Impress your loved ones this holiday season with loaves of incredibly moist and delicious Whiskey Cake. With boxed yellow cake mix, pudding mix, and Southern Comfort, you’ll be well on your way to making this boozy sweet treat. Perfect for gifting to your 21+ friends.
This whiskey cake recipe was bestowed upon me by a family friend, Patty, and I’ve baked them for my kids’ teachers every year since then. This rich, moist and flavorful cake reminds me of eating whiskey cake as a kid with my Nonnie. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been eating a booze-infused cake but hey -at least I slept well on the nights that I did. That said, the SoCo in the batter doesn’t cook out completely. Be wary of more than one slice!
Wait until you see how easy these cakes are. I’m not usually one for boxed cake mix, but it is a non-negotiable in this recipe. One year I spent DAYS on a three-tier cake from scratch for my kids’ school, and no one has mentioned it since, but do you know what people do mention? Patty’s semi-homemade whiskey cake that I made with a box.
Patty’s Whiskey Cake Ingredients //
For the cake, you’ll need:
- Boxed Yellow Cake Mix: This semi-homemade whiskey cake calls for boxed yellow cake mix, but I can assure you, that no one will know the difference.
- Boxed Vanilla Pudding Mix: This is a great way to enhance the flavor of boxed cake mixes. It also helps improve the texture and consistency.
- Eggs: Provide structure and hold the cake together. It may seem like a lot of eggs, but trust me -whiskey cake is a rich, dense cake.
- Vegetable Oil: Adds moisture to the boxed cake mix and helps achieve a moist, tender crumb.
- Milk: Adds moisture, color, and flavor.
- Southern Comfort, aka “SoCo” is a fruit-infused whiskey liqueur. It’s sweet with orange, cherry, vanilla, and warm notes. There’s nothing else like it, so I do not recommend substituting it for something else.
- Walnuts: add some nutty flavor and crunch.
For the frosting, you’ll need:
- Melted Butter: You can melt it in a saucepan or the microwave. It helps make a glossy glaze-like frosting.
- More Soco: Yup, the frosting has liquor too. It loosens the frosting up and adds flavor. Keep in mind the alcohol in the frosting does NOT get cooked out all the way.
- Powdered Sugar: Sweetens and thickens.
- More Walnuts: I add more walnuts to the top layer of frosting. You can gently fold them into the frosting or sprinkle the chopped nuts on top.
How to Make // The Steps
Step 1: Beat ingredients.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add all of the cake ingredients except for the walnuts. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the walnuts to the bowl and beat for another minute. The batter should be THICK.
Step 2: Bake.
Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray before filling each pan halfway up with batter. Bake in your preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Step 3: Make the frosting.
While the cakes are still warm, make the frosting. First, melt the butter in a large bowl and then add the SoCo and powdered sugar. Whisk until the frosting is smooth. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the frosting in a separate bowl.
Step 4: Frost cakes.
Now, back to the freshly baked whiskey cakes. Poke holes all through them and then pour the frosting over the top. Allow the cakes to finish cooling before finishing.
Step 5: Finish.
Fold the walnuts into the reserved bowl of frosting. Once the frosted cakes have cooled completely, then you can go ahead and spread a layer of walnut frosting over the top. Enjoy!
Tips & Tricks //
- The recipe yields quite a few cakes. I can usually make about 6 loaves from one batch of batter. The exact number varies depending on what size loaf pan you use. I use disposable loaf pans and give them as gifts.
- I fill the loaf pans about halfway up, so there’s still plenty of room for the final layer of frosting after the cake rises. They’re also easier to wrap this way.
- Don’t forget to poke LOTs of holes throughout the cakes while they’re warm. You’re essentially making tunnels for the frosting to seep down inside of.
- I like to pour the frosting over the cake a little bit at a time, let it soak, and then repeat with the rest of the frosting.
- This cake tastes fantastic right out of the oven, but it is even better after it has had a chance to soak up all of the whiskey.
Why is Patty’s Whiskey Cake So Good?
- It’s semi-homemade. Southern Comfort adds flavor and moisture to an average box of yellow cake mix.
- THE FROSTING. Please don’t skip it!
- It’s great for gifting – The recipe yields enough batter to bake at least 6 loaves.
- It’s boozy. The alcohol content does not cook out of the cake.
Variations & Toppings //
- Switch up the shape: Feel free to bake the batter into a different shape (bundt cake pan, round pan or sheet cake pan). Adjust the cook times accordingly. The cook times recommended on the cake mix box are a reasonable estimate.
- Make a chocolate version: Swap the yellow cake mix for the boxed chocolate cake mix and the vanilla pudding for chocolate pudding.
- Topping options: I love the nutty crunch walnuts add to the cake and the frosting. You could also use chopped pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, or pistachios. Whiskey cake also tastes great topped with sifted cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and shaved chocolate. For some holiday cheer, sprinkle the cake with crushed candy canes.
How to Store //
Storing: Wrap whole cakes or individual slices in plastic wrap or keep them in a shallow airtight container. You can store this whiskey cake for 1 to 2 days at room temperature or up to a week in the fridge.
Make-Ahead and Freezer Options //
Freezing: Whiskey cake freezes like a dream. Wrap the cakes tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 4 months.
Yes. In this recipe, Southern Comfort enhances the flavor and keeps the cake moist.
The alcohol does not entirely bake out, so yes -technically, you can get drunk from eating whiskey cake, but you would have to eat quite a bit.
Infusing the cake with Southern Comfort and adding pudding mix transforms any mediocre yellow cake mix into something extra special. Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Duncan-Hines, and Jiffy are great options.
More Recipes //
Whiskey Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 2 boxes yellow cake mix
- 2 boxes vanilla pudding mix I use the small box
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup Southern Comfort
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups Southern Comfort
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- Add everything except the walnuts to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for 5 minutes on medium speed.
- Add the walnuts and beat for another minute. The batter will be very thick.
- Pour the batter into pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. If you use these paper pans, they are ready to go, no spray required. Fill the pans halfway up.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. They usually take about 35 to 40 minutes, but it really depends on the size of your loaf pans. When a toothpick comes out clean they are ready to come out.
- While the cakes are still warm, start the frosting. Melt the butter in a large bowl. Add the Southern Comfort and powdered sugar.
- Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the frosting. Put in a another bowl.
- Poke holes all over the cakes.
- Pour the frosting over the top of the cakes. I pour some over the top, spread it out and let it soak in. I repeat this until all of the frosting is gone. Cool the cakes.
- Add the walnuts to the reserved frosting. Spoon the walnut mixture over the tops of the cakes.
- This cake tastes better as it sits. It tastes amazing right out of the oven, but it is even better after it had a chance to soak up all of the whiskey.