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Pig Pickin’ Cake

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.

a slice of Pig Picking Cake (or Mandarin Orange Cake) shown on a white plate with a bite removed.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Can I use an orange cake mix instead?

Of course, if you can find it. Duncan Hines makes one called “Orange Supreme Cake Mix”. I am currently unable to find it in any grocery stores near me but if you are able to find it then you can certainly use it for a stronger orange flavor.

Why is it called Pig Pickin Cake?

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.

What are other names for 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!

I don’t like boxed cake mixes, can I make it homemade?

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 don’t like to use Cool Whip, can I make homemade whipped cream?

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.

How to store leftover Pig Pickin Cake?

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.

a slice of Pig Pickin Cake being lifted out of the baking dish with a white spatula.

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.
yellow cake mix, mandarin oranges, instant vanilla pudding, Cool Whip, pineapple, eggs.

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. 

a collage of three photos: cake mix, eggs, butter and mandarin orange juice in a bowl, cake batter with mandarin oranges in the bowl and cake batter spread out in a whit baking dish.

Basically you want the cake to be lightly golden brown and set. Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cake is completely 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. 

collage of three photos: pineapple juice being poured into a bowl with instant pudding in it, Cool Whip added on top of pineapple pudding mixture and crushed pineapple on top of frosting mix in a bowl.

Spread frosting on cooled cake and refrigerate for a a couple of hours before serving. This helps the frosting to set up a bit more. Then slice cake into 12 slices (while in the pan).

collage of two photos: a spatula spreading forcing onto a cake in a baking dish, frosted cake shown cut into slices.

Then top each slice with a mandarin orange slice.

Serve and enjoy! Keep cake refrigerated.

a slice of mandarin orange cake being held up over the baking dish with a metal spatula.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

Originally published: June 2011
Updated & Republished: July 2023

Pig Pickin Cake recipe from The Country Cook.

Pig Pickin’ Cake (+Video)

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!
4.92 from 127 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 15 ounce can mandarin oranges (1/2 cup juice reserved, drain the rest)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup mandarin orange juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 20 ounce can crushed pineapple (3/4 cup juice reserved, drain the rest really well)
  • ¾ 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 sized tub)
  • extra mandarin orange slices (for garnish)

Instructions

  • 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 1 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.
    cake mix with eggs, oil and water in a bowl.
  • Add drained 15 ounce can mandarin oranges and gently stir until combined (leaving some of the oranges chunky).
    mandarin oranges added to cake mix in bowl.
  • 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 2-3 hours before slicing.
  • When cooled, slice cake into 12 pieces (while in the pan) and then top each slice with extra mandarin orange slices. Keep cake refrigerated.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • 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.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 402mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 42g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“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 and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




121 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      I’m thinking that the oranges weren’t beaten small enough. The weight from them weighed down the cake. I never added the powdered sugar because I thought it would be to sweet for us.
      Thank you for the recipe the cake is delicious.

      1. I I am so glad to see that someone else had their cake flatten. Mine actually shrunk from the sides of the pan also. I really think my oranges were beaten small enough. Any other ideas of what I did wrong? I used extra large eggs – could that have done it?

    2. My sister told me it is because a used a glass pan. Same thing has happened to me many time with just plain cake. Happened again with this recipe. I googled & it said when using glass pan lower temp to 325 & bake longer. I will just start using my metal pan. Still tasted delicious though, just not as pretty as the picture shown.

  1. 5 stars
    Can you put it in the freezer to help keep it cold for setting out for a few hours until after the meal? No way to refrigerate once we take it to the party.

  2. I have made this cake throughout the years for large groups and I have always used the yellow cake mix UNTIL last week. I substituted an orange cake mix and it is so much better! I will not go back to the yellow cake mix. It got rave reviews from my church group.

  3. I've always heard it called "Pig Pickin" cake too, because the ladies used to take them to the bbqs in the community. No matter what you call it, it really is good! 🙂

  4. My family as made this cake for years and we call it "Pig Pickin Cake" because you make a pig out of yourself eating it. We also make it with three layers, it seems to absorb the pineapple and cream taste even better.

  5. Never known anyone else to make pea picking' cake other than my own mom. So glad to have found your recipe and blog (thanks to pinterest!) and the chance to share the love. This is a MUST for every birthday and cookout!

  6. I used to make this cake often. We called it pea picking cake since it was made during the summer and made a good dessert to have after picking peas on the farm. It is better if you put some nuts in the topping. I always used chopped pecans.

