Hawaiian Wedding Cake Recipe

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.

Hawaiian wedding cake slices on a cooling rack.
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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.
    Hawaiian wedding cake ingredients in various bowls.

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.

  1. First, spray the cake pan with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the oil. Then add the cake mix, and whisk until blended.
  3. Next, add the mandarin orange segments, along with the juice and fold gently to combine.
    Hawaiian wedding cake batter in a clear bowl.
  4. 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.
    Hawaiian wedding cake batter in a cake pan.
  5. Cool the cake completely, at least 30 minutes, before starting the frosting.
  6. 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.
    Hawaiian wedding cake ingredients in a clear bowl.
  7. 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.

  1. Using a chef's knife, slice about 1/2" off the top and bottom of the fruit.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    Hawaiian wedding cake slices on a cooling rack.

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.
5 from 12 votes

Hawaiian Wedding Cake Recipe

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.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, pineapple
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 20 servings
Calories 255kcal

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcal

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  1. Amanda Materi Brown

    2nd time making this…thought I already had vanilla pudding mix in the pantry but it was sugar free….eeeew. So the other box I had was banana cream and I used that and know what???? FANTASTIC!!! Can’t go wrong either way, this cake is as dreamy as it is easy. Thanks for another great recipe.5 stars

  2. Sandi

    I made this for the seniors I work with. They loved it and wanted it again.5 stars

  3. Linda Fitzgerald

    I made this yesterday for a party. Big hit. Would make it again for sure.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      That’s great! Thanks Laura! :D

  4. Genevieve

    325 degrees and at 25 minutes my cake is still watery.  I can’t wait u til it’s done.  It sounds delicious 

  5. Anthony M

    I have a quick question, how would I go about doing this from scratch and not a box? Is it possible? Amazing recipe by the way! Couldn’t stop eating it LOL 5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Anthony, this has actually been on my list for years – figuring out the from-scratch situation. Glad we’re on the same page! I am going to test it myself to figure out the exact recipe, but if you are anxious and need it in the next 5 minutes, you could use any from-scratch vanilla cake recipe. Are you hoping to ditch the cool whip in the topping, too? My thoughts on that are using some sort of whipped cream frosting with the pineapple mixed in. Again, untested now but going on top of my list of things to test. We need answers!!! I’ll report back once I’ve cracked the code. It’s probably going to be a couple of weeks since I’m still traveling for the holidays. I can commit to having this figured out by the end of January for sure. Sorry for the delay! Thank you! -Meggan

  6. Melissa

    Can you substitute the mandarin oranges for crushed pineapple? My mom used to make this cake, but it didn’t have mandarin oranges in it. The rest of the recipe sounds very similar.

    1. meggan

      Hi Melissa, yes you can do whatever you want! I imagine there are a lot of versions of this cake, not all quite the same, but all very tasty. :) Good luck! Thanks!

  7. Constance

    Does it normally take a little longer to cook depending on the oven? How do you check that it’s done toothpick test or something else

  8. Heather

    I have made this several times now. It’s always being requested! Everyone just loves it. What I like mostly is its not sweet. Light and fluffy. Making it again for Easter Sunday. Can’t wait!!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Heather, thank you SO MUCH! I mean, I feel the exact same way. I feel like my photos don’t even do it justice, but once I tried one bite of that cake I was sold. Like you said, it’s not overly sweet which is SO LOVELY. And so perfect for Easter. Thank you so much, I really appreciate your thoughtful comment! Happy Easter!

  9. Priscilla

    Thanks for posting this! I love fruit with my desserts. Heck the one time I had fruit cake I didn’t think it was bad at all even though most v people seem hate it. ANY WAY. Adding this too my fruit salad recipe as a favorite! Thanks again.5 stars

  10. Ruby

    This is the first time I have seen this recipe on the internet!  My mom used to make this cake all the time, but she called it Mandarin Orange Cake.  She passed away two years ago, so it is wonderful to see this recipe posted, it brings back fond memories.    It is a light wonderfully simple cake to make, refreshing in the summer and cheery in the winter.  Sometimes she would sprinkle toasted coconut on the top as a garnish.  It was one of her go to recipes for church pot luck dinners, and it was a favorite dessert for family gatherings.5 stars

  11. Hello! 
    This sounds amazing and perfect for the Hawaiian baby shower I’m hosting this weekend. Do you know if it’s possible to cook the cake in 8″ rounds instead of a 9×13″ pan? I’m hoping to bake three layers (thin) and stack them with the whip in-between. I’m a little concerned that it will be very slippery and slide around. Since you’ve worked with this recipe first hand I’m hoping you might be able to share a little insight to the texture and take a guess if I could make it work or not. I could use straws through the cake to hold it in place better as well. 

