Pig pickin’ cake is a traditional southern dessert made with rich yellow cake laced with whole mandarin oranges and topped with a creamy pineapple frosting.
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Table of Contents
- About Pig Pickin’ Cake
- What is pig pickin’ cake?
- Why is it called pig pickin’ cake?
- What’s in this cake?
- Can you use fresh fruit instead?
- Do you have to use cool whip?
- Can you make this cake in advance?
- How do you store this cake?
- How long is this cake good for?
- Notes & tips for pig pickin’ cake
- More delicious cake recipes
- Other great orange recipes
- How to make pig pickin’ cake
- Recipe Details
About Pig Pickin’ Cake
Enjoy a classic southern dessert this simple recipe for pig pickin’ cake. With flavors of orange and pineapple coupled with a moist yellow cake, this will quickly become a go-to dessert for any type of gathering, from outdoor barbeques to cozy holiday dinners.
What is pig pickin’ cake?
“Pig pickin’ cake” is a traditional southern dessert that’s made with yellow cake infused with whole mandarin orange slices and topped with a Cool Whip frosting that’s laced with shredded pineapple. It’s either served plainly or garnished with more orange slices, maraschino cherries, chopped pecans, or shredded coconut. It’s a popular dessert for potlucks, picnics, and barbecues.
Why is it called pig pickin’ cake?
Despite what the name implies, there’s no pig in this cake – but in the beginning, this cake was the go-to dessert for cookouts that served an entire pig roasted on a spit. The dinner-and-dessert combination was so common that this nameless cake soon became known not for its own flavors but for the main course the locals felt it paired so well with.
What’s in this cake?
To celebrate this southern tradition by making your own orange and pineapple cake, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Yellow cake – This recipe keeps things simple (and follows the southern tradition) by using a yellow cake mix to make the base of this cake.
- Water, vegetable oil, eggs – The other baking ingredients needed to prepare the yellow cake.
- Mandarin oranges – The key flavor that makes this cake so popular! Mandarin orange slices (from a can) are added to the batter and baked within the cake.
- Crushed pineapple, instant vanilla pudding mix, and Cool Whip – Used to make the delicious frosting.
- Maraschino cherries – Totally optional, but adds a pop of color and complimenting flavor to the orange and pineapple.
Can you use fresh fruit instead?
This recipe recommends using canned mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple to make things easy (and it’s also the “traditional” way this cake is made), but it’s not required. You can use fresh fruit if you’d like, but keep in mind that the texture may be different (canned fruit is inherently softer) and it typically has added sweeteners, so the flavor may be more tart if made with fresh fruit. To help solve this, taste test the frosting and add some powdered sugar as needed. NOTE: Only use “dry” sweeteners like granulated or powdered sugar; using liquid sweeteners like honey or agave is not recommended as it may ruin the frosting consistency.
- For the mandarin oranges: Use about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups of peeled tangerines.
- For the pineapple: Pulse about two cups of pineapple in a food processor and drain excess juice.
Do you have to use cool whip?
In theory, no – there’s nothing “special” about Cool Whip that would make this cake better (or worse) if you were to use an alternative ingredient, such as homemade whipped cream. Cool Whip does bring additional sweetness and flavor, but most whipped cream is sweetened to a similar amount.
Please note I have not tested this recipe with whipped cream; I’ve only ever used Cool Whip.
Can you make this cake in advance?
This cake can be completely baked and decorated per the recipe instructions up to 24 hours in advance. Just store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
How do you store this cake?
Due to the Cool Whip frosting and fruit garnishes, it’s recommended to store this cake in the refrigerator in a sealed container until ready to serve.
How long is this cake good for?
Once prepared, pig pickin’ cake can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three to five days.
Can you freeze pig pickin’ cake?
Notes & tips for pig pickin’ cake
- Make sure that the cakes are completely cooled before frosting. Excess heat may cause the Cool Whip in the frosting to melt.
- This also means that the cake is best served chilled and kept chilled before serving.
- For more flavor and texture, you can add some shredded coconut to the frosting.
- Add some crunch by topping the cake with crushed pecans.
- This cake can also be made in a 9×13 baking dish for easier transport.
More delicious cake recipes
Other great orange recipes
How to make pig pickin’ cake
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 2 – Turn off the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the mandarin oranges.
Step 4 – Bake!
Step 5 – While the cakes bake and cool, prepare the frosting by mixing together the shredded pineapple, Cool Whip, and instant vanilla pudding mix.
Step 6 – When ready to assemble, place one of the cooled cakes on a serving plate. Spread out some of the prepared frosting, then stack the second cake on top. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, then garnish the cake with more mandarin orange slices and maraschino cherries.
Step 7 – Chill the finished cake for four hours.
Step 8 – Serve and enjoy!
Pig Pickin’ Cake
- Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), mix together yellow cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs until batter is smooth, about 2-3 minutes.1 box yellow cake mix, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3 large eggs
- Remove bowl from mixer. Pour in most of the mandarin oranges, reserving a few for decoration (optional). Use a spatula to gently fold oranges into batter.11 ounces mandarin oranges
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans, dividing batter evenly between the two.
- Bake cakes for 23-30 minutes or until a tester toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes, then remove from pans and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- While cakes cool, prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, mix together crushed pineapple and instant vanilla pudding mix until powder is incorporated.15 ounces crushed pineapple, 3.4 ounces instant vanilla pudding mix
- Add Cool Whip to bowl and gently fold into pineapple mixture until combined.12 ounces Cool Whip
- When ready to assemble, place one of the cooled cakes on a serving plate. Spread about 1/3 of frosting on top of cake in an even layer, then cover with the second cake. Use remaining frosting to coat top and sides of cake as desired. Garnish cake with reserved mandarin oranges and maraschino cherries (both optional).maraschino cherries, 11 ounces mandarin oranges
- Transfer cake to refrigerator and let chill for 4 hours.
- Serve immediately.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.