Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (2024)

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Easy recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a cake batter loaded with pineapple flavor features caramelized pineapples and cherries. It looks harder than it is! When making the best pineapple upside-down cake is this easy, we almost feel bad calling this a recipe!

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We love this cake not only for its taste but also because it brings back fond memories of family gatherings and happy moments. This classic dessert’s charm lies in the perfect blend of flavors, making it a treasured recipe for our crew.

Pineapple upside-down cake is is a delicious combination of sweet and tart flavors that gained popularity in the 1920s in the United States, largely due to the widespread availability of canned pineapple. The unique thing about this cake is that it’s baked with the pineapple and other toppings placed at the bottom of the cake pan. After baking, the cake is flipped over, which is why it’s called “upside-down” cake.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Salted butter – you can substitute with unsalted butter. There is no need to add any salt this time, the box of cake mix has added salt.
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar is important in pineapple upside-down cake because it adds a rich, caramel-like sweetness to the cake. When mixed with melted butter at the bottom of the cake pan, it caramelizes during baking. This caramelization process creates a sweet and slightly sticky layer on top of the cake when it’s flipped over for serving. This enhances the overall sweetness and gives the cake a unique and delicious flavor.
  • Pineapple slices – Two 20-ounce cans of pineapple rings can be used to get more pineapple coverage. It will take about 1 1/2 cans of pineapple to completely cover a 9 X 13 cake. We don’t mind less pineapple because the cake is still pineapple flavored. Honestly, it’s me that doesn’t mind. I pick off the fruit anyway!
  • White cake mix, can be substituted with yellow cake mix – you can even use a gluten-free cake mix.
    • Plus, the typical ingredients used for cake mixes; vegetable oil and egg whites

Equipment Needed

You’ll need a cake pan. We use a 9 X 13 cake pan for 2 reasons. One, we really like pineapple upside down cake and there are more servings in this size. Two, most box cake mixes and recipes will nicely fill out a 9 X 13 pan. This allows you to make this with your favorite homemade cake recipes.

You’ll also want a serving plate that is larger than the pan you baked the cake in. This will be used for flipping the cake out of the pan it was baked in. Don’t worry if you don’t have a cake plate or serving plate big enough, I usually use a cookie sheet with sides.

Next is a mixing bowl, one that is large enough to hold the cake batter while mixing, it will increase in volume so keep that in mind when making your choice. It should hold at least 5 quarts.

You can mix cake batter by hand, just follow the directions for hand mixing on the back of the box. We find the using an electric hand mixer is easier, so that’s what we use. You can use a stand mixer, but we think moving it out from storage and washing it is more work than needed for this simple recipe.

Measuring cups will be needed for measuring the liquid for the cake batter (and for much more if making a homemade batter).

A baking spatula will be helpful for getting every bit of the tasty batter out of the bowl and into the pan. It will also be useful for spreading the batter evenly.

Don’t forget the potholders! You will need to be able to get the pan out of the oven without burning your fingers and hands.


1 – Begin by placing an oven rack in the center position then preheating your oven to 350°F.

2 – Open the can(s) of pineapple. Drain the juice from the pineapple into a bowl or measuring cup.

3 – Set the pineapples and juice aside for now.

4 – Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Don’t skip this step even though you are going to use melted butter on the bottom. This adds a little extra insurance.

5 – To melt the butter, either place it directly in the cake pan and then put the pan in the preheating oven, or melt it separately and pour it into the pan afterwards. Once the butter is fully melted, remove the pan from the oven.

6 – Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the melted butter.

7 – Next, take your drained pineapple, leaving the juice to the side, and arrange the pineapple slices over the brown sugar layer.

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8 – If your cherries have stems, remove them, then place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. Feel free to add extra cherries according to your preference. We add as many as we can!

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9 – Prepare the cake batter.Instead of using water as per the box instructions, substitute it with the reserved pineapple juice.A typical white cake mix requires 1/3 cup of oil, 3 egg whites, and 1 cup of water. If your mix has different ingredients listed, follow those, but still replace the liquid component with pineapple juice. Following the direction on the box for mixing the cake, in a large bowl that is at least 5 quarts.

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10 – Pour the cake batter gently over the pineapple and cherries, spreading it evenly.

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11 – Place the cake in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

12 – After the cake has completed baking, remove the cake from the oven.

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13 – Let the cake cool for approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

14 – Run a dull knife, like a butter knife, or a spatula around the edges of the cake. You want to make sure that none of the edges are stuck.

15 – Invert the cake by covering with the serving tray or baking sheet, placing a hand on the serving tray, and using a potholder or other insulting tool on the bottom of the cake and flipping over. Do not hold onto the bottom of the serving tray for too long, it will heat up quickly.

