Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a delicious, buttery yellow cake with a caramelized brown sugar glaze. As tasty as it is beautiful!

If you love pineapple desserts, our no bake pineapple pie recipe is simply refreshing and delicious. Or give our easy skinny pineapple cupcakes a try next!

Pineapple upside down cake on a white cake platter with a small bowl of cherries in background.

Why this Cake is Best

You all know how much I love frosting, right? So you know that if I’m making a cake without a single drop of chocolate buttercream or ganache frosting in sight that it better be more than just “okay.”

It has to be phenomenal. That’s just how I’d describe this Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

Not just because of the buttery yellow cake or the sweet bites of pineapple on each slice (both of which are delicious).

What really MAKES this cake for me is the caramelized brown sugar glaze!

Don’t worry, I won’t be giving up my beloved frosted cakes anytime soon. But it’s nice to have another Pineapple Cake option that’s even quicker and easier, without sacrificing one ounce of taste.

What is Pineapple Upside Down Cake?

If you’ve gotten this far in life without trying pineapple upside down cake, allow me to introduce you.

This pineapple cake starts with a layer of melted butter, brown sugar, canned pineapples and cherries on the bottom of a cake pan. You pour cake batter on top and bake everything together.

When the cake is done, you flip it out of the pan so the pineapple and brown sugar layer is on top! With the pineapple slices fanned out and a bright red cherry between each one, this pineapple cake looks as good as it tastes.

Pineapple slices being cut in half and arranged in the melted butter and brown sugar cake pan.

Ingredient Notes

  • Pineapple – You need a can of pineapple slices, not fresh cut pineapple, for this cake. The canned kind are softer, juicier and have extra sweetness from being packed in their own juices. (Don’t get the ones packed in heavy syrup, however.)
  • Butter – I use unsalted butter in all of my baking, but you can substitute salted butter if it’s what you have on hand. Just omit the kosher salt in the cake batter.
  • Sugar – You need light brown sugar for the bottom layer AND white granulated sugar for the cake batter.
  • Milk – Using whole milk gives this cake a rich flavor and soft crumb. You could also substitute buttermilk or our buttermilk substitute.
  • Vanilla – Be sure to use PURE vanilla extract, not the imitation kind. Or try our homemade vanilla extract for the best flavor.

PRO TIP: I use slices instead of whole pineapple rings so that there is more pineapple per bite! And it still looks just as lovely.

For a holiday twist, try this Cranberry Apple Upside Down Cake!

Easy Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to make pineapple upside down cake.

Make the bottom layer. Melt the butter in a 9-inch round pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top to make the caramelized top when the cake is flipped.

Add the fruit. Arrange your pineapple slices in an even layer in the brown sugar mixture. See my photos for inspiration or arrange however you like! Place a cherry in the middle of each slice.

Make the cake batter. Beat the butter until fluffy then add the sugar and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat for another 3 minutes.

Bake and flip. Pour cake batter into cake pan and spread evenly over the pineapple. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Immediately flip the cake and let sit for a few minutes. See details below.

How to Flip a Cake

Now comes the moment of truth: flipping your cake upside down.

To do this without breaking the cake, place a large plate or cake batter over the pan immediately after removing it from the oven. Hold the plate in place as you flip the pan upside down.

PRO TIP: Make sure your plate is flat and doesn’t bevel down or indent in the middle at all. This will make your cake sink.

Leave the pan and plate like this for a couple of minutes. This allows that delicious buttery brown sugar sauce to seep into the whole cake!

Remove the pan, leaving the upside down cake on the platter. Slice and serve warm!

Slice of pineapple upside down cake being lifted out of cake pan with a pie server.

