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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

by on June 17, 2013 · 17 comments

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

A lovely pineapple upside-down cake recipe that’s extremely simple to make. The batter is lightly scented with vanilla and citrus — we like to use lime or lemon. Then, the gooey topping is made of butter, brown sugar, warm cinnamon and fresh pineapple.

We absolutely love serving this cake warm with a little whipped cream, but ice cream would be just as delicious.

Think of this as a “modernized” version of classic pineapple upside-down cake. There’s no caramel on top, instead  this cake has a moist, delicious and gooey topping. The cake itself is also a little more airy than the classic.

Fresh pineapple shines in this upside-down cake recipe…

As the cake bakes, the pineapple releases some of it’s juices and sweetness which runs out into the brown sugar topping. So when we can, we use fresh pineapple, which is a little lighter in flavor than canned.

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

If you’re in a pinch, canned pineapple will work, just be sure to use pineapple in the lightest syrup you can find. Otherwise, we have found the cake becomes too sweet for our taste.

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

After serving this to a few friends  we were asked where the cherries were (something commonly added to pineapple cakes). For us, we’re happy to skip them, but if an upside-down pineapple cake seems naked without them, add them.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a lovely light cake that’s simple to make. The batter is scented with citrus peel; we like to use lime or lemon. Then, the batter is smeared over a layer of softened butter, brown sugar, warm cinnamon and pineapple slices. The final cake is light, with a gooey brown sugar sauce on top. We love using fresh pineapple here, it’s much lighter in flavor than canned. If you’re in a pinch, canned pineapple will work -- just be sure to use canned pineapple in the lightest syrup you can find.
Yield: One 9-inch cake, 8 servings
You Will Need
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (about 1/4 pineapple)
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour (we use unbleached Gold Medal all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) sour cream, or plain yogurt
  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 350º F.
  2. Prepare Topping: Using the back of a spoon, spread 4 tablespoons of the butter over the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over butter. Arrange the pineapple wedges in one even layer over the butter and sugar.
  3. Make Batter: In a large bowl, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter, granulated sugar and lime (or lemon) zest with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then mix in the baking powder and salt.
  5. Mix in a third of the flour mixture until only a few streaks of flour remain then mix in the remaining flour. Add the egg whites and sour cream (or yogurt) and mix just until smooth.
  6. Bake Cake: Spoon cake batter on top of the pineapple then use a spatula to spread into an even layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake in the pan for 5 minutes then run a knife around the edges and invert it onto a plate to cool. If some pineapple slices stick to the pan, use a spatula to transfer them back on top of the cake and spread a little of the gooey brown sugar sauce over them to cover it up.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftover cake up to 3 days. You can also rewarm slices in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
Notes and Tips
Alternate Recipe - Apple: For apple upside down cake, simply replace the pineapple with apple slices tossed in a little lemon juice.

Leftover Pineapple: Beyond enjoying juicy pineapple in fruit salads or alone, you can also broil slices or sear slices in a pan with some butter. Serve warm with a little whipped cream or ice cream.

Reference: Recipe adapted and inspired from Alice Medrich’s “Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts
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About the Author


I'm Joanne Gallagher and alongside my husband, Adam, I develop, test and share favorite recipes from our kitchen. I'm completely in love with food and you'll most likely find me covered in flour, chocolate or both.

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1 Aggie June 17, 2013 at 5:47 pm

One of my all time favorite cakes! I haven’t made one in AGES. Have to change that now :)
This looks delicious!


2 Joanne June 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Neither had we, now we want it every day!


3 John@ The Bread Makers July 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm

This recipe looks really good. I can’t wait it give it a try.


4 Mary Beth Elderton July 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

O. M. Goodness! I pinned this recipe a while back and just baked it today for the holiday–This is one of the best cakes I have ever baked! It is absolutely beautiful and so delicious! Thank You!


5 Adam July 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm

So glad you enjoyed it :)


6 Mary Beth Elderton August 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm

So here it is Labor Day weekend, and I was being wishy washy on what to bring–everyone is asking for this cake again! It is that good! So I am about to bake two :)


7 Joanne August 30, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Nice! Have a wonderful holiday :)


8 Tess July 8, 2013 at 8:48 am

Tried this recipe yesterday and it came out soooo good. This is the most delicious pineapple upside down I’ve baked. Got major compliments. Thank you


9 Glenda Payne November 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

This is a really tasty teatime treat or dessert and so easy to make. I used an 8 inch tin and it turned out just fine although it took longer to cook.


10 Joanne November 11, 2013 at 11:07 am

So happy it worked out for you!


11 wendy December 24, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I have a 9in pan but its roughly 1.5in deep will this be ok


12 Joanne December 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hi Wendy, You should be okay. We suggest placing the cake pan on a baking sheet just in case it overflows a little (we have used a 1 1/2 inch pan with success, though).


13 Tanya January 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I’m in the UK and although we use different measurements I managed to adapt to produce a delicious tantalising cake!
I will be showing this off when I next entertain- thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!


14 steven March 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm

K…I just made this and it has been in the over for 55 minutes and it’s still doughy. Anyone else experience this? No rating because I haven’t tasted it yet…


15 Joanne March 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

Hmm, we’re not sure why the cake hasn’t fully baked in that time. It is possible that your oven is slightly off (ours used to run hot and it is very common that ovens run either hot or cold). Hope the cake baked eventually.


16 Delia April 6, 2014 at 10:30 am

I would love to give this a try but I’ll be making it for a crowd (16 adults and children). Could I just double it and bake it in a 9×13 glass dish instead?


17 Adam April 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

You can try, it should work. (We have never doubled this recipe, though). Just keep an eye on baking time — it might be a little different.


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