Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake.

The beauty queen of autumn desserts. This caramel apple upside-down cake is full of flavor!

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. Super moist, flavorful, and surprisingly easy. |

Readers often ask me what my favorite dessert is. The answer? Apple pie. Good ole fashioned apple pie with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream.  My second favorite? Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

 Told ya I like fruity desserts the most. 🙂

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. Super moist, flavorful, and surprisingly easy. |

I made this cake over the weekend for several reasons.  First, considering how much I love fruit in my desserts, the selection of them is scarce in my recipe box. I’m no fool.  I know you all love chocolate the most!  See chocolate.

Second, cookies heavily weigh down my recipe archive.  I love me a good cookie with my vanilla almond milk, but my cookie sheets deserve a break. See cookies. And finally… I love apples. Apple pies, apple crisps, caramel apples, apples & brie, peanut butter apples, apple butter, apple cider, caramel apple beer. (Blue Moon’s seasonal variety – yum.)

Waking up Saturday morning, I had a mission.  Make a fruity cake and make it GOOD.  We’re talking two sticks of butter good.  Caramel, cinnamon, crunchy walnut good. Gooey warm apples good. A fall dessert at its finest, this upside-down cake was born.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. Super moist, flavorful, and surprisingly easy. |

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

The cake is baked in a 9-inch pie dish.  It’s a small cake – approximately half the size of a standard cake baked in a 9×13 pan.  Without an army to feed, I opt for smaller batch recipes when I can. You could also bake this cake in a small square baking pan, but I loved the triangle slices.  Looks fancier. 😉

The cake itself is incredibly moist and tender.  One full stick of butter is creamed with one cup of dark brown sugar.  To those ingredients, you’re going to add two whole eggs and milk.  The more sugar and fat in a cake’s batter, the more moist the cake will be. Then you’ll add flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Keeping in mind this cake is on the small side, the fat from the butter, 2 eggs, and milk combined with the cup of dark brown sugar… you can imagine how moist and tender each bite is going to be! It will melt in your mouth.


For that glorious upside-down topping, start with your favorite apples. Sliced thinly, I used 1 medium Granny Smith apple and 1 medium Honeycrisp apple. One tart and one sweet — the perfect balance.  I love apple pies baked with a variety of apples, so I went with the same idea here.

One stick of butter is melted down with brown sugar, spices, and vanilla extract.  Pour the liquid gold all over your thinly sliced apples and top with walnuts.  The walnuts are completely optional, but I loved the crunchy texture they gave to the soft apple topping.

Pour the cake batter all over the topping and bake.  The sugary butter topping and the juices from the apples bubble up and caramelize through the cake as it bakes.  Your kitchen is going to smell amazing!

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. Super moist, flavorful, and surprisingly easy. |

 Flipping the cake upside down. Timing is key in this step.

Hot from the oven, the fruit layer is still too juicy and fluid for flipping.  It will slip n’ slide unevenly over the cake layer. But if the cake cools for too long, the fruit will stick to the pan creating a cake without much of a topping. The trick is cooling the cake for the perfect amount of time. Go for exactly 10 minutes. This is long enough to allow the fruit topping to firm up and adhere to the cake, but short enough to allow the cake to be easily released from the pan. The caramelized, glistening topping will be right where it should be.

Love at first bite.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. Super moist, flavorful, and surprisingly easy. |

This fruity cake is the motherload of fall desserts and deserves some spotlight in my recipe archives.

Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake

The beauty queen of autumn desserts. This caramel apple upside-down cake is full of flavor!


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, divided
  • 1 and 2/3 packed cups dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium apples - peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk - regular, soy, or almond (I used vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


Lightly coat a 9-inch pie dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Make sure your apples are sliced and ready to go.

In a small saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter on low heat. When it begins to bubble, stir in 2/3 cup dark brown sugar. Continue to stir until smooth. Leave on heat for about 2 minutes until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and vanilla extract. Allow to cool for 1 minute. Layer the sliced apples into the dish and pour the butter/sugar overtop. Sprinkle with walnuts. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

Using a handheld electric mixer, cream one stick butter and 1 cup dark brown sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in milk and mix until just combined. By hand, stir in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, flour, and baking powder. Do not overmix - stir until everything is *just* combined.

Spoon or pour batter over the apples and bake for at least 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the very middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for exactly ten minutes before inverting onto a large serving dish.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a couple days.

Recipe Notes:

Sally Says:

*You may also bake in an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan at the same baking time & oven temperature.

*Garnish with additional walnuts or caramel sauce, if desired.

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Caramel, apples, & cinnamon scream FALL!  

Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake Recipe - so much flavor in every bite!



