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Pistachio Dessert is a no bake dessert with layers of pistachio instant pudding, cheesecake, whipped topping and a pistachio graham cracker crumb crust. This layered dessert is so simple to make and it’s creamy, light, and full of pistachio flavor and crunch. 

We love pistachio desserts at my house! Other favorites are this Easy Pineapple Pistachio Cake and Pistachio Cheesecake Pie

One slice of layered pudding dessert topped with pistachios sitting on a white plate.

Pistachio Dessert Recipe (Pistachio Instant Pudding Dessert)

Layered desserts are so pretty and the perfect dessert to serve for a family gathering or the Holidays. If you love pistachios + pistachio pudding then you need to make this Pistachio Pudding Dessert! I love the cool and creamy light taste of pistachio instant pudding so this is one of my favorites. 

This pudding dessert starts with a pistachio graham cracker crust, next is the no bake cheesecake layer (cream cheese layer), the pretty green pistachio pudding layer, and finally it’s topped off with more whipped topping and chopped pistachios. 

A pan of layered pistachio dessert.

Ingredients Needed

  • Graham Crackers : These are the whole sheets that the recipe calls for. I use honey graham crackers and that is what I recommend using for this layered dessert. 
  • Pistachios : These go in the crust and the garnish on top of the finished dessert. You can skip adding the pistachios in the crust, if wanted, but it really adds to that fresh and bright pistachio flavor. 
  • Melted Butter : This is what binds the cracker crumbs and pistachios together so that you are able to press it down for the crust inside the baking dish. 
  • Cream Cheese : For best texture and flavor use full-fat cream cheese and not the reduced-fat or lite cream cheese. 
  • White Granulated Sugar
  • Cool Whip : This is divided in the recipe meaning that half of it goes into the cheesecake mixture and the other half is saved for the top and final layer. You can make your own homemade whipped cream if wanted in place of buying Cool Whip. 
  • Pistachio Instant Pudding : Carefully select the instant pudding mix and not the cook n’ serve pistachio pudding. They are very different and only one will yield successful in this recipe.
  • Half and Half : This is the only milk I recommend using! It has the fat and thickness needed to really help that pistachio pudding layer set up.  

Labeled ingredients for this pistachio dessert

How To Make a Layered Pistachio Pudding Dessert

Learn how to make pistachio dessert with layers of graham cracker crust, cheesecake, pistachio pudding, and whipped topping with the easy steps below. Be sure and read to the bottom of this post where there is a detailed recipe card with a printable button option, and a pin it button so you can save this recipe for later. 

  • Graham Cracker Crust

    • Place the graham crackers and pistachios into a food processor, or food chopper, and process on high speed until everything is in fine crumbs. 
    • Slowly pour in the melted butter and process on low speed just until combined. Stir the mixture with a spoon to make sure all the crumbs are coated well in the butter. 
    • Press the crumbs into a 9×13 baking pan. Put it in the freezer for 20 minutes while you prepare the other layers. 

Step by step process photos for the graham cracker crust.

  • Cream Cheese Layer

    • In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip until combined. Set aside. 

Step by step process photos for making the cream cheese layer.

  • Pistachio Pudding Layer

    • In a separate mixing bowl, add the pudding mix (dry) and half & half. Whisk together, with a wire whisk, for 2 minutes or until the pudding is thickened. Let it sit for 5 minutes. 

A bowl of pistachio pudding that has been thickened and mixed with milk.

  • Assemble The Layered Dessert & Serving

    • Take the crust out of the freezer and evenly spread the cream cheese layer over top. Next, evenly spread the pistachio pudding layer over that. Top with 8 ounces of Cool Whip.
    • Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight, before slicing and serving. 
    • Garnish the top with chopped pistachios and/or additional crushed graham crackers. 

Step by step process photos for assembling this pistachio dessert.

Step by step process photos for assembling this pistachio dessert.

Step by step process photos for assembling this pistachio dessert.

Step by step process photos for assembling this pistachio dessert.

