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

406 Comments

  1. I’ve seen some recipes that use a small amount of whiskey in the topping and the batter. What are your thoughts on that?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dan, we haven’t tried it ourselves, but let us know if you give it a go.

  2. Do I have to use the sour cream and milk?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Inels, 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.

  3. I was pleasantly surprised. I am use to traditional yellow cake for pineapple upside down. My great grandmother made it that way. Didn’t think a white cake could pull it off. However it did. Moist, nice texture all around delish. I will use the cake recipe for a rhubarb upside down. Thank you

  4. Hi Sally, why is the pan ungreased?

    1. Hi Soumya. We do not grease the pan for this cake because the bottom (which becomes the top) is mostly all butter. It bubbles up around the sides of the cake as well.

  5. I made it for my parent’s anniversary, it turned out to be Perfect! Thankyou for sharing beautifully illustrated recipe n giving minute details ! Outstanding work, keep it up and help us ( new bakers ) to make our occasion more spl with these homemade goodies! Cheers!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so happy to hear that you loved this recipe, Alka!

  6. Hello!!
    Could this be made in a 9×13 inch pan?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shea, 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.

  7. New family favorite! The taste, texture, and presentation are simply delightful. My 12-year-old daughter said after her first bite that she had to have a copy of the recipe to put in her own binder. Thank you for sharing, Sally! Your recipes never fail me! Can’t wait to try the Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake next.

  8. Theresa Martinez says:

    Can you please post the old recipe as well? I just loved that and my whole family did as well.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Theresa, see recipe notes section for the full old recipe. Enjoy!

  9. I love this recipe and the fact that it calls for cake flour which I have plenty of. I just want to know how would you convert the recipe for cupcakes instead of a cake?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, you can certainly turn these into cupcakes, dividing the topping and batter evenly among your cupcake pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time, but it should be about 18-20 minutes. Let us know how they turn out for you!

  10. Roopali Rawat says:

    Beautiful recipe!! I tried it for the first time and it turned out great! Thank you

  11. Hi , how long this cake can last in the fridge ? And can I freeze it? I’m planning to do it for a party on the weekend and I would like to do it ahead of time. Thank you in advance.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Randa! Because of the wet pineapple, this isn’t the best cake to make ahead of time – see recipe notes for ways you can prepare to make the cake in advance!

  12. This is going to be my first attempt at a pineapple upside down cake!!! How many cupcakes would this make?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Aubrey, you can certainly turn these into cupcakes, dividing the topping and batter evenly among your cupcake pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time, but it should be about 18-20 minutes. Let us know how they turn out for you!

    2. mary metcalf says:

      It made 12 for me!

  13. this is a GREAT recipe, but I use PEACHES !!!! very easy to make and the cake is wonderful !!! thank you !

  14. I just tried a piece of this! I cooked it in a cast iron skillet and it was definitely done in just 25 minutes!! I melted the butter directly in the skillet white the oven was preheating and it was perfect! After reading reviews I wanted to avoid the cake being dry so I did three things: used just a teeny bit extra milk, used just a teeny bit extra sour cream, and used one egg white and one whole egg.

  15. mary metcalf says:

    I’ve made this twice, once as a cake and the second time as a cupcake. I didn’t know if the cupcakes would turn out but they did! And the cake batter made exactly 12. I used the silicone cupcake pan and they easily came out. The rings were to big so I trimmed them and half of them had rings while the other half had the tid bits from trimming. Love this recipe thank you!

  16. Hi Sally,
    I tried this cake today. I have tried your older version too and i must say this one was much lighter and better. But after flipping the cake over it started cracking and falling apart. What could be the reason for that?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Charuta! We’re so glad you enjoyed this cake! Was the baked cake domed at all? If the baked cake is domed on top before you flip it, your finished cake could crack. To avoid this, you can trim the cake with a sharp knife to be flat before inverting.

  17. Larry harrell says:

    This is the best pineapple upside down cake recipe! It is absolutely delicious. I have a question about using a 9 inch white ceramic ramekin and it took twice as long to bake. Is that expected?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Larry! Baked goods can take extra time to bake in ceramic dishes, yes. However, twice as long wouldn’t be expected. We’re so glad it still turned for you!

  18. larry harrell says:

    I thought twice as long was unusual also. after 45 min. I was checking every 10 to 15 min. with a toothpick and it took 90 min. total. thanks for the feedback! could you recomend what size cast iron skillet I should use? would like to use one

  19. How would I go about making this recipe in a 9×5 loaf pan?

  20. Just made the cake, it fell apart and the tops wasn’t nice and shiny…looks like the cake has absorbed the butter and sugar still ended up being delicious

  21. Turned out awesome, fluffy and sweet!

  22. What are the reasons for the updated recipe? And how is it different? I have used the old recipe countless times and have gotten so requests for more than I’m willing to make. I always mention this site, even send them links to the recipe.

    I’ll be making this cake again, and I’m wondering if I should try the new recipe or leave well enough alone.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Allie, the improved pineapple upside down cake recipe is much softer than the original. We’re using the same ingredients in the updated cake batter – just in different forms, ratios, and amounts. Sally shares more on the differences and the recipe testing in the blog post, if you’re interested. We also have the full version of the old recipe in the recipe notes if you’d prefer to use that version. Glad to hear you enjoy this cake!

1 7 8 9

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

Sally's 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

×
Skip to toolbar