Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This pineapple upside down cake is soft and buttery with a caramelized brown sugar pineapple & cherry topping. Its juices seep down into the cake, adding even more luscious flavor and texture. A classic favorite using canned pineapple and maraschino cherries, this retro cake is served upside down and perfect any time of year.

pineapple upside down cake

I love learning in the kitchen and I’m always working hard to improve my skill. With constant practice comes the opportunity to bring you the best recipes I can. This is an exciting post!

Improved Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe – Read the Difference

I developed and published a pineapple upside down cake recipe several years ago. It’s certainly loved by many, but the cake is prone to overflowing because there’s quite a lot of batter. Additionally, it can taste overly wet and the instructions were never written very clearly. As a cookbook author and baker, I’ve certainly improved my craft over the years! Though I kept the original recipe written in the notes below, I want to share my new and improved version with you.

My improved pineapple upside down cake recipe, written below, is much softer than my original. Using creamed butter instead of melted, cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, all white sugar instead of brown sugar + white, and using egg whites guarantees a huge textural difference. I adapted it from my white cake. Additionally, we’ll skip the pineapple juice in the cake batter because it often produces a wet crumb. (There’s plenty of pineapple flavor in the topping!) Finally, my new recipe doesn’t yield as much cake batter, so we don’t have to worry about overflowing.

The pineapple cherry topping remains the same. You don’t mess with perfection. 😉

  • Old Cake Recipe (in notes below): Overly heavy, wet, overflowed
  • New Cake Recipe (below): Softer, pleasantly moist, reduced amount of batter

We’re using the same ingredients in my updated cake batter– just in different forms, ratios, and amounts. Baking is truly a science and I’m happy to continue to deliver you well tested and improved recipes!

pineapple upside down cake

Regular Cake Ingredients, Only Reduced

  • Cake Flour: Lighter than all-purpose flour, cake flour produces a soft crumb.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: The two add plenty of lift under the heavy topping.
  • Salt: Balances the sweetness.
  • Butter: Instead of melted butter, use 6 Tablespoons of softened butter. (Not the whole stick, though you do need more for the topping.) Creaming butter and sugar guarantees a buttery soft crumb. It’s how I prepare my vanilla cupcakes, too.
  • Sugar: White granulated sugar sweetens and tenderizes the cake. There’s brown sugar in the topping to provide essential flavor!
  • Egg Whites: Don’t let yolks weigh down a cake that’s already weighed down by the fruit topping. After all my recipe testing, I now swear by just egg whites here. So there’s no waste, here are my recipes using egg yolks.
  • Vanilla Extract: Flavor.
  • Sour Cream: Along with cake flour and egg whites, sour cream promises a tender cake crumb. Plain yogurt works in a pinch.
  • Milk: Liquid is key in most cakes because it thins out the batter.

I appreciate that the cake, in general, is smaller and not as overwhelming. Same with my beloved apple upside down cake. Fewer ingredients, fewer leftovers!


Pineapple Upside Down Cake Topping

I didn’t change my original topping recipe. Sticking with tradition, the topping includes canned pineapple rings, maraschino cherries, butter, and brown sugar. I always use 10 pineapple rings (some are halved for the sides), which is one 20 ounce can. Feel free to use fresh pineapple and cherries. Canned pineapple chunks will be a little messy and could spill down the sides when you invert the cake, so proceed with caution!

  • My #1 Tip for the Topping: Blot the wet pineapples and maraschino cherries before using. The more liquid in the fruit, the more liquid that won’t “set.” Excess liquid creates an unpleasantly wet cake.

I know you’ll appreciate this too: pineapple upside down cake is basically already frosted. There’s no extra decoration required; the garnish is literally baked into the cake!

pineapple upside down cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Video Tutorial:


Overview: How to Make the Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This classic pineapple upside down cake is buttery rich and the sweet fruit topping is downright irresistible. Let me walk you through each step so you understand the process.

