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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!


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


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


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)


  • 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.


YouTube video


  • 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


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


  1. My Mom used to make this cake many, many, and I do mean many, years ago. It’s wonderful and I will be making sure what ingredients I need when I go to the store. We called it Pig Lickin’ cake. I grew up in hog country. Just a comment.

  2. 5 stars
    Made it for my Ma’s B-day party. Everyone loved it. I made the cake the night before and put it in the fridge along with the can of pineapple. I made the topping the next day. I used the whole tub of whipped cream. My sister wants it for her birthday too.

    1. 5 stars
      I made the frosting with softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, pineapple, vanilla pudding mix and the juice of the pineapple and it is firm and delicious.

  3. My ex BF would tell me of a cake like this he had as a child .. So I think I finally have found it and we’ll its cooling now and after the icing we will see if it’s the one he remembers…

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cake and loved it except for the frosting has a somewhat grainy taste to it. I mixed the pineapple juice with the instant pudding mix with a whisk, then whisked in the powdered sugar and I”m wondering if I should have used a mixer and beat it instead. Then I folded in my Cool Whip, then folded in the pineapple. Any ideas?

  5. 5 stars
    Ya, you make the powdered sugar frosting just as you normally would, sub out butter for crisco to make it hold a little better and then add your creamer to get your consistency. Get the consistency just about to where you want, THEN add your flavoring, otherwise it can get lost.
    One thing I like to do is to make this with cream cheese extract/flavoring. You could not tell it from the real thing. I get mine from Watkins, most stores carry it now. Or get the clear vanilla from Watkins as well and you can make pure white frosting, no tint of brown. Add some almond extract along with the clear vanilla and you have royal icing.

  6. 5 stars
    My aunt told me about using powdered non-dairy creamer. You don’t get that powdered sugar taste, in fact, if you use the regular flavor, you don’t get any taste change at all. I use crisco instead of butter ( sometimes ) because the crisco seems to hold up better to being stirred. Using that creamer, you can make cement if you add enough!LOL

    1. Ha! I did not know that Dianne!! I am going to have to try that sometime! What do you do to sweeten it though since there is no sweetener in non dairy creamer? Do you just add it along with the powdered sugar?

  7. I have made this before but this time my frosting was not as stiff. Any suggestions on what I could have done to make it thicker, or stiffer. I made a two layer cake but the top layer is just sliding around.

  8. Is it possible that this original recipe used a box cake that was 18.25 oz? I’m wondering if the new smaller cake mixes that are on the shelves today (15.25 oz) are contributing to the longer cooking times and flattening of the cake out of the oven.

    1. Hi Anna! I tested this with the smaller cake mix boxes. It still worked so I think it has to do with the actual brands that are being used. Some off the cake mix brands (like Duncan Hines) aren’t working so well with these types of recipes. It’s sad because I love the flavor of Duncan Hines cake mix! Perhaps they changed their formulation. Pillsbury seems to be working the best.

  9. 5 stars
    Turned out perfect. Mine came out so fluffy and scrumptious! I wouldn’t change a thing. FYI – I used Betty Crocker cake mix. Seems to work better than Duncan Hines. My whole church group wanted the recipe. 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve made this many times and it’s delicious but I always need to bake almost 20 extra minutes?! It’s golden brown on top but 100% soup when timer goes off….. Any idea what I’m doing wrong? My oven works fine too.

    1. Hi Tara, Are you baking the cake on the top rack? I’ve made this cake so many times (I could make it in my sleep – LOL) and the time is always the same. However, it’s possible it could be rack position or perhaps my oven runs hot. I need to do a proper oven test. However, I am so glad you figured it out and you enjoyed it!!

  11. 5 stars
    I just made this last weekend for the fourth. Such a great summer dessert. The topping is so light and the cake is so fresh. The only thing I did different was not use the powered sugar in the frosting. So yummy! Thanks.

  12. 5 stars
    I am green cooker and just want to make this recipe . the quesiton is which one I should use ? Hand mixer or hand blender?

  13. 5 stars
    I just made this recipe and it’s to die for!!! I subbed the oranges for additional pineapple and added mini marshmallows and 1/2 cup shredded coconut. Such a great summer desert

  14. 5 stars
    I make a cake very similar, except no powdered sugar in the topping. Topped mine with pecans and cherries. The recipe was given to me by a neighbor 30 yrs ago and is still a favorite. At a dessert auction fund raiser it sold for $70.

  15. 5 stars
    The cake turned out perfect. No issues what so ever. The frosting was a whole other situation. Nothing I did would firm it up. It was like soup. The instant pudding calls for 2 cups of liquid and this recipe only called for a quarter of the liquid so I don’t understand why it did what it did.

  16. 5 stars
    I live at high altitude (7000 feet). I made this cake for years without any problems. However the last couple of years, it has fallen just at the end of baking. Has there maybe been a change to the boxed cake recipe? Does anyone have any tips to help me out? Otherwise, I LOVE the cake!

  17. 5 stars
    My recipe is different in that the icing is: crushed pineapple and the juice, a large instant vanilla pudding, mixed on mixer then fold in cool whip. Do try it. this way

    1. 5 stars
      I baked in a glass pan with the oven on 325 but I baked the cake for 45 minutes and my cake was a success!