The Best Pineapple Upside-Down Cake — So soft, moist, and really is the best!! A cheery, happy cake that’s sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! This 100% from-scratch cake is an EASY reader favorite you’re going to love!!
Table of Contents
Homemade Pineapple Upside Down Cake
I love this cake because it’s fast and easy to make, and it always turn out supremely moist, springy, and fluffy thanks to the buttermilk, sour cream, and oil. That trifecta of moisturizing and tenderizing ingredients makes it impossible to have a dry cake.
I think it would be a perfect cake for Easter, Mother’s Day, baby and bridal showers, brunch, or anytime you want a cheery, sunny, happy cake!
Not to mention, the buttery, brown sugary pineapple juice that seeps down into the cake from the slices on top make the cake so soft, moist, and buttery that it just melts in your mouth.
The cake is soft, sweet, with an almost imperceptible tang from the buttermilk that adds another layer of flavor. The pineapple slices add chewiness and texture to the otherwise falling-apart-soft crumb.
While baking, the pineapple caramelizes in a butter and brown sugar bath, giving the pineapple upside down cake its signature glistening top and adding so much rich, browned butter flavor to the pineapple.
There’s no better way to get your Vitamin C than via pineapple baked in it’s own brown sugar-browned butter sauce!
Pineapple Upside Down Cake Ingredients
To make this easy pineapple upside down cake, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- Light brown sugar
- Canned pineapple slices
- Maraschino cherries
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Sour cream
- Canola oil
- Vanilla extract
You must use each of these ingredients as they’re listed. Substitutions like whole wheat flour or an alternative sweetener may result in a less than stellar upside down cake.
How to Make Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Making pineapple upside down cake from scratch is so easy! First you’ll arrange the pineapple-cherry topping, then you’ll prepare the cake batter.
Here’s how the homemade pineapple upside down cake is made:
- Arrange the pineapple-cherry topping: I used one 20-ounce can pineapple slices. I kept one slice whole for the center of the cake, and then fanned 12 halves around it. My pet peeve about most pineapple upside-down cakes is that there’s not enough pineapple if you keep the rings whole and intact. The focus of a pineapple upside-down cake should be on the pineapple, so I tried to maximize the pineapple coverage on top by using a fanning technique.
- I used the remaining 3 slices (6 halves) to line the sides of the pan. Nobody likes bald sides.
- Make the cake batter: After getting the pineapple and cherries in the pan, whisk together the cake batter and turn it out into the pan. I filled my 9-inch round cake pan about 3/4-inch full with batter.
- Let the cake cool before flipping: I made the cake before bed and let it cool overnight in the pan with a sheet of foil over it. There’s no big rush to get it out of the pan. And honestly, inverting cakes gives me sweaty palms every time and I was stalling. Because of how buttery the topping is, the pan is so well-greased that the cake just plopped right out. Not even one slice of pineapple or cherry out of order.
Although the cake doesn’t rise a ton, it’s still a cake and rises some, so don’t exceed about 3/4-full, the same idea as when filling a muffin tin. Discard the last bit of batter if need be. I mention this because all cake pans, the exact amount of pineapple, cherries, etc will vary slightly.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake FAQs
No, regular round cake pans aren’t deep enough. You also can’t use a 9-inch square baking pan for this. You have to use a 9-inch round springform pan, otherwise this homemade pineapple upside down cake recipe won’t turn out right.
I recommend making this easy pineapple upside down cake in this 9-inch springform pan. This is the exact pan I use at home and it works every time!
I haven’t tried that before because I just don’t have the patience for it! So unfortunately I can’t tell you if this recipe can be made as cupcakes.
I don’t think layering pineapple upside down cake is a good idea. This cake is incredibly moist and heavy, and I think if you tried to make two layers and stack them on top of each other the entire cake would fall apart.
Yes, you just have to be precise with your arrangement of the pineapple upside down cake topping in the bundt pan before you add the cake batter. The bake time may need to be altered slightly, so watch the oven and not the clock.
Full-fat sour cream makes for the best homemade pineapple upside down cake, but lite sour cream may be used in its place. You can also use plain Greek yogurt, but note that regular yogurt won’t work (it’s too runny).
I’ve only ever used canned pineapple rings so I can’t say for sure whether fresh pineapple would work in place of canned. Most likely yes, but please let me know if you try this and it works out!
No, you need real buttermilk to help this cake rise properly. You can use the leftover pineapple juice in the can in cocktails, smoothies, and more though!
If possible, get your hands on real buttermilk. If that’s not possible, you can try making a buttermilk substitute (for every 1 cup of milk, mix in 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar). If you have to make a buttermilk substitute, you should use 2% or whole milk for the best results.
