Black Forest Trifle

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
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This Black Forest Trifle boasts layers of chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream. It’s a crazy-delicious recipe that always looks impressive, but is actually super easy!

Cherries, Chocolate, Whipped Cream, Oh My!

If you need a fancy dessert that’s easy to make at a moment’s notice, you have got to try making trifle. All Friends jokes aside, trifle is ridiculously easy to whip up, and you can take shortcuts on almost all of the ingredients. That’s what this Black Forest trifle is all about! It’s a gorgeous, decadent dessert you could serve for a special occasion, but so simple to pull together that you’ll want to make it all the time.

With layer after layer of devil’s food cake, creamy chocolate pudding, cherries, and whipped cream, Black Forest trifle will make everyone’s mouth water. Serve it with hot, strong coffee or on its own, as part of a holiday spread or for a Sunday afternoon treat. You can’t go wrong with this pretty, scrumptious dessert.

Love easy cherry desserts? Make sure to check out this recipe for Crockpot Cherry Cobbler while you are here!

A layered chocolate and cherry dessert in a glass dish, topped with fresh cherries.

What Does Black Forest Mean in Baking?

Black Forest desserts like this one are a nod to the famous German Black Forest cake, which has been around for a very long time (some say as early as 1915). It’s a complex cake made with layers of cake brushed with sour cherry kirsch, whipped cream, dark chocolate shavings, and more sour cherries.

This recipe skips the alcohol, although you could definitely brush some onto your cake before crumbling it if you like. It also uses sweet cherry pie filling for a sweeter dessert. 

From top: Whipped cream, cherry pie filling, chocolate pudding, and an unfrosted devil's food cake.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

As incredible as this dessert looks, you might be surprised at how little you need to pull it together! There are basically four main ingredients:

  • Chocolate Cake: I make mine with a box of devil’s food cake mix, prepared according to the package directions. (You could also make it from scratch – Homemade Chocolate Cake – if you prefer.)
  • Chocolate Pudding: Make a box of instant chocolate pudding according to the package directions, as well (or again, make it from scratch if you’d rather).
  • Whipped Cream: Homemade whipped cream or store-bought whipped topping.
  • Cherry Pie Filling: Canned cherry pie filling is easy to work with and available year-round.

Keep in mind that you will need additional ingredients to make the cake and pudding. Cake mixes usually call for eggs and oil, while pudding usually calls for cold milk.

A small glass of trifle topped with fresh cherries.

How to Make a Black Forest Trifle

The first step to making your trifle is to get the cake ready. You can make a cake mix according to the package directions, make a cake from your favorite recipe, or even buy a chocolate pound cake! From there, it’s all about assembling those luscious layers.

  • Crumble the Cake. To get started, crumble your baked, cooled cake into small pieces. You can also use slices, but crumbles are easier to make even layers with.
Cake crumbled into small pieces in a dish.
  • Layer the Ingredients. Next comes the fun part! Layer the cake, pudding, cherry filling, and whipped cream in that order.
  • Repeat. Repeat these layers until all of the ingredients have been used.
  • Chill. Refrigerate the Black Forest trifle for at least one hour, to let the flavors meld and the cake soak up some of the liquid. 
  • Enjoy! Be sure to serve the trifle chilled for the best flavor and texture, and to keep the ingredients as fresh as possible.
A finished Black Forest trifle from the side, showing layers.

Tips and Variations

I love how easy it is to throw together a trifle, and the result is so impressive. The flavors and textures of this black forest version are out of this world! And the whole process is even easier with these helpful tips and variations.

  • Strawberry Option: If you aren’t a fan of cherries or would prefer to use something else, you can also make this recipe with strawberry pie filling. You could also use a spice cake mix with some Homemade Apple Pie Filling for a fun fall twist!
  • Cake Option: I am definitely pro-cake mix when it makes your life easier, so this recipe uses a boxed devil’s food cake mix. If you want to make your own cake, you can’t go wrong with the dark chocolatey cake recipe from my Chocolate and Peanut Butter Dream Cake. It’s so good!
  • Cool Whip vs. Whipped Cream: Cool whip (pre-made whipped topping) is a really convenient option when you’re making a trifle, and it’s definitely tasty as well. However, if you have the option to whip your own cream, that definitely elevates this simple but indulgent recipe.
A single serving of black forest layered dessert.

