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Mandarin Orange Cake

Arguably one of the easiest, most flavorful cakes you’ll ever put in your mouth. It pleases everyone and is easy to make ahead and be ready for a big event. Or just a night at home when you need to eat a few thousand calories. 

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Every year I host the family Easter dinner. For just my husband’s brothers and sisters and their children we easily have 20-30 people or more, and that means cooking a lot of food. I usually pull off about 10 pounds of my favorite meatloaf and all the fixings–rolls, mashed potatoes with sour cream, and too many desserts. I always tell my mother in law and sisters in law not to bring a thing–but they don’t listen and since they are all good cooks we always have way too much food.

I always tell my husband his family is the first I’ve ever seen to get two huge plates of dinner then get an entire plate of dessert. Growing up in my family one pecan pie fed 10 people.

But even with all that Easter spread, everyone (I think) looks forward to the “Easter cake”.  I had a Facebook fan ask me the other day if this is the mandarin cake–I have no idea, but I would guess it probably is. Around here people call it a “pig pickin’ cake” and I hate that name. They say it’s because you look like a pig while you’re eating it. Or maybe it’s because you eat so much you’ll be called a pig. I don’t know. But the connotation isn’t good.

This recipe was passed to me by a dear friend from Fleming Neon in East Kentucky. If you don’t know, that’s near the Kingdom Come State Park–appropriately named because it feels like you just drove to the end of the world to get there. But it is some of the most beautiful land in the Appalachian Mountains if you ask  me.

They call it an Easter Sunshine Cake–and I like that a whole lot better than anything related to a pig. Don’t worry if you don’t like mandarin oranges. Because they are blended into the batter you won’t taste them at all. And where the recipe says “cheesecake filling mix”–use the package out of a Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake and save the graham crackers for another purpose. I hope you make this cake part of your spring celebrations.

Easter Sunshine Cake

Oranges and pineapple make a beautiful and tasty summer cake.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 people
Author Rachel Ballard


For the cake

  • 1 box yellow butter cake mix
  • 1 11- ounce can mandarin oranges undrained
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs

For the frosting

  • 1 20- ounce can crushed pineapple undrained
  • 1 10 1/2- ounce package cheesecake filling mix
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 9 ounces whipped topping thawed


For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350, grease and flour three 9 inch cake pans.
  • Combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and oranges and beat until well mixed and the oranges are incorporated. You will see small bits of oranges, but there shouldn't be any large chunks.
  • Divide batter evenly between the three pans and bake 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; rotating them halfway through the cooking time.
  • Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting

  • Combine the pineapple, filling mix, sugar and sour cream and beat well until all ingredients are combined and thickened. Fold in the whipped topping.
  • Frost the cooled cake and store in the refrigerator.


This cake tastes best if it can sit in the fridge for one to two days before eating.


Calories: 503kcal
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


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    1. Hi Valarie, Yep you sure can! I would use the same oven temperature and check it at 25 minutes (just stick a toothpick in the center, if it comes out clean, it’s done). If it’s not done at 25 minutes, check it every 4 or 5 minutes till it is. It shouldn’t take more than 30 I’d say. I hope you enjoy it! –Rachel

  1. 5 stars
    Ok! Made this cake today (day before Easter) & my baby girl(7) & I don’t think it’ll survive the night….AMAZZZING!! I gotta feeling we will have a new family fav recipe. ?

  2. Just ate this cake today with my Easter meal, it was a hit with everyone! Thanks again for sharing this recipe!!

    1. Yay Sam! I’m so glad. That’s my goal–to give you awesome recipes made from familiar ingredients that “most” (we can’t make everyone happy all the time) people will enjoy. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Making this today for Easter dinner on Sunday 🙂 I usually prefer to use raw ingredients, do you think whipped cream with stabilizer and soft cream cheese would be successful substitutions for the ‘processed’ dairy items?

    1. Hi Pam,

      I totally agree on the whole food issue. I would think it would work with a few adjustments. First make sure your whipped cream is whipped stiff, and I would drain the pineapple and then add back the juice as needed to keep the frosting from being too thin. I might even add a dash of vanilla as well to replace that good old synthetic vanilla flavor in the whipped topping. Let me know how it turns out! –Rachel

  4. Gorgeous ~ Would love to see this submitted at Food Foto Gallery.com so I can share with all my foodie friends 😉

  5. Thank you for posting this…many favorite things all in one cake! What is the cheescake filling mix??Brand? cream cheese?

    1. Hi Jeanne,
      Thanks for asking–I did mention the filling in the comments above the recipe, but you’ll need a box of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake Mix. Use the filling packet for the cake’s frosting and save the graham crackers for another recipe. Let me know if I can help with anything else. :)–Rachel

  6. 5 stars
    This sounds so good Rachel! Mandarin oranges and Pineapple….so good in a cake. Will pin and share!

  7. Could you email your note a little more? Do I make the batter and refrigerate that a day or two in the pans and then bake?

    1. I’ll make that more clear Sam. What I meant was make the cake, bake it, cool it, assemble and frost it then put the completed cake in the fridge for a day or two if you can.

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