  1. Prepare the topping: Melt the butter, pour into an un-greased cake pan or pie dish, sprinkle with brown sugar, then arrange the blotted pineapple rings and maraschino cherries as you see in my photos and video tutorial. I always refrigerate the topping as I prepare the cake batter– this helps solidify the designed arrangement underneath the wet cake batter.
  2. Prepare the cake batter: Whisk the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg whites and vanilla, then the sour cream. Pour the dry into the wet ingredients, pour in the milk, then beat to combine. You’ll have about 2 cups of cake batter and it’s very straightforward to prepare.
  3. Spread over topping: Pour and spread the cake batter over the chilled topping.
  4. Bake: Because of the wet bottom layer (which is the topping), the cake takes much longer than a typical 1 layer cake. Its juices will bubble up the sides, creating these incredible caramelized edges. (They’re so good!) With upside down cakes, it’s always good practice to place a baking pan or sheet on a lower rack to catch any juices should they splatter over the edges.
  5. Cool: Cool the cake for 20 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Inverting any sooner will create a seeping mess– we want the topping to “set” as much as it can. You can serve this cake warm, though it slices much better if you let it cool completely at room temperature first.

brown sugar pineapple upside down cake topping

cake batter on top of pineapples

bottom of pineapple upside down cake

pineapple upside down cake

Expect a Dense Cake

I’ve been making pineapple upside down cake since I could hold a spatula. Besides carrot cake, it’s my favorite cake variety. I’ve made hundreds of versions, or so it seems, and I say with 100% certainty that this cake will always be on the denser side. (Unless you are using store-bought cake mix.) You see, the cake is served upside down. The weight of the topping, which is the bottom of the cake as it bakes, weighs down the crumb beneath it. Pineapple upside down cake will never be as light and airy as white cake. If you were to make this exact cake batter and serve it right-side-up, the cake would taste much airier.

Does that make sense?

While my pineapple upside down cake is mega soft and not nearly as dense as, say, pound cake, it’s not overly light either. I know you’ll love its unique texture, especially paired with the brown sugar caramelized fruit topping. Let me know how you like it!

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon heart heart icon heart solid heart solid icon
overhead image of pineapple upside down cake on a white serving plate

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8-10
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Updated in 2020, this is my favorite recipe for traditional pineapple upside down cake. For best success, read the recipe and recipe notes before beginning.


Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 810 pineapple slices (see note)*
  • 1520 maraschino cherries (see note)*

