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Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This sheet cake style Pineapple Upside Down Cake is made with fresh pineapple. While baking, the pineapple juice combines with buttery brown sugar that forms a beautiful caramelized sauce for the cake. Serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and savor each and every glorious bite.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe

What is pineapple upside down cake? It’s a cake that begins with pineapple slices on the bottom of the baking pan. Embellished with maraschino cherries and often pecan halves, it’s smothered with a buttery brown sugar sauce. After pouring the batter on top this cake is baked and cooled, then flipped over for serving, hence the name. How to make Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a sheet pan: (Scroll down for full printable recipe.)

  • Butter-Brown Sugar Sauce – Melt together butter with brown sugar. Cook in a saucepan on the stovetop just until combined then remove from the heat and spread into the bottom of the prepared pan. 
  • Fresh Pineapple – Peel and core a fresh ripe pineapple. Slice then arrange the pineapple slices on top of the butter-brown sugar mixture. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each slice. 
  • Creamed Ingredients – In a large bowl cream together the remaining 3/4 cup butter, sugar and vanilla.
  • Eggs – Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.
  • Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl use a whisk to sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with flour.
  • Combine – Spread batter evenly over the pineapple slices. The batter will be thick.
  • Bake – Bake in a preheated 350°F oven per the recipe until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
  • Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes then carefully invert onto a serving platter.
  • Leave the pan on top for a couple of minutes to allow all of the caramel to drip down the sides of the cake.
  • Serve warm or chilled with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

How to Make the Best Southern Pineapple Upside Down Cake

How is this upside down cake different from other recipes? This version is a bit different from a traditional upside down cake in that I use fresh pineapple slices and it’s made in a 13 x 9 inch pan instead of in a skillet or round pan.

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Pineapple Upside Down Cake: You’ll need cake flour, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, eggs, fresh  pineapple slices and maraschino cherries.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: To make the batter you’ll need a stand or hand mixer, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons as well as a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. A small saucepan to melt the butter and a large silicone spatula to scrape the batter from the mixing bowl and a cooling rack. You’ll also need a large rectangular platter or pan for flipping the cake over for serving.
  • Can I use all purpose flour to make this cake? Yes, you can in the same amount. Cake flour will result in a more tender crumb to the cake.
  • Can I use canned pineapple slices? Yes, you can. Drain well and proceed with the recipe as written.
  • Please note, fresh pineapple slices release juice while baking that combines with the brown sugar to form a sweet caramel-like sauce. Being a toffee and caramel lover, I’ve always loved the gooey, chewy, drippy, buttery caramel sauce that forms on the top and drips down the sides of this cake.
  • As you can see in the pictures, the pineapple slices may overlap a bit. If you prefer they not overlap, then simply cut a small wedge out of each slice and reshape them so they’ll fit onto the cake flat. The pineapple does shrink slightly while baking.
  • This cake must be served while gooey and warm with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. That said, it’s also delicious chilled, either way you can’t go wrong.
  • You can store this Pineapple Upside Down Cake in an airtight container chilled in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Southern-cake-recipes

How to Choose a Fresh Pineapple

  • Choose a medium-size fresh pineapple that’s golden, not one with a very green skin.
  • It should be firm when squeezed but not hard. A little give when pressed is good.
  • The leaves should be green, not wilted or browned.
  • Give it the smell test. It should smell fresh and fragrant.
  • The pineapple slices can vary in size depending on the size of the actual pineapple used.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Helpful Kitchen Items:

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Cakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: pineapple-cake-recipe, pineapple-upside-down-cake
Servings: 12 pieces
Calories: 584kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup butter softened and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 12 slices fresh or canned pineapple
  • 12 maraschino cherries no stem
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • whipped cream or ice cream for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a non stick metal 13 x 9 inch pan with baking spray.
  • On the stove top in a small saucepan melt together 1/2 cup  butter with 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar. Cook just until combined then remove from the heat and spread into the bottom of the prepared pan. 
  • Arrange the pineapple slices over the butter-brow sugar mixture then place a maraschino cherry in the center of each slice. 
  • In a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the remaining 3/4 cup butter, sugar and vanilla
  • Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.
  • In a medium bowl use a whisk to sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with flour.
  • Spread cake batter evenly over the pineapple slices. The batter will be thick.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
  • Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Leave the pan in place for a couple of minutes to allow all of the caramel to drip down the sides of the cake.
  • Serve warm or chilled with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Notes

Cake flour has less gluten [protein] in it than regular all purpose flour. This makes the “crumb” or texture of the cake more tender. All purpose flour in the same amount will still work but will give the cake a slightly different texture.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 584kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 407mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 71g | Vitamin A: 735IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!