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16 – Using a spatula or a fork, lift the cake pan and use a potholder to grab a corner of the pan and carefully remove it from the cake.

17 – Allow to cool before serving.

Safety Tips During Inverting

When inverting the cake, do it quickly but carefully to prevent the caramel from spilling onto your hands, that sugar is still molten hot. Make sure the plate or rack is close to the cake pan to minimize dripping.

Use a Rimmed Serving Tray – Inverting the cake onto a tray with raised edges can catch any drips, reducing the risk of the hot caramel contacting your skin or running off the tray.

Clean Spills Immediately – If caramel drips onto your countertop or stove, clean it up promptly to prevent it from hardening, which makes it more difficult and risky to remove later.

Keep Children and Pets Away – Ensure that children and pets are at a safe distance during the handling and inverting process.

Allow to cool before cutting. It can be served warm, but not straight from the oven, the topping is too hot.

Helpful Tips

  • The butter and brown sugar in our recipe can be reduced by half for less of a topping. I don’t really recommend this. It is the best part of the cake.
  • Spray the pan with a baking spray even though you are going to be melting the butter right in the pan.
  • Do not allow the cake to cool for longer than 5 minutes before inverting or the caramelized topping will stick. If it does, all is not lost, gently remove any stuck fruit from the bottom of the pan and replace them on the top of the cake where they came from. Taking photos prior to inversion is not recommended! It takes too long!
  • Invert the cake onto a sheet pan that has sides, Sometimes, the topping runs over the cake!
  • Two 20-ounce cans of pineapple rings can be used to get more pineapple coverage. It will take about 1 1/2 cans of pineapple to completely cover a 9 X 13 cake. We don’t mind less pineapple because the cake is still pineapple flavored. Honestly, it’s me that doesn’t mind. I pick off the fruit anyway!
  • Pineapple upside down cake can take longer to bake than a regular box cake mix because of the fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan. It prevents the heat from reaching the middle of the cake batter as quickly.

Decoration Ideas

We think that pineapple upside down cake is perfectly decorated as is with all the pineapple and cherries, but if you want to add an extra touch here are some of our favorite ideas.

  • Fresh Mint Leaves: Place fresh mint leaves on top of the caramelized fruit for a pop of color and a hint of refreshing flavor.
  • Toasted Coconut: After flipping the cake, you can add toasted coconut flakes on top of the pineapple for a tropical touch.
  • Chopped Nuts: Add chopped nuts like macadamia, pecans, or almonds on top of the pineapple for extra crunch and flavor.
  • Whipped Cream: Serve each slice with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a creamy contrast to the cake’s sweetness.
  • Edible Flowers: Garnish with edible flowers like pansies or nasturtiums for a visually stunning and unique decoration.
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Can I use pineapple that isn’t cut into rings?

Yep! Tidbits would be my second choice because they are really just pieces cut from pineapple rings. Pineapple chunks are a bit too big in my opinion. However, if you love pineapple go ahead and use them!

Crushed pineapple can also be used, just be sure to drain it well.Too much liquid will prevent the topping from caramelizing in the pan.

Can I use fresh pineapple instead of canned?

Absolutely, fresh pineapple can be used directly in a pineapple upside-down cake. The fresh pineapple can add a brighter, more vibrant flavor to the cake. While it can contain more moisture than canned pineapple, this often doesn’t significantly affect the outcome of the cake. Just ensure the pineapple slices are cut evenly for consistent baking (try to make them the same thickness of canned slices – 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.)

Do I have to start with a box mix?

No, but I always do.

The box mix can be replaced with any white or yellow cake recipe you like and use pineapple juice for any liquid in the recipe. It just won’t be as easy.

You can certainly use a homemade cake batter in place of a boxed mix. A basic yellow or butter cake batter works well for pineapple upside-down cake. Just follow your favorite yellow cake recipe for the batter and replace some or all of the liquid called for with pineapple juice, then proceed with the usual steps of arranging the pineapple and cherries, and baking as directed.

What’s the right way to flip the cake when it’s done?

Allow the cake to cool for just a few minutes after removing it from the oven. This brief cooling period helps the caramel set slightly, making it easier to handle. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate over the top of the pan, then quickly and carefully flip the pan and plate together. Carefully remove the cake pan, using a fork or spatula to lift the pan so you can grab the pan with a potholder or kitchen towel.

Pineapple sticking to the pan?

If you have a couple of pineapples or cherries stick to the pan when you invert the cake, know that it does happen sometimes. It will be OK, just put the fruit back into place.

I have been making this cake for 35 years and it happened to me just the other day. Your guests won’t notice the difference and will ask you for your pineapple upside-down cake recipe.

