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Best Italian Cream Cake (doctored cake mix)

Italian cream cake

Whether you’re needing a birthday cake, a wedding cake, or an anniversary cake, we’ve got just the recipe for you! Italian cream cake is one of the most popular cake flavors around. . .for a reason!

This is an easy Italian cream cake recipe, one you’ll use again and again.

But First, a Funny Story.

There’s a wacky Italian Cream Cake story in my family. It involves my funeral. 

No, really. 

I’ve often said to my four daughters, “If you want to know if there’s resurrection after death, lean over my casket and whisper these words: ‘Italian cream cake!’ and just see if I don’t come springing forth from the grave.” 

Italian Cream Cake
www.outoftheboxbaking.com

There aren’t many things that would cause me to give up the bliss of heaven, but a good Italian cream cake? Yeah, that might be just the ticket. In other words, I might just come bounding out of that casket, fork in hand, ready to dive in!

Kidding, of course.

Nothing’s dragging this old gal back from heaven, no matter how tasty.

However, there’s something about that tart cream cheese frosting, the crunch of the pecans, the sweetness of the coconut, the unique flaky texture of the nutty/coconutty cake that makes me want to swoon. Honestly? It’s like heaven in my mouth. But, you probably already picked up on the fact that it’s one of my all-time favorites. (Maybe you’re a fan, too!)

This is a decadent Italian Cream Cake recipe! I serve it to friends, family, and at special events.

Let us Pause for a Moment to Reflect Upon the Yummy-licious Goodness of This Cake, Y’all. . .

Firstly, I decided to explore where the quintessential Italian cream cake comes from. The name would lend one to believe Italy, right? However, a bit of research led me to discover otherwise! A bit of research landed me at answers.com. (Hey, when you don’t know who else to ask. . .) Check out my discovery!

Here’s what they had to say: 

“While the Italian Cream Cake has its roots in renaissance Italy, the first written record of it is first seen in Canada in 1913. It is not until 1937 that the first recipe of Italian Creak Cake surfaces in the Plano News from Texas. Over the years the recipe has grown more complicated, though it is adored for its endless flavor combinations.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but, as a Texan, (yee-haw!) I was tickled pink to see my great state listed in this story. Say what you will about us southerners, but we know our cake. Consequently, we also know how to stuff ‘em with the good stuff—like pecans, coconut, and pudding. 

Speaking of which, my Mama used to call this her “coconut pecan” cake, but whatever you call it, just know one thing: once you serve it to your friends and family, you’ll be asked to make it again. . .and again. . .and again. I’ve even been asked to serve it at weddings in place of traditional wedding cake. 

Yep, it’s that kind of good. 

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a mixing bowl and let’s dive in and make this thing! This is a great Italian Cream Cake recipe. . .and it starts with a cake mix.

Italian Cream Cake Ingredients

This is a full printable recipe at the bottom of this post. Here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need.

CAKE:

  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • (NOTE: I use Pillsbury because I prefer the density.)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (flakes)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (powder)

FROSTING:

  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1 block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Crisco white shoftening
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • Clear vanilla extract 
  • Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer (to taste and/or to thin)

FILLING/TOPPING: 

  • Toasted coconut 
  • Toasted chopped pecans 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

FOR THE CAKE:

  • Combine all ingredients except nuts and coconut in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed.
  • Work in the nuts and coconut. 
  • Grease and flour three 9” pans. 
  • Divide batter between the three pans and bake at 350 for 30 minutes (approximately). 
  • Cool cakes on wire racks.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

Bring ingredients to room temperature. Mix butter and cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add Crisco and continue to beat until incorporated. (You can leave out the Crisco if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting.) Toss in the extract and then lower the speed of your mixer to add powdered sugar (more or less to desired consistency). 

FILLING AND ICING THE CAKE:

  • Level all three cakes. 
  • Put one cake on your cake board and add a layer of cream cheese frosting. 
  • Pipe a ring around the edge of the cake and add some toasted pecans and coconut. 
  • Continue to stack and fill.
  • Turn the top cake upside down, so that it’s bottom up. 
  • Ice the cake with a crumb coat and chill. 
  • Once chilled, ice liberally with frosting. 
  • Add chopped (toasted) pecans and coconut to the sides and top then pipe trim or rosettes to add further décor. 

This is a tasty cake, one that millions of people enjoy.

If You’re a Fan of Pecans, You’re Sure to Love…

Brown Butter Pecan Cookies: You love brown butter. You love pecans. You’re thinking about merging the two into a cookie but don’t know where to start. You’ve landed in the right spot!

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting: It doesn’t seem right to label these amazing mounds of deliciousness “butter pecan cupcakes” because they are (truly) so much more. They’re the stuff dreams are made of. 

