Pig Picking Cake

| November 6, 2017 | 11 Comments

Pig Picking Cake, as seen on Taste of Southern.
Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make this super delicious Pig Picking Cake recipe. One of the Souths favorite desserts is much easier to make than you might expect. Perfect for that next pig picking you’re having, or anytime you want a fantastic dessert. Printable recipe included.


Pig Picking Cake, slider.
Pig Picking Cake recipe.

Some folks call it Pig Picking and some folks call it Pig Pickin’, no matter what you call it… you have to call it absolutely “delicious.” I love me some Pig Picking Cake.

Here in the South, we often get together for Pig Pickings. We cook a whole hog on a pit, or a pig cooker type grill, at really low temperatures for a really long time. Then, we either just go up and pull pieces of the cooked meat to place on our plates, or someone will chop up a bunch of the cooked pork, add some sauce, and make great barbecue. We love a good pig picking.

As if that weren’t enough, we have to add some really good desserts to complete the meal.

Let me introduce you to the perfect cake if there ever was one for such an occasion… we call it a Pig Picking Cake, just to avoid any confusion.

Show up at about any such pig picking, church homecoming or get together, and you’ll likely find one of these pig picking cakes. Only a few select style of country type grocery stores carry them ready made.

The batter contains mandarin oranges which add a little tartness to the layers. The frosting is made from cool whip type whipped topping and crushed pineapple. The combination makes for a mouth watering dessert for any special event or family time get together.

While I like to make cakes from scratch, we follow the recipes used by most, and make this one using a boxed cake mix. You’ll find all the ingredients listed below.

If you’ve never tried one, I do hope you’ll consider making one for your self. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed one single bit.

Its even better if you serve it with some pulled pork of your own making as well. I’ve got a recipe for making some right here on Taste of Southern.

Ready to give it a try?  Alright then, gather up the ingredients and head to the kitchen. Let’s Get Cooking!

Pig Picking Cake, you'll need these ingredients.
Pig Pickin’ Cake:  You’ll need these ingredients.


Pig Picking Cake, prepare your cake pans.
Prepare your cake pans.

I’m using 2 – 9 inch cake pans to make this cake. You can either grease and flour your pans, or use parchment paper in the bottom like I’ve done here. Just cut a couple of circles to fit the inside of your pan, lightly spray the bottom of the pan, then press the parchment paper down into the pan.


Pig Picking Cake, add the cake mix.
Grab a large mixing bowl and add the box of cake mix.


Pig Picking Cake,
Drain the juice from the mandarin orange segments, but be sure to save the juice.


Pig Picking Cake, add the orange slices.
Add the mandarin orange slices to the cake mix. Just dump them in there whole. We’ll break them up once we start mixing the batter a few steps later.


Pig Picking Cake, crack the eggs.
Crack the eggs.

I always suggest that you crack the eggs in a separate bowl before adding them to any cake batter. That way, if you happen to get a piece of egg shell, you can easily see it and remove it.


Pig Picking Cake, add the eggs.
Add the eggs to the mixing bowl.


Pig Picking Cake, add the vegetable oil.
Add the vegetable oil.


Pig Picking Cake, add the vanilla.
Add the vanilla extract.


Pig Picking Cake, mix well.
Use an electric mixer and mix all the ingredients together until the batter is smooth. You’ll have small pieces of mandarin orange, but the batter itself should be fairly smooth in texture.


Pig Picking Cake, divide the batter into the pans.
Use a large spoon or measuring cup to evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans.


Pig Picking Cake, roll the batter in the pans.
Here’s a trick you may or may not have heard about.

I heard about this but had never tried it until I made this cake. I didn’t grease and flour or spray the inside edges of my pan. You can, if you wish… just saying that I didn’t.

The trick is suppose to be that you tilt the cake pan and let the batter come up a little over halfway up the inside of the pan. Roll it around until you’ve rolled it all around the inside of the pan.

This is similar to the way we put flour in a greased pan and roll the flour around to coat the inside edges of the cake pan.

This is “suppose” to keep the layer from forming such a high dome in the center of the layer as it bakes.

You don’t have to do this, but we’ll see what happens once the layers are baked. Stay tuned.


Pig Picking Cake, batter around the edges.
Hopefully you can see it here. You’ll have a thin coat of the batter up the edges of the pan all the way around. This is suppose to help the layer rise more around the outer edges than just in the center of the layer.


