Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

finished pineapple upside-down cake
Pineapple upside-down cake

I’ve learned in the past year or so that I am Sugar Addict. Not something I’m proud of. I tried once before to give up sugar and failed, but one of my goals this year was to try again. I want to at least cut down the amount of sugar ingested, because let’s face it – cutting it out completely is nearly impossible because sugar is incorporated into to so many foods these days. Cooking from scratch often helps. Baking for birthdays does not.

Not that I can blame Papa. After all, his birthday only comes once a year. He claims he doesn’t need anything, so cooking or baking for him is about all the special treatment he gets (other than additional hugs and kisses). So when the man asks for Pineapple Upside-Down cake for his birthday, his wife indulges … both in making and helping to eat it (sigh).

Betty Crocker 1950's cookbook

This recipe was adapted from our trusty used-so-much-it’s-falling-apart Betty Crocker cookbook from 1950. It’s such a wonderful classic cookbook, not filled with instructions that start with “open one can of…”. Hee, hee … except this one does start like that! But it’s opening a can of pineapple, so it’s still Real Food, in my opinion.

pineapple upside-down cake - pineapple, pecans and sugar

I’d call this a one-pan recipe if it weren’t for mixing the cake batter separately.  But it’s so easy to make!

First you start by melting butter and brown sugar in a pan. Then you add the fruit and nuts, after taking it off the heat. Normally we get pineapple rings, but I decided to try chunks this time. I think it turned out rather pretty – and we probably had slightly more pineapple per cake slice this way. I had grabbed a 20 oz can of pineapple; I used only about 2/3 – 3/4 of the can (so approx. 16 oz) and the rest of the juice and fruit went to our fruitaholic, bottomless pit (aka “Little Chick”).

There are no maraschino cherries on our cake, because we typically don’t keep them supplied in our household. However, they do add a bit of color and fun when used. Technically I suppose the nuts might be optional, but in our household they aren’t – it’s that whole idea of pecans + brown sugar + butter = praline. Yum!

pineapple upside-down cake - eggs whipped

I believe the cake would be considered a type of sponge cake, although Betty doesn’t call it that in the cookbook. The most important part about the whole cake-making process is beating the eggs. In this case, you can’t just beat them until they look mixed. They need to be beaten until they look frothy and actually start to thicken a bit. (Wow. Check out those pale looking store-bought eggs! I can’t wait until the chickens are laying again!)

pouring cake batter over pineapple upside-down cake

Once the other ingredients are added to the eggs, the batter needs to be gently poured over the pineapple. Waiting to start the cake batter while letting the pineapple mixture rest will help. It allows the sugar to set a bit – especially if you have a cool house like ours.  Then adding the cake batter won’t disturb the sugar.

Pop the pan in the oven and wait for 45 minutes for that sugary deliciousness to finish!

finished pineapple upside-down cake

Flipping it over onto a serving plate while it’s still hot can get a little tricky. Our tip is to use large oven mitts to protect your hands. I’m not much of a As Seen on TV kind of shopper, but a few years ago we were introduced to the Ove’ Glove and wouldn’t want to live without ours now.

You can get by with just one, if you place your hand in the center of the serving plate while flipping.

We love to eat this cake for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack-time. Oops – that’s just me. I mean, we like to serve it with whipping cream and slightly warm.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings: 12 servings


  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • one 16-20 oz can pineapple slices or chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tbsp juice from fruit
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • optional: maraschino cherries


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Drain pineapple slices or chunks, keeping 6 Tbsp of juice in reserve.
  • In a cast-iron (or other oven-safe) pan, melt 1/3 cup butter over low heat. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter; stir and heat until sugar has melted. Turn off heat. Smooth brown sugar glaze.
  • Arrange pineapple neatly over the melted sugar. Sprinkle with pecan pieces. Optional: arrange a few maraschino cherries among the pineapple pieces. Set pan aside to cool slightly.

Cake Batter

  • In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until thick and lemon-colored (approximately 5 minutes). Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Add the pineapple juice and vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix in all at once.
  • Gently pour the cake batter mix over the pineapple/sugar mixture. Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 45 min or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Hold a non-plastic serving plate on top of the pan (the plate should be larger) and quickly but carefully turn the pan and plate upside-down. Keep the pan upside for a few minutes to allow the extra brown sugar mixture time to drip down.
  • Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

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4 Replies to “Pineapple Upside-Down Cake”

  1. I also have a problem with sweets, and although I have gone “cold turkey” for months at a time, now I’m trying to come up with a compromise. Baking is a challenge, as you say! But I’ve been cutting the amount of sugar in baked goods, a little more each time I make a recipe. It probably wouldn’t work in everything, but for my apple things, it’s sometimes surprising how little sugar is needed compared to the original recipe.

    1. Cold turkey is really, really hard – and not just physically. I guess you could say I’m trying to give up as much processed sugar as possible. If I need a sweetener, I’m trying to limit and stick with honey, real maple syrup, etc.
      I think Americans have gotten so used to adding sugar here and there that we don’t pay attention anymore. I’ve gotten to where I add fruit and cinnamon to my morning oatmeal; then I let my family add their sugar doses 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I love you!!!! It has been so hard to find this recipe! This is the one I grew up with and made for my children. Have tried other recipes for the cake, but this one wins hands down. I haven’t made it for awhile, but wanted to make it for Christmas this year, and to share at a potluck. Because the leavening and salt are small amounts, I am going to try it with Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Baking Mix (for flour, baking powder and salt); the GF mix does have buttermilk in it, but I think that will just make it yummier. Wish me luck!
    Thanks again,

    1. How wonderful! I hope your GF version went well. I’m sure, as you said, that the buttermilk would only enhance the flavor.

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