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Black Forest Trifle

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a jar of Black Forest Trifle topped with whipped topping, chocolate shavings, and cherries
Black Forest Trifle combines devil’s food cake, chocolate pudding, and cherry pie filling layered with whipped topping for a striking and tasty dessert. Perfect for making ahead and convenient for family dinners and festive gatherings.
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Table of Contents
  1. Black Forest Trifle Ingredients
  2. Black Cherry Trifle Recipe – Substitutions and Additions
  3. How To Make A Black Forest Trifle
  4. Troubleshooting
  5. How To Serve A Black Forest Trifle Cake
  6. When To Serve
  7. How To Store Black Forest Trifle
  8. Why This Recipe for Black Forest Trifle Is The Best
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. More Recipes You’ll Love

The perfect dessert for any occasion, our Black Forest Trifle looks as beautiful as it is delectable. With rich, decadent layers of chocolate cake, cherry pie filling, and creamy chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream, it’s a showstopping trifle that your guests will devour.

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Trifle desserts are easy to assemble, and require very little baking. They’re simple to customize, and look gorgeous on a dessert table. This decadent dessert is adaptable for all kinds of holidays and special occasions, and will quickly become one of your favorite go-to recipe.

a jar of Black Forest Trifle topped with whipped topping, chocolate shavings, and cherries

Black Forest Trifle Ingredients

Black Forest Trifle raw ingredients that are labeled

This chocolate cherry trifle is made from the yummiest ingredients that make up classic Black Forest desserts: chocolate, cherries, and cool whipped cream. 

You’ll Need:

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) devil’s food cake mix (prepared according to box directions – usually you’ll need eggs, vegetable oil, and water)
  • 2 boxes (3.4 oz each) of instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 cups cold milk
  • 2 (21 ounces each) cans of cherry pie filling
  • 2 (8 ounces each) containers thawed whipped topping
  • About 1 dozen fresh cherries (optional garnish)
  • Chocolate shavings or grated chocolate (optional garnish)

Black Cherry Trifle Recipe – Substitutions and Additions

Need to make a substitution? Here are some ideas to help you customize your cherry chocolate trifle.

Devil’s Food Cake Mix: While classic Black Forest cake uses a rich chocolate cake, you can customize this recipe by using any flavor you’d like. Try a moist boxed chocolate cake, red velvet, milk chocolate, or even chocolate sponge cake. Turn this into Black Forest brownie trifle by using chocolate brownies instead of cake.

Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix: For a less chocolaty version, try vanilla pudding mix. You can also replace the pudding with chocolate custard.

Cold Milk: For and even richer flavor, use half cold milk and half heavy cream. Dairy-free? Almond milk or coconut milk can be used in the pudding mix instead.

Cherry Pie Filling: While cherries are a hallmark of Black Forest desserts, you can use raspberry or strawberry pie filling instead. You can also make homemade cherry pie filling if you’d like.

Whipped Topping: For a vegan option, coconut whipped cream is an excellent substitute. Cool Whip works well, but homemade whipped cream is a nice touch and adds an extra creamy flavor.

Fresh Cherries: If fresh cherries aren’t available, garnish with other fresh fruits like raspberries or blackberries, drained maraschino cherries, or extra cherry pie filling.

Chocolate Shavings: Instead of chocolate curls or shavings, try garnishing with crushed nuts or crumbled Skor bits for a crunch or a dusting of dark chocolate or cocoa powder for a more subdued chocolate flavor.

How To Make A Black Forest Trifle

Creating this easy chocolate trifle recipe is a fun way to impress your guests (or treat yourself). This recipe layers rich, chocolaty goodness with the bright tang of cherries, all topped off with creamy whipped topping. 

Here’s how to make it:

STEP ONE: Prepare the devil’s food cake according to the package directions. Once baked, allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack. 

PRO TIP: Letting the cake cook completely helps make sure your trifle doesn’t end up soggy.

devil's food cake baked then cut into cubes

STEP TWO: Prepare the chocolate pudding using the 4 cups of cold milk, as directed on the box. Chill the creamy pudding in the refrigerator until it sets, typically about 5 minutes.

PRO TIP: Using very cold milk is crucial in helping the pudding to set quickly.

pudding and milk combined in a bowl

STEP THREE: Make the first of two layers of cake cubes in the bottom of your trifle bowl.

PRO TIP: ​As you make each layer of your trifle, use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the layers right to the edge of the dish.