Pig Picking Cake, baking time and temp.
Place the pans on the center rack in your oven that has been preheated to 325F degrees.

Bake the layers for about 20 to 25 minutes or until they test done using the old toothpick test.


Pig Picking Cake, test with a toothpick.
To test your cakes for doneness, insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the layer. Push it in deep and if it pulls out clean… your cake should be done. If it pulls out with some crumbs sticking to the toothpick, you need to let it bake for a few minutes longer.

When your layers are done, remove the pans from the oven and set them on a wire rack to cool.


Pig Picking Cake, didn't pull away.
Some folks say you can tell a layer is done when it pulls away from inside of the pan.

Mine hadn’t pulled away, but I’m sure it was because I had rolled the batter around the edges. Not to worry, it shouldn’t be a problem.

I do not remove my layers from the pans. Instead, I just let them sit on the wire racks until they are completely cooled.


Pig Picking Cake, run a knife around the inside edge of the pans.
Just to be safe though, I always like to run a thin knife around the inside of the pan between the layer and the pan itself. This way, your layer will not stick to the inside of the pan when you remove the layer.


Pig Picking Cake, remove the parchment paper.
Flip the pan over on the wire rack and gently lift the pan so the layer falls out.

Slowly peel the parchment paper away from the bottom of the layer.

As you can see, the bottom of the layer is fairly browned. I think my oven was a little hot despite the fact that I had the temperature set correctly. This is where you need to use an oven thermometer to test the temp inside your oven. Smile. I’ll have to listen to myself next time.


Pig Picking Cake, very small dome.
The circles on the top of the layer are from the wire rack I had it resting on. They make the layer look like it has more of a dome than it actually had. I think rolling the batter around in the pan before baking might be a good trick to remember.


Pig Picking Cake, add the cool whip.
Prepare the Frosting:

Your cool whip should have had time to thaw in your refrigerator. The brand I was using said to remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator for six hours before using. Keep that in mind when you go to prepare your frosting. You don’t want it to be frozen when you go to start making the frosting for our cake.

Empty the container or containers of cool whip into a large mixing bowl.


Pig Picking Cake, add the drained pineapple.
Add the “drained” pineapple.

The recipe I was using did not call for draining the pineapple first, but I highly recommend that you do. I’ve listed it as drained in the printable recipe below.

I just emptied the whole can, juice and all, into the cool whip, but it made my frosting a bit runny.

Save the juice because you can add it later if you need it.


Pig Picking Cake, add the vanilla pudding.
Add the instant vanilla pudding.


You’ll have to forgive me, but for some totally strange an unknown reason, I failed to snap a photo of me mixing these ingredients together. Seriously, I do apologize for that, it’s the first mistake I’ve made all day long.

Just grab a large spoon and stir everything together until it’s fully combined. You can add a little of that drained pineapple juice if you think it needs it. Much easier to add it because once it’s mixed in you’ll not be able to remove it. Smile.

I did think the frosting was a bit thin with all the liquid so as I’ve mentioned, I’ve added the step to drain the pineapple to the printable recipe below. You can thank me later… okay?


Pig Picking Cake, measure the mandarin liquid.
This step is totally optional.

I measured the remaining juice from the mandarin oranges I had drained, then I placed it in a small sauce pot.


Pig Picking Cake, add an equal amount of sugar.
Then, I added an equal amount of sugar to the sauce pot.

I placed this on a burner on my stove and heated it just enough to dissolve the sugar as I stirred it. It only took a minute or two. Once it was dissolved, I placed this “simple syrup” mixture in a squeeze bottle and placed it in the freezer to cool it down for a few minutes.

Simple Syrup is normally made with equal parts water and sugar, but I used the mandarin orange juice instead of water. I’ll spread this liquid on my layers when I start assembling the cake to make the layers even more moist.


Pig Picking Cake, cake board.
Assemble your cake:

You’ll need a plate or a cake board to assemble your cake on. I’ve also got a turntable to help when I start adding the frosting.


Pig Picking Cake, add a dab of frosting.
Place a dab of frosting in the center of your cake board or plate. Spread it out a bit.

This will help hold the cake layer in place when we add it next.


Pig Picking Cake, add some protector sheets.
Here’s another tip for you when you go to decorate your cakes.

I hope you can see this, but I took three small strips of aluminum foil and placed them around the edges of my cake board – leaving the center with the frosting exposed – so I can keep my cake board clean while adding the frosting. You could use wax paper or parchment paper, whichever you have handy.


