The 32-year-old was available on a free transfer after being released by West Ham United at the end of last season.
Cole, who has also played for Chelsea, Liverpool and Lille, is relishing the chance to play for his fourth Premier League club.
"I've signed a two-year deal and I am very excited about it, coming to a massive club. I'm very excited about it and can't wait to get going," he said.
"I spoke to the gaffer and we agree on a lot of things in football and playing in a central midfield role sold it for me.
"I'll be coming here and I'll be learning too. Obviously I'll bring my experience to the squad but you still learn every day and I want to learn.
"I know I'll learn from the manager, I'll learn from other players here and going forward together we want to get the best results for the club.
"It will be exciting to play with the young players here. I'll be trying to keep hold of the ball, make some goals and score some goals. It'a a great challenge. I can't wait to get started."
Cole, who won 56 caps for England, won three Premier League titles during a successful seven-year spell with Chelsea but a succession of injuries disrupted his career.
A move to Liverpool in 2010 failed to reignite his career but he enjoyed a successful loan spell with Lille before returning to Upton Park last year.
Cole becomes Villa's second signing of the summer - former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos joining last week.