STEP FOUR: Spoon half of the chocolate pudding over the cake cubes. Spread it evenly to cover them completely. 

chocolate pudding spooned over the cake cubes

STEP FIVE: Carefully spread ¾ of the cherry pie filling over the pudding layer.

cherry pie filling spread over the chocolate pudding

STEP SIX: Spread half of the whipped cream over the cherry pie filling.

whipped topping spread over the cherry pie filling

STEP SEVEN: Repeat the layers by adding another layer of cake cubes, the remaining half of the pudding, and the other half of the cherry pie filling. Finish with a final layer of whipped topping, smoothing it out to cover the entire surface.

jar layered with cake cubes, pudding, cherry pie filling, then whipped topping

STEP EIGHT: Loosely cover the trifle and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This chilling time allows the flavors to meld, enhancing the overall taste.

STEP NINE: Just before serving, garnish with fresh cherries and sprinkle with chocolate shavings if desired.

trifle garnished with fresh cherries and sprinkled with chocolate shavings


We know you want your Black Forest Cake Trifle to look its best, so here are some common areas where you might have trouble, and what to do to make sure your trifle comes out looking perfect. 

The pudding isn’t setting properly.

Make sure you use cold milk to make your pudding. If it’s not setting, let it sit in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.

The cake becomes too crumbly when cutting into cubes.

Let the cake cool completely after baking. A fully cooled cake holds its structure better and reduces crumbling. Use a serrated knife to gently cut the cake. Sometimes, using a warm knife can help. Run it under hot water, then wipe it dry with a clean towel.

The layers are mixed and not distinct.

Chill each layer briefly (for 3-5 minutes) before adding the next. This helps set the pudding and whipped cream, keeping the layers distinct and tidy.

The Cool Whip is too runny.

Make sure the whipped topping is fully thawed if using it a store-bought version, or properly whipped to stiff peaks if using homemade. This ensures it maintains structure when layered.

The cherry pie filling is overpowering.

Use only three-quarters of the cherry pie filling for each specified layer or consider using a tart cherry filling to balance the sweetness.

The trifle looks messy when served.

Use a long, narrow spatula for serving to make neater layers as you scoop.

Chocolate shavings are melting into the whipped topping.

Add the chocolate shavings or grated chocolate just before serving rather than when first assembling the trifle to keep them crisp and visually appealing.

How To Serve A Black Forest Trifle Cake

You’ve mastered making a Black Forest chocolate trifle dessert! Now, let’s talk about the best ways to serve it. Here are some ideas for serving and pairing:

Casual Family Dinners: Serve the trifle in a large glass bowl where the layers are visible, so everyone can admire the dessert before digging in. Pair it with a light main course like grilled chicken or a simple pasta dish.

Elegant Dinner Parties: For a more sophisticated presentation, portion the trifle into individual servings in martini glasses or small dessert bowls. Make sure everyone gets a taste of all the layers!

Black Forest Parfait: Instead of layering this dessert in a large bowl, make individual Black Forest Trifles in clear glasses with fancy dessert spoons. Use a similar layering technique, but cut your chocolate cake into small pieces.

Brunch Gatherings: This trifle pairs wonderfully with lighter items such as fruit salads or savory casseroles. Pair with mimosas for an extra special treat.

Summer Barbecues: Serve the trifle chilled after barbecue staples like ribs or beef kabobs, providing a sweet end to a hearty meal. For a rustic touch, scoop the trifle into mason jars instead of bowls.

Holiday Celebrations: During the holidays, serve the trifle as a centerpiece dessert. Its layers of chocolate, cherries, and cream are perfect for winter holidays. Pair with holiday beverages like Christmas morning punch or a rich hot chocolate for an extra memorable holiday feast.

When To Serve

Black Forest Trifle is a versatile dessert that fits beautifully into a variety of social gatherings and celebrations. Whether you’re hosting a casual family dinner or a more elaborate event, this dessert will be a beautiful conclusion to your meal. 

Need a show-stopping dessert for a family reunion? Our trifle recipe feeds a crowd. It’s also lovely for the holiday season, especially for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s a great addition to an outdoor cookout or picnic, and can even replace a traditional birthday cake!

This easy Black Forest trifle seems to fit in everywhere and makes every get-together even better.

How To Store Black Forest Trifle

After preparing your gorgeous Black Forest Trifle, make sure it stays fresh by storing it properly. 

If you want to make your trifle ahead of time, follow these instructions to keep your beautiful layers looking as good as when you first assembled them.

MAKE AHEAD: For the freshest looking and tasting dessert, assemble your Black Forest Trifle a day in advance. Layer the cake, pudding, and cherry pie filling as directed, and cover the trifle bowl with cling film. Keep it refrigerated until it’s time to serve, then add the garnish of whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries to the top of the trifle just before serving.

