This pineapple upside-down cake recipe is easy & made from scratch! Juicy pineapple & cherries in a sweet brown sugar glaze, over moist butter cake.

Pineapple upside-down cake one a wooden pedestal with a vintage silver server.

This post originally published on April 19, 2018. I thought it was about time for an update! So now it has prettier pictures and more detailed instructions. I hope you enjoy this pineapple upside-down cake recipe as much as my family, friends, and I do!

Hello my friend!

Today we are going to chat about a real retro classic dessert that I just adore: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!

If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge fan of baking (and eating!) cake. And I especially love an old-fashioned, traditional, vintage recipe like this one.

Some other favorites include this airy lemon pudding cake, this summery strawberry shortcake cake, and this southern-style hummingbird cake.

Desserts like these bring me back to another time, where ladies wore full skirts and high heels, and donned pretty embroidered aprons before popping into the kitchen to effortlessly whip up something magnificent on any given weeknight!

And this pineapple upside-down cake recipe truly is easy enough for a weeknight. Even though it’s made completely from scratch, it’s very quick and simple to make. You’ll only dirty up one bowl (love that!), and you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand.

There’s a sweet topping of juicy pineapple and sweet cherries in a warm brown sugar glaze, over a buttery vanilla cake that’s so soft and moist, with a delicate crumb and a downy, velvety texture.

You’ll absolutely FLIP over it!! <--Haha, get it? Pineapple upside-down cake baked in a round pan and served on a wooden pedestal.

WHAT IS PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE?

Pineapple upside-down cake is a total classic. It was originally invented by James Dole (of the famous pineapple brand) back in the early 1900’s, and it’s been beloved ever since.

Upside-down cakes date even further back than that. All the way back in the Middle Ages, fruit and sugar were being added to the bottoms of cake pans, topped with batter, baked, and flipped out to reveal the gorgeous bottom layer of sweet goodness.

This type of cake is very simple and easy to make. It’s just enough to serve a family, usually with a leftover slice or two. And because you only need one bowl for it, and there’s no frosting or icing required, it’s perfect when you’re feeling a little pinched for time.

The sweet, gooey top layer of pineapples and cherries baked in buttery brown sugar glaze drenches the top of airy, moist vanilla cake. When it goes into the oven, the fruit and glaze are on the bottom, but after it’s baked you flip it out of the pan so it becomes the topping.

Hence the name “upside-down” cake.

HOW TO MAKE PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE FROM SCRATCH

This pineapple upside-down cake recipe has two main components:

  1. The Topping
  2. The Cake

Let’s start with the topping!

THE TOPPING

Begin by melting butter. I usually just do this in the microwave. Every microwave is different, but mine usually takes about 90 seconds on full power to fully melt the butter.

Don’t forget to cover it with a paper towel though! Sometimes it likes to pop and splash as it heats, and if you don’t cover it you could have a big mess on your hands.

Melted butter in a pie dish.

You can do this step right in the pan you will be baking the cake in! It’s a great way to cut down on dirty dishes.

Once the butter is completely melted, carefully swirl the pan, allowing the butter to coat the entire bottom and sides of the dish.

Then sprinkle on the brown sugar. I like to use dark brown sugar, but light brown will also work.

Melted butter and brown sugar in a cake pan.

Use a fork to combine the butter and brown sugar, making sure the mixture covers the bottom of the pan evenly.

Mixing brown sugar and butter together with a fork.

Next comes the fruit. Maraschino cherries are traditional, and you can use canned pineapple slices OR fresh pineapple rings.

If you’re using canned pineapple slices, be sure to reserve the juice! You are going to be adding it to the cake batter.

If you’re using fresh pineapple and you’re not quite sure how to cut it, here’s an easy video tutorial: How to Cut a Pineapple. Basically, you follow these steps, only instead of quartering it after taking off the skin, just cut it into slices about half an inch thick. I used an apple corer to cut out the core, and a cookie cutter to neaten up the edges.

Arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern over the brown sugar/butter mixture. Like this:

Arranging pineapple slices and cherries in a pattern at the bottom of a cake pan.

Then, just set it aside for a bit while you get going on the cake batter.

THE CAKE

This is just my favorite vanilla cake recipe, with a few slight tweaks. I think you’ll love the moist, soft texture and the buttery vanilla flavor. And it’s so easy to make in just one bowl.

This recipe utilizes the reverse creaming method, which really makes it practically foolproof.

Start by placing flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Then give them a quick whisk just to combine, and add in softened butter.

Dry ingredients in a large bowl with softened butter.

Work in the butter on medium speed, until the mixture resembles damp sand (this usually takes about 2 minutes).

Then, add the egg.

Adding egg to cake batter.

Once the egg is fully incorporated, you’ll have a very thick batter. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, and add the sour cream, pineapple juice, and vanilla extract.

Adding wet ingredients to pineapple upside-down cake batter.

Now beat the batter until it becomes smooth and pale. You’ll want to give it about a minute to a minute and a half, to really aerate well and build the cake’s structure.

Then, transfer the cake batter to the pan, layering it right over the fruit and glaze.

Pouring pineapple upside-down cake batter over the topping.

Smooth it all out into an even layer, then into the oven it goes! Easy-peasy, right?

Unbaked pineapple upside-down cake in a glass baking dish with a linen cloth.

You’ll know your cake is done baking when it looks golden on top, feels springy to the touch, and when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow it to cool for 20 minutes, then flip it out of the pan and onto your serving platter.

Ta-dah!

CAN THIS BE MADE IN A DIFFERENT SIZED PAN?

For what you see here, I’ve used a 9-inch diameter glass pie dish. It’s a little less than 2 inches deep. Here’s a link to buy: Pyrex scalloped pie plate.

I have also used just a regular metal cake pan and it works very well. Although I have noticed that it needs less time to bake in a metal pan than it does in glass, so be aware!

You can also bake individual pineapple upside-down cake cupcakes in a cupcake pan. You will get 12 cupcakes from this recipe.

A cast iron skillet would also work. Or, you can double the recipe and get a bigger, rectangular 9×13-inch sheet cake.

Just know that if you’re baking it in a different sized pan, you will most likely need to adjust the bake time. You’ll know your cake is done baking when it looks golden, feels springy, and when a toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.

How to make pineapple upside-down cake, served on a cake stand with a linen napkin.

CAN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE BE MADE AHEAD?

I think this recipe is at its best when it’s fresh, but it does hold up pretty well for a few days.

Once it’s completely cool, cover it lightly until you’re ready to serve it.

HOW TO STORE IT

Because of the moist, sweet fruit topping, this cake is prone to get moldy after a few days at room temperature, so I recommend leaving it out for no more than a day or so. After that, it should go into the fridge.

You could also freeze it! Wrap it up very tightly so it doesn’t get freezer burn or pick up any funny odors, and it should last in the freezer for a couple of months. Thaw it in the fridge or at room temperature before slicing and serving.

Pineapple upside-down cake from scratch, with one slice removed, showing the soft, moist interior.

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5 from 1 vote
Pineapple upside-down cake one a wooden pedestal with a vintage silver server.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

This pineapple upside-down cake recipe is easy & made from scratch! Juicy pineapple & cherries in a sweet brown sugar glaze, over moist butter cake.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to make pineapple upside-down cake, pineapple upside down cake, pineapple upside-down cake recipe, pineapple upside-down cake recipe from scratch
Servings: 8
Calories: 389 kcal
Ingredients
For the topping
For the cake
Instructions
To make the topping:
  1. Place the butter in a 9-inch cake pan or pie dish, and melt it in the microwave (in my microwave this takes about 1 1/2 minutes on full power).

  2. Swirl the pan gently, allowing the butter to coat the sides.

  3. Add the brown sugar, mixing with a fork.

  4. Drain the pineapple rings, reserving the juice, and arrange the pineapple and cherries in a decorative pattern.

To make the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the softened butter, beating on medium speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about 2 minutes).

