TheNew York Timesrecently profiled one of the hottest desserts around right now, a pistachio Bundt cake at uber-hip Claud in the East Village. Chef Joshua Pinsky, the Times wrote, was “finally ready to reveal the key ingredient. It’s not high-end vanilla paste or heirloom wheat flour.”
The secret ingredient? Instant pudding mix. “I don’t tell everybody,” Pinsky said to the Times. “When they are like, ‘This is delicious,’ I don’t go, ‘It’s the pudding.’ But it’s the pudding.” Pinsky apparently felt so embarrassed by his technique that for a long time, he would hide the pudding boxes in the kitchen. But no longer.
What Does Adding Instant Pudding Mix Do?
Adding instant pudding mix to your dessert brings a moist texture to recipes. It’s especially useful when baking a cake from a boxed mix for added flavor and moisture.
Why Is Instant Pudding So Popular?
According to Jeri Quinzio’s 2012 book, Pudding: A Global History, instant pudding was introduced in 1918. With the rise of supermarkets in mid-20th century America, the product’s popularity grew. In the 1940s, ads in women’s magazines for Jell-O instant pudding claimed it could recreate “Grandma’s creamy, deep-flavored pudding, quick as a scat.” Home cooks popularized using the mixes for cakes and other pastries. Local community cookbooks from the late 20th century are full of recipes that call for pudding mix.
How Is Pudding Mix Used In Desserts?
Pudding can be used in so many great desserts—from cakes to pies and even tiramisu. When baking a cake, simply stir in a box of your desired instant pudding mix (don’t make the pudding, just add the boxed mix) to your dry ingredients. Voila! A decadent dessert awaits.
Easy Cake Recipes That Start with a Box of Pudding
This moist and delicious chocolate cake is usually the first dessert to go. People even eat the crumbs. It’s always my top choice for holiday dinners. —Ellen Riley, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Go to Recipe
I love to make these red velvet jar cakes for friends, family and teachers. Red velvet is my favorite during the holidays, but you can use any cake and frosting flavors you like. Then dress up the jars with homemade labels and ribbons for gifting. Don't forget to tie a spoon to the jar; everyone likes to dig right in! —Lillie Collier, Mobile, Alabama
My husband and I are trying to eat lighter but still crave sweets. This moist, healthy chocolate cake really helps with that. With the rich frosting, it makes a decadent treat! —LaDonna Reed, Ponca City, Oklahoma
This margarita cake is perfect for a picnic on a warm day. You'll be surprised at how closely it tastes like the real thing. These other margarita dessert recipes are delicious, too. ?—Dawn Lowenstein, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
Although I have some wonderful from-scratch recipes, this one uses a boxed mix with plenty of doctoring. It has become a popular groom’s cake that gets more attention than the wedding cake. —Nora Fitzgerald, Sevierville, Tennessee
I think this recipe combines two of the best and most famous ingredients from the South: sweet tea and pecans! Using a cake mix simplifies prep and helps ease the holiday time crunch. —Melissa Millwood, Lyman, South Carolina
Inspired by the fruity tropical flavors of my all-time favorite yogurt, this makes
for a fresh, fun and comforting treat. Try it for a beautiful dessert that is
ridiculously easy to prepare! —Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, Missouri
I am a huge fan of the chocolate-peanut butter combination. I'm also a fan of easy recipes, including dump cakes. On occasion, I've omitted the peanut butter chips and used 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips with very tasty results. —Lisa Varner, El Paso, Texas
I got this recipe for coconut cake from a co-worker years ago, then I changed it up a bit by adding a family favorite: butterscotch. It's super easy to throw together and it makes a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California
I created this spumoni cake for a holiday potluck one year. It has become my most requested dessert. If you prefer, substitute semisweet chocolate chips for the white chocolate. —Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, Missouri
My mother received this recipe from a friend years ago when fluted tube pans first became popular. The cake lasts a few days in the refrigerator, if you don't eat it all right away. I personally love to serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. —Debbie Pelletier, Jupiter, Florida
You'll spend less than a half hour whipping up this cure-all cake that starts with a mix. Sour cream and chocolate pudding make it rich and moist, and chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate make it decadent comfort food at its finest. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
We sometimes call this pumpkin spice cake "Thanksgiving Cake" because it's a tasty alternative to pie, but we don't relegate it to just that holiday. I think you'll agree it's delicious any time of the year. —Kathy Rhoads, Circleville, Ohio
This recipe was given to me many years ago by a friend. Teaming chocolate with butterscotch for a marble cake makes it more flavorful and colorful than the usual chocolate-vanilla combination. This rich family favorite is very moist and keeps well.
-Pam Giammattei, Valatie, New York