Chocolate Trifle

updated Apr 12, 2022
Chocolate Trifle Recipe

This tiered dessert is equal parts elegant and easy, thanks to store-bought pudding, whipped cream, cake, and crushed cookies.


Prep30 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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chocolate trifle in a trifle glass
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

When you need a fancy dessert that doesn’t require the skills of a Great British Baking Show contestant, this chocolate trifle has you covered. And while trifles are English in origin, don’t fret: They aren’t nearly as particular as GBBO’s Paul Hollywood.

Built with layers of cake (or brownies), crushed cookies (or toffee), and swoops of whipped cream and pudding, this chocolate trifle recipe is adaptable, easy, and impressive. Here, we’ll show you how to take a handful of store-bought ingredients and turn them into a showstopping dessert.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What Is a Chocolate Trifle Made Of?

This chocolate trifle is made of layers of baked chocolate cake or brownies, smooth chocolate pudding, fluffy whipped cream, and a crunchy surprise like crushed cookies or toffee bits.

What Is the Best Way to Layer a Trifle?

The beauty of a chocolate trifle is in its layers. For the most striking effect, assemble the dessert in a large glass bowl or a tall-sided glass trifle dish.

  1. Cake layer. Begin building the trifle with pieces of baked chocolate cake or brownies. Arrange them around the edge of the trifle dish first before filling in the center.
  2. Pudding layer. As you spoon on a layer of chocolate pudding, pay close attention to creating a defined layer around the edge of the bowl for the prettiest presentation.
  3. Crunchy layer. Next, move onto the crunchy layer — either crushed chocolate crème sandwich cookies or English toffee candy bars.
  4. Whipped cream. Top with whipped cream, remembering to spoon the cream around the edge of the bowl first.
  5. Repeat. Assemble the layers one more time, ending with a cloud of whipped cream.
  6. Garnish. Sprinkle the top with any crumbs from the cookies, candy bars, cake, or brownies that remain on your cutting board.

Can I Make a Chocolate Trifle in Advance?

Yes! Not only can you make this chocolate trifle in advance, but you also most certainly should! Trifles need time for the flavors to come together and for the moisture from the pudding and cream to soak into the cake and cookies. You can bake the cake (or brownies) up to two days in advance, and the assembled trifle can be refrigerated at least four hours or up to one day in advance. Save the final decorative sprinkle of crumbs until just before serving so the top is fresh and festive.

How Do I Store a Chocolate Trifle?

Cover the top of the trifle with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The final layer of whipped cream may flatten upon refrigeration, but it’s nothing a swoosh with the back of a spoon or a few cake crumbles can’t fix!

Chocolate Trifle Recipe

This tiered dessert is equal parts elegant and easy, thanks to store-bought pudding, whipped cream, cake, and crushed cookies.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 30 minutes


Nutritional Info


  • 1 (8-ounce) container

    frozen whipped topping

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box

    chocolate cake mix, or 1 (18-ounce) package fudge brownie mix

  • 1 to 3

    large eggs (per package instructions)

  • 1/4 to 3/4 cup

    water (per package instructions)

  • 1/3 cup

    vegetable oil (or amount per package instructions)

  • 2 (3.9-ounce) boxes

    instant chocolate pudding mix (not cook-n-serve)

  • 4 cups

    cold whole milk

  • 25

    chocolate crème sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, or 8 (1.4-ounce) English toffee candy bars, such as Heath bars, or a combination


  1. Place 1 container frozen whipped topping in the refrigerator to thaw, about 4 hours or up to overnight.

  2. Prepare 1 package chocolate cake or brownie mix according to the package directions in a parchment-lined 9x13-inch baking pan. If the package does not list instructions for baking in a 9x13-inch baking pan, prepare the batter as instructed, and bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted 1-inch from the edge comes out with a few moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes for cake or 25 to 30 minutes for brownies.

  3. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the cake or brownies cool completely.

  4. Place 2 boxes chocolate instant pudding and 4 cups cold whole milk in a large bowl and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside at room temperature to thicken, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop 25 chocolate crème sandwich cookies or 8 English toffee candy bars until you have 3 cups.

  5. Cut the cooled cake or brownies into 1-inch pieces. Arrange half of the cubes in an even layer in a 2 1/2 to 4-quart trifle dish or glass bowl. Top with half the pudding, half the candy bars or cookies, and half the whipped topping. Repeat layering the remaining cake, pudding, and candy bars or cookies. Refrigerate the remaining whipped topping. Reserve the crumbs from the candy bars, cookies, cake, or brownies in a small dish.

  6. Cover the trifle with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  7. When ready to serve, spread the remaining whipped topping over the top of the trifle and garnish with the reserved crumbs.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cake or brownies can be baked up to 2 days in advance, wrapped, and stored at room temperature. The trifle can be assembled and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance.

Storage: Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

Ingredient Variations:

  • Pudding: 1 (5.9-ounce) package can be substituted, but the pudding layers will be slightly thinner. Prepare according to package instructions with 3 cups cold whole milk.
  • Whipped topping: Homemade whipped cream can be substituted. Place 2 cups cold heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer or hand whisk and large bowl.) Beat the sweetened cream to stiff peaks.
  • English toffee candy bars: 2 (8-ounce) bags toffee bits, such as Heath Bits o' Brickle, can be substituted for the English toffee candy bars. Reserve 1/4 cup toffee bits for garnish before assembling. Use the remainder for the first two layers, and sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup toffee bits as garnish.

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