Sex in a Pan
Sex in a Pan is a layered pudding dessert that looks stunning and tastes incredible, but is super easy to make! It’s made with a pecan cookie crust that’s topped with layers of cheesecake filling, pudding, and Cool Whip. This chocolate layered dessert is one of those recipes everyone loves! It’s perfect for parties, holiday get-togethers and Valentine’s Day.
This Sex in a Pan dessert became one of the most popular recipes in the 70s. It was a recipe that my grandma always made and passed down to me. She would call it “Better Than Anything Cake” around us kids, but it actually has lots of different names. I’ve heard it referred to as “Robert Redford Dessert”, “Better Than Sex Cake” and “Chocolate Delight”.
Whatever you call it, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best desserts – perfectly rich, creamy and absolutely irresistible! You won’t be able to stop thinking about the wonderful dessert until you get to enjoy another piece!
Topped with chocolate shavings and layered with cream cheese, whipped topping, and two kinds of pudding on a simple baked shortbread crust, Sex in a Pan is a real stunner. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser, and it’s just decadent enough that one recipe will feed a big crowd. It takes just minutes to put together, but be sure to give it a couple of hours to chill after assembling.
This dessert turned out so good! The combination of the cookie crust with the creamy pudding was perfect. I’ll definitely make this one again.— Kate
Sex in a Pan has 5 layers – a pecan cookie crust, fluffy cheesecake filling, creamy pudding, whipped topping and chocolate shavings. Here’s everything you need to make it:
- Shortbread crust. The crust ingredients for this layered dessert are a simple mix of all-purpose flour, melted butter and finely chopped pecans. The buttery, nutty crust is a wonderful contrast to the chilled, creamy layers.
- Cream cheese layer. The layer that is spread over the crust is the cheesecake layer and it’s made with a combination of cream cheese, cup confectioners’ sugar and Cool Whip.
- Pudding layer. For the pudding layer, you will need one small 3.4 ounce size of INSTANT chocolate pudding and one small 3.4 ounce size of INSTANT vanilla pudding. Combine the two pudding packets with 3 cups milk and make the pudding according to package instructions.
- Topping. You will top the pudding layer with the remaining Cool Whip and then, if you’d like, you can garnish with chocolate shavings.
Not a fan of Cool Whip? You’re welcome to try homemade whipped cream, but I can’t say that it will work for sure, as I always use Cool Whip.
How to make this recipe
This is a super easy recipe to make! Just plan to make it in advance to allow for it to chill in the fridge. You can find the full, printable recipe card at the bottom of this page, but let’s walk through all of the steps.
- Crust. The first step is to make the pecan cookie crust. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, melted butter and chopped pecans. Use your fingers to press this mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or pan. Bake the crust in a preheated oven at 325 f degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before moving on to the next step.
- Cheesecake layer. Use a stand or hand mixer to cream together the 8 oz cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup of the Cool Whip. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes before adding the next layer to allow it to firm up and make for easier spreading.
- Pudding layer. Whisk together the instant chocolate pudding mix, instant vanilla pudding mix and milk according to package directions. Spread over cream cheese layer. Chill in the freezer for another 20 minutes to make spreading the next layer easier.
- Cool Whip topping. Top the pudding layer with the remaining (or preferred amount of) Cool Whip .
- Garnish and chill. If you’d like, sprinkle a garnish of grated chocolate over the top of the dessert. Place the cake in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Frequently asked questions
I’m pretty sure it got the name because it’s such an amazing dessert. It’s rich, luscious and SO good, and it’s made in a pan. You could always call it Better Than Anything in a Pan or layered pudding dessert.
To make the chocolate garnish, simply use a cheese grater to shred a bit of a chocolate bar. You can also use a knife as seen in this “How to Create Chocolate Shavings” video tutorial.
Easily adaptable to your taste, this layered dessert is very forgiving. Here’s a few ideas for making it your own:
- Crust. The pecan shortbread crust used in this recipe isn’t overly sweet, so it pairs really nicely with the sweet, creamy cake layers. However, I love graham cracker crust and it would be really delicious in this recipe. For a graham cracker crust that fits a 9×13-inch pan, combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350ºF. Cool before proceeding with the recipe.
- Pudding flavors. In my opinion, nothing beats the combination of vanilla and chocolate pudding, but you can really use any pudding flavor you like. Have fun and experiment with different flavors, from banana pudding to butterscotch pudding or even lemon pudding!
- Topping. Instead of (or in addition to) the chocolate shavings topping, feel free to sprinkle some chopped pecans or walnuts over the top for a pleasant crunch. Another option is to omit the chocolate shavings and use mini chocolate chips instead. You could even add a topping of fresh berries!
This dessert is SO delicious and easy, it’s really hard to mess up, but here are some tips, so that your Sex in a Pan dessert is perfect every time you make it!
- Cream cheese. Allow the cream cheese to fully soften to room temperature, so it is easy to mix and the filling doesn’t end up lumpy.
- Cool Whip. Be sure to place the Cool Whip in the refrigerator to thaw completely before mixing, this usually takes about 3.5 – 4 hours. Or leave it out at room temperature for about an hour.
- Clean slices. Place this in the freezer about 30 minutes before you plan to slice it. This will help firm up the layers even more and keep them intact as you cut into the dessert. Use a clean, sharp knife to cut into slices for serving. For extra neat layers that don’t run together as you slice, wipe your knife clean with a paper towel between each cut.
Make ahead & storing recommendations
Sex in a Pan is great to make a day or two before you plan to serve it! It also makes amazing leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have some left! Store any leftovers you might have, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to four days. We do not recommend freezing this.
You’re sure to LOVE this Sex in a Pan layered dessert – it serves a crowd, which makes it perfect for the holidays or any special gathering. It’s also super convenient that it can be made days ahead of time, so on the day of your party all you need to do is slice, serve and enjoy!
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Sex in a Pan
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
For the first layer:
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature for easier mixing
- 1 cup confectioners’ powdered sugar
- 1 (8-12 ounce) container Cool Whip, divided (you will use 1 cup for this layer and the remainder for the topping)
For the second layer:
- 1 (3.4 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding
- 1 (3.4 ounce) package chocolate instant pudding
- 3 cups whole milk
For the top:
- remainder of Cool Whip
- Optional: grated chocolate sprinkled over the top
- Crust layer: Mix flour, butter and pecans and press into the bottom of a 9 X 13-inch dish or pan. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- For the bottom layer over crust, mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 cup Cool Whip. This is easiest to mix with an electric mixer. Spread over crust. Chill each layer for about 20 minutes in the freezer before adding the next to give everything a chance to firm up.
- For the second layer, mix together puddings and milk. Mix according to package directions. Spread over cream cheese layer. You can chill for another 20 minutes in the freezer to make spreading the Cool Whip easier.
- Top with remaining Cool Whip and sprinkle with grated chocolate, if desired. Let the dessert chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Cool Whip comes in 8 or 12 ounce tubs. Get the 12 ounce tub if you can find it, if not the 8 ounce tub will work.
- Layering dessert: I like to chill each layer before I add the next to give everything a chance to firm up. A quick trip into the freezer for 20 minutes is enough time to help everything set.
- Make ahead + leftovers: This dessert can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store any leftovers you might have, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to four days.