool for about 30 minutes. (Image 8)

Transfer batter into baking dish and bake.

Step 3 – Prepare the Milk Mixture

1. Add the 3 milks to a large mixing bowl – 1 cup whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Also, add cardamom powder, 1/2 cup of blended pistachios that were prepared earlier, and a couple of drops of green food color. (Image 1)

2. Use a whisk to mix well. If the color doesn’t turn green, it’s okay. There should be a subtle green color. The color will depend on how strong your food color is. Reserve 1 cup of the milk mixture for later. (Image 2)

TIP: Reserve 1 cup of the milk mixture – cover and refrigerate. You’ll need a couple of spoonfuls of this milk sauce when serving the cake. It adds additional moisture and flavor.

3. Once the cake cools, use a fork to poke holes all over the cake about 1-inch apart. (Image 3)

4. Pour the remaining milk mixture over the cake distributing them evenly. You’ll notice bits of pistachios all over, this is okay. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. I left mine in the fridge overnight. (Image 4)

Prepare the milk mixture and whisk, then pour over the cake.

Step 4 – Make the Whipped Cream (next day)

1. In a large bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer and blend for a couple of minutes at medium speed. (Image 1)

2. Then add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Beat on medium or high speed as needed. (Image 2)

3. Keep blending until the whipped cream starts to form stiff peaks. (Image 3)

TIP: Do not over-mix the heavy cream, or else you will end up with butter. We want stiff peaks to form.

4. Just like this. Do not overmix else you’ll end up with butter. (Image 4)

Prepare whipped cream with heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

Step 5 – Assemble (next day)

1. The next day, remove the plastic wrap. (Image 1)

2. Add large dollops of whipped cream on top of the cake. (Image 2)

3. Spread evenly. (Image 3)

4. Top with the remaining blended pistachios and a few edible rose petals. Enjoy cold. (Image 4)

Assemble the cake, top the cake with whipped cream, then garnish with pistachios and rose petals.

Expert Tips

Vanilla Boxed Cake Mix – I recommend Trader Joe’s Yellow Vanilla Cake Mix or any store-bought cake mix that uses butter instead of oil. With that said, you may also try one with oil.

Yellow Cake or White Cake Mix – For the best green color, a white cake would work better than a yellow cake. I used a yellow cake for this recipe, but I needed more food color.

Best Results – Allow the cake to absorb the three milks overnight in the refrigerator, or for a minimum of 6 hours at the very least.

Milk Mixture – Reserve 1 cup of the milk mixture – cover and refrigerate. You’ll need a couple of spoonfuls of this milk sauce when serving the cake. It adds additional moisture and flavor.

Pistachios – Make sure you use raw unsalted pistachios. After dry roasting the pistachios, blend them in a food processor until you have ground pistachios. Don’t blend the pistachios to the point where they turn into nut butter.

Whipped Cream – Do not overmix the whipped cream, or else you’ll end up with butter. Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.

Baking Dish – For this recipe, you will need a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.


Serving Suggestions

Top with Milk Mixture – When serving this cake, place a cake piece on a plate, then top with a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved milk mixture. Enjoy cold.

English Tea – Serve with a light & floral cup of English Tea – it perfectly complements this cake.


Recipe FAQs

Is this recipe vegan or gluten-free?

No. This recipe is not vegan or gluten-free.

Can I make this cake from scratch?

Sure. If you’d like to make this cake completely from scratch. I highly recommend using my Almond Cardamom Cake recipe which tastes incredible.
Replace 1/2 cup almonds in the recipe with pistachios and skip adding the additional almonds on top of the cake. Additionally, add some green food color. That’s it.

How do I store this Tres Leches Cake?

Leave the cake in the Pyrex baking dish or transfer it to a glass storage dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap followed by a lid. This cake lasts for 5-6 days in the fridge.

What can I substitute for Pistachio Extract?

If you don’t want to use pistachio extract, almond extract would be a great substitute which echoes that nutty flavor. Use a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract in both the cake layer and milk mixture.


Pistachio Milk Cake with a bite taken from it, it's topped with whipped cream, ground pistachios, and dried rose petals.


Tried this recipe? If so, please leave a comment & rate this recipe. That would mean so much to me. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I’m happy to share and mention you. Thank you!


5 from 10 votes

Pistachio Milk Cake

By: Nisha
Pistachio Milk Cake is a delectable and moist cake that's infused with flavors such as pistachio and cardamom. This Indian-inspired version of the cake is a shortcut version by using a boxed cake mix, yet it retains that homemade, delicious taste.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 24 squares

Ingredients 

DRY ROAST PISTACHIOS

  • 1 cup raw unsalted pistachios

BOXED CAKE MIX (TRADER JOE'S)

  • 1 vanilla box cake mix, I used Trader Joe's
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1-2 drop green food color, more if needed
  • 1/2 tsp pistachio extract
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, blended

PISTACHIO MILK (RESERVE 1 CUP FOR SERVING)

  • 12 ounces evaporated milk, 1 can
  • 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 can
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp pistachio extract
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 cup pistachios – blended
  • 1-2 drops green food color, more if needed

WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar

GARNISH

  • remaining pistachios
  • 3 tbsp dried rose petals
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Instructions 

Step 1 – Roast and Blend Pistachios

  • In a medium-sized pan, dry roast the pistachios on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Once you can smell the aroma, take it off the heat, or else the pistachios will burn. Blend the pistachios in a mini food processor. The pistachios should be finely chopped, but do not blend it too much else you'll end up with nut butter.

