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Mama’s Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake

If you love the bright, fresh flavors of mandarin oranges and the light, fluffy texture of a yellow cake, then I’ve got the recipe for you. This traditional Mandarin Orange cake will give you flashbacks to the good old days. . .in all the best ways! 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Mama’s Cookbook is Best!

I don’t know about you but there are certain recipes that came from my mama’s cookbook that mean more than others. 

One of those, I must confess, is her delicious tropical mandarin orange cake. 

I did a lot of research on this one and discovered that “Mama’s” recipe is actually the go-to recipe for more mandarin orange cakes. But to me it will always be hers. 

Old Recipes are the Best Recipes!

This cake was always a favorite at church potlucks. I particularly loved it during the summertime when it was hot outside because it was an icebox cake, meant to be served cold. 

I’ve been on a roll lately making icebox cakes. One of my favorites is my Black Forest Icebox Cake. It’s beyond delicious. 

But, I’ll confess: this mandarin orange cake will always be my favorite because it brings back so many, many memories of my mom, of my childhood, and of my home church. 

(If you grew up going to church potlucks you know the memories associated with those!) 

What is a Mandarin Orange? 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

A Mandarin orange is a small citrus fruit closely related to other citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Mandarins are named after the Chinese officials of the Imperial Court known as mandarins, who were said to have traditionally received the fruit as a gift. (No wonder I love this cake so much! It comes from royalty!) 

Mandarins are usually smaller than regular oranges and have a loose, easily peelable skin. The fruit is round or slightly flattened, and the peel is bright orange in color. As a kid, the bright orange color always made this particular orange more exciting to me!

Mandarins are Easy to Eat!

Inside, the mandarin is segmented, juicy, and sweet, with a slightly tangy flavor. Mandarins are known for being easy to eat, as the segments can be separated easily by hand.

These little oranges are perfect for baking. They’re used in salads, desserts, sauces, and marinades, as well as in the production of juices and preserves. Talk about a popular fruit! 

Mandarin Cake Ingredients

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need to make this delicious cakes. These are simple ingredients you can find at any grocery store. 

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • box of yellow (or golden butter) cake mix
  • vegetable oil
  • canned mandarin oranges (with juice)
  • large eggs, room temperature

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • container of Cool Whip
  • instant vanilla pudding
  • crushed pineapple

TO DECORATE:

  • drained mandarin oranges

Note: Mama’s recipe called for 3/4 cup of vegetable oil but I used half a cup instead. Why? Because her recipe called for “a can of mandarin oranges with juice” and I suspect she was referring to a small can. I decided to use a larger 15 ounce can of oranges. So, I didn’t need the added liquid from too much oil. 

How to Make this Fresh Mandarin Orange Cake

This is one of the simplest cakes you will ever make and it’s also one of the tastiest. 

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Prepare your pans with baking spray. You can use a 9×13-inch pan or two 9-inch rounds. 

Make the Cake

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Put your mandarin oranges (with juice) In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment). If you like, you can hold back 3 – 4 orange slices to use on top of the cake. 

Add eggs and oil. 

Mix until it all comes together. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Now it’s time to add the cake mix. I was mixing mine by hand and loved watching the way it all came together. If you use an electric mixer, mix at low speed.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Pour batter into pan(s) and place in preheated oven to bake for 25 – 30 minutes. A rectangular pan might take a bit longer than two rounds. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Make the Frosting

While the cake is baking, make your frosting. (This is the simplest process ever! Now I know why Mama loved to make this one!) 

Put the crushed pineapple with juices into a large mixing bowl. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Add the package of dry pudding. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Whisk together. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Fold in the whole container of whipped cream. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Mix well.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Cover and place in the refrigerator to set up while the cake continues to bake. 

Put it all Together! 

Once the cake is fully baked, remove it from the oven and place on wire cooling rack.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

When you can handle the pans, turn out the cakes directly onto the cooling racks. Allow to sit until fully cool. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Place in the refrigerator for half an hour or so to chill. You want to put the chilled frosting onto a chilled cake. 

Adding the frosting is the simplest process ever! If you’re working with a 9×13-inch pan, just scoop all of the frosting onto the cake and smooth it out as best you can. 

If you’re working with a layered cake, place some frosting in-between the layers.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Now frost the top and sides, as well. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Decorate with leftover mandarin oranges. I happened to have quite a few on hand because I had some left over from a recent Hawaiian Pound Cake recipe.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Cover and place the cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. 

When the time is right, slice and serve!

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

Store leftovers in airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, as mama’s recipe says, you can freeze this cake. 

The cake should stay good in the fridge up to four days. In the freezer, it should be good up to two months, as long as it is covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container. 

What to Expect from this Easy Mandarin Cake

This delicious cake is light, it’s bright, and it’s got those distinct tropical flavors I remember from childhood. In short, this mandarin orange cake is the perfect southern tradition.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

I have been baking for years now and I don’t remember ever making this cake before. But I can promise you, this won’t be my last time to bake it. I would love to keep the family tradition going and pass my mom’s recipe down to my kids, too. 

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake from Out of the Box Baking.com

You will love this moist, light cake—and not just in the summertime! 

Variations on this Recipe

I honestly feel like this cake is perfect just like it is, but you know I can’t help myself. I have to think of ways to mix things up. Here are a few thoughts: 

Coconut: I love coconut in pretty much anything and everything. Next time, I might stir a cup of sweetened coconut flakes into the frosting. Yum! 