IN THE FRIDGE: If you have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator covered tightly with plastic wrap or transfer the trifle to an airtight container. This dessert is best enjoyed within 48 hours of assembly. After that, the cake layer will start to get very wet and soggy.

IN THE FREEZER: We don’t recommend freezing your trifle, ad the whipped topping and pudding won’t thaw well.

Why This Recipe for Black Forest Trifle Is The Best

Here’s why we love this easy trifle recipe:

Visual Appeal: This Black Forest Trifle isn’t just delicious—it’s a feast for the eyes. The layers look so pretty, your dessert will catch everyone’s attention at gatherings. 

Easy Preparation: This dessert looks like it was professionally made, but you whipped it up yourself in your own kitchen. No fancy cooking techniques, just simple, step-by-step instructions to follow.

Crowd-Pleasing Flavor: Black forest desserts are always a favorite, and this trifle-version is a fresh take on the classic with all the familiar, well-loved flavors you expect. Plus, this dessert feeds a lot of people!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ensure that the layers remain distinct and do not mix together?

To keep the layers distinct, allow each layer to set slightly in the refrigerator before adding the next one. Also, be gentle when spreading the layers to prevent them from mixing or sinking into each other.

Can I prepare any components of the trifle in advance other than the entire dessert?

Yes, the cake can be baked and the pudding can be made a day in advance. Store the cake covered at room temperature and keep the pudding in the refrigerator.

What can I do if my pudding isn’t setting properly?

Make sure to use cold milk and whisk the pudding mixture thoroughly. Allow it sufficient time in the refrigerator to set, usually about 5 minutes before layering.

Can the Black Forest Trifle be frozen for longer storage?

Freezing is not recommended for this trifle, as the textures of the whipped topping and pudding may change, impacting the overall quality of the dessert.

Can I use fresh whipped cream instead of the whipped topping?

Yes, fresh whipped cream is a great substitute for whipped topping.

What size trifle dish is best for this recipe?

A 3.25-quart (or 104-ounce) trifle bowl is ideal for this recipe, as it allows ample space for all the layers and a stunning presentation.

This Black Forest Trifle recipe layers rich chocolate pudding, tangy cherry pie filling, and smooth whipped cream to create a dessert that’s as easy to make as it is to love. It’s the most fun way to serve a Black Forest dessert, and your guests will love this nostalgic recipe.

a jar of Black Forest Trifle topped with whipped topping, chocolate shavings, and cherries

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a jar of Black Forest Trifle topped with whipped topping, chocolate shavings, and cherries

Black Forest Trifle

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Black Forest Trifle combines devil’s food cake, chocolate pudding, and cherry pie filling layered with whipped topping for a striking and tasty dessert. Perfect for making ahead and convenient for family dinners and festive gatherings.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 12


  • 15.25 ounces devil’s food cake mix, prepared according to box directions
  • 6.8 ounces instant chocolate pudding mix, two 3.4-ounce boxes
  • 4 cups cold milk
  • 42 ounces cherry pie filling, two 21-ounces cans
  • 16 ounces thawed whipped topping, two 8-ounces containers
  • 1 dozen fresh cherries, optional garnish
  • Chocolate shavings or grated chocolate, optional garnish


  • Prepare the devil’s food cake according to box directions. Ensure the cake is completely cooled before cutting it into 1-inch x 1-inch cubes.
  • Prepare the chocolate pudding according to the package instructions using cold milk. Chill it in the refrigerator to set.
  • In a trifle bowl (3.25 quarts -or- 104 ounces), create a single layer of 1-inch cake cubes in the base of a trifle bowl.
  • Spoon ½ of the chocolate pudding over the cake cubes.
  • Spread ¾ of the cherry pie filling over the chocolate pudding.
  • Add a layer of whipped topping over the cherry pie filling.
  • Repeat the layers – cake cubes, remaining chocolate pudding, ¾ of the cherry pie filling – until the dish is nearly full, ending with a layer of whipped topping on top.
  • Loosely cover and refrigerate the trifle for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Just before serving, set the fresh cherries into the center of the whipped topping. You can also garnish the top with chocolate shavings or grated chocolate.


  • Let the cake cook completely to help make sure your trifle doesn’t end up soggy.
  • Using very cold milk is crucial in helping the pudding to set quickly.
  • As you make each layer of your trifle, use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the layers right to the edge of the dish.


Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 603mg | Potassium: 421mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 364IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 194mg | Iron: 2mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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