No one will even notice that it happened. This is the same cake as the one shown earlier with a pineapple slide off the cake after inversion.

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Storing Leftovers

Store any leftover cake in an airtight container. It can be kept at room temperature for a day or 2 and refrigerated for up to 4 days.

To freeze – Allow your cake to cool fully to room temperature before freezing. This prevents excess moisture from forming. Wrap the cooled cake in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. This double-wrapping helps prevent freezer burn. Use within 3 months.

Thawing – For the best texture, thaw your frozen cake by leaving it at room temperature for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, you can serve the cake chilled, at room temperature.

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How can I tell when the cake is done?

The cake is done when it’s golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake, as this can dry out the cake.

Can I use a cake batter meant for a 9 x 13 inch pan in a different sized pan?

Yes, you can adapt the batter for different sized pans. If using a smaller pan, like an 8-inch round pan, you won’t need all the batter a 9 x 13-inch recipe produces. Fill the pan about two-thirds full and use any extra batter to make cupcakes or a smaller cake. If using a larger pan, ensure the batter isn’t spread too thinly, or the cake may overbake and dry out.

  • Baking times vary with pan size and oven. Smaller, deeper pans often require longer in the oven at a slightly lower temperature to ensure even cooking without burning the edges. Shallower, wider pans (like a 9 x 13 inch) might bake more quickly. Start checking for doneness a bit earlier than the original recipe recommends, especially if you’re using a different size or type of pan.
  • What if the fruit doesn’t cover the bottom in a larger pan?
    • For larger pans, you may need more fruit to cover the bottom. Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries in a single layer; if there are gaps, it’s fine, or you can slice more fruit to fill in the spaces. The key is to ensure even coverage for a consistent look and flavor in every slice.
  • Is there a maximum size for the pan I can use?
    • The maximum size depends on the amount of batter and the depth you desire for your cake. A typical boxed mix or standard recipe may not be enough to adequately fill a pan larger than 9 x 13 inches without becoming too thin. If you have a larger pan and want a thicker cake, consider making one and a half times or double the recipe.
  • How do I ensure even cooking in a different sized pan?
    • To ensure even cooking, avoid overfilling or underfilling the pan. The batter should come up about two-thirds of the way. Rotate the pan halfway through baking for even browning and check for doneness using a toothpick or cake tester.

Adapting recipes to different pan sizes requires some adjustments and a bit of experimentation.

Using a Cast Iron Skillet for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

You can use a cast iron skillet. It’s way to heavy for me, so I don’t use it.

Size and Batter Quantity – A standard cast iron skillet is typically around 10 to 12 inches in diameter. If a recipe is designed for a 9×13 inch pan, it might make too much batter for a standard skillet. You may need to reduce the batter amount or use any excess to make a few cupcakes. The key is to fill the skillet no more than two-thirds full to avoid overflow during baking.

Weight and Flipping – Cast iron skillets are heavy, which can make the flipping process more challenging. It’s important to have a firm grip and to use a plate or serving platter that is wider than the skillet. You might need assistance for a safe and successful flip. Let the cake cool for a few minutes after baking to allow the caramel to set slightly, then flip it quickly and carefully.

Heat Distribution and Retention – Cast iron is excellent for even heat distribution and retention, which can result in a nicely caramelized topping. However, because it holds heat so well, there’s a risk of the bottom burning if the oven temperature is too high or the cake is left in the oven for too long. Monitor the cake closely as it bakes and perhaps consider reducing the oven temperature slightly compared to what a metal or glass pan would require.

Seasoning of the Skillet – Ensure your cast iron skillet is well-seasoned to prevent sticking. A well-seasoned skillet also adds a subtle flavor depth that can enhance the taste of the cake.

Cleaning and Maintenance – After using your skillet, clean it properly to maintain its seasoning. Avoid soaking it in water and instead clean it while it’s still warm using a brush and hot water, then dry it completely and apply a light coat of oil.

The key is to adjust the recipe accordingly, be mindful of the skillet’s weight when flipping, and monitor the baking process for optimal results.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

This recipe can be used to make mini pineapple upside down cakes. You will need more pineapple though.

For pineapple rings, they may need to be cut down in size so they fit into the bottom of the pan. I find using pineapple tidbits works better.

Divide the butter evenly among the muffin tin holes. Melt the butter in the oven before dividing the brown sugar evenly over the holes. Top with the fruit. Divide the batter evenly and bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These will take longer than normal cupcakes to bake because the bottoms do not heat up as quickly due to the fruit.