Step 2 – Make The Pistachio Cake using a Boxed Mix

  • Follow the instructions for your vanilla cake mix – preferably one that uses butter instead of oil. I'm using Trader Joe's cake mix. In a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter, milk, eggs, and cardamom powder. Mix well. Then add all the dry ingredients from the boxed cake. Mix until well incorporated, however do not over-mix.
  • Add green food color. I used a nontoxic brand of food color, hence I needed more. Add 1/2 cup of blended pistachios. Fold into the batter. Butter a 9×13" baking dish or baking tray. Dust some flour on top to prevent the cake from sticking. Pour the cake batter into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes in my case, however for timing, follow the instructions on your cake mix. Cake is ready. Let it cool for about 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Prepare the Milk Mixture

  • Add the 3 milks to a large mixing bowl – 1 1/4 cups whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Also, add cardamom powder, 1/2 cup of blended pistachios that were prepared earlier, and a couple of drops of green food color. Use a whisk to mix well. If the color doesn't turn green, it's okay. There should be a subtle green color. The color will depend on how strong your food color is. Reserve 1 cup of the milk mixture for later.
  • Once the cake cools, use a fork to poke holes all over the cake about 1-inch apart. Pour the remaining milk mixture over the cake distributing them evenly. You'll notice bits of pistachios all over, this is okay. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. I left mine in the fridge overnight.

Step 4 – Make the Whipped Cream (next day)

  • In a large bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer and blend for a couple of minutes at medium speed. Then add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Beat on medium or high speed as needed. Keep blending until the whipped cream starts to form stiff peaks. Do not over-mix or else you will end up with butter.

Step 5 – Assemble (next day)

  • The next day, remove the plastic wrap. Add large dollops of whipped cream on top of the cake. Spread evenly. Top with the remaining blended pistachios and a few edible rose petals. Enjoy cold.

Notes

  • Vanilla Boxed Cake Mix – I recommend Trader Joe’s Yellow Vanilla Cake Mix or any store-bought cake mix that uses butter instead of oil. With that said, you may also try one with oil.
  • Yellow Cake or White Cake Mix – For the best green color, a white cake would work better than a yellow cake. I used a yellow cake for this recipe, but I needed more food color.
  • Best Results – Allow the cake to absorb the three milks overnight in the refrigerator, or for a minimum of 6 hours at the very least.
  • Milk Mixture – Reserve 1 cup of the milk mixture – cover and refrigerate. You’ll need a couple of spoonfuls of this milk sauce when serving the cake. It adds additional moisture and flavor.
  • Pistachios – Make sure you use raw unsalted pistachios. After dry roasting the pistachios, blend them in a food processor until you have ground pistachios. Don’t blend the pistachios to the point where they turn into nut butter.
  • Whipped Cream – Do not overmix the whipped cream, or else you’ll end up with butter. Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Baking Dish – For this recipe, you will need a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 200mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 553IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 1mg

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian Fusion
Diet: Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @honeywhatscooking or tag #honeywhatscooking!

Hi, I'm Nisha!

I'm a foodie who is passionate about healthy-ish living and mindful eating. You'll find a bit of everything here. I use mostly organic real ingredients and incorporate seasonal produce in my cooking. I believe food is medicine. Join me on this soul-searching journey as I share my love for good food, and I hope I inspire you to eat better somewhere along the way.


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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Couldn’t find the Trader Joe’s mix so I swapped for another… accidentally picked out a gluten free mix and used matcha powder instead of food coloring. Despite all my foibles , or maybe enhanced by them, this was one of my favorite cakes I’ve made in a while! Thanks

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Nisha!! Trader Joe’s stopped making the yellow cake mix, do you have another brand recommendation? BTW I love this recipe, I made it once and it was so delicious and a crowd pleaser. You can taste the organic ingredients and the special touches of pistachio and rose.

  3. 5 stars
    I tried this for our wedding anniversary yesterday,it was delicious,my daughter calls it kulfi cake 😅.Thankyou for the yummy recipe!!!!

  4. 5 stars
    This pistachio tres leches was amazing!! Everyone loved it at my chaat and tea party. Thank you for always creating such great fusion dessert recipes. This is the third dessert recipe I’ve tried of yours! All were great!

  5. 5 stars
    Made this twice already. Once for Diwali and then for Thanksgiving. Nisha’s instructions are detailed, easy to follow. For Thanksgiving few kids had nut allergies so I used berries instead of pistachios.

  6. 5 stars
    I tried this Pistachio Tres leches cake for our Diwali 2023!! And this was a huge hit !! Everyone enjoyed this thoroughly. I am so happy I stopped by at your page for the desserts recipes! Every Diwali I try one new dessert recipe and this year I tried this cake and I am so satisfied with the end results! Thanks to Nisha for creating this recipe 💕

  7. 5 stars
    Perfect Indian fusion cake!!! Easy to make and not too sweet. I didn’t have food coloring so I didn’t add that in there. But the cake was delicious and everyone loved it!! My daughter had the small piece that was left for breakfast!!

  8. 5 stars
    Nisha – I made this over the weekend and it was DIVINE! My entire family LOVED this cake. I can’t believe it tastes so good using a boxed cake mix. Thank you thank you for making life easier and using a boxed cake mix cause no one can tell. This is by far one of your BEST recipes!