    Thanks!!

    1. Patricia A Campbell

      I’ve made this cake for years and always baked two layers and sliced them into crossways, making four layers. Icing between each layer and the top. Cake is so very moist and yummy!5 stars

    2. Thank you thank you thank you!! Such great tips! I’ll be sending you the results next week! 

    3. Thank you Meggan for such a fast response!! I think the points you make are all very very good. I actually like the idea of a “naked” cake, maybe I’ll go that route anyways. It’s a thing to do these days! Plus, that means I’d use less flowers for the decoration making the cake the decoration. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes!

      Another thought I’m just curious for your take on is making the cake a few days in advance. In the past I’d make the layers a few days in advance, wrap them in plastic and keep them in the fridge. I’d take them out the day of to frost and decorate. Do you think this cake recipe would function just fine? I typically make a box cake and tweak it a bit, so I’m guessing it’d be fine. Just curious what you think!

      Thanks!

    4. meggan

      Hi Jessica! I think you can absolutely make the layers in advance. The only thing is, I’d frost it and chill it the night before. Part of the glory of this cake is that the frosting has time to soften the top layer of the cake and, well “melt” is the wrong word, but they bind together a bit. As an example, I tried making this recipe as cupcakes one time, but dolloping frosting on right before serving time didn’t have the same effect. The frosting needs time to soften the cake and bind to it. That’s where the magic really happens! But other than that, yes make the layers in advance, just frost it the night before if you can (or early in the morning) and chill it. I hope this helps! Good luck and I’m excited for you! :D

    5. meggan

      Hi, Jessica! I’ve never tried stacking the cake in this way, but I don’t think it would slide off. The only thing I would worry about is whether you have enough frosting to cover 3 layers AND go in between – I’m also not sure if you would like the texture of the cake for spreading. It’s quite thick and a bit chunky because of the fruit in it. You can see from the pictures, maybe, that it sits quite heavily on top of the cake. However, if you were going to do a “naked” cake and just frost the layers in between, not the outside, I am pretty sure that would work just fine! Frosting the outside *might* work too, I’m just less confident about that. I don’t think the cake will slip at all. It’s just a matter of whether the frosting itself would weigh too much and slide of the side of the cake, if you did that. Please let me know if you go ahead with the idea and how it turns out; I’d love to know! If I had time to test it before this weekend, I would. Good luck and thank you for the question! Sounds like a fantastic baby shower. :)

  12. Kelly

    Oh my goodness this sounds delicious! I bet the oranges make the cake super moist and delicious! Can’t wait to try!5 stars

  13. Malia

    I looked yesterday at a few stores! and there was some (imported) canned fruit… But no mandarin oranges at all! And no crushed pineapple, only chunks…. I’m in dubai and they are real big on fresh fruit here tho most if not all of that is imported as well lol! They actually did have instant jello pudding tho. I’ll see if I can do with “real” whipping cream maybe? 

    1. meggan

      You could certainly try real whipped cream, I would just whip it up really well! Fact is, that is going to taste a lot better than the non-dairy whipped topping I suggest here. ;)

  14. Malia

    This looks interesting! But a challenge for me as they don’t sell “cool whip” and I doubt I’d find canned fruit either. Looks good though! 

    1. meggan

      Hi Malia, where abouts do you live? No canned fruit?! I can see Cool Whip being hard to find, and you’re probably better off for it. :)

  15. I’m actually a huge box cake mix convert now – though I certainly was not one a few years ago! I guess the busy hours are finally catching up. I love all the flavors in this cake and will most definitely be making this one soon! Hope all is well, dear lady!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Ala, we should totally get together sometime! We could even get together at DreamWorks again, my husband could create a drive-on for you! I hope you are doing well, I’d love to catch up sometime. Re: boxed cake mixes. They have such a bad rap, but sometimes they are totally convenient. And if I’m making a cake that is “supposed” to be made via a boxed mix, who am I to say no?!

  16. We eat something that’s 99.9% the same here but we call it a Pig Pickin’ Cake. LOL. I make mine with a box of instant cheesecake filling and sour cream in the frosting too. It’s no joke! 

    1. meggan

      THAT’S IT!!! That’s the original name the lady called it! I seriously could not even remember. I was thinking like, prickly toes or something. It’s Pig Pickin’ Cake. Thank you for making my world a better place. :)

  17. I love the mandarin oranges in the cake itself. Fruity cakes are one my faves and that frosting sounds so good I would lick the cake naked first before eating it :)5 stars

    1. meggan

      Lick the cake naked. That is all. LOL!!!

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