My southern roots have taught me to love a good dessert. We do things a little different down here, and we might seem funny to folks that aren’t from around here, but we know a good cake! This is the original version of the southern Pig Pickin’ Cake.
It’s a light and refreshing cake. Mandarin oranges are baked into a the yellow cake mix batter. The cake is frosted with a whipped topping that’s sweetened with crushed pineapple and an added pudding packet! It’s definitely unique – but OH SO YUMMY.
There are so many questions surrounding the name of this cake! People who aren’t from the south wonder if it’s for pigs or even has pig in it. This classic citrus cake is a southern staple. The cake got its nickname because, over the years, people were always serving it at BBQ’s. The whole hog was “picked apart” to eat and the Pig Pickin’ Cake was born.
North Carolina folks claim they were the inventors of this cake recipe. When our family was traveling to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, I was given this Original Pig Pickin’ Cake recipe to share and fell in love with it.
It’s got such a great light citrus flavor and the cake isn’t heavy. It’s perfect for spring or summer and makes a beautiful dessert – that starts with a box of cake mix!
Looking for even more great cake recipes? Here are some of my favorite cakes to make when it’s warmer outside:
How To Make The Original Pig Pickin’ Cake Recipe
I used my stand mixer to make the cake, but feel free to use an electric hand mixer instead. The cake is baked in two 8-inch cake pans. You’ll also need mixing bowls ready for the whipped frosting. In southern fashion, I put my cake on a beautiful cake plate – but feel free to use a cake stand or whatever serving plate you desire.
When To Serve Pig Pickin’ Cake
Obviously, the most traditional way to enjoy the cake is at a BBQ. But any communal event would be great. The cake travels well. I make it for church potlucks, holidays and family dinners. I think it’s fantastic for Easter, to serve with a spiral ham. There’s always something tasty about serving any pineapple related with a ham!
How To Make The Cake Ahead of Time
Once the cake has cooled, you’ll add the “frosting” – but it’s not a traditional buttercream. It’s made from frozen dessert topping, AKA Cool Whip. Since Cool Whip is sensitive to the heat, I recommend keeping the cake refrigerated until it’s time to serve. It’ll be fine if it sits out for an hour or less, but you don’t want it to melt.
Make the cake the night before and keep it refrigerated until it’s time to serve it. For best freshness, enjoy the cake within 3-4 days of baking.
Can You Freeze This Cake?
Yes! Pig Pickin’ Cake freezes so well! Wrap individual slices in plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight food storage container. Keep the cake in the back of the freezer, where the temperatures are more stable. The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator for several hours before enjoying again.
Tips For Making Layered Cakes Perfectly Every Time
Layered cakes look so fancy, but they aren’t difficult to make. There are a few basic tips that I follow every time I make a layered cake – no matter what flavor it is. Follow these steps for the perfect layered cake:
- Use a non-stick baking spray with flour on your cake pans (Baker’s Joy).
- Measure ingredients exactly when you’re baking.
- Keep an eye on the cake while it’s baking. Altitude and oven variations can make a difference in the baking times.
- Wait for the cake to cool completely before adding any topping.
- An icing spatula is better to use for frosting the cake than a traditional knife.
- If your cake comes out dome shaped, don’t panic. That happens when the batter isn’t spread evenly between the two cake pans. Just trim the roundness off of the dome shape!
What You Need From The Store:
- Yellow Cake Mix
- Vegetable Oil
- Mandarin Oranges
- Crushed Pineapple
- Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
- Cool Whip
- Maraschino Cherries
Directions To Make Pig Pickin’ Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray and set aside.
Use a stand mixer to mix together the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs until batter is smooth (about 2-3 minutes).
Remove bowl from mixer, pour in most of the mandarin oranges (leaving a few for garnish). Fold the mandarin oranges into the batter gently.
Pour the batter into the cake pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed pineapple and instant vanilla pudding mix until it’s fully incorporated.
Fold the Cool Whip into the pineapple mixture to combine.
To assemble, place one of the cool cakes on a serving dish. Spread 1/3 of the frosting onto the top.
Add the 2nd layer of cake, completely coat the tops and sides of the cake to finish. Garnish the cake with cherries and leftover oranges. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
- 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix 15.25 oz
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 Large Eggs
- 11 oz Mandarin Oranges, drained & divided (My can was 15oz and I reserved 9 oranges)
- 15 oz Crushed Pineapple, drained (My can was 20oz, and I used it all)
- 3.4 oz Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
- 12 oz Cool Whip, softened thawed
- Garnish: maraschino cherries & extra oranges
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray and set aside.
2. Use a stand mixer to mix together the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs until batter is smooth (about 2-3 minutes).
3. Remove bowl from mixer, pour in most of the mandarin oranges (leaving a few for garnish). Fold the mandarin oranges into the batter gently.
4. Pour the batter into the cake pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Let the cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
6. In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed pineapple and instant vanilla pudding mix until it's fully incorporated.
7. Fold the Cool Whip into the pineapple mixture to combine.
8. To assemble, place one of the cool cakes on a serving dish. Spread 1/3 of the frosting onto the top. Add the 2nd layer of cake, completely coat the tops and sides of the cake to finish.
9. Garnish the cake with cherries and leftover oranges. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
- Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve. The cake can be out for about an hour, without direct heat. Refrigerate any leftovers. Cake is best 3-4 days after baking.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 405mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 4g
**Nutrition is calculated by a third party. Actual values may vary.