Pea Pickin’ Cake: Easy, Moist, Delicious Recipe

Learn how to make pea pickin’ cake the easy way with simple ingredients from the pantry. This moist, delicious cake is refreshing and best served chilled. It’s the perfect dessert to enjoy for an afternoon tea party on a warm summer day. It’s also a fabulous baby shower cake or part of a potluck dessert table. I’ve often served this festive cake as part of an Easter celebration. What does pea pickin’ cake taste like? The light citrus flavors of mandarin oranges and pineapple combine with yellow cake mix to make a wondrous taste explosion. The light, whipped topping adds just the right touch. I’ve been serving this family favorite for years from a recipe handed down to me by my dear late mother-in-law. She was an amazing cook. Just one taste of this delicious cake and you will be a devoted fan for life. Ready to get the step-by-step instructions for scrumptious pea pickin’ cake? Read on to learn how to make this marvelous dessert!

My Pea Pickin’ Cake Backstory


Here is the history of my pea pickin’ cake experience. When I married into my husband’s family, I became the beneficiary of many wonderful family recipes. My father-in-law grew up in the south, so old-fashioned southern recipes were often served. Pea pickin’ cake is one of my favorites. Why do they call it pea pickin’ cake? I’m not sure where the name came from. At some point it may have been adapted from the name “pig pickin’ cake” because it was served during dinners when families got together and celebrated the butchering of hogs. There are so many variations of the story, I’m not able to quote just one source as the reliable truth. One thing the tales all have in common is that pea pickin’ cake originated in the American South. What I know for sure is that it’s easy, tasty, and never lasts long around our house when I make it. Let’s get started!

Easy Cake Recipe pin image

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In Praise of Cake Mixes

Before proceeding to the recipe, I would like to put in a good word for cake mixes. They are versatile, inexpensive, and many amazing things may be made from them. An essential ingredient in pea pickin’ cake is a yellow cake mix. However, cake mixes are not just for making cake. One of my favorite recipe books gives some incredible ideas about baking with cake mixes. If you feel like trying some delicious cake mix experiments, this book is for you!

 

Equipment Needed for Easy Pea Pickin’ Cake

In order to make pea pickin’ cake, you will need some basic kitchen items. When I first made this cake, I tried to mix it by hand. For this recipe, that does not work. The mandarin oranges do not get broken up as they should. Although mixing my hand works for many recipes, this is one where you definitely need a hand mixer. A stand mixer is not necessary, but you could use a stand mixer if that is all you have. I have a little hand mixer that my grandmother used to use. Yes, it still works! Cleanup is super easy since the beaters eject and can be put into the dishwasher. Although the model I use is no longer available (I think it must be at least 40 years old), here is one that is similar, and it even has a handy storage area for the beaters.

 

Other items you will need include a bowl for mixing the batter, and a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. My favorite pan for baking pea pickin’ cake is one like this, because it has a cover.

 

Since this cake is best served chilled, I like to cover it after frosting and store it in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Ingredients for the Easy Pea Pickin’ Cake

What is pea pickin’ or pig pickin’ cake made of? The good news is you might already have all of the ingredients you need. Take a look and see if you have the following simple ingredients:

1 package yellow cake mix

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 20-ounce can mandarin oranges (or 2 11-ounce cans, if you only have the small size)

Ingredients for the Pea Pickin’ Cake Topping

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, minus 1 cup of juice

1 package (3.4-ounce) instant vanilla pudding

12-ounces whipped topping (I rarely can find a 12-ounce tub, so I often have to use 1 whole 8-ounce tub and half of another 8-ounce tub.)

Directions for the Easy Pea Pickin’ Cake Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13 inch cake pan. Instead of adding the liquid called for on the cake mix box, combine all of the above cake ingredients (save the topping ingredients for later).

easy cake recipe ingredients

Mix the ingredients with a hand mixer for a few minutes on medium speed until the mandarin orange pieces get broken up. The batter should look like this.

easy cake recipe batter

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake according to the directions on the box. In a 9 by 13-inch pan, the pea pickin’ cake should be finished baking in about 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness by poking the cake in the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Directions for the Frosting

After removing the cake from the oven, allow it to cool completely. In a large mixing bowl, combine the crushed pineapple (minus 1 cup of juice) with the pudding mix. Fold in the whipped topping.

easy cake recipe topping

Gently spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Here’s the finished product.

easy cake recipe finished

Serving the Pea Pickin Cake

Although the cake may be served immediately after frosting, this easy cake recipe is best served chilled. Store the finished cake in the refrigerator. This easy cake recipe is ideal for warm spring or summer gatherings. The delicious, cool citrus flavors will cause taste buds to celebrate.

easy cake recipe pea pickin cake featured image

Pea Pickin’ Cake

Learn how to make pea pickin' cake the easy way with simple ingredients from the pantry. This moist, delicious cake is refreshing and best served chilled.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 380 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 hand mixer
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 9 by 13-inch baking pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 20-ounce can mandarin oranges or 2 11-ounce cans, if you only have the small size

Topping

  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple minus 1 cup of juice
  • 1 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding
  • 12 ounces whipped topping I rarely can find a 12-ounce tub, so I often have to use 1 whole 8-ounce tub and half of another 8-ounce tub.

