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Easy Trifle Recipe

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Whip up this easy trifle recipe for the Memorial Day weekend OR the 4th of July! The beautiful layers and simple ingredients make this a go-to celebration dessert.

Star shaped strawberries and blueberries forming a star on top of strawberry and blueberry layered trifle in a glass bowl

Our take on the classic trifle has all the good stuff we want in a dessert. Layers of angel food cake, pudding, whipped cream, and juicy berries mean this dessert is bursting with different flavors and textures. Don’t you just love how trifle desserts strike that delicious balance between sweet and tangy? Creamy and chewy? Ahh so satisfying.

Capture the deliciousness! Pin the tantalizing image to your favorites board on Pinterest and have the recipe at your fingertips whenever you yearn for a beautiful dessert, but one that’s fast to make and only needs simple ingredients!

Fruit trifle is one of our favorite Christmas desserts, and it is traditionally a British holiday season dish, but we make variations year-round for all kinds of occasions! We often make this during the summer because the light cake, cold pudding, and fresh fruit are so refreshing on a hot day. So how better to celebrate the 4th of July than with this red, white, and blue treat?

Any layered dessert is a great way to get that wow factor, but trifle is one of those show stoppers that’s not just pretty and yummy. It’s simple to make, even in large quantities. So naturally, it’s one of our favorites to serve at parties and events.

Blueberry and strawberry trifle in glass bowl surrrounded by bowls of blueberries and strawberries, and 3 glasses of ice water, and forks, plates and napkins

FAQs

  • What makes a dessert a trifle?

This classic British dessert is defined by its layers of sponge, any kind of fruit or jelly/Jell-O, a semi-thick custard or pudding, and whipped cream, and it’s always served in a clear glass dish. Typically a trifle dish is a bowl with straight (not sloped) sides and may be on a pedestal.

  • How does this dessert differ from the classic trifle?

A classic trifle recipe includes layers of sponge fingers soaked in sherry, fruits in Jell-O, custard, and whipped cream. This recipe calls for angel food cake instead of sponge fingers. The cake is not soaked in anything. (The texture of wet baked goods is just not for me… but if you love it go for it!) And we use instant pudding instead of custard, as well as a strawberry glaze instead of Jell-O. Finally, a traditional trifle contains only one layer of each ingredient, and this recipe calls for multiple. I find this makes it easier to scoop out servings with a good bit of everything.

Strawberry and blueberry layered trifle with patriotic napkins and forks and red plates
  • What’s the difference between pudding and custard?

Custard and pudding are very similar, but pudding’s primary thickening ingredient is starch, while custard’s primary thickener is egg yolks. (Both pudding and custard usually contain eggs though!) Also, the custard is usually just slightly thicker or more firm-set than pudding. 

  • Can trifle be made ahead of time?

You can definitely make trifle ahead of time, in fact, it tends to get better while in the refrigerator because all the flavors really come together over time. We like to make trifle the night before, but wouldn’t recommend making this more than one day in advance. That sweet spot for ideal flavor without soggy sponge cake is 6-24 hours. 

Supplies for making a Trifle

Easy Trifle Recipe

Trifle ingredients and equipment including bowl of strawberries, bowl of blueberries, angel food cake, container of strawberry glaze, large measuring cup, and two boxes of white chocolate pudding

Ingredients for our take on trifle

  • 1 prepared angel food cake
  • 2 packages (4 cups prepared) white chocolate instant pudding
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 2 clamshells blueberries
  • 1 container prepared strawberry glaze
  • 8 oz Cool Whip (not pictured in the ingredient photo)

Directions on how to make this easy trifle dessert

1. Cut the angel food cake into 1-inch cubes.

Hand held mixer in a large measuring cup mixing white chocolate pudding, with white chocolate pudding boxes, a bowl of strawberries, and a trifle bowl with a layer of angel food cake on the side

2. Prepare the white chocolate pudding according to the directions on the package.

White chocolate pudding layer added on top of angel food cake layer in a round glass trifle bowl with a bowl of strawberries and a bowl of white chocolate pudding in the background

3. Arrange the cubed cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl, creating an even layer. Repeat the process, layering the rest of the ingredients evenly in the trifle dish. The order of the layers is: Cake, pudding, strawberries, glaze, cake, pudding, blueberries, cake, pudding, cool whip.

