Pistachio Cake with Orange Segments

A slice of pistachio cake with orange segments.

With ground pistachios and orange zest, this easy single layer cake is simple and delicious. Pistachio Cake with Orange Segments makes a delicious end to any meal.

steps for making batter.

This pistachio cake with fresh orange segments is greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s just a simple pistachio cake, lightly scented with orange zest.  It has a tender, moist, nutty crumb flecked with subtle green from the ground pistachios.  I serve it with a spoonful of orange segments for a perfect pairing.  It’s so sublime — it won’t last one night. Here’s how I know…

I made it for dessert one night when friends were coming for dinner.  We ate, we laughed and we had some cake.  PISTACHIO CAKE.  

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Picture the scene.  Five of us — each with a sweet wedge of pistachio cake dusted with powdered sugar and glistening with fresh orange segments.  

One bite.  Two.  Bigger bite.  Gone.  Maybe just a sliver more.  Or two.  “Are there any oranges left?” someone mumbled. Then, there was a frenzy of forks jostling for the remains on the platter.  No. More. Cake.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • It’s a quick and easy single layer cake recipe.
  • Doesn’t require any fancy decorating or piping bags.
  • There’s nothing artificial. No packages of instant pistachio pudding, just ground nuts.
  • It satisfies your sweet tooth without being an over-the top dessert.
  • This pistachio cake with orange segments is perfect for casual dinner parties with friends.


  • Pistachios – use unsalted, shelled nuts (ones that aren’t dyed red).
  • All Purpose Flour – I like King Arthur’s.
  • Baking Powder – be sure to check the expiration date on your baking powder. It loses its potency after about 6 months.
  • Ground Cardamom – this spice isn’t as strong as cinnamon and has a floral quality that’s perfect paired with pistachios.
  • Salt – plain, iodized salt is what you need. Don’t substitute kosher salt.
  • Whole Milk – makes the cake light and helps it to brown.
  • Vanilla Extract – for flavoring. I use Penzey’s Double Strength Vanilla.
  • Unsalted Butter – I recommend unsalted because different brands have varying sodium levels. You want to control the salt level of the cake.
  • Eggs – for a soft crumb and lightness.
  • Oranges – use heavy, ripe fruit, which indicates a juicier orange. You can use any variety, even tangerines or mandarins.
additional steps for making batter.

What I’m saying is that pistachios should be at the top of your grocery list.   This  cake is too good not to have this weekend (with a cup of coffee or tea – no wine – lest you succumb to the same fate as I).  Seriously, make this.  Eat this.  You won’t be sorry.  

Cooling the pistachio cake on a cake rack.

A bowl of fresh orange supremes.

Here’s why you’ll like it:  It isn’t involved.  There isn’t a huge time commitment.  you won’t be making several layers, letting them cool, splitting them in half and frosting them layer by layer, assembling as you go.  

Dusting the pistachio cake with powdered sugar.

Heck, you don’t have to make frosting at all.  No.  It’s a single 9-inch cake.  Adorn it with whipped cream, ice cream, or powdered sugar.  Or don’t.  

It’s yummy either way.  I didn’t make a single change to this recipe other than to segment the oranges that I’d already zested for the batter and serve them with the cake.  

Serving the pistachio cake with fresh orange segments.

Speaking of the recipe, I’m not taking credit for this one.  I’m spreading the word.  

I found this on epicurious.com by chef Rick Tramonto.  However, it did get me thinking – could I do this with cashews? Peanuts? Brazil nuts? Pecans? Hmmm.  We’ll see.  

In the meantime, I’m making this again — so should you. 

More single layer cakes:

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A slice of pistachio cake with fresh orange segments.
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5 from 7 votes

Pistachio Cake with Orange Segments

This lovely pistachio cake uses ground pistachios to permeate the tender, moist cake with its delicious nutty flavor. We like it with a spoonful of citrus, but it also goes well with ice cream or whipped cream.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, navel orange, pistachio
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8


  • ¾ cup pistachios unsalted, shelled– about 4 ounces — not dyed red
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 medium oranges 2 Tablespoons, zested and segmented

Optional garnish

  • powdered sugar
  • whipped cream
  • ice cream
  • pistachios


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trace the circumference of a 9″ round cake pan on a piece of parchment paper and cut out the circle. Spray the pan with vegetable spray. Lay the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and spray again. Set aside.
  • Using food processor (I used my 3 cup mini-prep), pulse pistachios until finely ground, about 40 seconds. Don’t over-process or you’ll get a nut butter.
  • Add flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt and pulse a few times to combine.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (1 1/2-2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and alternate adding pistachio mixture and milk — beginning and ending with pistachio mixture and beating just enough to combine. Add orange zest and vanilla and beat just to combine.
  • Spread batter evenly in a pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean — about 30-40 minutes.
  • While cake is baking segment oranges and set aside in a small bowl.
  • Cool in pan and on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around cake to loosen from pan and invert onto rack. Peel off parchment paper.
  • Can be served warm or room temperature. Serve a spoonful of orange segments alongside a slice of cake with any additional garnish you like!


This video is a great tutorial on how to supreme citrus if you’re unfamiliar with this technique:


Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 289mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 520IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg

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  1. 5 stars
    Charlotte and I had so much fun making this cake way to go and keep up the good work

    Love Carter

    1. Carter, I’m so glad you enjoyed this cake — it’s one of Mimi’s favorites!

  2. I can’t wait to make it ! Thank you.

  3. 5 stars
    These look absolutely amazing and so pretty. I bet they taste heavenly too Lisa. Never tried a combo like this but I see no reason why I shouldn’t soon.

  4. 5 stars
    OMgosh Lisa, this looks incredible! I make an orange cake but clearly I need to try this! I also happen to have orange trees in my yard…blood oranges even! Wish I could give you some right now!

  5. I love this combination. Perfect for my morning coffee. I’m curious to get my taste of this pistachio cake.

  6. 5 stars
    Ooooooo now this is a combo I could roll with! Absolutely loving the process shots too! Such beautiful photography 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    Just enjoyed a slice of this with a cup of joe! Just perfect! And my kind of dessert….simple, straightforward flavors, moist and beautiful. I suspect that it will freeze beautifully or be equally receptive to a week in the refrigerator without losing any of its qualities! This recipe is a keeper, Lisa!

  8. 5 stars
    I am a big fan of such no fuss cakes. I can imagine the beautiful blend of flavours from Pistachio and Orange in this one.

    1. This is a delicious cake and I love it with orange segments.