Pistachio Dessert FAQ’s

  • How To Store Pistachio Dessert with Pudding

    • Store leftovers inside the fridge, in an airtight container or cover the baking dish well with plastic wrap and foil, for up to 4-5 days. 
    • The longer it sits in the fridge, the more liquid the pudding layer will give off, which means the crust will start to turn soggy and really soft. 
  • Can I Freeze It?

    • I don’t recommend freezing this dessert because once the pudding and cool whip layers are thawed they tend to give off a lot of liquid and not be as creamy. However, if you want to freeze it then feel free. 
    • Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and then double wrap the pan in two layers of foil. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before cutting and serving. 
  • Serving Suggestions

    • Serve this pistachio dessert chilled from the fridge. 
  • Substitutions

    • Powdered Sugar : If wanted, powdered sugar can be used instead of white granulated sugar in the cream cheese mixture. Use 1 cup of powdered sugar if substituting. 
    • Crust : 15 graham cracker sheets equals about 2 cups of crumbs. Feel free to use already crushed graham crackers (which you can find in the baking aisle) or try using some Golden Oreo cookies or other cookie or cracker you love. Nilla Wafers are another great choice, honey teddy grahams, vanilla goldfish crackers. 
    • Garnish : Try using crushed graham crackers as the garish in place of the pistachios. Or leave it plain and serve the layered dessert as is. 
  • Texture & Flavor Notes

    • The texture is smooth and creamy paired with the slightly salty crumbly crust. 
    • This layered dessert has a strong pistachio due to the crushed pistachios in the crust, the pistachio pudding, and the garnish of chopped pistachios. It pairs perfectly with the light and fluffy cheesecake layer and the graham cracker crust. 
    • For a lighter pistachio flavor omit the pistachios either in the crust or as the garnish. 

A serving spoon lifting a piece of dessert out of the pan.

Recipe Tips

Here are a few of my helpful tips so that you can have success recreating this recipe in your own kitchen ♥

  • Softened Cream Cheese : To avoid lumps in the cream cheese mixture make sure that the cream cheese is well softened. Leave it out at room temperature prior to making this recipe, but for no longer than 2 hours. 
  • Butter : You can use salted butter or unsalted butter for this recipe. If the pistachios are salted I suggest using unsalted butter. 
  • Pistachio Pudding : I have only ever made this recipe with the regular pistachio instant pudding. I have never tried using sugar-free instant pudding. You can experiment if you want! Do not follow the box directions. Follow the recipe as written below in the recipe card. Also, make sure you are are using the instant pudding mix and NOT the cook n’ serve pudding. 
  • Use Half and Half : I don’t recommend using another milk. You want the fat and thickness that only half and half can give to this recipe. If anything, you can try using whole milk and I am sure it would work out just fine. 
  • Clean Slices : For clean and precise slices (where the layers stay intact and pretty) wipe down your knife between each cut. 
  • Fridge Time : Don’t rush this. The layers need adequate time to thicken and the flavors to come together. If you rush the fridge time, the dessert will be thinner and harder to cut. 

Layered dessert on a white plate

Front view of this dessert with a fork taken a bite out of it to show the middle.

More Layered Desserts You’ll Love

One slice of layered pudding dessert topped with pistachios sitting on a white plate.
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Pistachio Pudding Dessert


Author Jessica - Together as Family
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings 15
Pistachio Dessert is a no bake dessert with layers of pistachio instant pudding, cheesecake, whipped topping and a pistachio graham cracker crumb crust. This layered dessert is so simple to make and it's creamy, light, and full of pistachio flavor and crunch. 

Ingredients
  

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 15 graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 10 tablespoons butter melted

Cream Cheese Layer

  • 2 bars (8 oz each) full-fat cream cheese softened
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip thawed

Pistachio Pudding Layer

  • 2 boxes (3.4 oz each) pistachio instant pudding
  • 3 cups half and half

Topping

  • 8 ounces Cool Whip thawed
  • 1/4 cup chopped shelled pistachios

Instructions

Make the Graham Cracker Crust

  • Place the graham cracker sheets and pistachios into a food processor. Process on high speed until the mixture is fine crumbs.
    Step by step process photos for the graham cracker crust.
  • Slowly pour the melted butter into the crumbs. Process on low speed just until combined. Stir the crumb mixture with a spoon to make sure all the cracker crumbs are coated in butter.
  • Press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9x13 cake pan/baking dish. Place the pan inside the freezer for 20 minutes while you prepare the other layers.

