Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

April 20: National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day

Whenever Islander brings a pineapple upside-down cake to a potluck, her mainland friends automatically assume that she chose to bake it because she wanted to share a Hawaiian-style dessert with them. Although this cake was popularized by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole) in the 1920s when canned pineapple was a novelty, it is ironic to think that a dish is labeled Hawaiian because it has pineapple in it (the Hawaiian word for pineapple is halakahiki, meaning “foreign fruit”; pineapple was introduced to Hawaii from Latin America and has come to symbolize Hawaiian hospitality).

The real reason she bakes pineapple upside-down cake is because it is one of the easier desserts to prepare. It does not require any frosting or additional decorations and is a colorful cake on its own that adds a tropical taste to any event. And even though other guests still associate Islander and her home state with this cake, she does not mind because it is a delicious dessert for potlucks and especially on its own food holiday, National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day.


(Adapted from


  • 1 box (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 large can (20 ounces) plus 1 small can (8 ounces) pineapple rings, drained and juice reserved (we used Dole brand)
  • 1 /2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (we used C&H brand golden brown)
  • 1 jar of maraschino cherries, drained


Line a 13×9-inch rectangle pan with wax paper. Pour melted butter on the bottom of the pan. Arrange a layer of pineapple rings over the butter.  Sprinkle brown sugar over them. Place cherries inside the rings and, if desired, in between the pineapple spaces.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/3 cup of the drained juice from the can of pineapple rings with the cake mix, eggs and oil.  Blend until smooth.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pour the batter over the fruits in the pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and let cool. Turn the pan upside down onto a platter, cookie sheet or cake board.  Carefully peel off the wax paper from the top. Slice and serve.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


  • For a more intense pineapple taste, use a pineapple-flavored cake mix.
  • Thanks to Auntie Lani C. who always gives us a box of pineapples to take back to the mainland after our homecoming vacations.
  • When Islander’s family hosts visitors in Hawaii, one of the tourist attractions we take them to is the Dole Plantation on Oahu. There is a short train ride around the pineapple fields, a huge souvenir store, a snack shop featuring pineapple ingredients, a tropical garden tour and the world’s largest maze. Read a short historical note about Dole’s pineapple upside-down cake from the Food Reference site.

Dole Plantation