Time! The cake needs time to cool in the pan (at LEAST 30 minutes, but preferably overnight) before it’s safe to invert it onto a plate. As the cake cools, the pineapple on the bottom (soon to be the top!) firms up, the sugars set to create a caramel-y sauce, and the cake itself sets.
If your cake turned out mushy, you likely didn’t drain the pineapple and cherries well enough.
Absolutely! In fact, making it a day in advance means the cake will pop out of the cake pan so much easier when you’re ready to invert it.
Melted butter! The butter gets added to the bottom of the pan before all of the toppings are arranged. The sugar and butter caramelize in the oven, but there’s enough butter that the cake should pop right out of the pan once cool.
You can store the cake at room temperature for up to five days. Cover the pan with foil. The cake will stay super moist thanks to the juicy topping.
Since this is such a moist cake that’s loaded with fruit, I do not recommend freezing it.
Tips for the Best Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Make sure you are using a good quality springform pan that you know is reliable. From time to time, people write to me saying their springform pan leaked, butter went all over, and they get upset with me. This is not my fault, peeps. It’s your pan that leaked. The solution?
Test your pan with water in it. Does it leak? If so, it will probably leak with the melted butter in it. Don’t make this pineapple upside down cake from scratch until you have a pan you trust, simple as that.
What’s the best springform pan? This is the 9-inch springform pan I currently use and I have never had it leak with this cake.
I have, however, had it leak when I quickly (and I was half asleep) put it together and sealed the latch carelessly. I do recommend it and it’s been a workhorse with other cakes over the years. I bought it in 2015 and it still looks and works as good as new.
Note that you should wind up with just enough cake batter to fill the 9-inch springform pan 3/4 full. If you somehow wind up with a little extra batter, it’s better to discard it than overfill the cake pan.
Pin This Recipe
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- one 20-ounce can pineapple slices
- about 12 maraschino cherries
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or Powdered Buttermilk, use 2 tablespoons with the dry ingredients + 1/2 cup water added with the wet)
- 1/3 cup sour cream, lite is okay (plain Greek yogurt may be substituted)
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
- Pour the butter into a 9-inch springform cake pan. Use your finger to run a bit of butter around the side of the pan so it’s well-greased.
- Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter.
- Add 1 whole pineapple slice to the center of the pan.
- Halve the remaining slices vertically. Stagger them in a fan-like fashion going around the cake. I used 12 slices.
- Place the remaining slices around the sides of the cake pan with the curved side pointing down toward the bottom of the pan (see photos for reference). There will likely be bare side patches with no pineapple coverage, that’s okay.
- Place 1 cherry in the center of the whole pineapple slice in the middle of the pan.
- Place 1 cherry in the center cutout of all the fanned pineapple slices; set pan aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the next 5 wet ingredients (through vanilla).
- Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don’t overmix or try to stir them smooth.
- Gently turn batter out into prepared pan, being careful to not disturb the pineapple slices on the sides or bottom. Fill pan only to about 3/4-full. If you have a little extra batter, discard it rather than overfilling your pan.
- Place pan on a cookie sheet (to catch anything that does overflow) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Only go down about 1-inch with the toothpick, not all the way to the bottom where you’ll hit gooey pineapple juice.
- Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before inverting, slicing, and serving. I allowed cake to cool overnight, covered with a sheet of foil, before inverting.
- Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Cake base adapted from Blueberry Muffin and Buttermilk Pancakes Cake.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 299Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 172mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 1gSugar: 44gProtein: 6g
More Easy Pineapple Desserts:
Layered Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – A tender and moist classic two-layer carrot cake with tangy-sweet cream cheese frosting!
Pineapple Coconut Oil Banana Bread — Banana bread spiked with pineapple and coconut oil that’s so good!
Hummingbird Cake — A super SOFT and moist cake with bananas, pineapple, coconut, cream cheese frosting, and pecans!! Makes a huge cake that’ll feed a crowd!
Pineapple Poke Cake With Pineapple Glaze — A pineapple version of a poke cake with a pineapple glaze that you’ll adore!
Tropical Escape Pineapple Crumble Bars — Soft, tender bars that have a great crumble topping that will remind you of the tropics!
Angel Pineapple Lush Parfaits — This is a 4-ingredient, no-bake dessert that’s ridiculously easy, you don’t need a mixer, and you don’t have to turn your oven on.
Pineapple Coconut Bars — Eat your piña colada rather than drinking one with these fast, EASY, no-mixer bars that taste TROPICAL!! Pineapple, coconut, white chocolate, and cherries!!
Recipe originally from March 2014 and reprinted in May 2018