This is the Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe ever made!! A moist sponge cake topped by brown sugar sweetened pineapple rings and cherries is perfection. It’s easy to make and uses mostly pantry staple ingredients so you can have a freshly baked cake in a flash!
There aren’t many things more traditional and lovely than a pineapple upside down cake. My recipe is an old one, but a wonderful one.
The sweet flavors of pineapple really shine through! Baking with pineapple takes desserts up notch. In addition to this pineapple upside down cake, try my Hummingbird Cake, Pineapple Sheet Cake, Pineapple Coconut Cake, and Pineapple Rum Cake to discover just how good it can be!
Have you ever wanted to know how to make pineapple upside down cake? Well this recipe is here to teach you. I found it in one of my Big Mama’s old handwritten recipe notebooks so I knew it would be amazing, and indeed it was. Whenever you see a cake made in a cast iron skillet, you know it has the goods.
What is a Pineapple Upside Down Cake?
Pineapple upside-down cake is a single layer yellow butter cake upturned after baking to reveal a gleaming mosaic of caramelized pineapple rings.
The method of cooking a cake upside down is a technique that was developed centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy for a home baker to add fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan, add a simple cake batter on top, and put it over the fire to cook. Once done it was flipped over onto a plate, a natural way to show off the beautiful fruit, and let its flavor run into the cake as well.
The idea to use pineapple came in 1911, when one of James Dole’s engineers invented a machine that cut pineapple into rings.
The convenient and visually appealing rings were soon used in this age old technique of the skillet cake and the maraschino cherry was added for some contrasting colors.
Every slice is truly what makes this retro cake what it is: slightly tropical and excitingly nostalgic.
Why You Will Love This Upside Down Pineapple Cake
- The Perfect Cake: It’s classic look and well-balanced flavors speak to everyone. A true crowd pleaser.
- Great flavor: Each bite is filled with a rich, caramelized flavor that perfectly contrasts with the sweetness of the pineapple rings. The pineapple slices themselves are tender, fruity and wonderfully fragrant.
- Simple Ingredients: They are inexpensive and often found in the everyday pantry.
- Ready In Under an Hour: You could make dessert for a last minute dinner party, make an unconventional birthday cake or fulfill a late night craving while barely lifting a finger.
Basic ingredients come together to make a cake with balanced pineapple essence in every single bite you take. Here’s a look at the main ingredients:
- Sponge cake: The homemade pineapple cake base is made with basic baking ingredients including all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, and eggs.
- Vanilla extract: A hint of vanilla gives the sponge cake a bit of warmth and natural sweetness. Use pure vanilla extract for best flavor.
- Pineapple juice: It’s added to really liven up the flavor giving the cake more moisture to create that melt in your mouth feeling.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter for the best flavor!
- Light brown sugar: Brown sugar has more depth of flavor than granulated sugar and works with the butter to create the caramelized top that forms on the cake.
- Pineapple rings: Added to the bottom of the skillet to elevate the cake to something truly special when it’s flipped over. Canned pineapple rings work great since they are the perfect thickness and you can use the juice in the can for the pineapple juice. If you use fresh, the trick to cut the pineapple slices thin enough so they cook up tender when baked.
- Maraschino cherries: Adds a lovely color contrast to the top of the cake.
PRO TIP: The best part of any pineapple upside down cake is its bottom (or top once its turned over). The trick is baking it in a cast iron skillet to really get that deep caramelization from the butter and brown sugar.
How to Make Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Making this cake is super simple! It goes together in just a few steps.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, eggs and pineapple juice until well mixed.
- Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. When it’s melted, whisk in the brown sugar and cook for 1 minute.
- Place 6 to 7 pineapple rings over the top of the melted butter and brown sugar mixture and cook over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour the cake batter over the top of the pineapple rings and bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes then invert the cake onto a serving plate.
Once you flip the cake over (this cake comes out perfect each and every time), the buttered brown sugar sinks deep into the sponginess of the cake creating the most sensational taste ever. Enjoy!
Tips for Making the Best Pineapple Cake
- Use the Right Equipment: A cast-iron pan ensures that your cake cooks evenly and your flavors are consistently delicious. It’s heavy steel bottom keeps the butter from burning and the handle makes it easy to flip the cake upside down.
- Season Your Skillet: Make sure your cast-iron is properly seasoned so that your cake does not stick to the bottom.
- Serve Warm: It’s best fresh out of the oven and cooled just for a few minutes. When warm, this cake is truly perfection. You could even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream too! In fact, I insist on it.
- Slice Pineapple: Make sure fresh pineapple slices are cut thin enough they will cook up tenderly in the time the cake bakes.
Popular Substitutions and Additions
Now, you may not consider yourself to be classic. You find yourself out of the ordinary and you need your desserts to reflect that. So add your flare, introduce a new element and make this cake your own.
- Add Caramel: Drizzle caramel sauce over the top of your cake after baking for added flavor.
- Try It With Peaches: Swap the pineapple rings for peach slices for a tasty peach upside down cake.
- Make Mini Cakes: Use individual cake pans to make mini pineapple cakes.
- Cinnamon or nutmeg: For added flavor sprinkle some over the top of the pineapple rings.
How to Store Pineapple Cake
This cake is best enjoyed freshly baked but you can store leftovers to enjoy later on.
To store leftover pineapple cake allow it to cool completely, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You can then store it in the refrigerator or freezer. If you prefer to serve leftover cake warm, reheat individual slices in in a microwave for about 20-30 seconds.
How long will pineapple upside down cake last in the fridge?
When properly stored, your cake will last up to five days in the fridge. Make sure it’s wrapped well to prevent the cake from drying out.
Can I freeze upside down pineapple cake?
Yes, you can. Double wrap your cake in plastic wrap and aluminum foil or store inside a freezer safe container or bag. It will last in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw it out in the fridge overnight before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pineapple upside down cake can also be baked in an 9 x 9 square pan that been greased or sprayed with baking spray. You will need to cook the brown sugar, butter, and pineapple in a skillet and then transfer to the square pan. I recommend baking it in a metal rather than a glass pan in order to get more caramelization of the butter and sugar as the cake bakes.
Your pineapple may have been too juicy. If you’re using canned pineapple it has a lot more liquid than fresh. Make sure to drain it well before adding it to the skillet.
You can but I highly recommend making it fresh. It truly tastes best enjoyed warm, fresh from the oven.
More Pineapple Recipes
Love these flavors? Try more recipes with pineapple!
- Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes.
- Pineapple Upside Down Milkshakes
- Grilled Pineapple Donut Sundaes
- Pineapple Honey Bourbon Grilled Catfish
- Pineapple Whip
- Tropical Pineapple Punch
*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 6-7 fresh pineapple rings or more to create design
- maraschino cherries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- For the cake batter: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, eggs and pineapple juice until well mixed. Set aside.
- Next melt butter to a 9 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Once melted, whisk in brown sugar and cook for 1 minute.
- Line the bottom of the butter and sugar mixture with 6 to 7 pineapple rings, place a cherry insdie each ring and cook over medium heat for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour cake batter on top of the pineapples.
- Bake cake for 28-33 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
- Cool cake for 10 minutes then invert the cake onto a serving plate and serve.