For a classic dessert that’s as impressive as it is delicious, try this easy pineapple upside down cake! Caramelized pineapple slices and bright cherries top this soft and moist vanilla buttermilk cake that’s the perfect dessert for any occasion!
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An Old Fashioned Classic Dessert
When it comes to dessert recipes, it’s way too difficult for me to pick favorites, but I can say that I’ve never met a pineapple dessert that I didn’t like! Give me grilled pineapple, or pineapple fluff dessert all day long and I’m happy!
This recipe for easy pineapple upside down cake is perfect for any occasion and it’s no surprise that this dessert has been around for such a long time!
This version is one of the best pineapple upside down cakes I have tried! The cake is soft and moist similar to my vanilla cake and because I add buttermilk to the batter, it makes a perfectly tender crumb every time!
Serve this classic cake warm with a scoop of ice cream or a swirl of whipped cream for the ultimate retro dessert!
What is an Upside Down Cake?
They are a classic dessert where sugar and butter are poured into a cake pan, then you add a fruit layer, followed by a buttery cake batter. Once it bakes, you invert it onto a plate to reveal the beautiful layer of lightly caramelized fruit on the top. It’s so impressive, yet easy to make!
This pineapple upside down cake uses easy-to-find ingredients that you can keep in your pantry and fridge for when you’re ready to whip it up.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Pineapple: I use canned pineapple slices because it’s the easiest. Make sure to drain the pineapple juice and blot the slices dry before adding them to your pan.
- Maraschino cherries: These are sweet cherries that are preserved in syrup. Their bright red color pops in this cake! You’ll usually find them in jars in the baking aisle or sometimes they’re with the ice cream cones and toppings because who doesn’t love a classic banana split topped with one of these beauties?!
- For the cake: This is a classic vanilla cake that uses all of the usual ingredients like flour, baking powder, white and light brown sugars, and butter. Feel free to substitute my homemade vanilla cake mix to replace the dry ingredients if you have some stashed in your cupboard.
- Buttermilk: I use buttermilk in the cake batter which gives it a light and tender crumb. You can buy it in the dairy aisle of your grocery store, or make your own buttermilk at home. If you have some buttermilk leftover, try this blueberry buttermilk cake or these lemon blueberry cupcakes. You’ll love them!
- Vanilla extract: I keep it simple and use my favorite vanilla extract, but you could also add a teaspoon of almond or coconut extract if you wanted to add a different flavor to your batter.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can swap out the fruit to make new and exciting upside down cakes! If you don’t have canned pineapple and maraschino cherries in your cupboard, no problem. Try one of these variations instead!
- Banana: Slice up banana for the fruit layer for a sweet topping.
- Peach: Use fresh or canned sliced peaches for the decorative fruit layer.
- Cherry: Canned cherries make an excellent fruit layer and taste delicious when caramelized with butter and brown sugar.
- Strawberry: Enjoy the flavors of summer by laying slices of fresh strawberry into your cake pan on top of the butter and brown sugar.
How to Make Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This recipe is super easy and the result looks so beautiful. Your friends and family will be so impressed!
- Prepare the cake pan. Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper to ensure that the topping doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Prepare topping. Pour the melted butter into the bottom of the pan then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Place the pineapple rings attractively into the pan, also placing 6 pineapple halves upright around the sides of the pan. Put a cherry into the middle of each pineapple ring.
- Combine dry ingredients. Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.
- Combine wet ingredients. Whisk butter and sugars together in a large bowl then add the eggs and vanilla. Continue to whisk until smooth.
- Make batter. Add 1/3 flour mixture to the wet ingredients, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat the steps until everything has been added. Continue to whisk after each addition. Pour the batter over the pineapple and spread it so it’s even.
- Bake. The cake will bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Use foil to tent the cake halfway through the baking time so it doesn’t over-brown. Let the cake rest for at least 10 minutes before placing a serving platter over the top of the cake and carefully flipping it upside down. Remove the parchment and let cool completely before serving.
- Blot the pineapple rings of excess juice before placing them into the bottom of the pan. This helps to prevent a soggy cake top.
- Arrange the pineapples carefully into the bottom of the pan. Remember that what you see at the bottom of the pan is what will be the top of your cake, so you want it to look pretty.
- Let the upside down pineapple cake sit for 10 minutes before releasing it from the pan. If you try to release it too soon, it may fall apart.
Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. It will make sure that the syrupy topping doesn’t stick to the bottom when you flip it over onto a plate. Also, make sure to let it rest in the pan for at least 10-20 minutes.
Make sure your baking powder is fresh! To test to see if it is, drop a teaspoon of baking powder into a ¼ cup of just boiled water. If the baking soda fizzes, it’s still good. If nothing happens, it’s time to replace it.
The easiest way to check for doneness is to stick a toothpick into the middle of the cake and pull it out again. If it comes out clean, your cake is done!
Yes! It will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
I love to serve my pineapple upside down cake warm but it’s equally good at room temperature.
You can also drizzle over some store-bought or homemade caramel sauce for a sweet treat.
Refrigerator: Store any leftover cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can keep it this way for up to 3 days.
Freezing: The best way to freeze leftovers is to cut it into individual slices and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Wrapping them again in aluminum foil is a great way to keep the freezer burn away. The cake will freeze well for up to 3 months.
To serve: Let your slices thaw unwrapped at room temperature before serving. Keep in mind that freezing can change the texture of the cake a little bit, so it might be a bit drier than when it was freshly baked. I like to warm the slices slightly in the microwave and top them with some whipped cream or ice cream. They taste delicious when served this way!
More Delicious Pineapple Recipes
Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe
- 10 pineapple slices , patted dry with a paper towel
- 7 maraschino cherries , patted dry with a paper towel
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep (or a deep pie dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper to avoid the cake sticking.
- Cut 3 pineapple slices in half. In the bottom of the cake pan, pour the melted butter, tilting to coat the bottom. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Arrange the blotted whole pineapple slices over the brown sugar and place the blotted pineapple halves upright evenly around the sides of the pan. Add 1 cherry to the center of each pineapple slice.
- In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.
- Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat with remaining ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Pour the batter evenly over the top of the pineapples. It's ok if some of the pineapples on the edge are still visible.
- Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent the cake with foil halfway through bake time to prevent the top from getting too brown before the center has a chance to fully cook. Some cake may stick to the foil, but don't worry it won't show.
- Let cool at least 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter over the top of the cake and carefully flip it upside down. Remove the parchment and let cool completely.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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