Our favorite pineapple upside-down cake recipe! We love this easy vanilla cake baked on a layer of butter, brown sugar, and fresh pineapple. Think of this as a “modernized” version of the classic pineapple upside-down cake.
Watch the Video
Related: We love our popular carrot cake!
How to Make Our Favorite Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
We seriously love this easy pineapple cake. The cake batter is flavored with vanilla and citrus — I love using lime for a more tropical flavor, but lemon works well, too.
Our gooey brown sugar topping is made by smearing butter all over the bottom of a cake pan. Then we scatter brown sugar and cinnamon on top. The cinnamon isn’t traditional, but we love it. By the way, if you love fruit-forward cakes, we also have these recipes for Fresh Strawberry Cake and this Buttery Lemon Blueberry Cake!
Slices of fresh pineapple are set down onto the butter and brown sugar. We use fresh since it is more tart than canned pineapple. I love the balance of sweet and tart in fresh pineapple.
However, you can use canned pineapple if that’s what you have. If you use canned pineapple, look for slices packed in lighter syrups so the cake does not become too sweet.
As the cake bakes, the pineapple releases some of its juices and sweetness, which runs out into the brown sugar topping.
We love serving this cake warm with a bit of whipped cream or coconut whipped cream, but ice cream would be just as delicious. Think of this as a “modernized” version of the classic pineapple upside-down cake. We genuinely love it.
After serving this to a few friends, we were asked where the cherries were (something commonly added to upside-down cakes). We’re happy to skip the cherries but add them if an upside-down pineapple cake seems naked without them!
More: This cake recipe calls for a 1/4 of a pineapple. Our Spicy Avocado Pineapple Salsa would be perfect for using up the rest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why separate the eggs? We ask that you separate the eggs for this upside-down cake. The yolks are added during a different step than the whites. In fact, we gently beat the egg whites at the end. We do this to achieve the best cake texture. This cake is moist, light, and airy.
If you add the egg whites simultaneously with the yolks, they will be beaten longer, adding more air to the batter. Sometimes, this is a good thing, but in the case of this upside-down pineapple cake, we want to keep them separate and add the egg whites at the end. When testing this recipe, the cake was drier in the middle when we added the egg whites with the yolks at the beginning of the recipe. In addition, the batter overflowed the pan while baking in the oven.
Can I double the recipe? Unfortunately, we have only tested the recipe as written. However, you should be able to double the recipe and use a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.
Can I use canned pineapple? We prefer fresh pineapple in this cake, but canned pineapple can be used. For the best results, use canned pineapple in light syrup. Heavier syrups make the pineapple sweeter, making the cake too sweet.
Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake
We love this easy pineapple upside-down cake! For the best results, use fresh pineapple. If you can only access canned pineapple, use pineapple in the lightest syrup you can find.
Why separate the eggs? We ask that you separate the eggs for this upside-down cake. The yolks are added during a different step than the whites. In fact, we gently beat the (unbeaten) egg whites at the end. We do this to achieve the best cake texture. This cake is moist, light, and airy.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
8 ounces (225 grams) fresh pineapple, about 1/4 pineapple
12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened (1 ½ sticks), divided
1/2 cup (100 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest or lemon zest
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt
- Make Batter
1Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
2Remove the ends and peel from the pineapple. Cut into four long wedges, and then cut away the core. Slice two of the wedges into 1/2-inch thick slices. You will need most of these for the cake. (Watch our video to see how we cut the pineapple.)
3Spread four tablespoons of the butter over the bottom of an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan (2-inches tall). Scatter the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the butter. Arrange the pineapple wedges in one even layer over the butter and sugar.
4In a large bowl, beat the remaining eight tablespoons of butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth.
5In another bowl, whisk or sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.
6On low speed, mix half of the flour mixture into the butter and egg yolk mixture until only a few streaks of flour remain, then mix in the remaining flour.
7Add the (unbeaten) egg whites and sour cream. Mix on low speed until blended.
- To Finish
1Spoon cake batter onto the pineapple in the pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
2Cool the 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 some gooey brown sugar sauce over them to cover it up.
3Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate the leftover cake for up to 3 days. You can also rewarm slices in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- 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.
- Recipe adapted and inspired from Alice Medrich’s “Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts”
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.
Recipe updated, originally posted June 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne