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Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake

You’ll take a trip back in time with this delicious Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake recipe. Its moist, flavorful cake layer and luscious coconut frosting make this dessert a real crowd-pleaser. Everyone will love this treat from the past!

There’s just something magical about vintage recipes that have stood the test of time. They bring back memories and flavors from days gone by, offering a bit of nostalgia that’s hard to resist. In this post, I’m sharing one of those old favorites, the made-from-scratch Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake, which has been a family favorite for generations.

A serving of fruit cocktail cake topped with whipped cream and a cherry.

This delightful dessert combines sweet, mixed canned fruit cocktail with a sugary topping of coconut, butter, and brown sugar that is simply irresistible. Whether you’re baking it for a special occasion or just craving a slice of comfort, this cake won’t disappoint.

If you have 10 minutes to spare, you can whip up this easy, timeless treat.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe


  • Just 10 minutes of prep time and you’ll have a cake ready to bake.
  • The nostalgic flavor of canned fruit cocktail will remind you of a simpler time.
  • The recipe makes 12 servings, so it’s great for covered-dish dinners.

You’ll also find this recipe in my cookbook!

The vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake recipe is on page 263 in my cookbook, My Southern Table! Get your signed copy today.

🛒 Ingredient Notes


Ingredients needed for fruit cocktail cake.

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  • Light brown sugar – Who doesn’t love this classic mix of white sugar and molasses? It adds a lovely caramel flavor to any recipe where it’s used.
  • All-purpose flour – I’ll always choose White Lily flour for any baking. If you don’t have that brand, any all-purpose will work.
  • Chopped pecans – Add a crunchy richness to the cake layer.
  • Canned fruit cocktail – The star of the show! You’ll want fruit cocktail canned in heavy syrup for its moisture and sweetness.
  • Evaporated milk – Adds so much richness to the frosting! I always choose Carnation brand.
  • Additional ingredients: Baking soda, salt, eggs, coconut, butter, and vanilla extract.

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make Fruit Cocktail Cake


  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan or dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients for the cake layer until well combined. 
  2. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish or pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.
  3. About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the frosting.
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all frosting ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling, stirring frequently, for two minutes.
  3. Remove the cake from the oven and spread the frosting over the hot cake, smoothing it over the top.
  4. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. Top individual servings with whipped cream and a cherry if desired.
A slice of cake held on a spatula.

⚠️ Troubleshooting Tips


  • If the cake starts to brown too quickly on top, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
  • To check whether the cake is done, use a toothpick or a thin wooden skewer. It should come out clean when inserted near the center.
  • If your cake rises unevenly, it could be due to uneven distribution of the fruit cocktail or other ingredients in the batter. Make sure to evenly spread the batter in the baking pan to avoid this issue.
  • Be sure to use the correct pan size (9×13 inches) as mentioned in the recipe. Using a smaller pan will cause overflowing batter and uneven baking.

🔀 Recipe Variations


  • Experiment with different nuts like walnuts or almonds for a unique flavor profile.
  • Try adding warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves during the colder months.
  • Replace the coconut frosting with a cream cheese frosting. It’s really great with the sweet fruit cocktail and adds a rich, velvety component.
  • For an adult twist, you can drizzle a bit of rum over the baked cake before frosting. Use just a few tablespoons so that the cake doesn’t get too wet.
A serving of fruit cocktail cake topped with whipped cream and a cherry.

🍽️ How to Serve


This dessert is delicious on its own, but you can take it to the next level by serving it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream topped with a maraschino cherry. The contrast of the frosting with the airy lightness of whipped cream is really delicious. For an extra touch, sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes on top.

🍚 How to Store


To keep any leftovers fresh, cover the cake with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. If you want to enjoy it later, you can also freeze individual slices in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

❓ Questions About Fruit Cocktail Cake


Can I use any other type of fruit for this cake?

Sure. You can experiment with different canned diced fruits like mango, peaches, or pears to create your own unique version of this cake.

Can I make the frosting ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the frosting in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Just reheat it gently before spreading it on the cake.

Can I omit the nuts if I have allergies?

Of course! Feel free to leave out the pecans if you have nut allergies. The cake will still be delicious.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

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A serving of fruit cocktail cake topped with whipped cream and a cherry.

Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake

Satisfy your sweet tooth with this Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake. Nicely balanced flavors and tender texture make it a must-try dessert!
5 from 1 vote
Print It Rate It
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 379kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 15.25 ounces canned fruit cocktail in heavy syrup (not drained)

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan or dish.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients for the cake layer until well combined.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the frosting.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all frosting ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil. Continue boiling, stirring frequently, for two minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and spread the frosting over the hot cake smoothing it over the top.
  • Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. Top individual servings with whipped cream if desired.

Notes

  • Feel free to leave out the pecans if you have nut allergies. The cake will still be delicious.
  • To store leftovers, cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
  • Individual portions may be frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 379kcal | Carbohydrates 61g | Protein 5g | Fat 14g | Saturated Fat 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat 2g | Monounsaturated Fat 4g | Trans Fat 0.3g | Cholesterol 51mg | Sodium 384mg | Potassium 179mg | Fiber 2g | Sugar 44g | Vitamin A 379IU | Vitamin C 1mg | Calcium 73mg | Iron 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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