  1. definitely gonna propose that recipe to our ” Thanksgiving dinner committee ” 😉

  2. Hi Sally! This looks so good. I am thinking about making it for Thanksgiving tomorrow. How far in advance do you think I could get away with baking it? Tonight? Or tomorrow morning? I am worried about oven space, but don’t want to make this a whole day before if it won’t keep well. Thank you!

    • Hi Becky – you can make this cake tonight, cover tightly, and refrigerate. Enjoy! It’s my favorite cake.

      • Thank you, Sally! I ended up making it in the morning, and it was great. I made a gluten-free version by substituting 1 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, and 1/4 cup coconut flour for the AP flour. The cake was gorgeous AND delicious! Such a wonderful recipe 🙂

  3. Dear Sally,
    I would like to thank you for your amazing website – it’s really cool and full of wonders. 🙂
    I had a question about the caramel part of this “perfect” cake:
    Brown Sugar is something not very common in my country – we normally use white sugar for every thing and well, I thought that I could make this cake with it too! But I was wrong and the caramel turned out really bad. it was stiff and hard and I had a hard time taking my spoon out of it! So I was wondering if you could help me with alternating the recipe for using white sugar – it would be so very kind of you!

    ps1: is normal “white sugar caramel” going to work? it’s without butter.
    ps2: how much does one cup of “divided dark brown sugar” weight? I know that brown sugar is lumpy – so could this be the problem?

    • Hi Nasrin! Thank you for the kind words about my blog. So nice of you. And white sugar wouldn’t be best for the topping on this cake. I have never, ever had luck with it. You want a liquify, moist caramel – not a particularly sticky, thick one. Which is what white sugar caramel will give you. I suggest you chop up the apples and put them into the cake batter. Beke as a regular cake and then drizzle with homemade caramel sauce once it is baked. How does that sound? Use this recipe for homemade caramel and leave out the salt:

  4. Sally, you are an Evil Genius! I didn’t even do the ice cream topping (will do that later) – I just had an unadorned piece of heaven….this cake is sublime! It’s so simple and yet so complex, hard to describe, but the flavors are phenomenal, the cake texture is dreamy (I used buttermilk instead of milk) and the apples and spices are just perfect.

    I put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and I’m glad I did – juices were oozing out and that was my fault – I used McIntosh apples which I know exude more liquid than other apples, but I waited the full 10 minutes and the cake came out with no problem.

    This would be a super gift to bring over to someone’s house. I’ll make another tomorrow to bring to a friend (I brought her your famous Iced Pumpkin Coffee Cake last week and she’s still raving about it).

    So now I have a Sally Shopping List: eggs, lots of butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, buttermilk, etc. Do you have a recipe using sour cream? I’ll start rooting around your site for one.

    Thanks again for another terrific treat!!!!

    • Hey again Trixie! You’re my favorite because you’re baking all of my personal favorites. This cake is out of this world. Hands down one of my top 10 favorite blog recipes. I love anything with apple! Your friend is quite lucky to be tasting all of these goodies. I know she’ll love this one!

      I don’t bake much with sour cream because I prefer to use yogurt instead. Here are a few:

      • Thanks for steering me to those Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with the Caramel Icing – I’ll make those next! I always keep a few boxes of cake mix around in case I need something quick, though I prefer everything made from scratch.

        So could I substitute sour cream for the yogurt in your recipes? Also, is sour cream PLUS buttermilk too much acid or whatever in one recipe?

        You’re the best, and thanks in advance for answering my baking questions!

      • Regarding your two questions – it would really depend on the recipe and what other ingredients are involved. So if you are wondering about substituting SC for yogurt in a a recipe, ask me in that post and I’ll let you know.

  5. Hii Sally! This is Madiha from Pakistan. I came across your blog last week by accident and saw this recipe and I could not WAIT to try it. this cake looked so simple yet delicious. Finally I made it today and my God, it was SO YUM! thank you so much for the recipe. can’t wait to try other stuff from your blog! 😀

  6. I just made this and it is amazing! I LOVE it. I used pecans instead of walnuts (personal preference) and upped the cinnamon since I adore cinnamon. Turned out perfectly. I can see why it is a favorite.
    Thank you

  7. Just made this today with my daughter for her Grandfathers birthday. I didn’t have nutmeg or cloves so just went with plain old cinnamon. I also added raisins to the cake batter. It ended up only cooking for 40 minutes as the caramel started to overflow and my smoke detectors were going off. lol! I checked it and the toothpick came out clean so I just pulled it from the oven. I’ll have to wait to hear back on how it actually tasted, but it smelled incredible and flipped so easily! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I’m trying this delicious looking cake tonight and I have two questions. The brown sugar and butter wouldn’t incorporate into a caramel – I looked up caramel and decided to add a tiny bit of milk and it immediately incorporated. Any suggestions? I waited and I stirred but nada.

