Vegan Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This simple, sweet vegan pineapple upside-down cake has a soft vanilla cake topped with baked-in pineapple slices and maraschino cherries. This will be your new favorite cake because it’s so easy to make and yet so glamorous!

A slice of vegan pineapple upside down cake sits in front of the rest of the cake.

I’m a self-professed pineapple hater, and yet I love this recipe. I should say I used to be a pineapple hater. My tastebuds have adapted over the years (thankfully) and now I love all things pineapple, including this piña colada smoothie.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • The topping combines melted vegan butter and brown sugar to infuse every slice with a caramel-like goodness
  • Sliced pineapples are patted dry to remove as much liquid as possible to create the perfect cake that doesn’t overflow the pan.
  • Adding a piece of buttered parchment paper to the bottom of the pie pan makes the topping stick less and helps the finished cake look prettier.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Vegan butter — You can use storebought Earth Balance or Miyokos or make your own homemade vegan butter.
  • Brown sugar — I prefer light brown sugar for this recipe, but you can substitute dark brown or make homemade brown sugar.
  • Pineapple slices — Canned pineapple slices work best for this recipe, but if you prefer fresh, here’s more on how to cut a pineapple.
  • Maraschino cherries — One jar of maraschino cherries is enough.
  • Flour — I recommend all-purpose flour for this light cake.
  • Cornstarch — We’ll add a little cornstarch but you can substitute arrowroot powder.
  • Salt — Plain table salt or sea salt works.
  • Baking soda + baking powder — Make sure yours is fresh by testing a bit of baking soda in vinegar and baking powder in hot water. If it bubbles, your batch is good to go.
  • Vegetable oil — You can use plain vegetable oil or any neutral oil, such as olive oil.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vegan sour cream — I use either Forager’s or Tofutti’s vegan sour cream.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vinegar — I always go for apple cider vinegar with a cake because of its mellow flavor, but you can substitute white vinegar.

Ingredient Spotlight

The top and bottom of a fresh pineapple have been chopped off. A hand holds a knife, cutting down the outer edge of the pineapple to remove the outer layer.

What Pineapple is Best for Upside Down Cake?

Although it’s tempting to use fresh pineapple, canned is actually your best option. Because canned pineapples are smaller, it allows you to add more to the topping, making for a more dramatic look. In addition, it’s easier. A 20-once can of sliced pineapples yields 10 slices which is exactly what you’ll need for this recipe.

How to Make Vegan Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  1. Make the topping by drizzling melted vegan butter into a pan and sprinkling brown sugar on top. 
  2. Arrange the pineapples on top of the brown sugar, and add a cherry in each center.
  3. Make the cake batter by stirring together the wet mixture with the dry.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the pan with the pineapple topping.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the baked cake to cool for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a serving dish.
  7. Let the cake to cool completely before slicing.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions:

Step One: Make the Topping

  1. Distribute melted butter into a deep-dish pie pan (9×2) or cake pan, tilting it to make sure every edge of the pan is coated. Sprinkle with brown sugar. 
  2. Prepare the pineapples by removing them from the can and blotting them dry with a paper towel.
  3. Arrange 7 of the pineapples on top of the brown sugar, and add a cherry in the center of each.
  4. Cut the 3 remaining rings in half and arrange them around the edges of the pan.
  5. Add a cherry to the center of these as well and fill in other holes.
  6. Place this in the fridge.
Looking down on a pie plate lined with pineapple rings with maraschino cherries inside.

Step Two: Make the Cake Batter

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, including the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  2. Stir together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, including the vegetable oil, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, water, and vinegar. 
  3. Pour the wet mixture in with the dry and stir together vigorously, until you don’t see clumps of flour. 
  4. Remove the pan from the fridge and spoon topping evenly over the top.
Cake batter is being poured over a pie pan lined with pineapple rings and cherries.

Step Three: Bake

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. A tester inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean, but a few crumbs are ok.

