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A perfect celebratory dessert for the holidays! This easy whiskey cake recipe starts with a box of cake mix for a moist, flavorful, and quick yellow Bundt cake that’s topped with walnuts and soaked in a rich, butter-whiskey glaze. The old-fashioned treat has been a favorite for generations!

Slice of old fashioned whiskey cake on a plate with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

Bourbon Whiskey Cake Recipe

I have vivid memories of my mom and my grandmother preparing this Christmas cake throughout my childhood. They often made it with rum, but the dessert is equally delicious with my parents’ favorite bourbon instead! It’s a perfect holiday dessert because you can make it in advance (and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated), it’s easy (since it takes advantage of a boxed cake mix), and it feels festive and celebratory — thanks to plenty of boozy whiskey glaze!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ It would also be ideal for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, or St. Patrick’s Day (when using Irish whiskey).​​​​​​​

Front shot of sliced whiskey cake on a cake stand

What does whiskey cake taste like?

The base of the recipe is a golden yellow cake mix made with vanilla pudding and a touch of Tennessee whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, or Irish whiskey — whatever you prefer. The cake itself doesn’t have a strong whiskey flavor at all — instead, it’s just a really moist, fluffy golden Bundt cake with a rich vanilla flavor and a toasty, crunchy walnut topping.

The warm cake soaks up a buttery whiskey glaze, which gives it that classic whiskey taste without an overpowering amount of alcohol. While some whiskey cakes taste very strongly of booze, this cake is made with less alcohol and therefore has a more subtle whiskey taste. Plus, the amount of alcohol in any given slice is not enough to make anyone drunk. You’ll need to pour some cocktails if that’s what you’re going for!

Bite of whiskey cake on a plate on a fork

What does whiskey do in baking?

Baking a cake with whiskey adds flavor and depth to the cake. It tastes rich, decadent, and festive!

Can you add liquor to cake mix?

Yes! You can replace water with liquor in a cake mix. In this case, we’re using a combination of both whiskey and water so that the flavor of the alcohol isn’t too overpowering.

Square side shot of whiskey cake recipe on a wooden cake stand

The Best Whiskey for Cake

You can use just about any variety of whiskey that you like in this cake. Our favorite is bourbon, but Irish whiskey would be a great addition for a St. Patrick’s Day cake, and a Tennessee whiskey cake also works really well!

Whiskey cake batter in a bundt pan

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for an easy whiskey cake recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step baking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Walnuts: add a rich, toasted, crunchy topping to the cake. Finely chopped pecans are a good substitute.
  • Yellow cake mix: I like the super moist Duncan Hines yellow cake mix, but any similar variety (such as Betty Crocker or Pillsbury brands) will work. You can even substitute with a white cake mix.
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix: just the small 4-serving (3.4 ounce) box of dry mix — not prepared into actual pudding.
  • Whiskey: adds great flavor to the dessert. Use any whiskey that you like — Tennessee whiskey, Irish whiskey, or Kentucky bourbon all work well.
  • Water: the liquid that thins the cake batter.
  • Vegetable oil: keeps the cake super-moist. I use vegetable oil, but any neutral oil (such as canola oil) will work.
  • Eggs: give the cake structure.
  • Salted butter and granulated sugar: combine with some additional whiskey to make the glaze.
Poking holes in a whiskey cake

Why add pudding to cake mix?

The gelatin component in the instant pudding mix makes the cake super moist. It’s the secret ingredient to make your cake more fluffy, too! When baking a cake in a Bundt pan, a very moist batter is necessary so that the cake doesn’t dry out. Don’t omit the pudding, which is a key ingredient.

Pouring glaze over whiskey cake recipe

How to Make Whiskey Cake

We’re big fans of store-bought shortcuts to help get easy desserts on the table without too much stress. This simple whiskey soaked cake looks impressive on a holiday table, but a yellow cake mix and a box of vanilla instant pudding make it a breeze to put together.

  1. Sprinkle the chopped nuts in the bottom of a greased and floured Bundt pan.
  2. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, whiskey, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the batter over the nuts in the pan.
  4. Bake the cake in a 325°F oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Combine the butter, sugar, and whiskey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
  6. Poke holes in the bottom of the warm cake while it’s still in the pan. Slowly pour about half of the whiskey mixture over the cake. Let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Poke holes in the top of the cake. Pour the rest of the glaze over the top.
  8. Cool completely, then slice and serve.
Close up shot of a baked whiskey bundt cake

Serving Suggestions

Serve the cake on its own, or top each slice with freshly whipped creamfresh berries, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A drizzle of caramel sauce is a nice touch, too!