Side view of layered trifle in a glass bowl with layers of strawberries, blueberries, Cool Whip, and bite sized angel food cake pieces

4. Arrange the blueberries into a star shape on top. Cut 5 triangles out of the sides of the remaining strawberries and place them in a ring around the top. Add one blueberry between each of the strawberry stars.

Blueberry and strawberry trifle surrounded by fresh strawberries, bowl of blueberries and tub of Cool Whip

Substitutions for this easy trifle recipe

  • You can use almost any type of cake, but I find that some type of sponge cake works best – like Madeira cake or pound cake. For a bigger twist, try chocolate cake, sweet bread, or lady fingers. Feel free to use store-bought cake, prepared from cake mix cake, or a cake made from scratch. I’ve even found that gluten-free cake can work well when you need to consider food allergies. Just make sure the cake holds together well and isn’t too crumbly.
  • We’re big fans of instant pudding but homemade pudding or custard are just as good for this recipe. There are also several other pudding flavors that would work well. Creamy chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, lemon pudding, and banana pudding are all yummy options.
  • Feel free to use any of your favorite fruits to suit your taste. I do think fresh fruit is the way to go because frozen fruits seep out a lot of liquid when they thaw and can sog up the cake or muddle the pudding. I used strawberries and blueberries, but those could be replaced by raspberries, peaches, kiwis, bananas, mandarin oranges, mangoes, pineapple… You get the idea, the list goes on and on!
  • You can also use jam or Jell-O instead of strawberry glaze. Jell-O is the most traditional option, but I just love the way this glaze compliments the flavors of the fresh berries.
Strawberry, blueberry and cool whip layered trifle in glass bowl with patriotic napkins and plates

Tips and Tricks

  • Always use a clear bowl so you can see the eye-catching layers.
  • Arrange the angel food cake slices so the white part of cake shows through the glass – especially for this red, white, and blue design.
  • When you’re not preparing or serving trifle, keep it covered with plastic wrap!
  • If you’re making this the night before, you may want to save the final whipped cream layer and decorative topping for the day-of. This not only makes it easier to cover tightly but prevents the fruits on top from bleeding color into the whipped cream.

This recipe is a sweet idea for any occasion. The extra-good news is you won’t need to bake for ages or break the bank to feed a crowd! Gorgeous desserts aren’t always fast and budget-friendly, but this one only requires basic kitchen tools, simple ingredients, a trifle dish, and 15-20 minutes. 

You’ll definitely feel the excitement as you bring out this beautifully layered dessert! Then you’ll get to enjoy seeing everyone totally devour it. And if you manage to get a serving for yourself before it’s all gone, you’ll taste exactly why this is one of our favorites.

Love this recipe? We would love your support by giving it a 5-star rating and spreading the deliciousness by sharing it on Facebook. Don’t forget to pin the mouthwatering image to your favorites board on Pinterest for later cravings!

Want to see more of our favorite desserts? Check out our Chocolate Roses, Cookie Monster Cookies, and Chocolate Raspberry Muffins.

Star shaped strawberries and blueberries forming a star on top of strawberry and blueberry layered trifle in a glass bowl

Easy Trifle Recipe

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Whip up this easy trifle recipe for the 4th of July! The beautiful layers and simple ingredients make this a go-to celebration dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared angel food cake
  • 2 packages (4 cups prepared) white chocolate instant pudding
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 2 clamshells blueberries
  • 1 container prepared strawberry glaze
  • 8 oz Cool Whip

Instructions

    1. Cut the angel food cake into 1-inch cubes.
    2. Prepare the white chocolate pudding according to the directions on the package.
    3. Arrange the cubed cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl, creating an even layer. Repeat the process, layering the rest of the ingredients evenly in the trifle dish. The order of the layers is: Cake, pudding, strawberries, glaze, cake, pudding, blueberries, cake, pudding, cool whip.
    4. Arrange the blueberries into a star shape on top. Cut 5 triangles out of the sides of the remaining strawberries and place them in a ring around the top. Add one blueberry between each of the strawberry stars.

Notes

  • Always use a clear bowl so you can see the eye-catching layers.
  • Arrange the angel food cake slices so the white part of cake shows through the glass - especially for this red, white, and blue design.
  • When you're not preparing or serving trifle, keep it covered with plastic wrap!
  • If you're making this the night before, you may want to save the final whipped cream layer and decorative topping for the day-of. This not only makes it easier to cover tightly but prevents the fruits on top from bleeding color into the whipped cream.
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