Tropical Twinkie Cake

Prep Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
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This refreshing Tropical Twinkie Cake with pineapple and coconut is an easy no-bake dessert thanks to a special ingredient: Twinkies! Made with creamy pudding, juicy pineapple and toasted coconut, it’s filled with loads of sweet tropical flavor.

Why You’ll Crave This Tropical Twinkie Cake

  • No-Bake: Have you ever had Paula Deen’s ‘Better Than Sex’ cake? Well, I made it better. No for real, I did, because I made it into a no-bake dessert – with Twinkies! There’s no cake batter to bake, so it’s extra easy.
  • Perfect Pina Colada Flavors: There’s nothing like a creamy pineapple-coconut combination, especially in summer. If you want, you can even soak your twinkies in a little rum to make this a pina colada twinkie cake!
  • Twinkies: To be completely honest, I am not the biggest Twinkie fan as they are usually dry. However, in this recipe, they completely transform into an amazing base for the cake. When my family and friends tried it, they couldn’t believe it was made of Twinkies!
  • Make-Ahead: This is the perfect make ahead summer dessert. You can store it for up to one day before your party or get-together with no problem. It also travels easily in a cooler if you are heading to a party!
Side view of a Twinkie cake, showing the layers of Twinkies, pineapple, vanilla pudding and coconut.

Are Twinkies Still Being Made?

Yes, these iconic snack cakes are still around! In 2011, there was a temporary pause on making them, while the Hostess brand was being purchased by another company. These days, they’re still around – but if you can’t find them, feel free to substitute another snack cake or vanilla cake treat, like Little Debbie Cloud Cakes, sliced pound cake, or what have you.

From top left: cherries, vanilla extract, coconut extract, prepared pudding, crushed pineapple, powdered sugar, Twinkie snack cakes, toasted coconut, heavy cream.

What You’ll Need to Make This Cake

Full ingredients and directions are posted in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here’s what you’ll need to round up in order to assemble your Tropical Twinkie cake:

  • Twinkies: Slice them in half, lengthwise. If you don’t have Twinkies, you can use a similar snack cake, or sliced pound cake, sponge cake, etc.
  • Pineapple: You’ll want crushed pineapple, mostly drained – leave just a little juice in the pineapple.
  • Instant Pudding: Vanilla flavored, prepared according to the box instructions.
  • Milk: To make the pudding.
  • Whipping Cream: To make sweetened whipped cream. You can use cool whip if you prefer.
  • Powdered Sugar: Don’t use granulated sugar – it won’t dissolve well in the whipped cream.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Coconut Extract: You can usually find this in the baking aisle, but it can also be ordered online.
  • Coconut: Shredded, sweetened coconut. I like to use lightly toasted coconut (more on that in the “Tips” section below.)
  • Maraschino Cherries: Optional, for decoration.
A bite of cake resting on a fork, next to the rest of the square of cake.

How to Make A Twinkie Cake

Now it’s time to put it all together. This is so easy and fun, and only takes a couple of minutes of work. You will want to make the pudding and toast the coconut first, as the ingredients point out. From there, you’ll layer everything in a baking dish and chill.

  • Line Up the Twinkies. First, line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with Twinkie halves, cut side up, so the cream filling is on top.
  • Add Pineapple and Pudding. Top the layer of Twinkies with the crushed pineapple, and then spread the pudding on top of that. 
  • Make the Whipped Cream. In a stand mixer (or using a bowl and hand mixer), beat the heavy cream, a little instant vanilla pudding powder, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract until stiff peaks are formed (see more about stiff peaks in the “Tips” section).
  • Finish the Dish. Spread the whipped cream on top of the pudding layer, and sprinkle it with toasted coconut.
  • Chill. Refrigerate the Twinkie cake for one hour, or up to a day, and serve chilled!
Dotting maraschino cherries on the Twinkie cake.

