Pig Pickin' Cake - Gastro Obscura


Pig Pickin' Cake

The Southern barbecue staple offers a sweet, tropical chaser to the main course.

You might assume that pig pickin’ cake is savory, what with “pig” in the name and all. But this classic dessert from the American South is all tropical sweetness. The treat is essentially a baked blend of yellow cake mix and canned mandarin oranges that gets covered in vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and crushed pineapple. For a final touch, it’s garnished with even more mandarin oranges. The result is a trip to the tropics via the grocery store’s baking aisle. 

An easy-to-assemble recipe, along with its exuberant sweetness, makes pig pickin’ cake a natural choice to take to social gatherings. That’s how this mandarin-and-pineapple cake likely got its name. One type of Southern barbecue is called a pig pickin’, where guests pick a whole roasted pig clean. While the hog is the main event, other dishes include hush puppies, baked beans, and, of course, pig pickin’ cake for dessert. While pig pickin’ cake is enjoyed widely, it’s most popular in North Carolina, which was once declared “the pig pickin’ capital of the world.”

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Anne Ewbank Anne Ewbank