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This classic Pig Pickin’ Cake is a traditional Southern dessert that starts with a box of yellow cake mix and a can of mandarin oranges. The moist, citrus-flavored cake is topped with a fluffy whipped pineapple frosting. It’s perfect for a pig roast, a cookout with friends, or your family’s next Sunday supper. So delicious, refreshing, and easy to whip up!

Side shot of a slice of mandarin orange cake on a plate

What is Pig Pickin’ Cake?

If you’ve never heard of this funny-sounding dessert, allow me to introduce you to the best Pig Pickin’ Cake recipe ever! I originally received the recipe from my friend Jackie, and shortly thereafter my 101-year-old Great Aunt Bee sent me her cake recipe from North Carolina. Guess what? They were the same recipe, so I instantly knew it was a classic.

Pig Pickin’ Cake is an easy dessert that starts with a box of yellow cake mix. The cake is prepared with a can of mandarin oranges in syrup, so it has tiny bits of orange throughout and is infused with a bright citrus flavor. The cake stays incredibly moist thanks to the orange-flavored syrup and plenty of oil!

The traditional cake is typically finished with a whipped pineapple frosting, which is a simple combination of Cool Whip, canned crushed pineapple, and vanilla instant pudding mix. It’s light, fluffy and so delicious! You just can’t beat the combination of orange, pineapple, and vanilla in every bite.

Square image of a slice of the best pig pickin cake recipe served on a white plate

Why is it called Pig Pickin’ Cake?

You might be wondering what in the world this mandarin orange cake has to do with a pig?! Well, it’s very simple: this dessert is commonly served at a Southern barbecue — also known as a “pig pickin'” — where guests “pick” the tender meat off of the whole roasted pig. Other common dishes served at a pig pickin’ include coleslaw, mac and cheese, macaroni salad, baked beans and potato salad.

Origin

The Pig Pickin’ Cake definitely originated in the American South. Many folks site North Carolina as the first state to serve the orange pineapple cake, which is no surprise given that whole hog barbecues often define the Southern region of the state.

Overhead shot of pig pickin cake on a plate

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a mandarin orange pig pickin cake. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Yellow cake mix: I always use Duncan Hines brand, but any similar box will work.
  • Eggs: give the cake structure.
  • Vegetable oil: keeps the cake super-moist. You can substitute with another neutral oil, like canola.
  • Mandarin oranges in syrup: don’t drain the oranges. The liquid from the can adds flavor and moisture to the cake.
  • Frozen whipped topping: such as Cool Whip. Make sure that it thaws in the refrigerator before stirring together the frosting.
  • Vanilla instant pudding mix: just one small (4-serving) box. Do not prepare the pudding according to package instructions — you only need the dry mix.
  • Crushed pineapple: make sure that it’s well-drained so that it doesn’t water-down the frosting.
Ingredients for the best pig pickin cake recipe

How to Make a Pig Pickin’ Cake

Since the recipe starts with a cake mix, this mandarin orange Pig Pickin’ Cake is an easy dessert for every cookout, picnic, or party on your calendar!

  1. Beat together the cake mix, eggs, and oil on low speed for about 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the mandarin oranges (with their syrup) and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely combined.
  3. Bake the cake in a 350° F oven for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Fold together the whipped topping, dry pudding mix, and crushed pineapple.
  5. Spread the “frosting” on the cooled cake.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to slice and serve!
Mandarin orange cake batter in a large mixing bowl
Whipped pineapple cool whip frosting in a bowl
Overhead shot of pig pickin cake in a 9 x 13 pan with pineapple frosting on top

Prep and Storage

Cover tightly and store the cake in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. It will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days, but the frosting tends to get a bit watery as it sits. You can also freeze this cake with or without the frosting for up to 3 months.

Front shot of a slice of mandarin orange pig pickin cake recipe served on a white plate

Recipe Variations

  • Bake the cake in two round cake pans and stack them to form a layer cake. You  might need a little bit more frosting for the layers, sides and top of the cake.
  • Add walnuts or pecans to the batter, or garnish the top of the cake with the chopped nuts.
  • Coconut: add coconut extract to the batter and garnish the frosting with sweetened coconut flakes.
Horizontal shot of an orange pineapple pig pickin cake on a white plate

Tips for the best pig pickin’ cake recipe

  • Thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight before stirring together the frosting. Do not thaw the Cool Whip on the counter at room temperature or it will lose its fluffy texture.
  • Let the cake cool completely before frosting, or the icing will “melt” right off.
  • Garnish the top of the cake with extra mandarin oranges, sprinkles, coconut, or chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve.
Side shot of a slice of pig pickin cake on a plate
Square side shot of pig pickin cake on a plate

Pig Pickin’ Cake

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 16 slices
Calories 330 kcal
This classic Pig Pickin' Cake is a traditional Southern dessert that starts with a box of yellow cake mix and a can of mandarin oranges, and is topped with a whipped pineapple frosting!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (15.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15 oz) can mandarin oranges in syrup, NOT drained (plus extra for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (such as Cool Whip)
  • 1 (3.4 oz) box vanilla instant pudding mix (just the dry mix…do not prepare the pudding)
  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, well drained

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch cake pan (or two 8-inch round cake pans) with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, and oil on low speed for about 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add mandarin oranges (with their syrup) and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely combined.
  • Bake cake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool completely.
  • In a separate large bowl, gently fold together whipped topping, dry pudding mix, and drained crushed pineapple. Spread “frosting” on cooled cake.
  • Refrigerate until ready to slice and serve!

Notes

  • Thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator overnight before stirring together the frosting. Do not thaw the Cool Whip on the counter at room temperature or it will lose its fluffy texture.
  • Let the cake cool completely before frosting, or the icing will “melt” right off.
  • Garnish the top of the cake with extra mandarin oranges, sprinkles, coconut, or chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 330kcalCarbohydrates: 37.3gProtein: 3.2gFat: 19.6gSaturated Fat: 12.7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.6gMonounsaturated Fat: 2.1gCholesterol: 46.5mgSodium: 284.9mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 21.7g
Keyword: mandarin orange cake, orange cake, pig pickin cake, pineapple cake
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Desserts always seem to take the cake at parties and potlucks! 🙂 This fluff cake sounds delicious, Blair! I love the combination of orange and pineapples. Sounds so light and refreshing!

  2. Pinned! Visiting from The Pretty Pintastic Party. Thanks so much for sharing! Looks absolutely divine!

  3. all of your recipes look “Oh So Yummy” I can hardly wait to try a few of them. I love the orange fluff cake, it looks, and sounds a lot like the one I make for my hubby every year for his birthday. It’s his favorite and I only make it once a year.
    Your orange creamsicles are next on my list though. I have to go buy some of those cute little popsicle things first.

  4. Oh WOW does that look fantastic! Love that combination of the orange with the pineapple. Pinned!

  5. This looks like the perfect summer picnic cake!! Those yummy fruit flavors…and I LOVE the orange EO addition! I bet it really makes the flavors pop! 🙂 Pinned!

  6. Wow, does this look yummy! Perfect dessert for a summer party. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday, hope to see you again next week!

  7. 5 stars
    Hi Blair ! This cake sounds amazing !! I have family May and June birthdays coming up that we plan on celebrating together and l would love to make this cake ! I don’t seem to see any directions though , just ingredients . It sounds like perfect spring flavours and l was just wondering if you could help me out . Thanks !

  8. 5 stars
    Looked all over for the instructions on Orange pineapple fluff cake. Only ingredients were printed and shown. This recipe sounds really good and I am willing to make it bur need to have instructions.

    1. Ah, sorry about that, Fran!!! Thanks for letting me know! I just fixed the recipe card so that the instructions appear! Not sure what happened, although my web designer is in the process of switching to new recipe cards, so we’re working through some little kinks. Let me know if you have any questions now. Enjoy! 🙂

  9. This sounds so yummy! I’m going to try them making them in cupcakes for a charity bakesale! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wish people would try recipe first before writing a review! It may look good and sounds delicious but how does it taste?