I’m not sure who made the original recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake but I’m sure it was someone who had more than enough pineapples to go around. What sets our recipe apart is the unexpected twist we’ve added to the traditional pineapple upside down cake. Coconut!! Basically giving it a tropical flavor that will take you right to Puerto Rico. The result? A pineapple upside down cake recipe using (time-saving) yellow cake mix cake that is moist, flavorful, and really pretty.

This recipe also has optional rum ( Puerto Rico has the worlds BEST rum) for even more rich flavor.

Shot of a pineapple upside down cake with a piece missing from the corner Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe Using Cake Mix

Why We Love this Cake Around Here

In the realm of desserts, few things give as much excitement as the sight of a freshly flipped Upside Down Pineapple Cake. What is it? Pineapple? Cake? Are those cherries? Tell me MORE!

This dessert, with its caramelized pineapple topping and moist cake, is definitely celebration of flavor and ease which I love and I’m sure you do too!

This version of the traditional Pineapple Upside Down Cake started from a desire to save time ( insert yellow cake mix) haha but also blend my hubbies cultural heritage of Puerto Rico with the convenience of everyday cooking. There’s something incredibly magical about turning over a cake to reveal a beautifully caramelized pineapple design on top. It’s like unveiling a piece of art every time! It’s a favorite for sure!

Picking the Perfect Pineapple

Pineapple picking is a lot like watermelon picking. I usually just pray for the best. haha! But there are a few things to look for when picking out a fresh pineapple. If you don’t want to use a fresh one then opt for the can version which I use in my recipe.

  • Look for a pineapple with vibrant green leaves. This is a good indicator that the pineapple is fresh and ripe.
  • Gently squeeze the pineapple. It should have a slight give all the way around.
  • Sniff the bottom of the pineapple. If it has a that pineapple aroma, it’s a good sign that it’s ripe and ready to cut!

Key Ingredients and Their Roles!

  • Cake Mix: Using a yellow cake mix as the base saves time and guarantees a fluffy, perfectly baked cake every time. Plus you will have the energy to make it more often!
  • Pineapple Rings: The star of the show, pineapple rings are not only juicy but also create a beautiful pattern that makes this cake a showstopper.
  • Maraschino Cherries: These add pops of color and a sweet, slightly tart flavor that complements the pineapple beautifully.
  • Brown Sugar: When melted with butter, it forms a rich caramel that coats the pineapple, transforming into a deliciously sticky topping.
  • Butter: It enhances the richness of the caramel and gives the cake a moist, tender crumb.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake IngredientsPineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe Using Cake Mix

Tips & Tricks

  • This recipe saves time by using a yellow cake mix to help speed up prep. But if you have your own favorite yellow cake mix recipe feel free to use that.
  • Every cake pan has a different bake time. If in doubt stick a butter knife or toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean its done. If not then stick it back in 10 minutes at a time until you have a clean knife or toothpick
  • We recommend you use a 9×13 pan. I’ve also used a 8×11 pan and it took about 50 minutes to bake the cake at 350 degrees.

Step-by-Step: Baking the Perfect Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe using Yellow Cake Mix

Preparing the Pineapple and Cherries for the Cake

Before you can assemble your pineapple upside down cake, you’ll need to prepare the pineapple rings. Here’s how to do it if you are using a fresh pineapple start with number 1. If you’re using canned pineapples skip to number 5.

  1. Start by cutting off the top and bottom of the pineapple.
  2. Stand the pineapple upright and use a sharp knife to carefully slice off the skin, making sure to remove brown spots.
  3. Once the outer layer is removed, lay the pineapple on its side and slice it into rings, about 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Use a round cookie cutter or a knife to remove the core from each pineapple ring. Or use a pineapple cutter!
  5. Pat the pineapple rings dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
  6. To prepare the cherries, drain them and blot dry with a paper towel.
  7. Set the cherries and pineapples aside in separate bowls.

Now that your pineapple rings are ready, it’s time to move on to making the cake batter!

Draining pineapples in colander
Blotting pineapples

Prepping the Pan

  1. Melt the Butter: Start by melting butter. You can melt the butter directly in the baking pan ( microwave or warm oven) then sprinkle brown sugar evenly over it. This creates the base for your caramelized topping.

