This easy Pig Pickin Cake has an unusual name, but rest assured, it tastes fantastic! Made with a boxed cake mix, you will love how easy this dessert recipe is to whip up. It’s perfect for summer barbecues, picnics, church potlucks, or family dinners.
Pig Pickin Cake Recipe
I have no idea how this cake earned the name Pig Pickin, but it is one of our favorite summer recipes. The combination of mandarin oranges, pineapple, and cake is delicious.
I read an article in Southern Living that said the name comes from traditional classic southern pig roasts.
Another article said the cake originated in North Carolina and was a staple with American South Pork Barbecue. Pig Pickin is a potluck with friends and family enjoying great food, including barbecue.
This light cake pairs perfectly with a heavy Southern barbecue meal.
Everyone loves this cake! It is so easy to make and tastes like summer. The combination of whipped topping, drained pineapples, mandarin oranges, and yellow cake layered in a cake pan is delicious!
This cake is also called a Mandarin Orange Cake, pea pickin' cake, pig eatin' cake, pig cake, sunshine cake, orange pineapple layer cake, summer cake, and celestial snow cake. Oh my!
What do you call this cake?
One thing to plan for this recipe is to give it a couple of hours to rest in the refrigerator to allow all of the flavors to meld together.
Send leftovers straight to the refrigerator due to the Cool Whip whipped topping on the top. Don't worry; this cake tastes so good the next day!
This was one of the first recipes I made with my husband's nephew while he was here for a month.
My goal was to teach him easy recipes he would be able to make on his own when he flew back to Alabama. I have to admit it was so much fun having someone in the kitchen with me.
Pretty sure he had no complaints over being the taste tester for recipes for an entire month.
Here is a quick overview of the simple ingredients for making an epic Pig Pickin Cake! The printable recipe card at the bottom of the post includes specific measurements and step-by-step instructions.
- Yellow Cake Mix
- Unsalted Butter
- Mandarin Oranges
- Vanilla Extract
Optional Add-Ins: Add toasted pecans or walnuts if you want a crunch in your cake. Maraschino cherries work great to garnish the top.
- Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
- Crushed Pineapple
- Powdered Sugar
- Cool Whip/Whipped Cream
- Mandarin Orange Slices
- 9x13 Baking Dish
- Hand Mixer/Electric Stand Mixer
- Two Large Mixing Bowls: We are big fans of this glass batter bowl with a handle. It makes it easy to mix ingredients and keeps the mixing bowl steady on the counter.
- Spider Strainer: I love using a spider strainer to drain the mandarin oranges.
- Wire Racks: If you plan to serve this cake from the baking dish, you'll need wire racks.
Preparation and Storage
Make-Ahead: This cake is make-ahead-friendly! It tastes best when given a few hours to rest in the fridge.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container and enjoy them within five days.
Freezing/How to Freeze: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe container and enjoy them within three months.
How to Reheat: Let any frozen cake portions thaw overnight in the fridge before serving to keep the Cool Whip frosting fresh.
Add tropical sweetness and flair by mixing coconut flakes into the topping.
Spread the batter across two nine-inch round cake pans to make a layered Pig Pickin Cake.
Vegetarian Option: This mandarin orange and pineapple cake is vegetarian.
Vegan Option: Swap the yellow cake mix, butter, eggs, instant vanilla pudding mix, and Cool Whip with plant-based alternatives to make this recipe vegan.
Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free cake mix to make this recipe safe for a gluten-free diet.
Smaller Serving Size + Larger Group/More Servings: The written recipe makes 12 servings. Scale it up or down to your desired yield.
Sugar-Free: The written recipe contains 43 grams of sugar per serving. Use sugar-free yellow cake mix, instant vanilla pudding mix, confectioner’s sugar, Cool Whip, and canned fruit with no sugar added to make this recipe sugar-free.
Tips for the Best Pig Pickin Cake
- Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 350°F before your cake goes in.
- You will need to hold onto the pineapple juice to make the frosting!
- We use a toothpick to ensure the cake’s doneness. You can also use a cake tester.
- Cool the cake completely before frosting it so the whipped topping does not melt into the cake. Adding the frosting before it cools only makes a mess.
What to Serve with Pig Pickin Cake
This light and citrusy Pig Pickin Cake has a healthy dose of mandarin oranges and pineapple in every bite and begins with pantry staples that may already lurk in your cabinets. Here are some pairing suggestions to inspire your menu planning.
Sides: Broccoli Casserole, Apple Stuffing, Funeral Potatoes, BLT Pasta Salad, Southern Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Air Fryer Baked Potato, Jiffy Cornbread with Sour Cream, Sweet Potato Casserole with Candied Yams, Southern Style Green Beans, CrockPot Bourbon Baked Beans
Main Dishes: Cracker Barrel Broccoli Cheddar Chicken, Stovetop Meatloaf, Chicken Casserole with Ritz Crackers, CrockPot Rosemary Pork, Cracker Barrel Chicken & Dumplings, CrockPot Macaroni & Cheese with Ham, CrockPot Salisbury Steak, CrockPot Ham & Cheese Grits
Desserts: Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake, Lemon Bars, Lemon Icebox Pie, Best Rice Krispie Treats, Bisquick Blueberry Cobbler, Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding, Bisquick Apple Cobbler, Bisquick Peach Cobbler, Molasses Cookies, Banana Bread, Classic Chocolate Brownies
When to Serve
- Cookout Dessert
- Family and Friend Gatherings
Great Dessert Recipes
Check out all of our Yellow Cake Mix recipes!
Pig Pickin Cake Recipe
Pig Pickin Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Combine yellow cake mix, butter, ½ cup mandarin orange juice, eggs, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.
- Add drained mandarin oranges and stir to combine
- Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool
- Once the cake is completely cooled! Drain pineapples keeping the juice so they are in seperate containers
- Combine pineapple juice with vanilla pudding mix. Stir in powdered sugar and then fold in Cool Whip. Stir in crushed pineapple.
- Spread over the cake and then top with mandarin oranges for garnish.
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Hand Mixer
- 9X13 Pan