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Grease a 9 by 13 inch cake pan. 
  • Instead of adding the liquid called for on the cake mix box, combine all of the above cake ingredients (save the topping ingredients for later).
  • Mix the ingredients with a hand mixer for a few minutes on medium speed until the mandarin orange pieces get broken up.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake according to the directions on the box. In a 9 by 13-inch pan, the pea pickin’ cake should be finished baking in about 25-30 minutes.
  • Check for doneness by poking the cake in the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  • After removing the cake from the oven, allow it to cool completely.

Making the Topping

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the crushed pineapple (minus 1 cup of juice) with the pudding mix. Fold in the whipped topping.
  • Gently spread the frosting over the cooled cake.
  • You could serve the pea-pickin' cake at this point if you are very eager, but it's best to let the frosted cake chill for a couple of hours in the refrigerator, covered.
Keyword cake, citrus, desserts, easy recipes

What Goes Well with Pea Pickin’ Cake?

Since pea pickin’ cake was traditionally served as part of a pig butchering celebration, it definitely goes well with ham. That’s one reason why I often serve this amazing dessert as part of an Easter meal. Since it’s best served chilled, it goes well with grilled summertime foods like orange-glazed smoked pork chops. This dessert would also go well with other ham dishes, such as crock pot ham and potatoes. If you are serving a light summer lunch, ham and pea salad would be a great main dish to serve before enjoying some pea-pickin’ cake. There are many yummy possibilities!

More Food Inspiration

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I hope you enjoy making pea-pickin’ cake. May all of your baking endeavors meet with great success!

First Name Signature Conclusion

 

 

Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to create and share recipes, often using fresh ingredients from her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To learn more about what this website has to offer, click on over to the Welcome page.

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38 thoughts on “Pea Pickin’ Cake: Easy, Moist, Delicious Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of pea pickin’ cake before reading this post but it sounds amazing! I love the oranges in the cake and the pineapples in the frosting. I think that will make a delicious combo. I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  2. I haven’t heard of pea Pickin’ cake before but it sounds so delicious! I’ll have to try it out. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply
    • You are welcome! My husband saw my post and wanted me to bake one, so I have a pea pickin’ cake cooling as I write this, just waiting to be frosted.=)

      Reply
  3. 5 stars
    This pea pickin’ cake recipe is so easy and so delicious. Thank you for sharing it!

    Reply
        • 4, and thanks so much for asking. I realized I put the number of eggs in the ingredients in the body of the blog post, but not in the printable Recipe Maker version. I will correct that right away!

          Reply
  4. Hmmmm this looks so delicious! I can’t wait to try it out!!

    Reply
  5. Wow… this looks super easy, recipes are few and it looks amazing. Something I would love to try.

    Reply
  6. I must admit I was worried that this recipe had peas in it. So of course I needed to see what was going on. This kind of reminds me of what I call pineapple delight with crushed pineapple, angel food cake, vanilla pudding, and whipped cream. I’m excited to give this a try.

    Reply
    • Shana,

      Yum! Your recipe sounds delicious. No, there are no peas in the pea pickin’ cake. Have fun trying it out!

      Lisa

      Reply
  7. My little one loves baking right now AND she loves “baby oranges”! 😆. I know she’ll be excited to make this!

    Reply
  8. This sounds really good but unfortunately I don’t have the ingredients right now. Weird name for a cake.

    Reply
  9. This sounds great, an easy way to make it vegan-friendly is to swap out egg for banana or flax seed! I will definitely try veganizing it!

    Reply
    • Morgan,

      Cool! Thanks for the veganizing tips!

      Lisa

      Reply
  10. This sounds so good, with the added citrus fruits. Being vegan and gluten free presents challenges. I’m going to play with this recipe and see what I can come up with!

    Reply
    • Cindy,

      If you adapt it to make it vegan and gluten free, I’d love to learn about your variation. Have fun experimenting!

      Lisa

      Reply
  11. Thank you, Lisa! You always share such great recipes! This looks soo delicious, I will try it as soon as possible! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hadassah,

      What kind words! Thank you! I hope you get to try this recipe for yourself.

      Lisa

      Reply
  12. Sounds like a good one to try but I don’t have the ingredients right now. Weird name for a cake.

    Reply
    • Mike,

      It is a weird name. I wish I knew where it came from.

      Lisa

      Reply
  13. Oh that looks so tasty!! I will Save it for this easter for sure 👏😄

    Reply
    • Ann,

      I hope you get to make it. Enjoy trying it out!

      Lisa

      Reply
  14. Yum!!!!!!! Love this recipe. Look at the mandarin oranges. You always have good recipes to share.

    Reply
    • Fadima,

      I’m glad you like the recipes I share. Have fun trying this one!

      Lisa

      Reply
  15. This sounds like it would be very refreshing with the addition of the fruit!

    Reply
    • Heidi,

      Yes, it’s a great recipe, perfect for warm weather.

      Lisa

      Reply
  16. My son loves this! Thank you for the unique recipe!

    Reply
    • Karin,

      You are welcome! It’s one of my favorites.

      Lisa

      Reply
  17. Mmh! That sounds so yummy! I’m definitely going to try that recipe soon! 🙂

    Reply
    • Nina,

      Oh, good. I hope you like it. Let me know!

      Lisa

      Reply
  18. I’m gonna try this out right away! I’m soo bored at home.

    Reply
    • Kopal,

      I had bored people in mind when I shared this. Have fun!

      Lisa

      Reply

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