    Also, when it says to “pour” the cake batter, mine was more like cookie dough. I really feel like I have the anti-baker’s thumb or something! Maybe it will turn out like a big caramel apple cookie! Any advice appreciated.

    • Hi Robin – this isn’t a traditional caramel recipe for the bottom of the pan/top of the cake. It’s more of a thick brown sugar sauce. Whisking it vigorously should help it combine. If not, that is fine because it will all come together as the cake bakes on top of it. The eggs and milk are enough liquid to make the batter on thinner side. Did you leave anything out? Hope you enjoy the cake.

  9. Hi Sally,

    I love your website! I made this cake last night and it tastes delicious! I have a question about the batter. It turned out rather thick, and not pourable. I creamed the butter and sugar in my stand mixer instead of a hand mixer and wonder if that is the problem. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. Thanks for any advice you might have. I will definitely be making this again!


    • Hi Kim! The stand mixer wouldn’t be the issue here at all. In fact, I don’t think there is an issue at all. If the cake tasted delicious to you, it sounds like you did everything right. The batter is supposed to be slightly thick. Spooning or pouring – whatever gets the batter into the dish works!

  10. I know it’s difficult to answer this question but…between this and your apple bundt cake? We are having 2 other couple over for Bible study Sunday and I want to make an apple dessert. Thanks!
    I love your recipes!

  11. Just made the cake today, waiting to cut into it. I’m a stickler for details when it comes to recipes. When you say ‘layer the apples’, are we talking one, two, or three layers?

  12. Hello,

    This will be the first recipe I am trying of yours 🙂 I am very confused as a lot of your measurements are in ‘cups’ what are those in grams? (I’m in the UK)
    We have various size of cups so no idea which size(s) you mean.
    Please let me know, I looked online but all cup measurements vary unfortunately.


  13. This looks perfect and just what I’m looking for today! It’s Labor Day and my sis and I are the only ones here at our family lake house. We have apple trees in the back yard and I wanted to make a scaled down dessert with the apples. I saw someone posted your recipe with some variations, but I wanted your exact one. Our family tradition is to make our Aunt Ruth’s apple cake and I’m so tired of it–I’m looking forward to enjoying this tonight with our homemade banana ice cream! I’ll report back with the results!

    • I love this cake recipe– so much! Hope you enjoy.

      • Well, I’m back–and it was FANTASTIC! I was so afraid it would be a big sloppy mess when I inverted it–but it turned out great! And so delicious! My sis loved it, too! Thank you for the recipe!

  14. I’ve made the pineapple upside-down cake from scratch the way my Mama use to make – in a cast iron skillet. LOVE it!! This one sounds awesome and I plan to make it soon. I am wondering if it would bake up as well in a cast iron skillet the way my other cake does? Also, is real butter a must or can I use margarine just this once as I am out of real butter? Will it make a difference if I use light brown sugar instead of the dark brown sugar? 

    • Do not use margarine. Butter is key. A cast iron skillet works. Light brown is OK, though for more flavor dark brown is the best choice.

      • Darn! Okay, I guess I will have to wait awhile to make this. I do not have any real butter. Also, I only have frozen apples. Maybe by the time I can afford real butter again, I can buy fresh apples as well. 🙂 Thanks for your help! I can hardly wait to make this! I just know it is going to be fantastic!!!

  15. I’ve applied this recipe and lots of other cookies recipes, monkey bread and they all turned out perfect. thanks a lot for all the details and the passion we feel while reading the blog.

  16. Hi Sally! I love love love your recipes and this is one of my faves! I was curious as to whether I could simple double the cake batter ingredients to make a deeper cake base? Do you think it would work and if so how long would you suggest the cooking time would be? Or should I not risk it… Thanks so much!

    • Kerri, rather than doubling– I suggest making two batches of cake batter and pouring that into a deeper dish pan. I do not recommend doubling because you risk overmixing when working with a greater volume of batter. The bake time, of course, will be longer.

  17. HI! this looks amazing! would it be ok to use all white sugar instead of brown?

  18. This is probably THE best cake I’ve ever eaten.  Made it a few days ago but didn’t have any, nuked some in the microwave this morning and it was incredible! I subbed pecans for the walnuts and just made it in no -stick brownie tin, worked perfectly. I used less sugar in the cake itself but it was so light and moist! Amazing flavour! 

  19. Hi Sally

    This cake looks and sounds so delicious! Cannot wait to try. I’d like to know if I can double the quantities and bake this in a bundt pan? I’m baking for a sale actually and would like to serve nice big slices. Do let me know. 

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