Pig Pickin' Cake (Mandarin Orange Cake with Pineapple Whipped Cream Frosting) Recipe

Alexandra Penfold

The traditional recipe for Pig Pickin' Cake calls for boxed yellow cake mix, mandarin oranges, instant vanilla pudding, crushed pineapple, and Cool Whip. This version makes the cake and the whipped cream from scratch for a super moist and slighty less pre-fab version.

The cake is adapted from Lauren Weisenthal's Yellow Birthday Cake recipe. Because the recipe calls for the addition of mandarin oranges, there's no need for the soaking syrup used in Weisenthal's original recipe. You must use instant pudding in the frosting. If you add cook and serve pudding, you'll end up with a big mess.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 90 mins
Serves: 12 servings

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  • For the Cake
  • 11 1/2 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) all purpose flour, plus more for flouring pans
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 11 1/2 ounces (about 1 2/3 cups) sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1 inch pieces, plus more for greasing pans
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 2 tablespoons zest from one orange
  • For the Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained of all its liquid


  1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three cake pans and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

  2. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Reduce mixer speed to medium and add eggs and yolks, one at a time, mixing well between each addition until incorporated and scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Once eggs have been added, mix in vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk a third at a time on low speed, mixing until just incorporated. Add mandarin oranges and zest. Beat on high speed until oranges are crushed and well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

  3. Divide batter equally among 3 cake pans and bake until golden brown and springy to the touch and cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25-27 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Cool cakes in the pan for 15 minutes then carefully release from the pan onto cooling racks to cool completely. Do not assemble cake until it has completely cooled.

  4. For the Frosting: Pour cream into the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn mixer to high and begin beating. Add sugar while mixer is running. Once soft peaks form, turn mixer to low and add vanilla pudding mix. Mix pudding for 1-2 minutes then stop mixer, scrape down the sides and gently stir to incorporate any remaining pudding powder.

  5. Fold in pineapple and frost cake adding a thin layer of frosting between the layers to leave enough to cover the top and sides of the cake completely. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Special equipment

stand mixer, 3 (8-inch) cake pans

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