Storing Black Forest Trifle

Black Forest Trifle should be stored in your fridge, to keep it fresh and protect the layers of ingredients. You can store it for up to one day. Make sure to cover it tightly with plastic wrap or a lid, so it doesn’t dry out or absorb food odors.

Can I Freeze This?

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend freezing this dessert – the layers and textures can become very soggy after freezing and thawing. Instead, I recommend making a smaller trifle that you can enjoy without having too many leftovers. To do this, just cut the recipe in half and make your trifle in a smaller dish or individual glasses!

A layered trifle made with chocolate and cherries.
4.5 from 251 votes
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Yield: 1 Trifle (serves 8)

Black Forest Trifle

Black Forest Trifle – layers of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and cherry filling!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Additional Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes


  • 1 box devil’s food cake, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 5.9 oz box of instant chocolate pudding, prepared according to package directions
  • 3 cups whipped cream or 8 oz cool whip
  • 1 21 oz can cherry pie filling


  • Crumble cake into small pieces.
  • Layer, cake, pudding, cherry filling and whipped cream. Continue layering until all ingredients have been used.
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors meld and cake soak up the good stuff. Serve chilled!


Serving: 1, Calories: 160kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 65mg, Sugar: 10g


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Recipe Rating

32 Responses
  1. Karen

    One of the best Trifles I have ever made. I didn’t have any chocolate pudding on hand so I used vanilla. I am going to make it again using the chocolate and I will use 2 cans cherry pie filling.

    1. Sara

      So yummy!!!! I used 2 cans of cherry pie filling and next time I will use 2 boxes of pudding. Perfect for Labor Day at the cottage!


    It needs so most important ingredient Kirschwasser (Cherry Brandy,which is a colorless brandy fromm the Black Forest).

  3. Sherry

    I have done this for years, I use white chocolate pudding mixed with one can of cherry pie filling and whipped cream for the bottom layers and I pour chocolate covered cherry Baileys on every second layer of chocolate cake. Could not find that kind of Baileys this year, so it will have to be the regular kind.

  4. Kathie

    Before making this recipe, I read a comment where it was advised to double the cherries, pudding and Cool Whip.     I purchased the extra ingredients but didn’t open them before I began layering my trifle.    If you have an extra large trifle bowl, you may need them but I have a standard footed bowl (from Walmart) and found that the recipe amounts fit perfectly in my bowl.   I had no space for anything else when I finished layering.   I ended my trifle with whipped cream, and decorated the top with chocolate curls from a Hershey’s bar.   It looked great and very festive for a Christmas Pot Luck.
    I used Duncan Hines Signature Triple Chocolate cake mix and it was very good.

  5. Janet

    I purchased a chocolate pound cake that was so dry my husband couldn’t eat it. I hated to throw it away so I went looking for something I could make with it. I found this recipe and decided to try it. This is definitely a winner!!!  I was afraid it would be too sweet but it wasn’t. Definitely a keeper. 

  6. Regina M Slowinski

    Hi, how exactly are you breaking up the cake? Are you cutting it and letting it kind of crumble, but still holding some form of piece lol or is it more like when your making cake pops, how you want the cake crumbled up?

  7. Jenny

    This is one of the most delicious trifles I have ever had! I have brought it to a couple family barbecues and it is always a huge hit. It is beautiful and so easy to make.

  8. Kate

    Definitely double the pudding ,cherries and cool whip. It was delicious, but would have been better with more of everything. Very easy.

  9. Susan Hubbard

    I have made this twice, the second time I doubled the amounts of pudding, cherries and cool whip. I prefer it with a family size mix brownie base that’s a little chewier too. Absolutely delicious and beautiful. Hit with kids and adults both. 

    1. Gaynor

      I did make mine the night before because of made too far in advance the pudding starts to separate and gets watery w the other ingredients.

  10. Surya-Patricia Lane Hood

    I am looking forward to making the cherry trifle. I could not see that you posted how long it would take to make it including the chill time.

  11. Nancy

    I always make a special dinner as my Christmas gift to my family, this year will serve filet of tenderloin. This will top it off nicely, I’m going to add some rum to the whipped cream, thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Renee - Kudos Kitchen

    There is nothing as pretty as a trifle, and your black forest trifle is particularly lovely. Must be the contrast of colors…or that I love black forest flavors :)

  13. Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious

    Whoa….just hold those horses! That is one of the best looking desserts I have EVER seen!

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