If you only made one round or square smaller cake, use the rest of the batter for pineapple upside-down cupcakes. Just divide the butter and brown sugar you didn’t use evenly among 6 to 8 muffin tins that have been liberally sprayed with baking spray. Top the brown sugar with additional pineapple and cherries. You may need to cut pineapple rings to fit. I use a cup or two of pineapple tidbits instead. These will take 15 to 25 minutes to bake.

Can I use different types of fruit for this cake?

You can use this recipe and directions for creating many variations of upside-down cakes. I would substitute the pineapple juice with water or a different fruit juice that is complimentary to your chosen fruit. Here’s a list of a few of the fruits we have tried.

  • Peaches: Sliced or diced peaches can be used as a substitute for pineapple or in combination with it. They add a sweet, juicy flavor to the cake.
  • Mangoes: Sliced mangoes or mango chunks can provide a tropical twist to the dessert with their natural sweetness and vibrant color.
  • Apricots: Halved or sliced apricots work well in place of pineapple, offering a slightly tart and sweet flavor profile.
  • Apples: Thinly sliced apples, like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, can be used to create an apple upside-down cake. They pair nicely with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Berries: You can use a mix of berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries, for a colorful and fruity variation.
  • Bananas: Sliced bananas, especially caramelized with brown sugar, can be a delightful choice for a unique twist on the classic recipe.
  • Pears: Sliced pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, can work well in place of pineapple. They provide a sweet and slightly grainy texture.
  • Plums: Halved or sliced plums can be used to create a plum upside-down cake, offering a tart and sweet contrast.
Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (11)


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Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (12)

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Moist pineapple flavored cake topped with caramelized fruit.

4.89 from 63 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Cakes, Dessert

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes minutes

Additional Time: 5 minutes minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes minutes

Servings: 12 Servings

Calories: 348kcal

Author: Beth Mueller



  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can pineapple slices 20 ounces
  • 1 White cake mix
  • 1/3 cup oil or amount listed on your box mix
  • 3 egg whites or 2 whole eggs or amount listed on your box mix
  • 12 Maraschino cherries more if desired


  • Preheat an oven to 350⁰F.

  • Spray a 9 X 13 pan with baking spray.

  • Place butter into the cake pan and place the pan into the preheating oven to melt the butter. Alternatively, you can melt the butter in another fashion and add to the bottom of the cake pan.

  • Remove the pan when the butter has melted.

  • Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter in the pan.

  • Drain pineapple and reserve the pineapple juice from the can.

  • Place the well drained pineapple evenly over the brown sugar mix.

  • Remove stems from cherries, if any, and place a cherry into the center of each pineapple ring.More cherries can be added as desired.

  • Prepare the cake mix replacing the water called for with pineapple juice.Most white box mixes call for 1/3 cup oil, 3 egg whites, and 1 cup of water – these are included in the ingredients above.If there is not enough pineapple juice from the can, add enough water to equal the amount called for on the box.

  • Gently pour the batter over the pineapple and cherries in the pan and smooth the batter out.

  • Place the cake into the preheated 350⁰F oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  • Remove from the oven and cool cake for 4 to 5 minutes.

  • Run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to make sure no parts of the cake are sticking to the sides.

  • Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

  • If any fruit has stuck to the bottom of the pan, simply remove from the pan and add to the top of the cake.


  • If your cake mix doesn’t call for 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup of water, and 3 egg whites, replace those ingredients with whatever is called for on the box, replace whatever liquid is called for with pineapple juice. Do not use the box instructions and then add the additional ingredients.
  • Use only well-drained pineapple and cherries.
  • When using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the crust.
  • Margarine can be used as a substitute for butter.
  • The butter and brown sugar can be reduced by half for less of a topping.
  • Spray the pan with baking spray even though you are going to be melting the butter right in the pan.
  • Do not allow the cake to cool for longer than 5 minutes before inverting or the caramelized topping may stick to the pan.
  • Stuck fruit can be removed from the bottom of the pan and placed onto the inverted cake.
  • Invert the cake onto a sheet pan that has sides.
  • Two 20-ounce cans of pineapple rings can be used to get more pineapple coverage.
  • Use the ingredients listed on the cake mix box, replacing pineapple juice for the water.
  • The cake can be served will still warm or at room temperature.
  • The cake can be stored covered at room temperature.


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.5g | Protein: 2.7g | Fat: 16.2g | Saturated Fat: 6.5g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 100mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 33.8g

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This recipe was written and tested by a human.

Editor: Oliver Baysinger

Elizabeth (Beth) Mueller

Elizabeth (Beth) Mueller is a food journalist, CEO of Pear Tree Kitchen, and co-creator of Food Blogger Help. She also has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a registered nurse licensed in the State of Oklahoma. When she has free time between writing, blogging, and cooking, she can be found volunteering as an RN with the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps.


Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (2024)
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