Pig Picking Cake, center your first layer.
Center the first layer on the plate or cake board. Place the top side down for the first layer.

Press a little in the middle to stick the layer down to the frosting on the plate.

I think the layer looks darker in the photo than it actually was. It wasn’t burned by any means so I saw no need to trim the caramelization away.


Pig Picking Cake, add the simple syrup.
If you make the simple syrup, spread a layer of syrup over the top of this first layer.


Pig Picking Cake, add frosting.
Spread a good thick layer of frosting over the top of the layer.


Pig Picking Cake, add the second layer.
I decided to trim away the slight dome from the remaining layer. You don’t have to, it’s totally up to you.

Most folks will turn the top layer “bottom side up” so you have a flat surface to work on should you decide not to trim the dome away.

Either way, center the second layer over the first, then spread the layer with the simple syrup.


Pig Picking Cake, add frosting to the top.
Spread another goodly amount of frosting on the top layer. You have a lot of frosting with this recipe, so you can make it a nice thick layer of frosting in the middle and on top.

Spread it out with a spatula or knife, working it all the way to the edge all the way around.


Pig Picking Cake, frost the sides.
Spread the remaining frosting around the side of the cake.

It was a bit warm in the house while I was frosting this cake. The temperature outside had finally dropped low enough for me to turn the heat on for the first time this season. I had to keep working with it to get it all around the outside edge.


Pig Picking Cake, gently remove the foil.
Gently and carefully pull the aluminum foil out from under the bottom layer. See how clean it leaves the edge of your board or plate. Well worth the effort, don’t you think?


Pig Picking Cake, keep it refrigerated.
If you can, refrigerate this cake for at least a day or two before you slice it. It just helps develop the flavors I think.


Pig Picking Cake, enjoy.


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Pig Picking Cake recipe, as seen on Taste of

Pig Picking Cake

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 slices 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe to make this super delicious Pig Picking Cake recipe. One of the Souths favorite desserts is much easier to make than you might expect. Perfect for that next pig picking you’re having, or anytime you want a fantastic dessert. Printable recipe included.



  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 can Mandarin Oranges, drained, save the liquid
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 containers Cool Whip (8oz each)
  • 1 can Crushed Pineapple (20oz) drained, save the liquid.
  • 2 boxes Instant Vanilla Pudding (3.4oz each)


Preheat oven to 325F degrees

  1. Grease and Flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Drain the can of mandarin oranges, save the juice.
  3. Place cake mix in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add drained orange segments
  5. Add eggs.
  6. Add vegetable oil.
  7. Add vanilla extract
  8. Mix with electric mixer until batter is smooth.
  9. Divide mixture into the two cake pans.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.
  11. Remove from oven. Let cool completely. Remove from pans.

Prepare the frosting.

  1. Empty Cool-Whip into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the drained pineapple.
  3. Add instant vanilla pudding.
  4. Mix with wooden spoon until well combined. If it needs it, add a little of the pineapple juice to thin.

Assemble The Cake

  1. Place one cake layer on plate.
  2. Spread simple syrup juice from oranges over layer
  3. Spread layer with frosting.
  4. Add second layer.
  5. Spread frosting on top and then sides.
  6. Enjoy!


Simple Syrup: (optional) I measured the remaining juice from the orange segments, placed it in a sauce pot. Added an equal amount of granulated sugar, warmed it all up until the sugar had dissolved. Placed this in a squeeze type bottle and spread a thin layer of syrup over the top of both cake layers while assembling the cake. Simple syrup is typically one part water and one part sugar, but I used the juice from the orange segments instead in this recipe.

Keywords: Pig Picking Cake Recipe, pig pickin' cake, mandarin orange cake, southern cake recipes


Your Comments:  Have you ever heard of a Pig Picking Cake? Ever made or tried one? What did you think about it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on our recipe. It will only take a minute or two for you to leave your comments in the section below.

Just remember, all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and everyone before they are approved for viewing on our family friendly website. Thank you in advance for sharing.

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Be Blessed!!!


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Category: Desserts

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (11)

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  1. I love cows says:

    I made this cake and it was delicious! The simple syrup made using reserved canned orange syrup is genius. I got a lot of compliments. Also I didn’t use cool whip but made my own whipped cream with a little sugar and a drop of vanilla flavoring. I made this 4 layers instead of two layers. My cake looked kinda ugly lol (I suck at frosting) but it was very yummy!! Thank you Steve!

