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

4.98 from 39 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 love love love love pistachios and shortbread. This sounds DREAMY. Can’t wait to make it!! Lorin’s got great taste!

  2. Oh these look soooo good!!! The Frosted Holiday Mint M&M Brownies as well!! Def wanna try these when I visit my grandma’s again cause she’s the one with the oven lol. thanks for sharing your recipes!!

  3. Tried to make this but I was wondering if the measurements are right for the shortbread crust. Followed exactly what it called for, but the crust did not bake together and I was left with crumbs. When I tried to smooth on the cream cheese layer, the crumbs ended up completely mixed in with this layer. I’m sure it will still be yummy, but it definitely doesn’t have a nice crust.

    1. The exact same thing happened to me… Totally bummed it didn’t work and now I have to come up with a back up dessert pronto!

  4. What kind of short bread cookies is everyone using? I don’t know what to buy. Please don’t reply any brand will do please give me some examples. Thanks

    1. Keebler sandies simply shortbread cookies & I used 6TBS of melted butter & baked my crust for 15 minutes comes out great!

  5. TOTAL FAIL. 2 3/4 cups of milk for the pudding????? I’m now stuck with half a recipe that’s turned to crap because the pudding is SOUP. You don’t do 2 cups of milk for the regular pudding. So much for following a blog recipe. Have you ever even made this before? or just mistype your Mother-in-laws recipe?
    Thanks but no thanks.

    1. I’m sorry, but you are wrong. ONE box of pudding calls for 2 cups of milk. This recipe calls for 2 boxes of pudding, so 2 3/4 cup of milk is LESS than what the pudding would usually call for. You mix the milk and pudding until it thickens up, which takes a few minutes, and then pour it over the cream cheese layer. You must not have followed the direction properly.

      1. I want to apologize in public. It was my fault. I most definitely did read it wrong. Since I live 25 minutes from a grocery store, running and grabbing another box isn’t an option, so I folded in some extra whipped cream. It still turned out yummy. I apologize for my rant, I don’t mind admitting when I’m most definitely in the wrong. 😀 If you want to delete my comment please do so, but if only for you. I made myself look like an idiot and what happens on the internet, stays on the internet. 😉 Good luck to you! It was a yummy dessert after all!

    1. Personally, I never make a recipe more than 24 hours in advance just so it’s fresh. Also, I would definitely wait to add sprinkles or candies on top until right before serving so they don’t discolor the cool whip on top. 😉

  6. 5 stars
    So I learned my lesson. Print the recipe out before you make it. I was so excited to make it because my mom use to make it and I would devour it. So I ran to the store and grabbed the ingredients, what I thought were the ingredients. I was looking at my phone. When I got home and started to make it I discovered I needed 2 pudding boxes and my whipped cream topping was frozen. It was too late to go back so I had to wait to the next day. Then I realized I forgot to put in the powdered sugar. Then when I wwnt to go make the second box of pudding I added the 2 cups of milk and it turned to soup. I also needed more whipped topping than a whole tub for the top. It turned out fine but I’m going to make it again sometime in a smaller dish. Ill be keeping this and your other recipes. Glad I found this on Pinterest!

  7. I’m excited to make these! My hubby went and got the ingredients for me, but couldn’t find a 13oz package keebler Sandie’s cookies, the package is 11.2 oz. He bought two packages… Should I use some from the other package to equal 13 oz? I just don’t want the crust to not turn out. Thanks!

    1. I would definitely use some from the other package, but it’s up to you how much. If you want more of a crust I would add half of the other package and then add 1-2 more TB of butter. 😉

  8. We make this recipe all the time but our crust is different instead of cookies we use flour butter and chopped nuts. It’s my favorite dessert!!!!

    1. We make our own shortbread for the crust for this type of dessert too. We also make several different flavor variations using the same method.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this for christmas last year and got tons of compliments. My mother-in-law even asked for the recipe, and she turned around and made it for a church dinner.

  10. 5 stars
    I added an EXTRA tablesPoon of butter to help the crumbs hold together before baking. I also drop the cream cheese layer gently over the crust in small piles and spread carefully. I then chilled for awhile before pouring over the pudding layer. Chill the pudding layer as well before the final layer of cool whip. This keeps the layers intact for a better looking dessert.

  11. 5 stars
    Instead of the candy on top I put pieces of Pistachio on it.. It was awesome! My hubs loved it. Thank-you ?

  12. 5 stars
    How delightful and so super fun! I know exactly who I need to make this delicious dessert for! I have a friend whose favorite flavor is pistachio. She is going to LOVE this!

  13. 5 stars
    This is absolutely divine! We love all the incredible layers! It’s so versatile too, for various holidays. We just switch out the candy on top!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!

  16. 5 stars
    I’m a big fan of pistachios…especially pistachio-flavored desserts. This one is easy and really tasty!

  17. 5 stars
    Layered desserts are so cool and creamy. The green is so fun too… perfect for Christmas or St. Patty’s Day too!

  18. 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.