Southern Mandarin Orange Cake

Southern Mandarin Orange Cake
Ralph Daily/Flickr
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Cool Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 12 servings

Pig Pickin' Cake​ (also known as Mandarin Orange Cake) is a funny name for a truly delicious dessert. This Southern classic features an orange cake and a light, refreshing pineapple frosting. The cake gets its unique name from "pig pickin's," a Southern barbeque tradition. During these gatherings, a whole pig is roasted and is the centerpiece of a large communal feast. In addition to the roasted pig, many side dishes are served, and the meal often ends with this iconic mandarin orange cake with pineapple frosting. Although the recipe has spread far beyond the South and is now served at any occasion and not just a pig pickin', the colorful name has remained. It's also sometimes known as a Florida Sunshine Cake.

​If you are not a fan of cakes made with boxed cake mix, you can make a homemade version of this dessert with your favorite yellow cake recipe—just add mandarin oranges before baking, and don't forget the iconic pineapple-whipped cream frosting.

This cake is better after cooling in the fridge for an hour or two and will keep for up to a week. Make it the ahead (even a day or two) and cover with plastic wrap.


  • 1 (18 oz.) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges (with juice)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (9 oz.) container frozen whipped topping (thawed)
  • 1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple (with juice)
  • 1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding (not sugar-free variety)

Steps to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, mandarin oranges, mandarin orange juice, eggs, and oil. Beat the mixture for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.

  3. Pour an even amount of the batter into each of the prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 5 minutes before carefully turning out the cakes. Finish cooling them on wire racks.

  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the whipped topping, pineapple, pineapple juice, and dry vanilla pudding mix. Mix well. Divide the frosting into 4 portions.

  5. Frost the top of the bottom layer with 1/4 of the frosting. Add the next layer and frost the top with 1/4 of the frosting. Add the top cake layer and frost the top and the sides with the remaining frosting.

  6. Keep the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The frosting is delicate and will soften and melt if left out of the fridge. The cake can be kept in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.