Old Favorite: Fruit Cocktail Cake


I love and adore this cake. This is another one of those long ago recipes that we’ve been making in my family for as long as I can remember. Having not had it in ages, today seemed like a good day to satisfy my weekend sweet tooth with a taste from my past.

This is one of my mother’s favorites. Made from scratch, the ingredients are simple and the recipe itself is not fussy at all, a combination I enjoy when its hot as Hades outside and my two kids are feeling whiny! If you’ve never had fruit cocktail cake before, you cannot imagine how delicious it is. I especially enjoy it warm. Then again, I also enjoy it room temp…and cold…and…oh darn it. I just love this cake any way you can give it to me. It is a very unique and moist flavor, unlike anything you’ve ever had!

For the cake you’ll need : Self rising flour, vanilla, sugar, eggs, and a can of fruit cocktail in heavy syrup. Easy Peasy!

Crack your eggs into a mixing bowl.

Add sugar
Add vanilla

Add flour

And fruit cocktail, juice and all.

Mix on slow speed until blended.

Scrape down sides and mix just a wee bit more.

Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for forty five minutes or until golden brown.

For the icing/sauce, you’ll need: Evaporated milk, pecans, margarine, sugar, and sweetened flaked coconut. Honestly, have you EVER had an icing with evaporate milk and pecans as ingredients and it NOT be divine?

Hang on to your hats.

Place margarine in medium sized saucepot and add milk.

Add sugar

And vanilla.

Add pecans

And coconut..
Stir. Bring to a boil, while stirring, over medium heat.
Boil for one to two minutes.

It should look like this. Don’t worry, its not really supposed to get thick.

This icing will remain pretty runny, which will be great when you pour it over your hot cake and it soaks all in.

Take hot cake out of the oven.

Pour hot icing over hot cake, spreading as you pour. Work fast now because this is going to immediately soak down into the cake and you don’t want coconut to be concentrated in one area and completely absent in the other. Spreading it as you pour it will help avoid this problem!

Fruit Cocktail Cake
  • CAKE:
  • 2 Cups self rising flour
  • 1 can fruit cocktail
  • 2 unbeaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ Cup sugar
  • SAUCE:
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 can coconut
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Cup evaporated milk
  • 1 Cup pecans, chopped
  1. Mix all cake ingredients at low speed. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 in pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  2. Boil sauce ingredients in pan for one to two minutes. Pour over hot cake.


Please let me know if you try this!

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  1. Shay says

    My mom used to make this all the time. And especially on the holidays! She passed about 6 years ago and I lost her recipe. I had most of it memorized but this helped with the missing pieces!! Thank you for helping me bring back some memories this Thanksgiving. All of my sisters will be so jealous… lol

  2. Barb Phillips says

    I have been wanting to make this wake for many many years. I first made it back in the 70’s while I was in school. The recipe became lost but not forgotten, Thank you so very much for posting my long lost friend.

  3. Carie says

    Christy I made this cake today and I think I ruined it. I have never seen canned coconut so I bought a small bag. I think it was to much. 2 1/4 cups i think, how much should I have used?

  4. Melanie Moore says

    Oh my gosh.. I haven’t had or even thought about this cake in years, but funny thing as soon as I saw the cake I swear I could smell it and taste it. I have to make this cake. But even with all the happy memories of our family sitting around eating it and the laughter it also brings some sadness out of our family of 8 there is only 3 of us left

  5. dogsmum says

    Love the sound of this cake but I don’t think we have tinned coconut in the UK (not that I’ve seen anyway) can I use dessicated coconut instead? If so how much?? Also I think I’ll have to leave out the nuts

  6. Jenny says

    An Internet search says the standard can of Baker’s coconut is 3.5oz.
    The bag of flaked coconut in my freezer is 14oz. So in my very non scientific guess, I think you could use about a quarter of a bag that size and have about the right amount. Does that make sense? Christy, does that sound right to you?

    I’m thinking it doesn’t need to be exact to be delicious : )

  7. Jina says

    OMG! Thank you so much!!
    My Granny used to make this cake for me when I was a little girl. I have thought about it often over the years, and she was getting too old to bake things. She passed a month and a half ago, and all I can think about is continuing her legacy with this divine cake. I only hope my grandchildren love it as much as I do.

  8. Jennie says

    I’ve never had this cake before, but it looks delicious. I was recently hospitalized for diverticulitis, so nuts are out for me. Anyone have fairly decent substitution they use? Thanks.

    • Layale says

      Jenny, I think it would be fine to leave out the nuts all together. I often leave nuts out of recipes because of a family allergy. If you just wanted to add something else in, I’d think you could easily substitute raisins or any other dried fruit (dried cherries might be good here, too). Hope these ideas help you. :-)

  9. Georgia Beasley says

    My mother used to make this Receipe for fruit cocktail cake. I found it in her old Receipe box in her handwriting. She passed away ten years ago. I need to make a cake for tomorrow’s church picnic. I decided to look for the recipe. I found it but when she said to add canned milk I wasn’t sure if it was evaporated milk or Eagle brand milk. I thought I’d check the internet and pulled up the exact receipe on your web sight. Some of her amounts were a little off so I went by the amounts you posted. Then I discovered I only had all purpose flour in the house. I checked on the Internet to see how to convert the flour I had to self rising. I found that recipe too. The cake is in the oven and I’m making the topping now. With any luck it will come out just fine. Thanks for making it so easy. I’m really looking forward to trying this cake tomorrow.