  2. cj thomas says:

    I gave it a 4 because while it is a fantastic cake, and loved by everyone else, I am not a fan of coolwhip. Has anyone tried this with real whipped cream? if so, I would love to hear how it worked. Might have to try that myself, just being lazy and asking if someone else did the leg work on it already!
    Oh, and did I say there are not enough star to rate pulled pork in the oven. It got me hooked on this website, Steve. Thank you!

    • I love cows says:

      Hi, I made my own whipped cream and it was very delicious! I don’t like cool whip either so I recommend making your own. I did 1 1/2 cup heavy cream, up to 2 tbsp white sugar (or adjust to your preferred sweetness), and a drop of vanilla flavoring. Mix until stiff peaks then fold in the drained crushed pineapples and pudding mix.

  3. Jeanie says:

    This is a great cake and so refreshing to eat in summer. Only two of us but that cake went quick.

  4. Jim Harp says:

    Hi Steve:

    I want to try this cake, but with a different batter. The batter is what I need help with.

    During WW2 my mother and others in the area would make cakes with what they had on hand. Ingredients available included biscuit flour, lard, eggs, baking soda and baking powder sugar, vanilla extract, and sometimes grated orange peel. We had milk and butter, but I don’t recall mom ever cooking with butter.

    This batter made a cake that I suppose was more bread-like. it was not composed of tiny soft and moist crumbs, but was was filled with bubbles of various sizes up to about 1/8 inch diameter. Baked in the oven of a wood burning stove, it would develop a golden brown crust all over, and had a delicious aroma and taste.

    The ladies all complained that they couldn’t make a good cake, that they too heavy, but those were the best cakes I ever ate.

    If any of your sources know of such a batter based on biscuit flour, I sure would like to see a recipe for it.

    Thank you for the great job you are doing.


    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Jim, That sounds like a wonderful cake that you’re describing. Let’s see if any of our readers have any suggestions.

      I too have several recipes that I can’t duplicate from what my Mother did. Sadly, I’m afraid those tastes are lost and gone forever. Try as I may, I’ve yet to make spaghetti the way she did, and it was just a very simple and basic recipe.

      We have a couple of companies in our state that produce what they refer to as a biscuit flour. It’s a soft wheat type of flour, but it may not be anything like what your Mother used. You didn’t mention what part of the country you are from, or where you grew up at the time.

      I can only imagine how good it was coming out of that old wood stove. I really hope to bake a pan of my Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits in a wood stove one day before I leave this world.

      And of course, we can’t forget about all that “Love” that our Moms just naturally added to a recipe. Smile.

      Maybe someone can chime in with some suggestions for us. I do appreciate you taking the time to write and share your comments. I’m thankful you found us and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  5. Jennifer A says:

    The Pig Picking Cake turned out beautifully and is delicious! Shared with friends and neighbors (not that the two of us couldn’t have managed all of it..)and they loved it. I’m going to use this recipe for cupcakes and think the frosting can be used with different flavors as well. Thank you!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    That cake does look tasty!

  7. Anne Smith says:

    Well, I thought we were good Southerners, but neither of us has ever heard of a Pig Picking cake!

    Question: My good ol’ Southern husband isn’t fond of pineapple; any suggestions?

    Observation: The ‘recipe’ for simple syrup is in the ‘story’ but not in the recipe we print. Down the road, some of us might forget how to make simple syrup when using just the recipe (maybe add as a footnote, particularly, for our yankee friends who don’t make sweet tea every day?)!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Anne, I’m truly sorry to hear about your husband not liking pineapple. How can this be? Smile. It certainly will not be a pig picking cake without it. I’ve never heard of a substitute for something besides the pineapple in this cake. Folks do sometimes add coconut, or maybe even pecans, but that’s not the way I’ve been taught. Only thing I could suggest might be applesauce, but do not have any idea how it would taste. Perhaps another reader can help. As for your very keen “observation” I thank you for the suggestion and I’ve fixed the problem by adding it in the NOTES section of the printable recipe. I’m happy you saw that, and pointed it out, even if it was considered “optional.” I do appreciate your comments and your question. Thank you for subscribing to our Newsletter and for all of your support. I hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • JoyceB says:

        Steve, in response to Anne whose husband does not eat pineapple, why not use additional Mandarin oranges. They are featured in the cake, and the proportions for the icing might have to be tweaked, but l believe it is worth a try. Some of my family members won’t eat pineapple. I love it. Thanks for the recipe. Happy early Thanksgiving.

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