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Old Fashioned Fruit Cocktail Cake

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This vintage fruit cocktail cake recipe is easy as can be to make. The batter comes together in just a couple of minutes and it bakes into a lovely rich dessert that tastes like it came straight from grandma’s kitchen.

Piece of fruit cocktail cake with browned top and fruit in the bottom.

If you are looking for a quick and easy dessert that you can memorize the recipe and make any time, this is just the thing. It is loaded with fruit, but it is so much better than a dry or dense fruitcake.

So make sure you have a can of fruit cocktail ready to go. This old fashioned treat is on the menu and it is going to be delicious.

Ingredients ready to be made into a simple vintage fruit cocktail cake.

The batter for this cake only takes a few ingredients with no butter or oil. Literally everything you need but an egg can be stored in your pantry at all times.

I have been working my way through my grandma’s recipe box. There are so many great handwritten recipes in there.

Some are hers and you can tell others were given to her by friends. This recipe for fruit cocktail cake is on a scrap of paper with the name Anna Sprock on the bottom.

Hand written recipe for fruit cocktail cake on yellowed piece of paper.

I would like to imagine that my grandma was hanging out with Anna drinking coffee and enjoying a slice of this cake and was so enamored with it that she asked for the recipe. I will have to ask her to see if she remembers how she came to have this recipe.

Either way, I loved fruit cocktail as a child. Especially when it had lots of cherries in there.

We use it for frozen fruit salad, but otherwise I don’t think to pick up a can very often. So I used this as an excuse to get some cans with extra cherries.

Making the Batter

Cakes really don’t get easier than this. Empty a can of fruit cocktail into a bowl and add an egg, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.

Stir it all together and the batter is ready. It literally takes about 2 minutes to put it together.

The original recipe called for an 8×11-inch pan which isn’t a standard size. So instead I pulled out my trust 8×8″ square pan.

Pour the batter into a greased pan and top with some brown sugar. You can add chopped nuts as well, or coconut would be tasty but I didn’t add either so my boys would help eat it.

Bake the cake for a little over an hour and you are ready to go. It reminds me kind a bit of a pineapple upside down cake but easier and less photogenic.

Freshly baked fruit cocktail cake with browned top, ready to serve.

The edges have just a tiny bit of crunch with the caramelized sugar. The center is soft and the fruit adds lots of moisture.

We liked it best warm. It is fabulous on its own, but would also be great with some whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

You could easily reduce the sugar in this cake if you would like. The granulated sugar in the batter could be cut to 3/4 cup and you could use half of the brown sugar on top if you like your desserts a little less sweet.

What fruits are in fruit cocktail?

A can of fruit cocktail generally contains pears, grapes, peaches, pineapple and cherries packed in either a syrup or concentrated fruit juice mixture.

You can also try making fruit cocktail cake with a cake mix if you want. It is so light and fluffy and super easy to make.

More Vintage Dessert Recipes

Butter cake with flaky fudge frosting is another old fashioned treat. My great-grandma made it for my mom’s birthday when she was a little girl and it is still my mom’s favorite.

Her other grandma used to make the best apple pie with lard pie crust. My mom still dreams about that pie.

Bite of fruit cocktail cake on fork ready to eat.

Soft oatmeal step on cookies are another great option. The dough is rolled into balls and then refrigerated overnight before they are smashed and baked the next day. The resulting cookies are soft, mild and unlike the oatmeal cookies you are used to.

Frog eye salad is another fun and fruity dessert. The vintage recipe features a fruity custard with pasta and marshmallows for a tasty old timey treat.

Or try making an old fashioned sour cream raisin pie. The filling has an almost lemony tang and the fluffy meringue on top really finishes it off.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

Piece of fruit cocktail cake with browned top and fruit in the bottom.

Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake

This vintage fruit cocktail cake recipe is easy as can be to make. The batter comes together in just a couple of minutes and it bakes into a lovely rich dessert that tastes like it came straight from grandma's kitchen.
4.77 from 39 ratings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9 Servings
Calories 217 kcal


  • 15 oz. can fruit cocktail
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
Makes: 8 x 8inch rectangle2inch height


  • Preheat oven to 300°F and grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, white sugar and salt.
    1 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Add the egg and fruit cocktail along with all of the juices from the can. Stir until uniform.
    1 large egg, 15 oz. can fruit cocktail
  • Pour the batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the batter.
    ½ cup light brown sugar
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  • Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving on its own or with whipped cream or ice cream.


You can easily reduce the sugar in this recipe if your want. The granulated sugar can be reduced to 2/3 cup and 1/4 cup of brown sugar can be used on the topping.
Feel free to stir in a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg and/or ginger if you like a spicier cake.



Serving: 1pieceCalories: 217kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gTrans Fat: 0.002gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 201mgPotassium: 81mgFiber: 1gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 128IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @carleecooks or tag #cookingwcarlee!

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Recipe Rating


Tuesday 6th of February 2024

I still use my grandmother's recipe to make fruit cocktail cake, which remains one of my favorites. The proportions are slightly different. Still one 15 oz. can of fruit cocktail, in heavy syrup, but 2 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of sugar, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt and 2 eggs. Pour into 9x13 baking pan/dish. Sprinkle a mixture of 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup coconut over the batter. Bake at 325 for 75-90 minutes making sure toothpick comes out relatively clean from center. While cake bakes, in medium saucepan on top of stove, combine 1.5 cups sugar, 1.5 sticks butter and 1 cup canned evaporated milk (not the sweetened kind). Heat to a boil and let go for a minute or two. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla. Let cool while cake finishes baking. Pour entire mixture over hot cake after it comes out of the oven. Definitely gooey sweet and best served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and a tall glass of cold milk! I'm anxious to try this version too!


Tuesday 6th of February 2024

Your grandma's recipe sounds delicious. I will have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!


Sunday 21st of January 2024

My mother used to make this and now I do. I add flaked coconut to the brown sugar topping. I love this recipe because it’s easy,good and always moist.


Monday 22nd of January 2024

Coconut would be a delicious addition. Thanks for the tip!


Sunday 12th of November 2023

I added only 1/2 cup of sugar into the mix, considering that the fruit and syrup are so sweet. I only used 1/4 cup of brown sugar on top, and it came out delicious. Thank you for the recipe.


Sunday 12th of November 2023

I am so glad you liked it!

Tammie J Peace

Monday 23rd of October 2023

Vintage Fruit Cocktail Cake Review : GREAT flavor and EASY to throw together.. BUT it would NOT get done . I ALWAYS double checked my ingredients and amounts pre baking !! I suggest draining at least half say of the juice from the can of fruit cocktail . I used Del Monte so I don’t think it was overly fill of liquids being a name brand . Now I did use packed in its on juice ; not heavy syrup . Perhaps the heavy syrup type would be better . I’ll try it again using the “syrup” type !! Would’ve given (5) Stars ⭐️ if it would’ve cooked to cake consistency . (Was able to eat the outer parameters 😋😋😋..)


Monday 23rd of October 2023

I'm glad you liked it despite it still being a little loose. I think it is definitely a moist cake, and kind of like the old fashioned pudding cakes it does stay a little gooey. But it shouldn't have had a raw texture. You could definitely pour off some of the liquid and that would help it set better next time.


Thursday 28th of September 2023

These are must try recipes. Thank you


Thursday 28th of September 2023

I am glad you like them!