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Grandma’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Indulge in this classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake, just like your grandma used to make it! A classic brown sugar crust with a light vanilla cake. 

side view of a slice of pineapple cake on a white plate next to a fork

I know some of you are living in a climate where it must be unbearable to turn on your ovens right now. It is especially hot at the lake this week, but the evenings are nice and cool, and it’s the perfect time to prepare a dessert.

A few weeks ago, my mom came to visit and I thought it would be the ideal time for us to prepare one of my grandmother’s cakes together. She sent me this Pineapple Upside Down Cake awhile bake, but as it was my first upside-down cake, I wasn’t certain I would be able to achieve it on my first try.

Together we deciphered my grandmother’s recipe, who’s instructions were lacking a bit. Between the two of us, we made some assumptions and everything turned out awesome. Grandma’s recipe called for two cups of brown sugar for the bottom of the cake. Now I know that grandma liked her sugar, but this was a bit of an overkill. So we reduced the sugar and proceeded on.

picture of a woman standing next to a counter with pineapple upside down cake ingredients

There was not a whole lot of flour in the recipe and even I questioned if it was going to work. There were no notes to whip the egg whites, which we determined was needed in to order to add a bit of height to the batter.

side view of a whole pineapple upside down cake on a cake stand

Whipping the egg whites was an important part that grandma failed to mention! This process adds dimension and structure to the batter and is used as a leavening agent. When the egg whites are combined with the flour and baking soda, it is important to fold the ingredients together gently so as not to deflate the egg whites. Use a spatula and turn the ingredients over and stir gently together.

a half eaten slice of pineapple cake on a white plate

Needless to say, after a couple trials and error, we popped the cake in the oven and hoped for the best. Thirty-five or so minutes later, I turned the skillet oven and held my breath. “Looks like a pineapple upside-down cake,” I said. After the first two bites, I thought I had done grandma proud. She would have served this at one of her dinners for sure.

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side view of a slice of pineapple upside down cake topped with a maraschino cherry

Grandma’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 9″ cake


  • 1/2 C Unsalted butter
  • 1 C Light brown sugar
  • 68 Pineapple slices
  • 4 Large eggs, separated
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1 C All-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • Cherries, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large, 9-inch skillet, melt butter in the oven while it’s preheating. Remove from oven and stir in brown sugar; mix until well combined. Line the bottom of the skillet with pineapple slices.
  3. Beat egg whites on medium-high speed, slowly adding sugar until medium stiff peaks form.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add flour and baking powder and mix until combine. Gently fold in egg-whites, turning the batter over and over with a spatula.
  5. Once batter is well mixed, pour batter in the skillet. Bake at 350° F 30-35 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
  6. Allow cake to rest for 10-15 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges of the cake. Put a plate on top of the skillet, and use two hands and invert the cake onto the plate. You may need to tap the bottom of the cake to help release from the pan. Top with fresh cherries.

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Recipes from my friends:

Pineapple Coconut Bars from Life Love and Sugar

Pineapple Upside down Milkshake from Grandbaby Cakes

Pineapple Cupcakes from The First Year Blog

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16 thoughts on “Grandma’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake”

    1. Avatar photo
      Janet Gardner

      My husband loved it so much he had 5 slices. He tells me his mother made pinneapple up side down for him and it was the best. Really he loved it thank you so much for sharing. I have tried several recipes your grandma has won the 1st place award at my house.

  1. Avatar photo
    Barbara Raine

    My Mom would use the cherries, but she also put pecan halves where the slices of pineapple came together.

  2. Your intro says it is a “light vanilla cake”. I see no vanilla in the recipe ~ but I guess it could just be added.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Candice, you are correct, there is no actual vanilla in this recipe, but because of the brown sugar, the cake is vanilla-like

  3. Avatar photo
    Trish - Mom On Timeout

    Oooh! I love family recipes and this cake looks perfect! I have so many recipes from my Nana that I have to “interpret” because the directions are not complete – at least not to me 😉 Love that you figured this all out!

  4. Avatar photo
    Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel

    I’m totally jealous of your family recipes! I wish we had stuff like that. This cake looks so awesome!

  5. Avatar photo
    Lindsay @ Life, Love and Sugar

    I love pineapple upside down cake! This looks delish and I love that it’s your grandmother’s recipe 🙂

  6. Avatar photo
    Danae @ Recipe Runner

    This made me laugh. My grandma’s recipes are also rather vague on instructions leaving me guessing what she really wanted done. It looks like you and your mom did a great job on the cake, it looks delicious!

  7. Avatar photo
    Sam @ SugarSpunRun

    I’ve been wanting to make a pineapple upside down cake recently, this looks like a great recipe!

  8. I love pineapple upside down cake, and I love discovering new ways to make it. This looks and sounds beautiful. A definite must-try this summer. xo, Catherine