This melt-in-your-mouth pineapple upside down cake features a fluffy vanilla cake topped with pineapple slices and cherries drenched in a brown sugar glaze. An always impressive, yet easy dessert!
Need a simple yet elegant dessert to impress your guests? You need to try this pineapple upside down cake recipe.
If you are unfamiliar with what an upside down cake is, it’s made up by layering its toppings, most often pineapple, on the bottom of the cake pan. The cake batter is poured over the toppings, baked, then flipped upside down onto a serving platter. The now right side up cake features caramelized pineapple on top of a dense and moist cake!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
This cake may look difficult but it’s honestly one of the most deceptively easy cakes you could ever make!
- Perfect texture and flavor. The texture of the cake is super moist, rich, and fluffy, it practically melts in your mouth! The pineapple flavor is present but it isn’t overpowering and definitely not acidic!
- Slices of golden pineapple on every slice. The juicy pineapple slices start on the bottom of the cake pan before the cake is flipped and turned right side up. This gives the cake its impressive presentation and tropical flavors!
- Quick and easy. Once you’ve prepared all the ingredients, it’s a simple process to put everything together!
This classic cake is similar to my pear cake recipe, as it too features cake baked on top of a layer of fresh fruit. It’s also easy to make and full of rich flavors!
This upside down pineapple cake is so easy and besides a handful of baking staples, there isn’t much needed to make. Here is what you’ll need:
- Flour. All purpose flour works best. You can also use cake flour if you’d like an ever so slightly lighter texture.
- Baking powder. This helps the cake rise.
- Salt. To help round out the other flavors.
- Vegetable oil. For moisture and structure in the cake. Any other neutral flavored oil works, and also butter.
- Milk. I prefer using whole milk, but any milk will work. Remember to set the milk on the kitchen counter 20 to 30 minutes ahead of making this recipe so it comes down to room temperature.
- Pineapple juice. Use the juice that’s leftover from the canned pineapple (in the topping).
- Sour cream. Adds extra moisture and an even lighter crumb. If you don’t have sour cream, any thick yogurt works (like Greek yogurt or whole milk plain yogurt).;
- Vanilla extract. For flavor.
- Sugar. White granulated sugar is preferred, but brown sugar and coconut sugar will also work.
- Eggs. Just like the milk, make sure the eggs are at room temperature for the best results.
For the topping:
- Butter. Unsalted and melted butter is poured into the cake pan, gluing the pineapple and cake together.
- Brown sugar. This is sprinkled over the melted butter in the cake pan. The sugar caramelizes as the cake bakes, offering each slice an addictive caramel-like flavor.
- Pineapple. Use canned pineapple slices in juice. Drain the juice into a bowl before you get started – you’ll use it in the cake batter!
- Maraschino cherries. Remove the stems before you get started.
How to make pineapple upside down cake
This easy pineapple upside down cake is simple to make: just remember to use the right sized pan for baking.
Prepare the pan: Pour the melted butter into the cake pan and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Arrange the pineapple slices on top of the sugar, placing a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.
Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the oil, milk, pineapple juice, sour cream, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar in a separate large bowl. Finish by beating the eggs into the wet mixture.
Combine: Gradually stir the dry flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Only stir until everything just comes together.
Bake: Pour the cake batter over the pineapple in the cake pan. Smooth out the top, then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool then flip: Let the baked cake cool for at least 10 minutes out of the oven. Run a knife around the edges before carefully flipping the cake onto a serving plate (the pineapple rings and cherries should now be on top!). Slice the cake and enjoy!
How to flip an upside down cake
Grab your oven mitts (the pan will be hot!) and a large serving platter or dinner plate before flipping the cake right side up:
- Run a knife along the edges of the cake in the pan.
- Turn your serving platter upside down and place it on top of the baked cake still in the cake pan.
- Using oven mitts, grip both the serving platter and the cake pan with both of your hands.
- Carefully and quickly flip everything. The platter should be on the bottom and the cake pan on top of the platter.
- Gently tap the bottom of the cake pan, then slide it up and off the cake.
Tips to make the best recipe
Dry the pineapple slices with paper towels before layering them in the cake pan. There are two reasons for this: (1) You’ll avoid excess moisture in the cake, and (2) the dried pineapple is better at absorbing the caramelized brown sugar.
Chop up any leftover pineapple slices and scatter them around the cake pan before pouring the batter on top.
Don’t add the eggs all at once. Beating them into the wet mixture separately will incorporate more air into the batter, leaving you with a fluffier cake.
Don’t overmix the batter! Only stir the dry mixture into the wet until the two are just incorporated together and no dry flour streaks remain.
Use a bundt pan. For a pineapple upside down bundt cake, simply swap out the standard cake pan for a bundt pan instead.
To store: The leftover cake or individual slices can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can also store it in the fridge for up to 1 week.
To freeze: Freeze the individual cake slices in airtight containers for up to 6 months.
More impressive cakes to try
- Tiramisu Cake
- Rainbow Cake
- Chocolate Caramel Cake
- Chocolate Espresso Cake
- Cheesecake Cake
- Opera Cake
Frequently asked questions
Any type of fruit that can be used in a pie can be used in an upside down cake. Instead of pineapple and cherries, try sliced peaches, cherries, apples, mangos, or pears. Even chopped rhubarb would be perfect during the summertime.
We haven’t tested this recipe with anything other than all-purpose flour, although a good quality 1:1 gluten-free flour might work instead.
Yes, fresh pineapple can be used instead of the canned variety. However, fresh pineapple contains more moisture, which can affect the cake’s texture. To prevent this from happening, let the sliced pineapple sit on paper towel for 5-10 minutes before adding it to the cake batter.
The best way to prevent the cake from sticking to the pan is to thoroughly grease all sides with butter or oil, and also add a layer of parchment paper to it.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Preheat the oven to 180/350F.
- Start by preparing the topping. In a 9-inch cake pan, pour melted butter and sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top. Arrange pineapple slices on top of the sugar, placing a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. If you have any leftover pineapple, chop it into small pieces and scatter it around the pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, pineapple juice, sour cream, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar. Add in the eggs and whisk until well combined.
- Gradually stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.
- Pour the batter over the pineapple and smooth out the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges and inverting it onto a serving plate.
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