This easy southern recipe is a favorite for taking to barbecues (Pig Pickin’s), potlucks, and church suppers. One bite and you'll know why we love this tradition!
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❤️ Why you'll love it
- Easy recipe—you basically just mix, blend, or beat everything together!
- Starts with a simple boxed cake mix (or swap in homemade) and sweet mandarin oranges!
- The frosting is a light, creamy, totally addictive pineapple whipped topping.
This easy pig pickin' cake tastes unique and nostalgic all at the same time.
Some people call it "sunshine cake" because it is the perfect, easy summertime dessert—it's guaranteed to brighten your day!
This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the green recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.
- Instead of rum in the recipe, you can use bourbon for a different, yet equally satisfying flavor.
- Try a yellow cake mix instead of white.
- For more orange taste, add a teaspoon of frozen orange juice concentrate or a teaspoon of orange extract to the reserved mandarin juice.
- You can substitute white chocolate instant pudding for vanilla.
- For a more tropical taste, stir some sweetened coconut flakes into the whipped topping.
- Drizzle leftover pineapple juice over the cake while it's cooling to make it extra moist and yummy!
- This cake recipe works really well with a homemade cake mix if you don't want to use a box.
- You can use about ⅔ of a container Cool Whip (about two cups) instead of making your own whipped cream. You can also use my homemade whipped topping instead of whipped cream. It holds up great if you are making it ahead of time or if the cake will be outside in warm weather.
- Instead of using one 9"x13" pan, you can make this recipe in two 8" cake pans (use the round cake pans.) Stack the cake layers and spread the pineapple frosting in between and on top of the cake. Garnish with mandarin orange slices and a sprig of mint for a rustic, eye-catching layered cake.
This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions are in the green recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Mix together the cake ingredients in a large bowl.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, bake, and cool.
- Fold the instant pudding mixture and pineapple into the whipped cream.
- Spread frosting on top of cake and add (optional) orange segments.
Just like your grandma would recommend, Pig Pickin cake recipes usually advise letting the cake chill in the refrigerator overnight for the best result. It actually tastes best the next day!
So, if you happen to have any leftovers (shocking!) put them back in the refrigerator.
Just make sure to cover them with some plastic wrap, or seal them in an airtight container. They'll stay good for a few days... but don't be surprised if they've disappeared before the next morning!
This does not freeze real well - it gets soggy.
💭 Things to know
Expert Tip: Drain the pineapple well and thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels. If too much moisture remains, it will make the topping watery when you fold it in.
- When making whipped cream, your tools need to be extra cold! Place a metal bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), the cream, and beaters (or whisk attachment) into the freezer for a few minutes before beating to make the best whipped cream ever!
- However, make sure the rest of your cake ingredients are at room temperature before starting to bake. This way, they'll blend together more evenly.
- You can use either a handheld or stand mixer to make Pig Pickin' cake.
The answer is sort of. The unfrosted cake portion freezes quite well. Wrap it tightly in plastic and freeze for up to three months. Let thaw in the refrigerator. However, the topping does not freeze well, so I'd make that after thawing your cake, a day or so before serving.
This easy cake was a traditional favorite at pig roasts, where guests would "pick" the meat off of a roasted pig. Even though there's no bacon in the cake, the name stuck around.
From what I know, it is! Depending on where you grew up, this mandarin orange cake had quite a few nicknames: some call it Pig Picking cake, others even say it's Pea Pickin' cake. We just call it delicious.
You can swap white or orange cake mix in a pinch, and I bet your family won't notice the difference. However, for the best, most moist orange cake, follow the instructions to the letter. It's grandmomma's recipe, after all!
📚 Related recipes
- Southern Peach Dump Cake is the easiest treat you'll ever make—thankfully so, because your friends will beg for this one over and over!
- Another favorite for Southern barbecues, this Texas Sheet Cake is dense, rich, and oh-so fudgy!
- When you crave a classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake, this is the easy recipe you need!
- Orange layer cake has ALL the citrus flavor in a classic triple layer cake.
🍽️ Serve with...
This cake is at its best at a big shindig like the church potluck. If you're serving it to a smaller crowd try it with grilled chicken breast, this tangy Texas-style BBQ macaroni salad and maybe some Dr. Pepper baked beans.
📞 The last word
Pig Pickin' Cake is a southern recipe that's a favorite for taking to barbecues, potlucks, and church suppers. Bright mandarin oranges and sweet pineapple combine with boxed butter cake mix for an easy summertime dessert that goes together quickly and just couldn't be easier.
Don't wait too long to make this cake! Invite some friends over for coffee and put this on the table - you'll definitely win the good neighbor award!
Try this red, white, and blue Jello poke cake, next!
If you click on the number of servings in the recipe card you can adjust the measurements up or down for the exact number of servings you need. Don't forget that you can click on "add to collection" to save it to your own, private recipe box!
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pig Pickin' CakePrint Pin Recipe Save Saved!
For the Cake:
- 1 box yellow butter cake mix
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 14 ounces mandarin oranges, ½ cup juice reserved
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum, optional
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting
- 4 ounce French vanilla instant pudding , dry - just use the powder
- 20 ounces crushed pineapple, juice reserved
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup Confectioner's sugar
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- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13x9-inch pan - set aside.
- Remove 2 tablespoons of the mandarin orange liquid and replace with 2 tablespoons of spiced rum (optional).
- Add the cake mix, butter, vanilla and eggs to the bowl of an electric mixer and blend on low for about 1 minute.
- Add the oranges and the reserved juice to the bowl. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
- Spoon into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake at 350F for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
- Blend the instant pudding mix, ½ cup Confectioner's, and reserved pineapple juice - set aside.
- Whip the cream with the remaining ¼ cup Confectioner's sugar until soft peaks form.
- Gently fold into the pudding mixture. Pat any remaining moisture off the pineapple with paper towel - fold into the topping.
- Spoon on the top of the cake. Refrigerate at least 4 hours - overnight is better. Be sure to keep leftovers in the fridge!
- ALWAYS use room temperature ingredients unless otherwise noted in the recipe... except whipped cream, of course - that should be ice cold.
- This works really well with a homemade cake mix if you don't want to use boxed.
- You can also use my homemade whipped topping instead of whipped cream. 🙂 It's especially good if you are making the cake ahead of time or it will be outside in warm weather.
- Bourbon is a nice substitute for the rum.
- Add a teaspoonful of frozen orange juice concentrate to the reserved mandarin orange juice for more orange flavor.
- Substitute white chocolate instant pudding for the vanilla.
- Stir in some sweetened, flaked coconut to the topping.
- You can freeze this cake without the topping.
- You can make this cake into 2 8-inch layers and fill and frost it with the topping.
- Drizzle some of the pineapple juice over the warm cake for a moister cake with more pineapple flavor.
- This cake is better the second day.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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First published March 17, 2018. Last updated June 29, 2023 with more helpful tips and information.