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Pig Pickin’ Cake

This Pig Pickin’ Cake pairs moist yellow cake with a fluffy vanilla whipped topping, crushed pineapple, and juicy mandarin oranges for an easy dessert with an unforgettable name!

Fork cutting into slice of vegan pig pickin cake

Is it a cake that looks like a pig? What is Pig Pickin’ Cake?! If you’ve never had it before, get ready, because you’re in for a treat!

Pig Pickin’ Cake is a unique dessert that’s a favourite across the South, both for its flavour and for how easy it is to whip up. The traditional version is made with yellow cake mix, crushed pineapple, Cool Whip, and mandarin oranges. It’s ultra-moist and infused with fruit in every bite—it’s easy to see why Southerners love it so much. 

Just like my vegan Sock It to Me Cake, vegan Pig Pickin’ Cake puts a plant-based spin on the traditional recipe. It uses vegan-friendly yellow cake mix (or you can make the cake from scratch) and a vegan whipped topping, along with all the other traditional ingredients, to recreate the classic flavors of Pig Pickin’ Cake. The result is a light and fluffy cake sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. 

Why Is It Called a Pig Pickin’ Cake?

The name of this cake comes from the traditional Southern “pig pickin’” barbecue, where guests pick the meat off the bone. Because this cake was commonly served at these barbecues, it came to be known as a Pig Pickin’ Cake.

Overhead view of ingredients for vegan pig pickin' cake with labels

Notes on Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

Dry Ingredients for Using Cake Mix:

  • Yellow or vanilla cake mix – Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic Yellow cake mix or European Gourmet Organic Vanilla cake mix are both vegan.

Dry Ingredients to Make the Cake from Scratch:

  • All-purpose flour – Be sure to lightly spoon this into the measuring cup, rather than scooping the flour directly from the bag.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt

Cake Batter Wet Ingredients:

  • Plant milk
  • Neutral oil – Canola oil, vegetable oil, or another oil you like to use for baking.
  • Applesauce – Use unsweetened, unflavored applesauce.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Mandarin oranges – You’ll need canned, not fresh, because you’ll be using the liquid for the cake.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • Vegan whipped cream – I used Coco Whip by So Delicious.
  • Vanilla pudding mix – I used the Vanilla Instant Pudding mix by Jell-O, which is vegan.
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners’ sugar.

What Is the Best Plant Milk for Baking?

You can use whatever you like or have on hand, but soy milk has the most protein of common plant milks, which makes it closest to dairy milk. Almond milk and oat milk also work well, as they both have a mild flavor and a consistency close to cow’s milk.

How to Make Vegan Pig Pickin’ Cake

Once you’ve gathered up your ingredients, it’s time to start baking! Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.

Make the cake batter. Place the store-bought or homemade cake dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Whisk the ingredients if you’re making homemade cake.) Whisk in 1/2 cup of juice from the oranges, along with the milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.

Chop the oranges. Roughly chop 3/4 cup of mandarin oranges into 1/2-inch pieces and fold them into the cake batter. Reserve the rest of the oranges for garnish.

Bake. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 28 to 30 minutes. 

Make the frosting. Whisk the instant pudding mix and 1 cup of juice from the crushed pineapple in a large bowl. Then, whisk in the whipped cream and powdered sugar and fold in the crushed pineapple. Cover and refrigerate.

Finish the cake. Let the cake cool completely; once it’s at room temperature, spread the frosting on top and garnish with the reserved mandarin oranges.

Tips for Success

These simple tips will help you make sure your vegan Pig Pickin’ Cake turns out perfect.

  • Don’t overmix the cake batter. After adding the wet ingredients, whisk just until everything is combined. Mixing too vigorously or for too long will cause your cake to be dense.
  • Get the pineapple juice you need. You may have to strain or press the crushed pineapple down a bit with a wooden spoon to get the full cup of juice needed.
  • Let your cake cool completely before frosting. If you try to frost the cake while it’s still warm, the frosting will deflate and melt into the cake.
Overhead view of vegan pig pickin' cake in pan and on plates

Serving Suggestions

This vegan Pig Pickin’ Cake is a delicious dessert to finish off a plant-based Southern meal. Pair it with Vegan Southern Meatloaf, Vegan Cheesy Rice, and Vegan Collard Greens, or serve it up at your next cookout with BBQ Tofu and other vegan Black cookout recipes.

How to Store

Store this vegan Pig Pickin’ Cake covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

Vegan pig pickin' cake on plate with fork

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, this Vegan Pig Pickin’ Cake can be frozen. Wrap the cake in the pan if you’re freezing it whole, or transfer pieces to an airtight container if you’re freezing leftovers. It will last for 3 months in the freezer.

When you’re ready to enjoy the cake, thaw it overnight in the fridge and then let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

Vegan pig pickin' cake on plate with forkful of cake lifted
3 plates of vegan pig pickin' cake
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Pig Pickin’ Cake

Pig Pickin’ Cake pairs yellow cake with whipped topping, pineapple, and mandarins for an easy dessert with an unforgettable name!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 307kcal


Store-Bought Cake Dry Mix Ingredients:

  • 1 15.25 ounce box yellow or vanilla cake mix (Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic Yellow cake mix or European Gourmet Organic Vanilla cake mix – they’re both vegan!), 432 grams

Homemade Cake Dry Mix Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 210 grams
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar 240 grams
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 14 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 2 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 grams

Cake Batter Wet Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoon plant milk 43 grams
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil 112 grams
  • 3/4 cup applesauce 185 grams
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 13 grams
  • 16 ounces mandarin oranges juice drained and set aside, 452 grams

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 8 ounce container for vegan whipped cream (I used Coco Whip by So Delicious), 226 grams
  • 1 3.4 ounce box of vanilla pudding mix (I used the Vanilla Instant Pudding mix by Jell-o, it’s also vegan), 96 grams
  • 1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple 567 grams
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 130 grams


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and set aside.
  • Add store-bought or homemade yellow cake dry mix to a large bowl. Whisk all dry ingredients together if using homemade yellow cake mix.
  • To the dry cake mix add the milk, 1⁄2 cup of juice from canned mandarin oranges, oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined into a smooth cake batter. Do not overmix.
  • Place 3⁄4 cup, 135 grams of the drained mandarin oranges on a cutting board and rough chop them slightly into 1⁄2 inch chunks. Reserve the remaining whole mandarin oranges (approximately 1⁄4 cup, 45 grams) and set aside.
  • Fold the chopped mandarin oranges into the cake batter to combine.
  • Pour the cake batter into the greased cake pan and bake in the oven for 28 to 30 minutes.
  • While the cake is baking, make the frosting. Add the instant pudding mix and 1 cup of juice from the crushed pineapples to a large bowl and whisk to combine. You may need to strain or press the crushed pineapples down a bit to get the full cup of juice needed.
  • Add the whipped cream and powdered sugar to the pudding mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Fold the crushed pineapple into the frosting mixture to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge.
  • When the cake is done baking, allow it to cool completely to room temperature before frosting.
  • Add the frosting to the top of the cooled cake in an even layer. Top with remaining drained mandarin oranges and serve.


Store the cake covered or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Calories: 307kcal
Recipe Rating


Monday 10th of July 2023

I didn't know what a Pig Pickin' cake was, I found this while searching for a mandarin orange cake but thought I would give it a try. I am vegan so I appreciate the notes and consideration! Anyway, I made this using the cake mix option and Coco Whip and it was really good! Very fresh and light! Thanks so much, will make it again!!

Jessica Samantha Hylton

Wednesday 12th of July 2023

Hi Kim! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! 😊 sounds so yum and thanks for your comment!!