Simple and Refreshing Orange Cake

It’s the time of year for family get-togethers, cookouts with friends, and refreshing summertime flavors. I can’t wait to share with you some of our family’s favorite recipes and treats for this season. As always, I’m a big proponent of balance — which means healthy and wholesome meals with the occasional sweet treat. And that’s exactly where this orange cake recipe comes into play.


orange cake recipe


The orange cake recipe I’m sharing today is one of the sweet classics that my husband grew up with. My mother-in-law has always been kind enough to pass along the recipes that everyone requests again and again. I always love how simple and crowd-pleasing these famous recipes are.

I do have one confession and disclaimer that I should share with you. It may tarnish any “foodie” reputation I have (on the blog or in real life), but here’s the honest truth: I really love cool whip.

I know, I know! It’s not the healthiest and it has some shady ingredients, but you guys – it’s a guilty pleasure if there ever was one.

Maybe this love for Cool Whip started way back in childhood. My grandma would fix huge cups of red jello with dollops of Cool Whip on top for the perfect afternoon snack. I can still remember being excited about it, even as a preschooler.

But no matter when my love began, I’m honestly a sucker for any dessert with whipped topping.

A Healthy Twist

Luckily, I must not be the only one who loves it (thank goodness). Several brands have caught on with healthier and cleaner alternatives. If simpler ingredients are your priority, you can still make this amazing orange cake recipe.

Check out a few alternatives from Truwhip (gluten-free with no high fructose corn syrup) and CocoWhip from one of my favorite dairy-free brands, SoDelicious. Both of these options are perfect for the health-conscious dessert lover. And I can personally attest to how yummy both of them are! You won’t miss the original version one bit.

orange cake recipe


What You’ll Need

  • 1 box of french vanilla cake mix
  • 2 packages of instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1 small can mandarin orange slices (drained, rinsed)
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple (not drained)
  • 9-12 ounces whipped topping

This orange cake recipe is easy to throw together if you’re in a pinch. The best part? It takes a simple box of cake mix to the next level. Mandarin oranges and crushed pineapple make the frosting unique, light, and fruity. You may even prefer it to something heavy like buttercream or traditional frosting. I know I do!

It’s the perfect complement for spring or summer meals, and I guarantee that you won’t be headed home with many leftovers. You can grab the directions for how to prepare the cake in the full recipe below.


simple orange cake recipe

One thing to note – this orange cake is best served cold or chilled. So if you’re heading to an outdoor meal, make sure to stash it in the refrigerator to avoid having a melted cake (and a few sad dinner guests) on your hands.

Serve it up with some iced coffee or after-dinner drinks, and you’ve got an instant warm-weather hit that’s perfectly sweet.

Grab this simple 6-step recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Mandarin Orange Cake

This simple and refreshing orange cake is easy to bake up and serve. It's light, refreshing and perfectly sweet. This recipe is bound to become a spring or summertime family favorite.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cake
Servings: 8


  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • 2 packages vanilla instant pudding 3 oz.
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple
  • 9-12 ounces whipped topping


  • Preheat oven to 350 and prepare 2 round cake pans with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the cake mix, 1 package of instant pudding, 3 eggs, oil, and water together.
  • Once cake is mixed, stir in a small (8 oz) can of mandarin oranges that have been drained and rinsed. 
  • Pour cake batter evenly into 2 pans, then bake for 30-40 minutes until done.
  • While cake is baking, prepare the frosting. Incorporate 1 small (8 oz.) can of crushed pineapple (do not drain) with a package of instant pudding and whipped topping. Add additional whipped topping to prepare a larger batch. Refrigerate until ready to frost.
  • Once finished baking, allow the cakes to cool completely. Then, frost the cake in two layers.

Are you sharing your family’s summertime eats on Instagram? I would love it if you’d tag me @hillarywriteoneweek! Be sure to share this easy dessert idea on Twitter on Pinterest as well!

You can find even more family favorites by exploring Simple Food here on the blog. Leave me a note if you’re planning to make or bake up any of these ideas!



  1. April 24, 2019 / 6:33 am

    This cake sounds amazing! Maybe I’ll give it a whirl this weekend! PS, I love cool whip too!!!!!

    • Write One Week
      April 24, 2019 / 10:06 am

      Thank you, Shannon! I’m in good company then! 🙂

  2. April 24, 2019 / 10:10 am

    YUMMMMM! And so easy too!

    • Write One Week
      April 28, 2019 / 8:03 pm

      Yes! That’s what I love about it!

  3. May 17, 2019 / 8:17 pm

    Yum!! I’m super excited to try this!!!

    • Write One Week
      May 17, 2019 / 9:03 pm

      It’s definitely one of our favorites. Hope you enjoy!

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