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Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a classic dessert that looks fancy and impressive, but it’s super easy to make – from scratch – in less than an hour!

Moist, fluffy, buttery vanilla cake topped with sweet, juicy caramelized pineapple slices and maraschino cherries…the combination is absolutely delicious, and it’s no wonder why this cake has stood the test of time!

I love making retro recipes. They’re usually made with simple ingredients and are often very easy to make, just like this cake!

An upside-down cake is a single-layer cake where you put a fruit and sugar topping in the bottom of the pan, top it with cake batter, and bake it (so you’re baking it upside-down).

Then, when it comes out of the oven, you invert the cake right-side-up onto a serving dish, and – voilà – the fruit becomes your gorgeous and yummy topping. No frosting needed!

Pineapple is probably the most popular fruit topping used for upside-down cake, but it’s by no means the only one. Other fruit, such as apples, peaches, pears, plums, berries, cherries, and even bananas can be used. You can also add dried fruit and nuts. Lots of possibilities.

Since pineapple is my all-time favorite fruit, this is the one I come back to again and again!

To me, a perfect upside-down cake is one where the cake is not overly sweet (the fruit and sugar topping will be plenty sweet), and it should have a delicate flavor that doesn’t overpower the fruit. And that is exactly what I’ve got for you today.

You don’t even need to bring out the mixer for this one, folks. It’s easy enough to make by hand!

piece of pineapple upside-down cake being lifted from the whole cake with a cake server

Ingredients you need:

  • Butter (salted)
  • Light brown sugar
  • Canned pineapple slices in juice
  • Maraschino cherries (without stems)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt

Here’s a look at how to make Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake:

two images, one of an oven with text that says preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, the other of pineapple slices in a mesh sieve with a measuring cup of juice on the side with text that says drain pineapple, save one-third cup juice
two images, one of a cake pan and a can of cooking spray with text that says spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, and the other of a cake pan with melted butter in it with text that says pour melted butter in the pan
two images, one of a cake pan with brown sugar in it with text that says sprinkle brown sugar over the butter, and the other of the cake pan with pineapple slices in it with text that says arrange pineapple slices over the brown sugar
two images, one of a cake pan with pineapple slices and cherries with text that says place maraschino cherries in the open spaces, and one of a mixing bowl with butter and sugar in it and a wooden spoon with text that says cream butter and granulated sugar
two images, one of a mixing bowl with butter, sugar, egg and vanilla and a wooden spoon with text that says add egg and vanilla, and the other of the ingredients in the mixing bowl mixed together with a wooden spoon with text that says beat until well-combined
two images, one of milk and juice added to the mixing bowl and a wooden spoon with text that says add milk and pineapple juice, and the other of the ingredients mixed together in the bowl with a wooden spoon with text that says stir until well combined
two images, one of a mixing bowl filled with flour, baking powder and salt with a whisk with text that says combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl, the other of batter in a bowl with a wooden spoon with text that says add to the wet ingredients, mix until flour is combined
two images, one of the cake pan with the batter in it with text that says carefully spoon batter into the pan and spread out, the other of an oven with text that says bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean
two images, one of the baked cake in the cake pan on a wire cooling rack with text that says cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes, the other of a knife being run around the edges of the cake in the pan with text that says gently run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen
two images, one of the cake pan covered with a large serving dish with text that says place serving dish over the pan, the other of the cake on the serving dish with text that says carefully flip over onto dish, allow to cool, then enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Two 8-ounce cans of pineapple slices should have 8 slices of pineapple total (a 20-ounce can might have a few more). Since you only need 7 slices for this recipe, enjoy the rest of the slices as a yummy cook’s treat!
  • You can use drained canned crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks or tidbits in place of the rings (a 20-ounce can will do).
  • I like using light brown sugar for the topping because it doesn’t get too dark, but you can use dark brown sugar if you’d like.
  • If you forget to save some of the pineapple juice when you drain the pineapple (I’ve done this quite a few times!), no worries. Just replace it with an equal amount of milk (so you would use 2/3 cup milk total).
  • The cake is done when a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs and no wet batter. Keep an eye on it during those last few minutes to be sure you don’t over-bake it, which can result in a crumbly cake.
  • Don’t wait longer than 5 minutes to invert the cake onto the serving dish. The longer the cake cools, the more the topping will be prone to sticking to the pan.
  • Sometimes you will get a piece or two of uncooperative fruit that will stick to the pan when you flip it over. No biggie. Just lift them out of the pan and place them back on the cake where it belongs. I won’t tell if you don’t!
  • Store leftover cake, covered or in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
slice of pineapple upside-down cake on a white plate with a napkin and fork with the whole cake in the background

I love this cake served when it is still just slightly warm with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream on the side. Sooo good!! But you can also serve it at room temperature or cold.

I hope you try this Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a classic dessert that looks fancy and impressive, but it's super easy to make – from scratch – in less than an hour!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8
Estimated Calories: 337

Ingredients

For the Topping:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 8-ounce cans pineapple slices in juice, you need 7 slices total
  • 13 maraschino cherries

For the Cake:

  • cooking spray
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup milk
  • cup pineapple juice, from the canned pineapple slices
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Drain the pineapple slices; save ⅓ cup of the juice for the cake.
  • Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably nonstick) with cooking spray.
  • Pour the melted butter into the cake pan; swirl it around so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter.
  • Arrange the pineapple slices in the pan on top of the brown sugar in a single layer.
  • Place the maraschino cherries in the centers of the pineapple slices and in any other open spaces between the pineapple slices.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and the granulated sugar until well-combined, light, and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and vanilla; beat until well-combined and the mixture is smooth.
  • Add the milk and reserved pineapple juice; stir until well-combined. Note: The mixture will look a little curdled/broken at this point. It's totally normal!
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients; stir just until the flour is completely combined and the mixture is smooth (don't over-mix the batter, as it can cause the cake to be dense and tough).
  • Gently spoon the batter into the pan and smooth it out, being very careful not to disturb the arrangement of the pineapple and cherries.
  • Bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs (no wet batter). Note: Be careful not to over-bake the cake, as this can make it crumbly.
  • Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Note: Don't wait any longer to flip the cake; the cooler it gets, the more it will be prone to sticking.
  • Run a knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan.
  • Place your serving dish over the cake. Using oven mitts or something else to protect your hands, carefully invert the cake pan onto the serving dish. Remove the cake pan (you can give it a gentle wiggle or lightly tap the pan with a wooden spoon to help it along, but it should come out easily). If any pieces of fruit have stuck to the pan, just remove them and put them back on the cake.
  • Allow the cake to cool either until it is still slightly warm or until it has completely cooled to room temperature.

Notes

  • You can use canned crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks or tidbits in place of the rings (a 20-ounce can will do). Just drain them well and place the cherries evenly around the pan.
  • If you forget to save some of the pineapple juice when you drain the pineapple (I’ve done this quite a few times!), no worries. Just replace it with an equal amount of milk (so you would use 2/3 cup milk total).
  • Store leftover cake, covered or in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

Recipe adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (11th Edition).

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