    Glad your mother was able to have this cake for her 60th birthday. What are you planning to make for her 70th?!

  7. Have had this recipe for years but mine does not call for butter in the cake mix instead it calls for a butter cake mix, 4 eggs and a can of mandarin oranges, juice too. It turns out light and fluffy and sooooo GOOD. Everything else is the same.

  8. I've been excited ever since I found your site here recently. I was especially excited to see this recipe though…because I already had it. lol We call it Piggy Cake. Anyways, the reason i was so excited is because if I have at least ONE recipe that you already have, maybe one day I'll cook as good as you!

  9. My mother had this recipe as Pig Pickin' cake. Her recipe did not include the powdered sugar and she would always poke holes in the cake with a toothpick and pour some of the pineapple juice over it. It's my favorite and she would make it for my birthday in July(perfect as you said for hot weather). She's been gone almost 6 years and I still can't make it to taste like hers.

    1. 5 stars
      My mother did the exact same thing. She would drain the juice to use after the cake had baked, poking the holes into the cake afterwards and using the juice, before layering the frosting without powdered sugar. She also used wax paper under the cake mix so that the juice would remain underneath and seep back up into the cake.
      Best cake ever!

  10. Can't wait to make this.
    Whenever we would come to the USA from Salzburg, Austria, my Aunt Merlin would make this cake (Arkansas) just haven't been able to find recipie and it's escaped from my pea brain. Thanks for posting, I'm going to "pig out"

  11. Brandie, this cake is just like the one our favorite restaurant serves. Shonda, the lady that bakes the cake told me what was in it and then I found this recipe, which is exactly like it with the exception that she puts all of the juice from the mandarin oranges in the batter. I made it on Saturday and put the whole can in as well. My husband is a retired Marine and has a good appetite but I have to say that in the 34 yrs. that I have been married, this is without a doubt the best cake I have ever made. My husband just loved it and so did I. I gave my younger sister the recipe on Sunday when I went to her son's ceremony for obtaining Eagle Scout.

    I have also given your website to my daughter and my daughter-in-law. They will be making it as well.

    Thanks and I am thrilled to have found your blog.

  12. I have to try this one. Sounds like the type of cake that southern women would have baked. I've got a really old recipe that my mother-in-law in South Carolina gave me that is fantastic and I hope I never lose that recipe because it will make a pineapple cake with seven minute sticky frosting or a pound cake.

  13. My family loves this cake! We are from southwest fl and this cake has been a staple at many a birthdays, family gatherings and on those just because days! My * year old loves it so much that since she's been in school that's what she has asked for on her birthdays for school. Needless to say all her classmates now ask for the pea cake.. We only have one difference in our recipe from yours and that is that we don't add powdered sugar to the frosting because it already a pretty sweet one on its own without..Love your blog! All your recipes remind me of my Gran!!!

  14. Finally, finally, FINALLY got a chance to make this cake and OMG…it is DELICIOUS!!! I especially love the icing with its little chunks of pineapple. I made the 2-layer version and garnished around the edge with mandarin oranges which made it seem extra special to the kids.

  15. A happy belated birthday to your mother…I, too, have seen this cake called by all the different names you mentioned. The recipe was posted in my local newspaper several years ago. According to the article, TV journalist, Connie Chung, went to Atlanta, GA to interview the parents of Newt Gingrich. Newt's father made this cake and served it to Connie Chung. I have made this cake so many times and it is always well loved by everyone that eats it. I make it for one of my stepsons every time he visits. He could eat the whole cake by himself if I'd let him. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I'll have to try your version with the powdered sugar added… 🙂

  16. This cake is so good and perfect for summertime!! I've tried it at a locally favorite bakery and loved it. I'm so glad that you shared the recipe with me now so that I can make it! 🙂 Thanks!

  17. This is an absolutely fabulous cake recipe! My mom made this every year for my birthday. I missed it this year since we couldn't be together. I guess I'm going to have to make it myself. Hope your mom had a fantastic birthday! Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

  18. I hope Mom had a wonderful and blessed birthday. How about I tell you when my birthday is and you make this cake for me. I can't imagine that I could do it any better.

  19. What a wonderful post. This recipe looks so fantastic. I cannot wait to try this out.

  20. Happy Birthday to you wonderful mother…I would be so pleased to have this cake for my next birthday.