Hawaiian Wedding Cake is the mandarin orange-studded, fluffy-pineapple-frosting-slathered, perfectly pillowy yellow cake of your dreams. It tastes like a tropical getaway, and making it is an absolute breeze.
Desserts can still be delicious without being complicated, just like this Hawaiian sheet cake. When you need something sweet in a hurry, try one of my favorite easy desserts, like a no-bake Eclair Cake that will take you back, a homemade Icebox Cake that uses store-bought cookies, or the end-all, be-all Pound Cake that's perfect on its own or covered in fresh berries and whipped cream.
There are a handful of recipes on this site that use pre-made ingredients, like store-bought whipped topping or a box of cake mix. And this, my friends, is one of them.
In fact, in the spirit of true disclosure, this Hawaiian Wedding Cake recipe uses a whole lot of store-bought ingredients, not just Betty Crocker. I promise you this: they all blend perfectly together to create a fruity, fluffy, honeymoon of a cake that your guests will inhale as soon as it hits the table.
Why? Because it's unique. In a world of chocolate this and salted caramel that, a moist yellow cake that's loaded with sweet mandarin orange segments, then frosted with a thick, dreamy layer of pineapple frosting, makes a wonderful, lasting impression. Long after the cake is gone, and the honeymoon is over.
Lucky for you, it's only about the easiest thing in the world to make.
Making traditional Hawaiian cake for an honest-to-goodness wedding? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Hawaiian Wedding Cake ingredients:
- Eggs. You'll need 4 eggs per cake.
- Vegetable oil. Oil-based cakes are the moistest.
- Yellow cake mix. Any brand you choose.
- Canned mandarin orange segments and the juice. Using fresh oranges is an option discussed below.
For the frosting:
- Whipped topping. Usually sold in the freezer aisle.
- Instant vanilla pudding. One package of the dry pudding mix to make one cake.
- Canned crushed pineapple with the juice. If all you can find is chunks, chop it up in a food processor or by hand. Option for using fresh pineapple, too, down below.
- Maraschino cherries. Optional, but adorable.
How to make Hawaiian Wedding Cake:
To make the recipe as it's written, you will need a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan. But unlike other cakes and cupcakes, you won't need a mixer!
Oh, and these instructions walk you through the basic steps, but for specifics--including exact quantities--look at the recipe card below.
- First, spray the cake pan with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the oil. Then add the cake mix, and whisk until blended.
- Next, add the mandarin orange segments, along with the juice and fold gently to combine.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Check the cake after 25 minutes. If a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out mostly clean, with a crumb or two, it's ready to come out of the oven.
- Cool the cake completely, at least 30 minutes, before starting the frosting.
- To make the frosting, mix together the whipped topping and the dry pudding mix. Then carefully fold in the crushed pineapple, along with the juice.
- Next, spread a thick layer of the frosting over the cake. (Don't worry that it's too much; it's much lighter than buttercream and the pineapple balances it out.) Then garnish the top with maraschino cherries, so that every slice gets one.
The biggest tip I can offer you: once the cake is baked, cooled, and frosted, you'll want to chill it for at least 30 minutes before serving. That way the frosting bonds with the cake, making it otherworldly.
Also, serve oversized slices and watch people devour them in minutes. You will surprise yourself with how much you and everyone you know will love this cake.
Using fresh pineapple in Hawaiian Wedding Cake:
Some readers have trouble finding canned pineapple in their areas. Maybe it's because they already live in beautiful tropical places, where fresh fruit is abundant!
You can make this with fresh pineapple that you crush fine, yourself. Pulse the chunks of pineapple in a food processor to make this easy, but hold on to the juice, because you'll need it, too.
One thing to keep in mind. Bromelain, the enzyme found in pineapple, can break down gelatin, which can affect the consistency of the frosting. Most instant pudding doesn't contain gelatin, but double check your brand, just to be sure.
Using fresh oranges:
It's a little more work, but you can use fresh oranges, clementines, Cuties, or tangerines. You just need to cut them into something called "supremes." To supreme an orange, you need a sharp chef's knife and a sharp paring knife.
- Using a chef's knife, slice about 1/2" off the top and bottom of the fruit.
- Stand the orange up on one cut side on a cutting board. Next, working around the orange, slice the peel off from top to bottom, cutting past the white pith and into the flesh, to reveal the bare fruit segments.
- Once the peel and pith is completely removed, You should see the citrus segments separated by their membranes. Using a paring knife, make cuts into the orange, staying close to the membrane, to release the bare, un-membraned segment--which is called a supreme.
- When the entire fruit is empty, you can squeeze the juice out into a bowl using your fist. Then you can add the segments and the juice to the recipe.
Frosting a cake with real whipped cream:
Whipped topping is traditionally used in this recipe, but you can try it with real whipped cream, too. Be aware that there may be some differences in texture as well as stability, so the cake may not taste the way you remember it, but it will still be delicious.
When substituting, keep in mind that whipping cream doubles once it is whipped. Since the recipe calls for an 16-ounce carton of whipped topping, whip 3 cups of whipping cream, which will yield 6 cups to use in this recipe.
The pineapple may add enough sweetness for you, but if you want to make sweetened whipped cream, here's how. Once the cream begins to thicken, add 9 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until soft or until soft peaks form.
Hawaiian Cake ideas:
Where to start? All your Hawaiian-themed parties just got easier.
- Hawaiian pineapple coconut cake. Add toasted coconut to the pineapple frosting. Sprinkle it on top to keep it toasty-crispy, and serve immediately.
- Low sugar Hawaiian cake. Buy sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, sugar-free whipped topping, and skip the cherries.
- Hawaiian wedding cake without mandarin oranges. Use orange zest in the batter. Or toasted walnuts. Or stir in 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut and 1/2 cup coconut milk into the batter and bake as directed.
- Hawaiian layer cake. A few readers were up to the challenge of baking the cake in two 8" cake pans and creating a layer cake. If you are up to it, you may need to make another batch of frosting, depending on the number of layers you have. Also, assemble the cake the night before and store it in the refrigerator so it has a chance to set up properly.
Hawaiian Wedding Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges and juice
For the frosting:
- 1 (16 ounce) container whipped topping thawed
- 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding (dry mix)
- 1 (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple and juice
- Maraschino cherries for garnish, optional
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with nonstick spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and oil together until well blended. Whisk in the cake mix until smooth. Carefully fold in the mandarin oranges and their juice.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 25 to 35 minutes (check at 25 minutes). Cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
- When the cake is cool, blend whipped topping and dry vanilla pudding mix in a large bowl (do not prepare the pudding mix into pudding). Carefully fold in pineapple and juice. Spread the frosting in a thick, even layer on the cake.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish individual slices with maraschino cherries if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.