Pistachio Dessert

Delicious Pistachio Dessert has a crunchy shortbread cookie base for the perfect combination of crunchy, creamy, sweet + salty.

We love layered desserts, like our favorite Pistachio Dessert, especially for the holidays! If you love them too, try our White Chocolate Lasagna, Peppermint Chocolate Delight and Cookie Delight.

Layered pistachio dessert with a bite missing.

Pistachio layered dessert

Pistachio Dessert is similar to Watergate Salad, which uses pistachio instant pudding mix, canned pineapple, mini marshmallows, nuts, and whipped topping.

If you love pistachio and shortbread cookies, Pistachio Pudding is a must-make dessert. It has so many delicious layers, including a shortbread cookie crust, cream cheese layer, pistachio pudding layer, and a topping of Whipped Cream.

Pistachio Pudding Dessert is a cool treat, great for summer, but we love to enjoy this recipe all year long (it’s even great for Christmas with its green color).

It’s similar to our Lemon Lasagna and White Chocolate Lasagna, which are also a must try!

Crushed sandied crust with a cream cheese layer for pistachio dessert.

How to Make Pistachio Dessert

This recipe is quite simple, and takes just 10-15 minutes to prep before refrigerating for at least an hour.

COOKIE LAYER. Smash shortbread cookies in a Ziploc bag until fine (you can even put these in a food processor if you want them super fine). Add melted butter to the bag with crumbs, and mix. Press into a 9×13 pan.

BAKE. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes in the oven, until golden. Let cool.

CREAM CHEESE LAYER. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and Whipped Cream together until smooth. Pour an even layer over cooled crust.

PUDDING LAYER. In another bowl, mix the milk and pudding together until thickened. Pour and spread over the cream cheese layer.

WHIPPED CREAM. Spread remaining cool whip or whipped cream over the top and refrigerate.

Pistachio pudding dessert with layers in a baking dish.


Chill. Refrigerate the dessert as you are making the next layer. It helps each layer set before adding on the next.

Pudding. Be sure to use INSTANT pistachio pudding mix. Do not make it into a pudding, you will just be using the powder in this recipe. 

Shortbread cookies. I used Keebler Sandies, but any shortbread cookie should work. Golden Oreos, pistachio cookies, or any other kind of cookie would also work.

Crumby Crust. If you feel like your crust will be too dry and crumbly, add 1-2 more tablespoons of butter. 

Milk. I recommend whole milk as it creates a creamy pudding mixture. However, you can use 2%, 1% or even skim. 

Toppings. Here are some other great options:

  • Toasted coconut
  • Chopped pistachio nuts
  • Sprinkles
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts (we like to use pecans)
Candy topped slice of pistachio dessert on a plate.

Storing Info

Make ahead of time. We typically do not make this more than 24 hours in advance, just so it’s fresh. Wait to add sprinkles or candies on top until right before serving, so they don’t discolor the Whipped Cream. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until serving time. 

STORE leftovers covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.

We really hope you enjoy this Pistachio treat, it really is a perfect dessert! If you’re feeling really nutty, try pairing it with a scoop of pistachio ice cream! This dessert has been a go-to recipes in our home, and we think you’ll love it just as much as we do.

Nuts  topped slice of pistachio dessert on a plate.

For more layered desserts, check out:

Pistachio Dessert Recipe

4.99 from 60 votes
Delicious Pistachio Dessert has a crunchy shortbread cookie base for the perfect combination of crunchy, creamy, sweet + salty.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 15
Calories 285 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna


  • 11.2 oz package shortbread cookies, (about 21 cookies)
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 2 3.4 oz packages pistachio pudding mix
  • 2 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 cups whipped topping, divided (or 16 oz Cool Whip container)
  • Topping: M&Ms or ¼ cup chopped pecans


  • Smash shortbread cookies in a Ziploc bag, until fine. For extra fine crumbs, you can crush cookies in a food processor.
  • Add melted butter to Ziploc bag with Put crushed cookies and mix around until coated. Press crumbs into a 9×13 pan.
  • Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes in the oven until golden. Let cool.
  • Smooth together cream cheese, sugar and 2 cups of your cool whip (or whipped cream). Pour an even layer over crushed cookie crust.
  • Mix the milk and pudding mix together until thickened up. Pour over the cream cheese layer.
  • Spread your remaining whipped topping over the top and refrigerate. Top with crushed pecans if desired.


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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating


  1. I like to make a flour, sugar, chopped nuts and butter for my base and bake it and cool it. I use cream cheese, powdered sugar and cool whip for the next layer. Next layer the pistachio pudding using 2 boxes and 3 cups of milk as next layer. Final layer of cool whip. Sprinkle with color candies before serving.

  2. Your recipe calls for 16oz of whipped topping divided to be used for two different layers but you say the second layer with the cream cheese and powdered sugar needs 2 cups of cool whip…. 2 cups is 16oz so how do we have left over for the top layer?

    1. So a serving size for a 16 oz tub of Cool Whip is 2 Tbsp. There are about 50 servings in that tub. Which would be about 100 Tbsp. 1 cup = 16 Tbsp, so that full 16 oz tub should yield about 6.25 cups of Cool Whip, which should be enough wiggle room for the cream cheese layer and for the top. 🙂 We haven’t had any troubles with not having enough when using the 16 oz tub. Hope you enjoy the recipe!!

  3. 5 stars
    I’m a big fan of pistachios…especially pistachio-flavored desserts. This one is easy and really tasty!

  4. 5 stars
    Layered desserts are so cool and creamy. The green is so fun too… perfect for Christmas or St. Patty’s Day too!

  5. 5 stars
    Love this recipe for Christmas! I sometimes just sprinkle a couple of the shortbread cookies over the top if I don’t want to buy extra toppings.

    1. I typically use cool whip, mostly for sake of time, but fresh whipped cream would be delicious too! You could certainly swap for that!

  6. 5 stars
    This is a wonderful version! One of my loves favorites. The cookie base is great, I add a couple teaspoonfuls of sugar. I also use 3 packages of pistachio pudding Ad︊ a total of 2 3/4 cups of milk to it’s pretty firm.

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