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!

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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


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.



  • 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)*


  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) 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


  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.


  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


  1. Hi Sally! Would you recommend using a Cast Iron Skillet ( I have the “Lodge” brand) for this recipe? I have seen other pineapple upside down cake recipes that use a cast iron skillet and was wondering if could possibly use that for this cake. Thanks!!!

    1. Katie– yes, you can make this in your Lodge cast iron skillet!

  2. Theresa @ Two Much Fun says:

    Oh my goodness!  This was fantastic!  My husband who is not a fan of fruit in cake, LOVED this!  Your sponge was absolutely delicious.  For those of your readers thinking about using a cast iron skillet, we did.  We baked it at 325 degrees for 40 minutes and it turned out wonderful!  We followed your recipe, using the cake flour option. It was tender, sweet – but not overly sweet, and moist.  The brown sugar and pineapple topping, was perfect!  We will definitely be making this again.  Thank you so much for sharing with all of us.  Pinning to make it again, and again, and again.

  3. Oh my goodness! I just made this cake for a family function! Totally perfect. I followed the instructions exactly and got a perfect cake. I wish I could post the pic. Yes, I most certainly took a pic of it! It’s beautiful and so delicious! Thank you Sally!!!

  4. Wow, this is a great cake. I had never ever made a pineapple upside down cake in my life.  A friend wanted one for her 60th Bday party.  I made the cake and then another batch for cup cakes. Everything turned out so good!! I especially loved the little cupcakes; I will make this recipe again & again. Just loved it. Made it exactly the way you recommended.  Did need to back it a little longer.   The cupcakes were exactly 20 minutes.

    Thank-you for all the praise I received today from this lovely recipe!!!

  5. Hey Sally! I see that overflow can be a problem is you are using a standard pie dish. How far should you fill it up with batter to avoid spill? Would cutting the recipe in half not make enough batter?  

    1. I’ve never had a spilling issue in my deep dish pie dishes. You may certainly halve the batter recipe or you can fill the pie dish halfway with batter. Perhaps make two cakes if you’d like then?

  6. This looks awesome! I just have a couple questions. 

    I would like to incorporate rum, but not sure how to go about it. I would like to make a rum syrup/sauce and brush/soak the cake in it, but I’m worried I’ll over do it. Could a glaze/syrup work or would you recommend just adding 1 tbsp to the cake? 

    I also was wondering the difference between using pineapple juice and crushed pineapple for the cake. Is there a difference in flavor/moisture? 


  7. hi Sally..please i want to know if there is a particular or special tin or dish for baking pineapple upside down?

    1. Nothing special! I use my regular pie dishes or my cake pans.

  8. Doubled the recipe and made it for my best friend’s surprise 18th. 
    Birthday cakes in my experience tend to be politely nibbled as part of a party ritual, but this one dissapeared in a heartbeat! SO GOOD.

    Sending you lots of love from Hong Kong Sally, the quality of your recipes, writing and photography are unbelievable, what a kickass woman you are! 

    1. Thanks so much Shim!! And thanks for reporting back. Love this cake.

  9. I made this for my father, who is a pineapple upside down cake aficionado, and he absolutely loved it. I did too! Thanks for the great recipie, I’ve used several of your other recipes and my family and I have loved every one!

  10. I just made this for my husband’s birthday – We haven’t cut it or anything yet but it looks awesome! It was my first attempt of making a cake unaided 😀 

    Let’s hope it tastes as good as it looks! 

    I had one little foible – when I flipped the cake, some of the pineapple rings and cherries got stuck to the base and I had to peel them off and place them on the cake – it doesn’t look quite as cute as it could have done. Any tips to avoid this?

    1. Excited for you to try it! I wonder if you sprayed the cake pan with nonstick spray before adding the butter. OR line with parchment. Either should help!

  11. Sylvia southard says:

    The absolute best pineapple upside down cake ever!  I used coconut Greek yogurt.

  12. This cake was super easy to make and was delicious. My boyfriend’s father loves pineapple upside down cake and he said this one was the best ever. I made it in a cast iron skillet.

  13. This recipe is exactly what I was looking for! My uncle’s favorite dessert is Pineapple Upside Down Cake, so I wanted to make one for his birthday. I’m not much of a cook, but it turned out perfectly!

    I used a whole-wheat all-purpose flour, which turned out to be delicious and have out a great texture – I will DEFINITELY be making this again!

  14. john stinson says:

    I have a dutchoven cookoff coming up in two weeks have won first place three times before and several seconds always wanted to try pineapple upside down cake found you on line liked your resipe I tryed it on Saturday turns out great am going to make for contest thank you john stinson

  15. It’s hard to find a pineapple upside down cake recipe that doesn’t use boxed cake mix, as I recently found out. I’m glad I found this! I made it with mango instead of pineapple, because I live in South Florida and it’s Mango Season right now. I also doubled the recipe and baked in a 13 x 9 pan. I brought it to work and everyone is going crazy!