Assembling the Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  1. Arrange the Pineapple and Cherries and Coconut : Place pineapple rings over the brown sugar mixture, and put a maraschino cherry in the center of each ring. This step is where you can get creative with your design! In a mini food processor pulse, 1 cup of shredded coconut until finely chopped.
Brown Sugar and Pineapple slices in the bottom of a pan. Prepping for pineapple upside down cake.
Pineapple, cherries, and brown sugar at the bottom of a dish.
Coconut shredded in a mini food chopper.

Making the Cake Batter

To make the cake batter for your pineapple upside down cake, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the Cake Mix: Blend the cake mix according to the package instructions, usually involving water, oil, and eggs.
  2. Add coconut flakes and vanilla and mix according to cake mix box directions.

You can choose to make one of these switches:

  • If the cake mix box calls for 1 cup of water then use 1/2 cup rum 1/2 cup of water.
  • You can also use pineapple juice instead of water.

Pineapple juice going into cake mix.
Coconut going into a cake mixer. Gray Stand Mixer from Kitchen aid in a white kitchen.
Cake batter pouring over pineapple, cherries and brown sugar.

Baking the Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Bake the Cake: Pour the batter over the arranged brown sugar and fruit.
  • Bake as directed on the cake mix box.
  • Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • This aroma is one of the best!! It will fill your kitchen friends.

The Big Pineapple Upside Down Cake Reveal

  • Flip and Serve: When the cake is cooled, loosen the edges with a butter knife. Place a platter on top of the cake pan. Gently flip over onto platter. The cake pan will still be hot so use oven mitts for this process.
Flipping cake upside down to be right side up

Serving this Beautiful Cake

Serve it warm or at room temperature. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream AND enjoy!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

FAQs ( Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe Using Cake Mix)

Can I Use Fresh Pineapple Instead of Canned?

Absolutely! Fresh pineapple can be used, just make sure it’s sliced to a similar thickness as canned rings for even cooking.

How Do I Prevent the Cake from Sticking?

Grease the sides of the pan well, and make sure to flip the cake while it’s still warm but not too hot to handle.

How Long Will the Pineapple Cake Keep?

This cake tastes best when eaten the same day but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Can I Make It Ahead of Time?

While freshest on the day of, you can bake the cake a day in advance. Just warm it slightly before serving to recapture the gooey, caramelized texture.


Our deliciously easy pineapple upside down cake recipe using yellow cake mix has the perfect twist! Coconut! The combination of caramelized pineapple, buttery cake, and tropical coconut will hopefully give you just a small taste of Puerto Rico! This is going to perfect for hosting season ( hello summer brunches) or just a weekend treat for the family!

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe Using Cake Mix

Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe Using Cake Mix

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Delicious Pineapple Upside Down Cake with an island flair! Bites of coconut and a deep rum flavor makes this recipe a favorite. Serve with fresh whipped cream to bring it all together.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1- 20 oz can pineapple slices, drained
  • 1 -16 oz jar maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1 cup of sweet shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • Oil ( according to cake mix)
  • Eggs ( according to cake mix)
  • Cooking Spray


Pineapple Topping

Spray your (9x13) cake pan lightly with cooking spray.

Spread the brown sugar on the bottom of the baking dish.

Then arrange the pineapple slices on top of brown sugar. Place maraschino cherries in the middle of each pineapple and around it. Set aside.

Pineapple Cake Prep

In a mini food processor using the knife blade, pulse 1 cup of shredded coconut until finely chopped. Set aside.

Next, prepare a box of yellow cake mix following the directions on the box, but you can make one or both of these substitutions:

  1. If the cake mix box calls for 1 cup of water, then use ½ cup rum and ½ cup water instead.
  2. You can also use pineapple juice instead of water

    Next add coconut flakes and vanilla. Mix according to cake mix box directions.

Pour the batter over pineapples and cherries.

Bake according to cake mix box directions.

When the cake is done, loosen the edges with a butter knife.

Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before flipping onto a serving platter. Use oven mitts because cake pan will still be warm.

Serve with whipped cream.  


You can keep this refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Serve with whipped cream.

The default cake pan is a 9x13. But you can use any size cake pan. Just make sure you adjust the baking time. If in doubt use a butter knife to test doneness. If you stick the knife in the middle of the cake and it come out clean it's done. If not then it needs more baking time.

Make sure you drain the pineapples and cherries. Too much moisture will make the cake soggy.

Cake taste great warm!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 350mgCarbohydrates: 72gFiber: 3gSugar: 52gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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