Cake

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (177g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80gsour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Prepare topping first: Pour 1/4 cup melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan. (Make sure the pan is 2 inches deep. I recommend this pie dish, which is 1.8 inches deep but I never have an overflow issue.) Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Blot any excess liquid off the fruit with a clean towel or paper towel. (The wetter the fruit, the more likely the cake could overflow or the topping could seep over the sides when inverted.) Arrange about 6-7 blotted pineapple slices and all the cherries on top of the brown sugar. I like to halve 3 pineapple rings and arrange them around the sides of the pan, too. See my photo and video above for a visual of the arranged topping. Place pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes as you prepare the cake batter. This helps solidify or “set” the topping’s arrangement.
  3. Make the cake batter: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer onto low speed and as the mixer runs, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  5. Remove topping from the refrigerator. Pour and spread cake batter evenly over topping.
  6. Bake for 43-48 minutes, tenting foil on top of the cake halfway through bake time to prevent the top from over-browning before the center has a chance to fully cook. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean– a couple moist crumbs are OK. Don’t be alarmed if your cake takes longer or if the cake rises up and sticks to the foil. (We serve the cake upside down anyway!)
  7. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for just 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate. Some of the juices from the topping will seep over the sides– that’s ok. You can slice and serve the cake warm, but the slices will be messy. I find it’s best to cool the cake completely at room temperature before slicing and serving. Do not refrigerate the cake to speed up the cooling process because it could end up tasting overly dense.
  8. Cover leftover slices and store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature. I don’t recommend freezing the cake as a whole because the topping arrangement doesn’t thaw very nicely. See make ahead instructions below.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can refrigerate the topping in step 2 for up to 1 day. If refrigerating for longer than 1 hour, cover it tightly. Other than that, this isn’t the best cake to make ahead of time or freeze because the pineapples will settle down into the cake– while still tasty, the presentation won’t be as pleasing. You can, however, prepare the wet ingredients (cover and refrigerate) and dry ingredients (cover at room temperature) separately up to 1 day ahead of time, then continue with the recipe the next day. Let the wet ingredients come to room temperature before mixing.
  2. Old Recipe: The current cake batter recipe was updated in 2020. If you loved the old cake batter recipe, originally published in 2014, here it is: The topping recipe is the same. Prepare the recipe above through step 2. For the cake batter, whisk 1 and 2/3 cups (210g) all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/2 cup (115g) melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup (60g) yogurt or sour cream, 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, 1/4 cup (60ml) pineapple juice, and 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract together. Whisk wet and dry ingredients together until smooth. Continue with step 5 in the recipe above.
  3. Pineapple & Cherries: Traditional recipes use canned pineapple and maraschino cherries. I recommend 1 20 ounce can of pineapple rings/slices, which usually holds 10 rings/slices. You can use fresh pineapple rings/slices and fresh cherries if desired. If using fresh cherries, I recommend halving them. Blot excess liquid off the fresh fruit just as I instruct in step 2. Fresh or canned pineapple chunks, tidbits, and/or crushed pineapple will create a messy topping that could spill over the sides when the cake is inverted. I recommend rings/slices because they are larger.
  4. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, use this cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this 2x, then remove 1/2 cup since you need 1 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.
  5. Sour Cream & Milk: Full fat sour cream and whole milk are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead of the sour cream, though the cake may not taste as tender. Same goes with a lower fat or nondairy milk.
  6. Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.

Keywords: pineapple upside down cake, cake

slice of pineapple upside down cake

pineapple upside down cake

362 Comments

  1. Alicia Mitchell says:

    What made you change the batter recipe? Just curious. I loved the old one. Trying the new one today.

    1. Jessica Jane says:

      Wondering the same! How did you make out with the new recipe? Old recipe is nearly perfect (I just subbed brown sugar for white and went a little generous with yogurt and pineapple juice). New recipe isn’t good – I made this cake again last year and was thinking that the ingredients didn’t seem the same, and the cake turned out so mealy and dry. I had been really disappointed and confused. Just now noticed that the recipe was “updated”. For anyone reading this, USE THE OLD RECIPE! (And thanks for it, Sally!)

      1. Alicia Mitchell says:

        I liked both honestly. The old recipe was a dense cake and I always had way too much batter but I loved the density of the cake. I loved how the crust was and everything about it. This new cake was so light almost like a sponge or angel food cake. I liked it as well but I definitely liked the older recipe better.

  2. Torrey Robinson says:

    I made this tonight and it was fantastic (and very easy). Does anyone have any ideas for how to make the caramel topping a little crunchy or slightly gooey? Every time I do this cake the topping almost seeps into the cake. I remember as a child the topping being more of a pronounced element. I think my mother may have cooked the butter and brown sugar a bit first in the cake pan. Would this make a difference? Any tips welcomed!

  3. Hi Sally! Do you have a recommendation for making a half recipe? I don’t have any 9″ pans that are 2″, I have other options that are smaller but not sure which one to try. I don’t want to go to a double recipe because I don’t think it will freeze well and I don’t want to eat a whole 9×13 alone. I’ve read many comments where commenters say they used half the recipe or a smaller pan, but I didn’t see any comments with your thoughts. Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Eli, halving the recipe would be the perfect amount of batter for a 6 inch pan (with 2 inch sides). Let us know if you give it a try!