Maraschino cherries: I think these would be delicious in the frosting, as well. Just chop up a dozen or so. You can even decorate with the cherries, as well as the leftover oranges. 

Mango: Not a fan of pineapple? No problem! Just stir in a can of chopped mango in place of the pineapple. Mango and mandarins will pair beautifully! 

Questions People are Asking about Mandarin Orange Cake

Can I make a triple layer cake?

Absolutely! Just use 8-inch round pans. You might need to add a couple of Boba straws (or regular straws) to the cake after filling and stacking. Those layers might be a little slippery with all of that luscious frosting between them!

Can I use fresh oranges?

I don’t recommend it. This cake relies on the juice of the mandarin oranges, as well as the distinct flavor.

I’ve heard that Mandarin Orange Cake is also known as Pig Pickin’ Cake. Why is that?

This cake (a southern favorite) is popular at BBQs and pig roasts.

Is this the same thing as Hummingbird Cake?

It’s not, though it’s easy to see why some people might get them confused. Hummingbird Cake (another southern classic) also has pineapple and tropical flavors. But it has coconut and bananas in it, as well as chopped pecans.

Other Orange-Flavored Desserts from Out of the Box Baking

Easy Orange Creamsicle Bars: If the idea of a creamsicle gives you flashbacks to your childhood (in a good way) this luscious dessert will certainly make you happy! These easy creamsicle bars have those same lovely flavors and they’re so simple to make because they start with a box of cake mix! 

Orange Cranberry Slice and Bake Cookies: This is a delicious slice-and-bake cookie dough that can be made in advance and frozen. Just like those tubes of cookie dough you buy at the store, this one is convenient. But it’s cheaper and healthier, too!

Orange Raspberry Pound Cake: If you love the texture of a luscious pound cake but the light, bright flavors of citrus and berries, you’re going to be crazy about this new recipe.

Check out this Easy Orange Smoothie recipe from Southern Home Express!

Other Tropical Favorites

Easy Pineapple Coconut Cake: If you’re in the mood for a summery cake filled with tropical flavors, you’ve come to the right place. This delicious Pineapple Coconut Cake with Lime will make you feel like you’re on a Caribbean beach, ocean waves crashing in the background.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake: It’s so easy to turn a yellow cake mix into this easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake! One can of sliced pineapple rings, 1 cup of brown sugar, some maraschino cherries, and the usual ingredients for a boxed cake mix. . .and you’re good to go. Talk about an easy dessert!

Aloha Carrot Cake from Scratch: If you’re looking for the perfect Carrot Cake to serve your guests this Easter, have I got a great one for you! This “from scratch” recipe is rich, moist, and covered in tangy cream cheese frosting! 

Easy Banana Bread Maui: If you’re looking for a Hawaiian banana bread recipe that’s a cut above the rest, have I got a great one for you! Until today I’d never even heard of Maui Banana Bread. Now that I’ve tried it, I can’t wait to share the recipe!


Learn more about doctored cake mixes, the theme of this blog. 

For the master list of all doctored cake mix recipes on this site, visit Doctored Cake Mix Recipes, Master List. 


That’s it for this post, friends! I hope you enjoyed this delicious recipe. 

See this recipe at

Full Plate Thursday 

Weekend Potluck

The Lazy Gastronome

Busy Monday


About the Author

Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake

Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake

Yield: 15
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

If you love the bright, fresh flavors of mandarin oranges and the light, fluffy texture of a yellow cake, then I’ve got the recipe for you. This traditional Mandarin Orange cake will give you flashbacks to the good old days. . .in all the best ways!

Ingredients

  • CAKE:
  • 1 (18 ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges (with juice)
  • 4 eggs
  • TOPPING:
  • 1 (16 ounce) container Cool Whip
  • 1 (3 1/2 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup drained mandarin oranges

Instructions

    How to Make this Luscious Traditional Mandarin Orange Cake
    This is one of the simplest cakes you will ever make and it’s also one of the tastiest.

    Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Prepare your pans with baking spray. You can use a 9x13-inch pan or two 9-inch rounds.

    Make the Cake
    Put your mandarin oranges (with juice) In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment). If you like, you can hold back 3 - 4 orange slices to use on top of the cake.
    Add eggs and oil.
    Mix until it all comes together.
    Now it’s time to add the cake mix. I was mixing mine by hand and loved watching the way it all came together.
    Pour batter into pan(s) and place in preheated oven to bake for 25 - 30 minutes. A rectangular pan might take a bit longer than two rounds.

    Make the Frosting
    While the cake is baking, make your frosting. (This is the simplest process ever! Now I know why Mama loved to make this one!)


    Put the crushed pineapple with juices into a large mixing bowl.
    Add the package of dry pudding.
    Whisk together.
    Fold in the whole container of whipped cream.
    Cover and place in the refrigerator to set up while the cake continues to bake.

    Put it all Together!
    Once the cake is fully baked, remove it from the oven and place on wire cooling rack. Allow to sit until fully cool.
    Place in the refrigerator for half an hour or so to chill. You want to put the chilled frosting onto a chilled cake.
    Adding the frosting is the simplest process ever! If you’re working with a 9x13-inch pan, just scoop all of the frosting onto the cake and smooth it out as best you can.
    If you’re working with a layered cake, place some frosting in-between the layers and frost the top and sides, as well.
    Cover and place the cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
    When the time is right, slice and serve!
    Store leftovers in airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, as mama’s recipe says, you can freeze this cake.
    The cake should stay good in the fridge up to four days. In the freezer, it should be good up to two months, as long as it is covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 245Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 284mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 3g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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