Recipe Tips and Variations

  • How to Toast Coconut: This is so easy – just heat your oven to 325°F, and spread your coconut on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 or 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until it’s golden.
  • Stabilized Whipped Cream: We use 1 tablespoon of the instant vanilla pudding in the whipped cream to help stabilize it. This helps to keep your whipped cream from weeping and deflating – so you can whip it up to a day in advance! 
  • Whipping Cream to Stiff Peaks: When you whip cream, it gradually gets firmer until suddenly, it separates into a watery whey and tiny grains of butter. You want to whip it until it’s stiff, but stop before you get to that butter stage! It’s just right when you can lift the beaters out of the cream, and the cream stands up in a nice peak without drooping or sinking.
  • Pudding Mix: To change up the flavor, try using instant coconut pudding instead of vanilla – this will add even more “tropical” flavor. If you do this, I recommend skipping the coconut extract in the whipped cream…otherwise the coconut flavor can become overwhelming. You could also use pre-made, chilled pudding from pudding cups, if you like.
  • Make It Boozy: You can add rum to make this a pina colada cake! You can brush/sprinkle 3 tablespoons of rum over the twinkies. If adding rum, make sure to drain all excess juice out of the crushed pineapple so your cake does not become soggy.
Lifting a square of Twinkie cake out of a glass baking dish.

How to Store This Cake

You can store this Twinkie cake for about one day before serving, covered tightly in the refrigerator. After that, you can store the leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days longer. Store for up to 4 days, total.

Can I Freeze This?

Sadly this cake does not freeze well, the pudding layer tends to separate and can become watery once thawed again.

More Easy No-Bake Recipes

A layered Twinkie, pineapple, and coconut cake.
4.7 from 17 votes
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Yield: 12 slices

No-Bake Tropical Twinkie Cake

This easy Tropical Twinkie Cake recipe is a no-bake dessert thanks to a special ingredient: Twinkies! Made with creamy pudding, juicy pineapple, toasted coconut and whipped cream, this is sure to be a hit at your next party!
Prep Time10 minutes
Chill Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 9 twinkies, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, mostly drained with just a little juice left
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding, divided
  • 1 pint (16 oz) heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
  • maraschino cherries, optional, for decoration

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Instructions 

  • Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with twinkies cut side up (so the cream filling in the twinkies is facing up).
  • Top twinkies with crushed pineapple (and the little juice that remained).
  • Remove 1 tablespoon of the vanilla pudding mix and set it aside for later. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the remaining dry pudding mix and milk until well combined. Spread pudding on top of the crushed pineapple layer.
  • In stand mixer or with hand mixer, beat heavy cream with reserved 1 tablespoon vanilla pudding mix until slightly thickened. Then add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract, and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Spread whipped cream on top of the pudding layer and evenly top with toasted coconut.
  • Refrigerate cake for one hour (or up to 24 hours) and serve chilled with a cherry on top!

Notes

Storage: You can store this Twinkie cake for about one day before serving, covered tightly in the refrigerator. After that, you can store the leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days longer. Store for up to 4 days, total.
How to Toast Coconut: This is so easy – just heat your oven to 325°F, and spread your coconut on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 or 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until it’s golden.
Stabilized Whipped Cream: We use 1 tablespoon of the instant vanilla pudding in the whipped cream to help stabilize it. This helps to keep your whipped cream from weeping and deflating – so you can whip it up to a day in advance! 
Pudding Mix: To change up the flavor, try using instant coconut pudding instead of vanilla – this will add even more “tropical” flavor. If you do this, I recommend skipping the coconut extract in the whipped cream…otherwise the coconut flavor can become overwhelming. You could also use pre-made, chilled pudding from pudding cups, if you like.
Make It Boozy: You can add rum to make this a pina colada cake! You can brush/sprinkle 3 tablespoons of rum over the twinkies. If adding rum, make sure to drain all excess juice out of the crushed pineapple so your cake does not become soggy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 339kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 173mg, Potassium: 206mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 680IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 96mg, Iron: 1mg

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I am diabetic, so I’m going to use Kraft Cool whip, if I didn’t love Twinkies I would use a sugar free cake mix by Kroger or Duncan Hines. There are ways to cut down on sugar. Using Almond Flour and making my own cake would be better though.

Delicious recipe,thank you.

Dear Jessica,
Can I use Sponge cake for the base? This looks so yummy!! Thanks!

Call me stupid but what is a twinky. The recepe looks and sounds delicious and I really want to make it but then I need to know what a Twinky is.

Hostess is the Brand name on the best Twinkies. You get approximately 12 to a box. You should find them in most grocery stores, near where the Little Debbie boxed snack cakes are located. I cannot wait to make this!!

I made this yesterday for a work potluck. I won’t lie, I was pretty skeptical, but needed a super easy recipe because I only had about 20 minutes. This was AMAZING!! So light and fruity! It was the first thing completely gone at the potluck and no one could believe it was made with twinkies! Ha!

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.