Pig Pickin Cake Is A Southern Dessert Favorite


Pig Pickin’ Cake may be a Southern name, but this fruit inspired cake is popular around the country by other names.

Categories Desserts

Pig Pickin’ Cake is a Southern dessert that’s become synonymous with family get-togethers, particularly barbecues.

But, do not be fooled by the strange (yet fun) name! You may have heard called by other names including:

  • Pig Cake
  • Sunshine Cake
  • Pea Pickin’ Good Cake
  • Pineapple Cake
  • Mandarin Orange Cake
  • Summer Cake
  • Orange Pineapple Cake

So, while our southern friends may most commonly use the name Pig Pickin’ Cake, other parts of the country may know it by another name.

This dessert is known for its moist texture and fruity flavors.

Pig Pickin’ cakes typically have mandarin oranges in the batter and pineapple-studded frosting gracing its top. The cake is simple to make which makes it a favorite for those that are less baking inclined.

The versatility of Pig Pickin’ Cake also lies in its presentation and the small variations that bakers can apply to the recipe. It can be served as a sheet cake at casual gatherings or layered for more formal occasions.

Origins of Pig Pickin’

The term “Pig Pickin'” originates from the Southern tradition of Pig Roasts, also known as whole hog barbecues, where a whole pig is roasted and served at large gatherings.

This cake was typically served at such events as a sweet counterpart to the savory meats. The inception of the cake is often credited to North Carolina, where it became a staple dessert at barbecues.

Over time, the Pig Pickin’ Cake gained popularity across the South for its bright, citrus-infused flavors that offered a refreshing balance to the hearty barbecue fare. It is a good option to serve alone or with some grilled dessert options.

This dessert became synonymous with southern hospitality and was often a center of attention at large events.

Credit: Pear Tree Kitchen

Basic Pig Pickin’ Cake Ingredients

Pig Pickin’ Cake combines boxed cake convenience with fruity, whipped layers. It’s simple enough for a novice baker, yet delicious enough to impress any guest. Let’s explore what makes up this crowd-pleaser and some common tweaks to customize it.

Traditional Cake Ingredients

  • Yellow Cake Mix: Provides the base for your dessert, ensuring a consistent, fluffy result every time.
  • Canned Mandarin Oranges: Introduce a citrusy sweetness that’s both refreshing and integral to the cake’s character.
  • Eggs: Act as a binding agent and contribute to the cake’s structure.
  • Oil: Typically vegetable oil, adds moisture and aids in creating a tender crumb.
  • Instant Vanilla Pudding: Enhances the cake with a rich, creamy flavor and contributes to the frosting’s texture.
  • Canned Crushed Pineapple: Offers a tropical zest and adds natural sweetness to the frosting.
  • Whipped Topping: Gives the frosting a light and airy consistency, perfect for balancing the fruit components.

Common Substitutions

  • Homemade Cake Mix: For a more homemade touch, you can make your own cake mix from scratch, incorporating ingredients like flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Fresh Mandarin Oranges: If canned don’t appeal to you, or you prefer less sugar, fresh mandarin oranges are a zesty alternative.
  • Applesauce: To cut back on fat, applesauce can replace oil in a one-to-one ratio, often without sacrificing moisture.
  • Greek Yogurt: For a tangy twist, swap the oil with Greek yogurt, which can also add protein.
  • Homemade Whipped Cream: If you’re not a fan of store-bought whipped topping, whipping up your own cream is an option for a richer flavor and texture.
  • Different Varieties of Pudding: While vanilla is traditional, trying butterscotch or lemon-flavored pudding can offer an intriguing flavor profile.

Pig Pickin’ Cake Baking Guide

Creating the perfect Pig Pickin’ Cake requires precise steps, from mixing the batter to layering the flavors with whipped frosting.

Let’s walk through your baking journey.

1. Mixing the Batter

To start the batter, combine your cake mix with the required number of eggs and correct amount of vegetable oil in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat these ingredients until they’re well incorporated. Next, fold in mandarin oranges, ensuring the pieces are evenly distributed through the batter.

2. Baking the Cake

Preheat your oven to the temperature specified by the cake mix instructions, generally around 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and smooth the surface. Bake as directed until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Once done, allow the cake to cool on a wire rack before assembling.

3. Assembling and Frosting

For the frosting, blend vanilla pudding mix with canned crushed pineapple, then gently fold in the Cool Whip for a light, airy consistency. Once the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting between the layers and over the top. For the final touch, decorate with additional mandarin orange segments. Refrigerate the cake until it’s time to serve, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully.

Serving and Storage Tips

When serving Pig Pickin’ Cake, it’s best enjoyed chilled. For optimal taste, store your cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it, especially during the warm summer months when you might bring it to picnics or potlucks. This keeps it cool and refreshing.


  • Chill: Keep the cake refrigerated until serving time.
  • Slice: A clean cut is achieved by dipping the knife in hot water before slicing.


  • Refrigeration: Always keep the leftovers refrigerated.
  • Airtight Container: Store it in an airtight container to maintain its moist texture.
  • Duration: Enjoy your cake within 3–4 days for the best quality.
At Room TemperatureOnly during serving, briefly.
In the RefrigeratorIn an airtight container.
For ServingChilled, on a platter or serving dish.

After baking, let your cake cool on a wire cooling rack before frosting to prevent moisture from making it soggy.

If you plan to enjoy your Pig Pickin’ Cake outdoors, make sure to keep it in a cooler or shaded area to prevent the frosting from melting.

Portioning the cake into individual servings beforehand can make it easier to manage at gatherings and ensure a tidy presentation.

Pig Pickin’ Cake Recipes

I did some digging to find some Pig Pickin’ Cake recipes for your to try out. While they are all very similar, each has a bt of a unique method – so you can find the one that works best for you.

Let me know if you make any of these and how it came out!

pea pickin cake
Credit:Fluxing Well
pig pickin cake with mandarin oranges
Credit: Pear Tree Kitchen
pig pickin cake on a rack
Credit: Culinary Hill

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