37 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I frequently bring in baked goods to work for special occasions. This cake got more compliments than any others. Everyone says it was my best cake to date. Wow, because I’ve made some good ones. Winner, winner!
    PS I used almond extract that made it next level.

  2. 5 stars
    I needed a large pineapple upside down cake recipe to make a 9×13 size cake. This recipe came out delicious with plenty of brown sugar for the topping. Using cake flour and buttermilk ensured a tender crumb cake. I was only surprised that some of the pineapple juice wasn’t used in the batter so I added about 1/4 cup to the buttermilk. This will definitely be my go-to recipe for this cake!

  3. 5 stars
    My grandson and daughter in-law and 3 grandchildren came over for dinner tonight and I made this recipe for desert and was a HUGE success!! Will be making it again soon!!

  4. 5 stars
    This cake has quickly become our family favorite! I add cinnamon in my cake batter for a variation and it is amazing!!

  5. I’ve made so many of these looking for the one my husbands mother made him when he was a kid.
    This is the best cake ever. He was so happy! Thank you for sharing !

  6. This is the best pineapple upside down cake I’ve ever had!!! I’m making 2 today. One for a party and one for home!
    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  7. So we made the cake and took it to our family home evening. Even with all the other great dishes, people came back to the cake 3 and 4 times ! We made minimal changes. Put the pa rings on the outside and crushed pineapple down the center. Added half a stick of butter and a bit more brown sugar because of the added p.a.. This is a keeper 🤗 Thank you for sharing

  8. Butter comes in different sizes. It would be nice to know exactly how much your 1 stick of butter is. Love PUD cake too. Making one today so I’m looking forward to tasting how it turns out !

  9. 5 stars
    I just made this cake ; used a 9×13 tin pan; followed all the directions . The brown sugar was a little too much ; will definitely cut back on that next time. Other than that; it came out DELICIOUS!!

  10. This is delicious! Made in my cast iron skillet. Cooked at 350 for about 45 minutes. Will cut back on the brown sugar next time but it was really good….Thank you!

  11. Thank you so much! One more question. Have you ever made this cake with pecans in the topping? The recipe I have used in the past had pecans and we really liked it but I really don’t want to take a chance on messing your recipe up. I am making this at my Dad’s tomorrow for his birthday. Decided I wanted to serve it fresh and they live out of town. Wish me luck!

    1. I was wondering if you could use heavy cream vs buttermilk. I can’t wait to make this for a very dear friend’s birthday. I’ve become the cake maker for our small group of friends. Thanks Melissa

  12. I have to make this cake the night before for my Dad’s birthday. Any way to warm it or should I serve cold or room temperature? Thank you!

    1. I typically serve this cake room temperature but, it’s truly up to your personal preference. If you store it chilled, just take it out of the fridge to give it time to warm.

  13. So this is the very first cake I’m making completely from scratch. It was a really easy recipe and though it’s still baking in the oven it looks absolutely amazing so far. 🙂

    1. I’m so happy you chose this for your first adventure! Expect this to be juicy it’s a favorite of ours, good luck!

  14. This is the most AMAZING upside cake I have ever made. My island born husband loves it as do my kids. This will be my go to pineapple upside down cake. Super moist, faultless on point and perfect! Thank you so much!

  15. I made this cake and it was excellent. I have always used canned pineapple for upside down cake, but used fresh for this recipe. It was heavenly and my whole family loved it. My husband has few desserts that he really loves, but he has already asked me to make this recipe again. It’s a keeper! Thank you!

    1. Hi Amy, fresh pineapple makes THE most delicious sauce I’m so happy you loved this, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know.

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