Vegan Pistachio Cake with Lemon and Almond Frosting

Vegan Pistachio Cake

When I asked J what kind of birthday cake he would like this year he responded “Pistachio.” When I asked him what kind of dinner he’d like me to make for the celebration with his family he said “Trinidadian.” That boy keeps me on my toes, I thought to myself, and set to making green cake and callaloo.

I had never eaten nor heard of (tbqf) a pistachio cake, and my quick research yielded fluffy-looking, monstrously green cakes, most often made with a box of a gelatinous dessert powder (gross). I decided to get the flavour into this vegan pistachio cake by grinding raw nuts into a rough flour so that bits of the greeny-yellow (not at all reminiscent of that boxed junk) would be woven throughout the crumb.

Stacked in layers with a dollop of lemon curd, and mellow, sweet and easy frosting, it made an admirable birthday cake, but I’ll also admit that I’ve made it more recently, for no occasion whatsoever, except that it was Sunday and I had the kitchen to myself.

The recipes I’ve included here for the lemon curd and frosting are just about the simplest possible, and could easily be replaced by your favourite recipe, and the lemon curd can be left out entirely.

I’ve made the frosting with Earth Balance and with the homemade non-dairy butter from Miyoko Schinner’s amazing book The Homemade Vegan Pantry (she also has a recipe for lemon curd that looks great), subbing in some cocoa butter, which gave the frosting an incredible white chocolate flavour, almost like a ganache. If you’ve got the time to make your own butter, I’d really recommend checking out that book and giving it a whirl!

Vegan Pistachio Cake Recipe

Vegan Pistachio Cake

Vegan Pistachio Cake with Lemon & Almond Frosting

Tully Zander, the VeganFirstTully Zander
I had never eaten nor heard of (tbqf) a pistachio cake, and my quick research yielded fluffy-looking, monstrously green cakes, most often made with a box of a gelatinous dessert powder (gross). This vegan pistachio cake is amazing in every way. It has good-for-you ingredients like unsalted pistachio kernels and vegan butter, is easy to make, and doesn't require any fancy devices! The pistachio topping adds a lovely texture to the soft cake and looks beautiful, too!
4.75 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Recipe
Servings 6
Calories 488 kcal


For the cake

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted pistachio kernels
  • 3 tbsp ground flax
  • 8 tbsp warm water
  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter substitute
  • 1 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup vegan butter substitute
  • 3 cup organic icing sugar
  • lemon curd (optional)
  • 2 1/2 Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup cane sugar (depending on taste)
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter substitute
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric


For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare four (see notes) round 8" or 9" round baking tins by lightly greasing, covering the bottom with parchment, and then sprinkling with flour.
  • Start by grinding your pistachios into a coarse flour using a food processor or coffee grinder. Some larger pieces are swell, but the texture should be close to a heavy flour.
  • Whisk together the ground flax and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside to coagulate - this will be your binder.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, corn starch, salt, and lemon zest until well incorporated.
  • In another large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla, flax mixture, and almond milk. The mixture will look unappealing, but mix until the flecks of flax are unevenly distributed.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean (check for doneness as 35). Let cool in tins for about ten minutes, then remove to wire racks and cool fully before frosting.

For the frosting

  • In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter and shortening until uniform and softened. Add lemon juice and sifted sugar in 1/2 cup increments, scraping the sides as needed. Add in almond milk conservatively (about 1 tsp at a time) to help the mixing along and to achieve your desired texture.

To assemble

  • To make the optional lemon curd, mix all ingredients except for butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk out any lumps, and continue whisking as the mixture heats up. Once the curd is thickened to the point it won't drip off a spoon, stir in vegan butter and remove from heat.
  • Because vegan butter is often higher in water content, you may want to refrigerate your frosting for about an hour to keep your layers from slipping while building up the cake.
  • Place one cake on a cake board or plate. Plop about 1/2 c of frosting on top and spread. Place another round on top, and pipe a thick rope of frosting around the layer to fill with curd, if using (if not, just spread another layer of frosting). Place the last cake on top and frost the cake all over, as desired.


  • I've baked this cake two ways, in four 9" cake tins and in three 6" cake tins, and both turned out really well, with roughly the same baking time. Choose your tins based on what you have and on how thick you'd like your final cake layers to be.


Calories: 488kcalCarbohydrates: 69gProtein: 9gFat: 22gSodium: 900mgSugar: 40g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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One Comment

  1. I’m thinking if you add some spinach leaves or juice, or spiralina, you could add a little green color. I may try that when I make this cake. It looks really good.

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