  10. Kathi Stensland says

    Thank you so much Christy for this recipe. My mom used to make this for us and we last her about 1 1/2 year ago. I have tried to find her recipe and was not able to remember all the ingrediants for this cake. I will make this for Thanksgiving and bring some happy memories

  11. Joan says

    The Ladies Auxiliary at our local fire department used to make this cake for Bingo night. It was the absolute best seller. The only difference [that I can see] in this one and theirs is that they melted some butter and put the nuts in the butter and put it in the cake pan before the rest of the ingredients were added. Coconut seemed to be optional – whoever made it may or may not put that in.

    I love their cake and am going to try your version.

  12. Helen says

    I used to make this cake years ago, but it was so good by itself that no icing was ever needed. I’ve seen lots of “dump cake” recipes, but they all use cake mix, and that wasn’t what I wanted. Thank you for posting this :)

  13. Donnalee Grills says

    Love this cake – we call it Idiot Cake – the recipe is so easy any idiot can make it. One difference – I put 1 cup of coconut on cake before baking. Boil butter, sugar, milk and vanilla – boil for 2 minutes – pour over warm cake and enjoy!

  14. Sharon says

    I don’t know how I screwed this up but I did! (Leave it to me!) The cake was set but did not brown at all. When I tasted it, it was soooo sweet I could only eat a few spoonfulls of it. Followed the recipe exactly so I am not sure how it went so wrong. I was really looking forward to this…oh well. I love cake with fruit so will probably stick my winegrowers cake…that I can make. Cheers!

  15. Denny says

    am going to make this with microwave so it would be easier I hope it will work haha…I did try making a microwaved choco cake and it worked..5 minutes only. I’ll do this cocktail one in a smaller batch let me see how it works. I want it fast coz am so curious it will be my first time wheww. Thanks

  16. Terri says

    I have this in the oven now. My Aunt Frances used to make this for me as a child and it was delicious. I kept looking until I found this one that sounds most like her recipe. My Aunt passed away in 1999 and I haven’t had Fruit Cocktail cake since them. I’m excited to taste this and bring back the awesome memories of spending time with Aunt Frances growing up. =)

  17. Chris Stachowski says

    Tomorrow, August 1st. is my husband’s 76th birthday and his late wife had this recipe in her recipe box and he told me it was his favorite cake so I got it out and read it over and the difference from yours is it says drained 2 cups fruit cocktail and it uses self rising flour and also calls for chopped pecans in the cake but not in the sauce, I am going to use the liquid in the fruit cocktail and going to use pecans in the topping, her recipe calls for sprinkling 1/2 cup brown sugar on top of cake batter before baking. I am making this for my husband’s birthday.

  18. kentuckylady717 says

    Well this is my 4th. cake recipe I have saved on zip list…..now looking for your Dad’s coconut cake so I can save it too, for future use :)
    Sure hope to bake one of these soon…..oh my which will it be ? Since I am an Elvis fan, I may go with Elvis cake :) I thing that would be a good choice….and I have been to Graceland too……it was so pretty………

    So did you Dad impersonate Elvis and all the other country singers you mentioned in one of your blogs ? Do you have some film of it, could you post it ? I would love to see them…..

    I miss not being able to see The Grand Ole Opry on the country station anymore…..I used to watch them all……sure wish they would bring them back as reruns…..remember Ralph Emory ? I loved his show……loved the Barbara Mandrell show too……they have taken all that away from us…..I wish someone in Nashville would bring it back…….
    Think we could get a petition going ? :) count me in……

  19. Tricia Landers says

    I made this cake yesterday and loved how easy the directions were. This cake is so delicious. I didn’t change anything but used real butter, not margarine in the topping. I used 1 1/2 cups of coconut from a bag. I never see coconut in a can anywhere. I can’t stop eating this cake, keep sneaking a second or third helping. I will be sharing this with close family because they love moist cakes and this is definitely not dry.

  20. Chantale says

    As a follow up question, if it doesn’t freeze well, how long can it be kept refrigerated? I’m sure it sounds silly since it’s so good that you should not have to worry about that, right? I just made the cake and wanted to save some for my mom which I will be visiting later this week. Wondering if I should be freezing it or just keep it refrigerated. Interesting thing about this cake is that my family up in Quebec makes it as part of our traditional Christmas meal …and everybody fights for the middle piece since it is so moist… :-)

  21. Joyce Smythe says

    OHHH, I just made this cake! It is totally awesome and delish! I used real butter in the topping (was what I had on hand), And I can agree with Tricia Landers’ comment, “I cant stop eating this cake,” I just kinda seem to grab a bite when I pass by it :D, a person could almost eat the icing by itself, it is sooo good! :) Thank you Mama Reed and thank you Christ Jordan! Oh and by the way, I posted a pic of my cake on your Facebook wall :)

  22. Jan says

    I think I’ll use butter in the topping sauce next time. Also, I had a small bag of coconut, not a can but because you didn’t give the ounces, I wasn’t sure if I out too much. Please add ounces to coconut. Otherwise, delicious cake. I was worried because my batter was very thick and yours didn’t look that thick. But it came out fine. I would probably use half cup of pecans next time because they overwhelmed the top. I did a a bit of cinnamon and it was good! Thanks for the step my step pictorial!

  23. Charles Abbott says

    My mom use to make this cake for me back in the 70’s. She now is 82 and doesn’t do any cooking. Last night we were talking about the good old days and this cake came up, she says why don’t we make one knowing she was meaning me so I took her up on it and today we made the cake. It ment the world to her that she could come into the kitchen and help make this cake we both loved from our youth…..
    Now just waiting and it smells like I remembered from way back when…YUMMY!!!!!!!!


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