  4. MaryAnn Sancho says:

    Made this for the first time and it was a SUCCESS! Thank you for your detailed instructions!

  5. Can I substitute dark sweet cherries? I have a 15 oz can (in heavy syrup) leftover from baking your Black Forest Cake.

    1. Hi Jill, that shouldn’t be a problem.

  6. I just made the new version and the taste is delicious, but I found the cake itself to be very dry. I might like your older version better. I’ve always made my mother-in-law’s recipe, but thought I’d try something different.

  7. Just baked this and it turned out perfectly. I missed the instructions about where to add the milk so it got mixed in with the sour cream which was totally ok! I might use a little less sugar next time but that’s my personal taste. Such a light cake and not difficult at all to make. Thanks for the great recipe.

  8. To date, all recipes I’ve tried on this website have been superb! The pineapple upside cake I chose to bake for my husband’s birthday, however, was not so. For starters, I used the recommended size pie pan and had liquid overflow onto the bottom of my oven. This obviously occurred while the cake was baking and emitted a terrible odor the entire time. The very center of the cake required an additional 5 minutes of bake time due to being very runny. Following the cooling, inverting, and additional cooling directions, the cake did look beautiful. Sadly, the taste was not great. There was a clear separation in taste between the light layer of pineapple brown sugar topping and the cake itself; leaving us wanted more pineapple and brown sugar. The cake itself lacked flavor and was pretty bland. I can vividly recall the taste of my mother’s pineapple upside down cake – the moist, densely flavored cake oozing with pineapple and brown sugar goodness. This cake doesn’t follow that tradition.

    1. Jessica Jane says:

      I would highly encourage you to give the old recipe (at the bottom of this page) a try. The new one isn’t good at all but the old one is superb.

  9. I made this recipe this weekend for Valentine’s as it’s my husband’s favorite. The cake turned out lovely! Moist and had a great flavor. Although I love pineapple never used to like this cake so much because l used to find the cake a bit dry but this one had perfect texture. The only reason l didn’t give it a 5 was because the top cracked. I went back over all the steps to see what could have caused it and realized that it was likely due to the fact that l used the convection setting so the cake did not rise evenly and probably could not stand the weight of the topping but it baked in 30mins. Will be keeping this recipe to use again so thanks Sally.

  10. Trying this recipe for my mother in law’s birthday…where could I find a dish like the one pictured to bake the cake in?

    1. MYSTI FORESTER says:

      I’ve tried the hyperlink you created but it wouldn’t work. I have a couple glass pie dishes I think will work just fine. Thank you though.

    2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mysti! We linked to the one we used in step 2 of the recipe – it’s a 9.5 inch Pyrex glass pie dish. Hope the cake is a hit!

    3. For all readers, using a Wilton scalloped pan for this makes the most beautiful cake. I had gotten the pan when I was making wedding cakes years ago and decided to use it for the pineapple upside down, you’ll be super happy with the presentation!

  11. Tried the new version, came out perfect, sweet but not sickeningly so as many cakes are. I’m a new baker and found your instructions easy to follow and replicate, my mom who isn’t a cake person said it was the best cake she’sever had. Thank you!

  12. Is it possible to make these as cupcakes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alby, can’t see why not! We’re unsure of the bake time needed for cupcakes but use a toothpick to check for doneness.

      1. Do cupcakes usually take more or less time, typically, than cake? I guess I’ll check a box mix and see. I’ll start at a lower end and see what happens!! Thanks!

      2. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        They should take less time — we’d recommend checking around the 18-20 minute mark, but keep a close eye on them!

      3. Joelle Gisenya says:

        Hi so I went ahead and made it it turned perfectly! I couldn’t figure out how to attach a pic so I tagged you on insta!