Make the Cream Cheese Layer

  • In a mixing bowl add the cream cheese and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat together until smooth and combined.
    Step by step process photos for making the cream cheese layer.
  • Fold in the Cool Whip and stir just until combined. Set aside.

Make the Pistachio Pudding Layer

  • In a separate mixing bowl, add the dry pistachio pudding mix and half & half. Stir with a wire whisk for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is combined well and thickened.
    A bowl of pistachio pudding that has been thickened and mixed with milk.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes to finish thickening.

Assemble the Layered Pudding Dessert

  • Take the crust out of the freezer and evenly spread the cream cheese layer over top.
    Step by step process photos for assembling this pistachio dessert.
  • Evenly spread the pistachio pudding layer over the cream cheese layer.
  • Finish off by spreading the Cool Whip over top. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  • Cut into squares and garnish the top with the chopped pistachios before serving.
    Step by step process photos for assembling this pistachio dessert.

Notes

Cool Whip : You can buy two separate 8 ounce containers for this recipe, or buy one 16 ounce container and use half in the cream cheese layer and the other half for the top layer. 
Crust Tip : If omitting the pistachios, for whatever reason, I would suggest increasing the crushed graham cracker crumbs to 2.5 cups. If you don't have a food processor, I recommend placing the graham cracker sheets into a Ziploc bag and using a meat pounder or something else that is heavy to crush them. I would also just not add the pistachios because you need a food processor to get them ground up finely, or you could try using a nut chopper if you have one. 
Recipe Tips -
  • Softened Cream Cheese : To avoid lumps in the cream cheese mixture make sure that the cream cheese is well softened. Leave it out at room temperature prior to making this recipe, but for no longer than 2 hours. 
  • Butter : You can use salted butter or unsalted butter for this recipe. If the pistachios are salted I suggest using unsalted butter. 
  • Pistachio Pudding : I have only ever made this recipe with the regular pistachio instant pudding. I have never tried using sugar-free instant pudding. You can experiment if you want! Do not follow the box directions. Follow the recipe as written below in the recipe card. Also, make sure you are are using the instant pudding mix and NOT the cook n' serve pudding. 
  • Use Half and Half : I don't recommend using another milk. You want the fat and thickness that only half and half can give to this recipe. If anything, you can try using whole milk and I am sure it would work out just fine. 
  • Clean Slices : For clean and precise slices (where the layers stay intact and pretty) wipe down your knife between each cut. 
  • Fridge Time : Don't rush this. The layers need adequate time to thicken and the flavors to come together. If you rush the fridge time, the dessert will be thinner and harder to cut.
Substitutions -
  • Powdered Sugar : If wanted, powdered sugar can be used instead of white granulated sugar in the cream cheese mixture. Use 1 cup of powdered sugar if substituting. 
  • Crust : 15 graham cracker sheets equals about 2 cups of crumbs. Feel free to use already crushed graham crackers (which you can find in the baking aisle) or try using some Golden Oreo cookies or other cookie or cracker you love. Nilla Wafers are another great choice, honey teddy grahams, vanilla goldfish crackers. The 15 graham crackers is referring to the entire whole sheet of graham cracker. So the two halves together. 
  • Garnish : Try using crushed graham crackers as the garish in place of the pistachios. Or leave it plain and serve the layered dessert as is. 

Nutrition

Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 484mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 889IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 1mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

I'd love to see it! You can share it with me on @togetherasfamilyblog and follow on Pinterest @together-as-family-blog-recipes or Facebook @togetherasfamilyblog for more!

 

A pan of dessert topped with pistachios

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