Pig Pickin’ Cake is an easy cake that starts with a boxed cake mix, mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple. It’s sunshine in a cake!
AN EASY, ORANGE FLAVORED CAKE
For her birthday, my Mom wanted a dessert she had not had since childhood, Pig Pickin’ Cake. Her mother used to make it, but sadly she did not have her Momma’s recipe. She remembers her Mom calling it Pea Pickin’ Cake. So, my Mom and I were determined to get this just like she remembered. I think we nailed it! This really is an amazing cake for spring and summer. The flavors are bright and fresh and the whipped cream topping gives it a light taste.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
I posed this question to a bunch of folks on Facebook a number of years back and I got about 100 different answers from about 100 different elderly southerners. So it looks like every family has their own idea of where the name came from. After doing a bit of research, most food historians seem to think it came from southern barbecues. This type of cake (or similar) was served at pig roasts (or pig pickings), so therefore this became known as the Pig Pickin’ Cake.
This cake goes by so many different names depending on what your family called it – it is hard to keep up. I’ve heard some call it Mandarin Orange Cake or even Pea Pickin’ Cake. It is also called Sunshine Cake, Pineapple Orange Cake, etc. The list is endless. It doesn’t matter what you call it though – you’ll always call it good!
Of course! If you have a favorite homemade vanilla or yellow cake recipe then you can certainly use that instead. Just make sure to incorporate the drained mandarin oranges into your cake batter. I have only ever used a cake mix so you are going to have to use your best judgement on how best to make this homemade and how to incorporate the oranges and the juice.
I have only ever made this with Cool Whip. I like it because it stays stabilized for much longer than homemade whipped cream. As I say with all recipes that have Cool Whip, if you are used to replacing Cool Whip with homemade whipped cream in recipes, then this one shouldn’t be any different Just do what you would normally do. I cannot make recommendations because I’ve never done it.
This cake should be kept in the refrigerator when not being served (because of the frosting). Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and it can be frozen (if properly wrapped to protect against freezer burn) for up to 3 months.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)
- yellow cake mix – you can use any similar style cake mix: French vanilla, white or butter also work here. I suppose you could even go with a pineapple cake mix.
- butter – you can also use margarine instead of butter. Just make sure it is fully softened to room temperature or you’ll never be able to mix it into the batter. Do not melt it though.
- mandarin oranges – You can purchase mandarin oranges in light syrup or 100% juice. You just need to set aside 1/2 cup of the liquid in the can before fully draining.
- large eggs – baked goods turn out best when everything is at room temperature. So set the eggs out about an hour or so before making your cake.
- vanilla extract – this is optional. It just gives it a little boost of flavor. You could probably use an orange extract if you want to bring out that orange flavor.
- vanilla instant pudding mix – you need to look very carefully at the packaging. It needs to be instant pudding – not cook and serve.
- crushed pineapple – you want to drain these really well. Just be sure to set aside 3/4 cup of that juice and then you can drain the rest.
- whipped topping (COOL WHIP) – if you’ve never purchase this before, you will find Cool Whip in the frozen dessert section of your grocery store. It comes frozen so you’ll need to defrost it before using. Don’t defrost on the counter. Just put it in the fridge to defrost overnight.
HOW TO MAKE PIG PICKIN CAKE:
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (I prefer the kind that has flour in it like Baker’s Joy). For the cake, combine cake mix, butter, 1/2 cup juice from the mandarin oranges, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat for four minutes on medium-high. Add drained oranges and stir until pieces are broken up slightly. Don’t stir too much because you want to see some large orange pieces in the cake. Pour batter into prepared baking pan for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Basically you want the cake to be lightly golden brown and set. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cake is cool, blend 3/4 cup of the juice from drained pineapples with the vanilla pudding mix. Add powdered sugar and mix, then mix in whipped topping. Stir in drained pineapple.
Spread frosting on cooled cake and refrigerate a couple of hours before serving. Then slice cake into 12 slices (while in the pan).
Then top each slice with a mandarin orange slice.
Serve and enjoy! Keep cake refrigerated.
CRAVING MORE RECIPES?
Originally published: June 2011
Updated & Republished: July 2023
Pig Pickin’ Cake (+Video)
For the cake:
For the topping:
- 20 ounce can crushed pineapple (3/4 cup juice reserved, drain the rest really well)
- 3/4 cup juice from the crushed pineapple
- 4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 4 ounces Cool Whip (whipped topping) (half a regular tub)
- extra mandarin orange slices, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Drain the can of mandarin oranges, setting aside 1/2 cup of the juice (discard the rest of the juice).
- For the cake: combine 15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix, 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), 1/2 cup mandarin orange juice, 4 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat for 3-4 minutes on medium-high.
- Add drained 14 ounce can mandarin oranges and gently stir until combined (leaving some of the oranges chunky).
- Spread batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (oven times can vary).
For the frosting:
- Drain the can of crushed pineapples very well, set ting aside 3/4 cups of the juice (discard the rest of the juice).
- Once cake is cool, in a bowl, stir together 3/4 cup juice from the crushed pineapple with 4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix.
- Stir in ½ cup powdered sugar. Then fold in 4 ounces Cool Whip (whipped topping).
- Finally, stir in drained 20 ounce can crushed pineapple. Note: if your frosting seems a bit too "liquidy" just add in a little more of the Cool Whip until you get a stiffer consistency.
- Spread frosting on cooled cake. To help the frosting finish setting up, place cake into the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours before slicing.
- When cooled, slice cake into 12 pieces (while in the pan) and then top each slice with extra mandarin orange slices,. Note: I like to put the cake into the refrigerator for about an hour to help set up the frosting.
- Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
- Keep cake refrigerated.
- Margarine can be substituted for the butter.
- This can be made in a round layer cake. (2) 8 inch round pans and bake for 17-21 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.