  13. Joelle Gisenya says:

    Do you know if this can be made in a Bundt pan? Have you tried it?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joelle, a bundt pan would work. You may want to cool it for a little longer before inverting it. The bake time might be a little shorter, but it’s hard for us to say without testing it. Let us know how it goes!

  14. How much should cake batter be increased to use 9×13 pan!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carol, we fear there will be way too much cake batter if you doubled the recipe for one 9×13 pan. We would double the recipe, fill the pan only about halfway with the batter and use extra for cupcakes (about 18-20 minutes bake time for the cupcakes). We’re unsure of the bake time for the 9×13 cake. Hope this helps!

  15. Can I sub buttermilk for the milk?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Abra, yes, buttermilk works instead of the whole milk.

  16. Another great recipe! Thanks so much!

  17. Carly S Mahoney says:

    I’m curious If I can reduce the amount of milk slightly and sub in some of the pineapple juice?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carly, absolutely, feel free to replace some of the whole milk with pineapple juice.

  18. I made this cake as just a cake in an 8” cake pan, and since my kids don’t like pineapple and I don’t need to eat a whole cake alone, I made your caramel corn syrup (reduced) and poured that over the top. It’s kind of amazing. Cannot recommend it more.

  19. Tonia Evers says:

    Wow, amazing recipe, really pleased with the results. The darker bits on the picture are like toffee, lovely and crunchy whilst the sponge is moist. 10/10 btw I used fresh pineapple as I could only get pineapple chunks it worked a treat because the rest was so sweet.

  20. Hi Sally,

    What do you think would happen if I tried baking the Pineapple Upside Down cake with my oven setting turned to convection?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mimi, all of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings. Convection ovens are fantastic for cooking and roasting. If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake. Hope this helps!

      1. Yes, it does help! Thank you!!!

  21. Just wanted to share that for my birthday every year my sister makes a pineapple upside down cake. Last year we decided to bake it in a Bundt pan. It was absolutely gorgeous! We put the pineapple and cherries along the ridges and it came out perfect.

  22. Made the updated recipe today; marvellous! My wife loved it. Used fresh pineapple. Stayed together after cooling without excessive liquid. Tasted delicious and looked great. Another first for my Covid hibernation. Thanks for the recipe.

  23. Julie Sherman says:

    Hi Sally — I’m thinking of making your Pineapple Upside-down cake for Easter. I am trying to lose weight, so I’m wondering if you can provide 2 things — how many calories you thinking full slice of cake with one pineapple is, and if you can recommend ingredient substitutions to reduce the caloric content. Thank you so much! I love your recipes!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp And while we’d love to help with reducing the calories, we are not trained in baking with sugar (and other) substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

  24. I made this pineapple upside down cake this week for my sister’s birthday. My old mixer does not have a paddle or whisk so I just used the regular beater attachments. I accidentally bought low-fat sour cream so I used that instead of regular sour cream. I only keep almond milk, so I used that instead of whole milk. I weighed the cake flour and the sugar.

    The batter was thick, fluffy, and tasty and filled my 8″ square ceramic cake pan with the gently sloping sides. The batter did not overflow while baking uncovered 22 minutes, tented 22 minutes. The center was raw so I added 15 minutes additional baking time, 10 more minutes after untenting, then 5 more minutes tented with a square cut in the center to expose the middle of the cake. Cooled it 20 minutes then turned it out on a plate.

    The cake was delicious but my sister wanted more gooey pineapple-brown sugar-butter topping so next time I will try it with well-drained crushed pineapple.

    1. OOPS! I guess I should specify I used the 30-calorie per serving unsweetened vanilla almond milk in this cake.

  25. I made this cake for Easter dinner. It was lovely! I didn’t have cake flour and didn’t see directions for the substitution using flour and cornstarch, so I used King Arthur all-purpose flour. The texture and taste is excellent. I could eat the whole cake myself.

  26. I was wondering if there would be a sugarless version of this recipe. Kindly share you inputs!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Priya! We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

1 6 7 8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×