  4. Stir in the egg until incorporated (about 1 minute).

  5. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the sour cream, pineapple juice, and vanilla.

  6. Mix the batter on medium-high speed for 60 to 90 seconds, to aerate the batter and build the cake's structure.

  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, layering it over the fruit, and bake it until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean (approximately 35 to 45 minutes).

  8. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate to cool completely before slicing.

Recipe Notes

*Cake flour is a fine, light flour milled from hard wheat. It produces a lighter, more tender cake than all-purpose flour would alone. You can buy it on your regular grocery store shelf, in the baking aisle. If you can't find cake flour or don't want to use it, you can substitute all-purpose flour.  Learn more about cake flour here: Why Use Cake Flour?

**Greek yogurt or buttermilk can be substituted. If you don't have buttermilk, make it by combining 1/4 cup of milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand until thickened and somewhat curdled (about 5 minutes).

Learn more about the cake recipe here: Perfect Vanilla Cake.

Nutrition Facts
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 389 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 59mg20%
Sodium 131mg6%
Potassium 143mg4%
Carbohydrates 60g20%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 47g52%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 495IU10%
Vitamin C 2.6mg3%
Calcium 69mg7%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Overhead image of pineapple upside-down cake on a linen cloth, with a text overlay above that reads "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake."

Overhead image of pineapple upside-down cake on a linen cloth, with a text overlay above that reads "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake."

Overhead image of pineapple upside-down cake on a linen cloth, with a text overlay above that reads "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake."

This pineapple upside down cake is simple and so delicious! With a sweet brown sugar glaze, plenty of fresh pineapple and cherries, and a soft, moist butter cake. So easy and made completely from scratch!

Square Image of a pineapple upside down cake with cherries on a white cake stand.

Pineapple upside down cake is a total classic! It’s been a favorite dessert here in the US for close to a century, and it’s no wonder why.

With a moist, buttery cake on the bottom, a layer of tropical pineapple and bright cherries, and a sweet brown sugar glaze that infuses every bite with its warm flavor, this is a dessert you’ll want to make again and again.

Vertical image with text overlay of a pineapple upside down cake on a white cake stand with a yellow napkin.

Pineapple upside down cake was a favorite for my dad, and I’m so sad he’s not still here to share a slice with me! I’m sure he would have loved this.

I remember making it for him once when he was still alive, but I don’t think I did such a hot job. I think I probably used a box mix, but now I’m older and wiser and I know that it’s not even any harder to bake from scratch.

(In my opinion, it’s a big conspiracy by the box-mix makers, to make us all think that baking from scratch is so much more difficult than it is. Shh!)

This pineapple upside down cake is made from all fresh ingredients, and it’s easy as can be! You’ll only need to dirty one small pot and one mixing bowl. Not bad at all, right?

Vertical overhead image of a pineapple upside down cake with marbelized plates, copper forks, and a yellow napkin.

You can even use fresh pineapple for the topping. It releases lots of sweet and flavorful juice into the cake as it bakes, making it so moist!

If you’re not sure how to maneuver a fresh pineapple, check out this video: How to Cut a Pineapple. Basically, you follow these steps, only instead of quartering it after taking off the skin, just cut it into slices about half an inch thick. I used an apple corer to cut out the core, and a cookie cutter to neaten up the edges.

But if you don’t want to go to the trouble, that’s totally ok too! You can buy pineapple rings in a can and that will work just as well.

Vertical image of a pineapple upside down cake on a stand with a slice cut out and plated.

The cake layer on the bottom is based on my latest and greatest vanilla cupcake recipe. It’s got a soft, delicate texture and a buttery, vanilla-y flavor that I just can’t get enough of. I love this recipe so much!

I hope you’ll give this pineapple upside down cake a try! It’s great at any time of year, but I especially love it during these warmer months!

Horizontal image of a pineapple upside down cake on a white stand with a slice cut out and placed on a plate in the background.

More great cake recipes on my “Cake Recipes” Pinterest board!


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