Traditional German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting: If you love the sweet flavor of German Chocolate cake and you’re nuts about coconut pecan frosting, you’ve definitely come to the right place! In this post I’m going to give you my tips and tricks for one of the most classic cakes of all time–German Chocolate! And best of all. . .it starts with a boxed mix!

Questions People are Asking about Italian Cream Cake

Why is it called Italian Cream Cake?

The name comes from layers and layers of cream cheese frosting. (Yum!)

Does an Italian Cream Cake need to be refrigerated?

Absolutely! The cream cheese will go bad if left out. And the cake will stay moist if refrigerated, thanks to the heavy cream content in the frosting. Just be sure to place it in an airtight container and allow it to warm up a bit before serving to soften up.

Would this be considered a quick Italian Cream Cake recipe, since it starts with a box mix?

Absolutely, but don’t let the ease of use turn you off of this recipe. This is the best Italian cream cake I’ve ever made!

What is the secret to the best Italian cream cake?

Easy: Great cream cheese frosting. You’ll want to load up the cake with quality pecans and coconut and pudding. Those things are important. But ultimately it comes down to that dreamy cream cheese frosting!

Can I bake Italian Cream Cake in a 9×13″ pan?

Of course, but you’ll lose the multiple layers of cream cheese frosting. The joy of baking it in layers is all of that dreamy icing!

Can I make Italian Cream Cake without coconut?

You could. . .but why would you? Unless you’re allergic, of course! Then you definitely don’t want to use it. Some sites suggest chopped macadamia nuts in place of coconuts. I can’t vouch for the flavor with the pecans but it might be worth a shot.

Other Cakes from Out of the Box Baking

Italian Cream Cake is a personal favorite but I have a lot of cakes on my site that you might enjoy, as well. Here are just a few:

Old Fashioned Pound Cake: If you’re looking for a classic pound cake to serve at your next get-together, you can stop looking! I’ve got a luscious butter pound cake recipe for you that’s going to thrill and delight your guests and make you proud to serve it!

The Best Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake: If you’re looking for a rich, moist cake, loaded with flavor, you’ve come to the right place. This Old Fashioned Chocolate Mayonnaise cake is a southern favorite guaranteed to please everyone on your guest list. And this yummy recipe takes things a step further, adding a rich chocolate frosting with mayonnaise in it, as well!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake from a Box Mix: It’s so easy to turn a yellow cake mix into this easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake! One can of sliced pineapple rings, 1 cup of brown sugar, some maraschino cherries, and the usual ingredients for a boxed cake mix. . .and you’re good to go. Talk about an easy dessert!

Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake

Yield: 3 9" cakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Nutty, coconutty. . .this rich, flaky cake with tart cream cheese frosting and enough nuts to make you swoon will be a favorite with your guests!

Ingredients

  • INGREDIENTS:
  • CAKE:
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • (NOTE: I use Pillsbury because I prefer the density.)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (flakes)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (powder)
  • FILLING/TOPPING:
  • Toasted coconut
  • Toasted chopped pecans
  • FROSTING:
  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter (softened)
  • 1 block cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 rectangle Crisco (can omit if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting)
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • Clear vanilla extract
  • Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer (to taste and/or to thin)
  • Level and stick, adding cream cheese frosting, coconut, and chopped pecans between each layer. Add a crumb coat of icing to the cake and chill for half an hour or more, then frost and cover in chopped toasted pecans and coconut. Add a few swirls of buttercream cream cheese to make it fancy.

Instructions

    FOR THE CAKE:
    Combine all ingredients except nuts and coconut. Mix well.
    Work in the nuts and coconut.
    Grease and flour three 9” pans.
    Divide batter between the three pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (approximately).

    ICING:
    Bring ingredients to room temperature. Mix butter and cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add Crisco and continue to beat until incorporated. (You can leave out the Crisco if you prefer traditional cream cheese frosting.) Add extract and then lower the speed of your mixer to add powdered sugar (more or less to desired consistency).

    FILLING AND ICING THE CAKE
    Level all three cakes.
    Put one cake on your cake board and add a layer of cream cheese frosting.
    Pipe a ring around the edge of the cake and add some toasted pecans and coconut.
    Continue to stack and fill.
    Turn the top cake upside down, so that it’s bottom up.
    Ice the cake with a crumb coat and chill.
    Once chilled, ice liberally with frosting.
    Add chopped (toasted) pecans and coconut to the sides and top then pipe trim or rosettes to add further décor.

If you enjoy this tasty cake, (and you’re a fan of pecans) you’re sure to love my butter pecan cupcakes!

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