Tips and Tricks

  • Pineapple Slices: I like to cut my pineapple rings in half before arranging them in the pan. I find this gives you more pineapple taste per bite. If you prefer, you can also keep them in ring shape and arrange them however you like.
  • Pineapple: Use canned pineapple in its own juices for this recipe. Don’t use fresh or frozen pineapple, or pineapple with added heavy syrup.
  • How to store: This cake keeps best stored in the fridge. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap, foil or a cake cover to keep it moist. I do not recommend freezing pineapple upside down cake.
  • Cake Pan: You’ll need a round cake pan, that is deep enough to bake this treat. I bought mine on Amazon- THIS ONE IS PERFECT.

Recipe FAQs

Why is it called upside down cake?

Upside down cake gets its name because it’s literally served with the bottom side up! Placing the toppings on the bottom of the pan before adding the cake batter creates a delicious and beautiful layer of caramelized fruit.

Can I use fresh cut pineapple?

I don’t recommend it. Canned pineapple slices work best for this recipe – and are so convenient! They have a different taste and texture than fresh.

How do I store Pineapple Upside Down Cake?

Once cooled, you can store this cake in the refrigerator. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and keep for up to 4-5 days. I don’t recommend freezing this cake.

Pineapple Upside down cake served on a white cake platter.

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

4.91 from 11 votes
By: Aimee
Pineapple Upside Down Cake is a delicious, buttery yellow cake with a caramelized brown sugar glaze. As tasty as it is beautiful!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

For the bottom layer:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 can pineapple slices in juice 20 ounce
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries, without stems 12 ounce

For the cake:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place ¼ cup butter in a 9-inch round pan.  Put pan in the oven until the butter melts.  Sprinkle the brown sugar in an even layer over the melted butter. 
  • Place one whole pineapple ring in the center of the pan.  Cut the other pineapple slices in half, and arrange them in a fanned manner.  You will use about 6 whole slices, or 12 halves, to cover the bottom of the pan.  Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat butter for 2 minutes.  Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating with electric mixer until blended.  Add eggs, beating well.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the whole milk.  Beat for 3 minutes after all is added.
  • Pour cake batter into cake pan and spread evenly over the pineapple.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and top is browned.
  • Immediately after removing from oven, place a cake plate or platter on top of the cake pan.  Flip the plate and pan upside down.  Leave pan over cake for a couple of minutes allowing the brown sugar mixture to drizzle over cake.  Remove pan.  Serve warm. 
  • Loosely cover and store cake in the refrigerator for best results.

Notes

  • Pineapple Slices: I like to cut my pineapple rings in half before arranging them in the pan. I find this gives you more pineapple taste per bite. If you prefer, you can also keep them in ring shape and arrange them however you like.
  • How to store: This cake keeps best stored in the fridge. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap, foil or a cake cover to keep it moist. I do not recommend freezing pineapple upside down cake.
  • Cake Pan: You’ll need a round cake pan, that is deep enough to bake this treat. I bought mine on Amazon- THIS ONE IS PERFECT.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 132mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 24g
Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
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When you’re in the mood for a sweet, rich cake made from scratch that requires no frosting or decorating, Pineapple Upside Down Cake is here to answer the call!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on June 30, 2020

Comments & Reviews

  1. Why not fresh pineapple? I have difficulty in France to get canned pineapple rings, and the fresh tastes nicer!
    Thank you.
    Gisella

      1. You can not use fresh pineapple. It contains bromelin enzyme which will de-nature the wheat protein and kill the gluten.

  2. If I wanted to make this in a 9X13 inch pan, what would the baking time be, and would I double the recipe ingredients?

  3. I’m curious, what’s the issue with fresh pineapple? I get a lot of it and I’m always looking for ways to use it up.

  4. When & where do you put the juice from the canned pineapple? It seems like a lot to put just over the pineapple before adding the batter?

    1. I don’t believe you use the juice. Some recipes call for drying the pineapple slices off. I think it just means pull them out of the can, slice them in half and place them in the pan. After, discard the remaining juice.

  5. This looks amazing! I have never tried upside-down pineapple cake before – I am definitely making it!!!

  6. Thank you for the tip about cutting the pineapple rings in half. We usually all fight over the pieces with the bigger slice of pineapple. Problem solved!

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