Close up shot of a slice of the best whiskey cake recipe served with ice cream

Storage

Covered loosely, this cake will keep at room temperature for about 2-3 days. To extend the life of your cake, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

You can freeze this cake, too! I often cut the large Bundt cake in half so that we can enjoy part of it now and save the other half for later. Allow the cake to cool completely, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, wrap again with aluminum foil, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Close up old fashioned whiskey cake recipe sliced on a cake stand

Recipe Variations

  • For a stronger whiskey flavor, increase the whiskey in the cake batter to ½ cup and use just ¼ cup of water.
  • For a more mild whiskey flavor, use just ¼ cup of whiskey in the glaze plus ¼ cup of water.
  • Any type of whiskey will work. We prefer bourbon or a Jack Daniel’s whiskey cake recipe. For St. Patrick’s Day, make an Irish whiskey cake by using something like Jameson Irish whiskey.
  • Loaf Cakes: If you don’t have a Bundt pan, you can bake this cake in two loaf pans. The cooking time will be about the same or slightly shorter, typically 45-50 minutes in a 350°F oven.
  • If you don’t have a box of yellow cake mix, use white cake mix instead.
  • Chocolate Whiskey Cake Recipe: use a box of chocolate cake mix and a box of chocolate instant pudding mix. You can also fold chocolate chips into the cake batter.
Square side shot of a slice of old fashioned whiskey cake on a plate with a fork

Tips for the Best Whiskey Cake Recipe

  • Grease the Bundt pan really well by coating with butter and then dusting with flour. Alternatively, you can use a cooking spray that’s specifically made for baking (like this one). These options will ensure that your cake pops right out of the pan when it’s done!
  • Do not over-bake the cake or it can become dry. Start checking for doneness by the 50-minute mark, since total baking times will vary depending on your personal oven and the type and color of Bundt pan that you use.
  • Poke a lot of holes in the cake and pour the glaze over top very slowly, allowing plenty of time for the glaze to sink into the warm cake.
  • The cake gets better as it sits, so this is a nice dessert option to prepare the day before you plan to serve it.
Close up front shot of whiskey cake on a plate with ice cream
Square side shot of whiskey cake recipe on a wooden cake stand

Old Fashioned Whiskey Cake Recipe

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 380 kcal
A perfect celebratory dessert for the holidays! This easy whiskey cake recipe starts with a box of cake mix for a moist, flavorful treat!

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1 cup finely-chopped walnuts (or sub with pecans)
  • 1 (15.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz) box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup whiskey

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.
  • Sprinkle nuts in the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, whiskey, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Pour the batter over the nuts in the pan.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • About 5 minutes before the cake is done, prepare the glaze. In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and whiskey. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Leave the hot cake in the pan and use a toothpick or wooden skewer to poke holes in the bottom of the cake. Slowly drizzle about half of the glaze over the bottom of the cake, allowing time for the glaze to soak into the holes and be absorbed by the hot cake.
  • Place a wire rack over a foil-lined baking sheet to catch drips. After about 10 minutes in the pan, turn the cake out onto the wire rack (right-side up). Poke holes on the top of the cake. Gradually drizzle remaining glaze over the top of the cake. A lot of the glaze will soak into the cake, and some will also drip down the sides.
  • Cool completely, then slice and serve!

Notes

  • Grease the Bundt pan really well by coating with butter and then dusting with flour. Alternatively, you can use a cooking spray that’s specifically made for baking (like this one). These options will ensure that your cake pops right out of the pan when it’s done!
  • Do not over-bake the cake or it can become dry. Start checking for doneness by the 50-minute mark, since total baking times will vary depending on your personal oven and the type and color of Bundt pan that you use.
  • Poke a lot of holes in the cake and pour the glaze over top very slowly, allowing plenty of time for the glaze to sink into the warm cake.
  • The cake gets better as it sits, so this is a nice dessert option to prepare the day before you plan to serve it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 380kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 5gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 396mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 1gSugar: 39gVitamin A: 318IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 97mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: bourbon whiskey cake, old fashioned whiskey cake recipe, whiskey bundt cake, whiskey cake, whiskey cake recipe
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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