  16. Hi Sally, I used a bundt cake pan for this recipe and it turned out perfect, it was my first time to bake a pineapple upside down cake and im so glad i found your recipe, its delicious! And ur website will be my recipe source for desserts 🙂 

  17. Thanks so much for the kind comment Osama! I LOVE the edges/corners of this cake! To answer your questions– you could try lightly cooking the pineapple slices on the stove to soften them a bit before layering into the pan. That would be quite a lot of caramel sauce and the bake time may increase because the cake will be so moist, but I think it would be OK. (Maybe only use 3/4 of the sauce though, I do feel like that would be too much buttery moisture.)

  18. Thanks for the recipe Sally. Can I use a 9 inch square pan? My pie dish is shy of the 2 inch depth. Thanks! 

    1. Yep, that’s just fine!

  19. Sorry if this has already been asked but can I use salted butter instead of unsalted or will it eff up the chemistry of the recipe? Thank you, I just discovered your blog/Instagram and will be making some of your amazing looking creations!

  20. Hi sally! Never commented before but I love your recipes! I make you pretzel bites recipe all the time and freeze the leftovers.
    I made a version of this cake with passionfruit last night and it was very good. I dont like pineapples but passionfruit is in season where I live. the cake turned out REALLY good. Our only problem was that without the moisture of the pinepple slices at the bottom, the topping burnt to a crisp, while the rest of the cake was perfectly cooked. We tried to put sliced sour cherries down to orevent that from happeninng but our cherries werr too small and not moist.  Next time we will probably just omit the topping because the base cake was soo good with passionfruit :). Thanks!!

  21. Can this mixture be made in a 10″ cast iron skillet? And if so would the baking time change?

    Thank you

    1. Yes, definitely The bake time will be a little less because of the large pan.

  22. Hi Sally, I’m really interested in making this recipe for a large group of friends (in advance), but I don’t want the presentation to be too messed up. Do you think it’d be possible for me to bake this one day, invert it, let cool, and flip back into the pan for an event two days later so the pineapple slices don’t sink into the cake?

    1. This is definitely not the best cake to make ahead. You can *try* it, but I still think the pineapples won’t look their best.

  23. Hi Sally,

    I am hooked to your recipes now. Carrot cake, marble cake, quiche, upside down pineapple cake.. Tried all and they came out amazing!! Thanks a lot. Planning to do cinnamon rolls tonight. Do keep up the delicious recipes.
    Thanks again!!

  24. This is the best pineapple upside down cake ever.  The texture is perfect for moisture, sweetness, rise. The direction worked to a tee.  I used my 8 inch iron skillet and had 7 mini ones I made in a regular muffin pan.  I agree – lots of cherries.  I used a few pecan halfs in some of spaces, but next time I will used chopped. Thank you!

  25. I made it in a bundt pan and added a little coconut to the topping; I was very pleased with the results, as was the birthday boy. I think I will try using half coconut flour next time and more pineapple juice instead of the milk to add a touch more pineapple flavor to the cake itself. I live in Ecuador so I have great access to fresh pineapple, and the pineapple topping (I sauteed the fresh pineapple in butter and raw sugar while I assembled the rest of the cake and prepped the pan) was truly fabulous. As were the edges (which someone commented on earlier)!! Thank you!

  26. I baked this cake 2 hours ago and it is AWESOME!  Very moist and fluffy with lots flavor. 
    I used cake flour and sour cream substitutions.

  27. Superb!!!! Reduced the amount of butter though……excellent!!!!

  28. Crystal Stang says:

    Hi Sally, this pineapple upside down cake is heaven. I only had trouble inverting the cake. It all stayed together properly but some of the pineapples didn’t stay on top of the cake. Do you have any suggestions about this part of the process? Thank you for sharing your gorgeous work.  

    1. Hi Crystal! Sometimes that’s unavoidable. It happens to me too. I just have to put them back in place manually before serving.

  29. Danielle Adams says:

    I have made this recipe twice and it was perfect! Seriously I would not change a thing. Thanks for the recipe!

  30. She Corless says:

    Haven’t tried this yet but definitely will. Brings back many nice memories. Mom made this with cake mix and baked it in a cast iron skillet. It was a family favorite, especially when my older brothers came home on leave from the navy. Thank you for bringing these memories back.

    1. What sweet memories! I hope you’ll give this recipe a try- if you do, I’d love to know what you think 🙂

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