Step Three: Invert and Cool

When it’s ready, remove the cake from the oven and set it on a rack to cool. Set your timer for 15 minutes. When the time is up, run a butter knife carefully around the edges of the pan and then invert the cake onto a serving dish.

This cake will serve better if you let it cool completely before cutting.

Frequently-Asked Questions

How long should you wait to flip an upside-down cake?

You should wait 10 to 15 minutes before flipping or inverting your upside-down cake. This allows the residual baking to stop and the cake firms up as it cools. If you wait too long, the cake will stick to the sides of the pan.

Should you put a pineapple upside-down cake in the fridge?

This cake is very moist and therefore should be stored in the fridge. You can store the whole cake or individual slices in an airtight container.

Serving Suggestions

Serve pineapple upside down cake slices chilled or slightly warmed with some tasty toppings, such as:

Storage Tips

Store leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Freezing will change the texture of the pineapple, but it will still taste great.

A slice of vegan pineapple upside down cake shows pineapples and maraschino cherries on top. The rest of the cake is behind it.

More Vegan Fruit Desserts

If you love this vegan pineapple upside down cake, you should try these vegan fruit-infused desserts!

I hope you enjoy this vegan pineapple-upside down cake as much as we do!

Looking down on a cake with pineapples and maraschino cherries on the outside.

Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake

A rich, moist, buttery cake is served upside down, to show off the elegant, tangy, and delicious pineapple topping. That's why everyone loves this vegan pineapple upside down cake.
5 from 1 vote
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 250kcal
Author: Marly

Ingredients

Topping

  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 10 pineapple slices
  • 20 maraschino cherries

Cake:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup vegan sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.

For the Topping:

  • Distribute melted butter into a deep-dish pie pan (9×2) or cake pan, tilting it to make sure every edge of the pan is coated. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly across the pan.
  • Prepare the pineapples by removing them from the can and blotting them dry with a paper towel. Arrange 7 of the pineapples on top of the brown sugar, and add a cherry in the center of each. Cut the 3 remaining rings in half and arrange them around the edges of the pan, and add a cherry to the center of these as well. Place this in the fridge.

For the Cake:

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, including the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • Stir together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, including the vegetable oil, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, water, and vinegar.
  • Pour the wet mixture in with the dry and stir together vigorously, until you don't see clumps of flour.
  • Remove the pan from the fridge and spoon topping evenly over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. A tester inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean, but a few crumbs are ok.
  • When it's ready, remove the cake from the oven and set it on a rack to cool. Set your timer for 15 minutes. When the time is up, run a butter knife around the edges of the cake and the pan. Then invert the cake onto a serving dish. This cake will serve better if you let it cool completely before cutting.
  • Store leftover cake slices in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Freezing will chang the texture of the pineapple, but it will still taste great.

Recommended Equipment

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Notes

*I also made a gluten-free version by using gluten-free baking flour mixture
Nutrition Facts
Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 250 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Sodium 234mg10%
Potassium 73mg2%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 27g30%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 550IU11%
Vitamin C 3.9mg5%
Calcium 8mg1%
Iron 0.6mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

4 Responses to Vegan Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyColleen Reply

    I live in the sticks and don’t have access to vegan sour cream. Could I substitute soy milk clabbered with the vinegar, or coconut milk in this recipe?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Colleen. I grew up in the sticks and my sister still leaves near that small town where we grew up, so I understand small-town grocery stores. They don’t stock things like vegan sour cream! It’s such a small quantity used, that I’m tempted to recommend just to leave it out. It will be a thick batter, but it should still be very good. Your idea of the soy milk clabbered with the vinegar in the recipe is a good one, too. And I would definitely try an equal quantity of full-fat coconut milk if I didn’t have vegan sour cream on hand. I hope this is helpful. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAlberto Reply

    This is my first pineapple upside down cake… and it was AMAZING!!!! Super easy to make and delicious. My family also loved it. Thanks!!!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Alberto! I’m so glad you liked this recipe. I have seen some complicated recipes and was happy to develop this one that is simple and yet still tasty. Happy baking!

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