Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a Crowd is the perfect cake for that upcoming family gathering. Soft, moist yellow cake with caramelized sweet brown sugar topping and sweet citrus bite of sliced pineapple and cherries. No fuss, no frosting, all flavor. Just mix it up and bake it.
Food holidays are funny, right? Like, some of them are soooo exciting. An excuse to eat more tacos and margaritas?!?! I'll take any excuse for Carne Asada and Watermelon Basil Margs. YES PLEASE. Then some of them are super random, like National Raspberry Popover Day - not just popovers, raspberry popovers. Well, we're putting that all aside and celebrating food days because today is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake and we're celebrating in a big way.
By big, I mean a big ass cake. This pineapple upside down cake lives up to it's name 'for a crowd.' A double batch of yellow sheet cake will fill up our 12x18 in baking pan giving us 20 to 30 slices of tropical cake goodness. Why the difference in serving yield? Well, if you want to keep your pineapples intact you'll get 20 pieces of cake, but they're pretty sizable portions so if you're ok with cutting your pineapple slices, this cake will yield more servings.
Is there a food from your youth that just makes you feel like you're home? Pineapple Upside Down Cake is that for me. My dad's favorite cake, it's the automatic go to for his birthday and every Easter. He gives up sweets for lent every. year. It warms every part of my heart to see the look on his face when this pineapple upside down cake walks in the door.
Sigh...doesn't it feel so good to bake for other people? No really, scientists say there are scientific reasons. You should get your dose of feeling good and make this Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a Crowd, then invite over your crowd to help eat it. They will feel good, you'll feel good, everyone's bellies will feel good and isn't that something the world could use a little more of?
The other really great thing about Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a Crowd? It is ridiculously low maintenance. No frosting required, just bake it all in the pan. Just don't forget to let it cool fully before flipping the cake over to serve. Do you know what it looks like to have butter and brown sugar running all over your countertop and cabinets? YOU DON'T WANT TO, TRUST ME. I think the floor is finally loosing it's last layer of sticky.
If preparing in advance, you can definitely refrigerate it overnight just make sure you take it out a few hours before serving so you won't have an issue unmolding the cake. That's it!
What's your favorite sweet treat to make for big gatherings? Did you make this recipe? Tell me about it in the comments!
Pineapple Upside Down Cake For a Crowd
For the Cake
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (570g)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (453g )
- 3 ½ cups granulated sugar (700g )
- 4 large eggs
- 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream (240g )
- 2 cups whole milk (480ml )
Brown Sugar Fruit Topping
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (226g )
- 2 cups brown sugar (400g )
- 2 cans sliced pineapple (drained)
- 1 jar marachino cherries (without stems)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare the pan: melt 2 sticks of unsalted butter and pour into a 12 x 18 x 3 pan. Spread evenly over the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Evenly distribute the sliced pineapple (5 rows of 4) in the pan with a cherry in the middle of each ring. Set aside.
- Prepare the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl if needed and add the sugar. Beat on medium high until incorporated, about 1 minute.
- With the mixer on low and eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and sour cream. Scrape down the bowl if needed and increase speed to medium, mix for 1 minute.
- Working in two batches with the mixer on low, add ½ the flour mixture followed by half the milk. Mix until incorporated and repeat with remaining ingredients. Scrape down bowl if needed, increase speed to medium and mix until ingredients are smooth and incorporated (about 1 minute.)
- Pour over prepared pan, spread evenly with spatula - some of the butter may pool up around the sides, if this happens spread more cake batter in that area but don't worry too much the edged of the cake should be buttery and gooey. Bake on the middle rack in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. The 'top' of the cake will brown slightly during baking and edges may crisp just a touch from the butter and brown sugar, but it is all part of the deliciousness!
- Let cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving. To serve, turn cake over onto a large cutting board or serving platter. If the cake is turned over before the butter and brown sugar cool and thicken, it will leak all over the countertop.
David King says
what can you use in substitute for sour cream
Hi David - you could substitute full-fat/whole milk greek yogurt if you don't have or want sour cream.
after not being able to find the 3 inch deep pan I opted to use 2 9x13 tinfoil pans. it worked out. however I had to cook them for 55 minutes. I am ending up with 8 cakes for a do whop dinner dance we are having at the American legion.
Holly Gordon says
I had the same issue as Beverly did, was not prepared for my kitchenaid mixer to almost spill over. The cake’s been in the oven over 60 minutes now, well-browned all over, but at 45 min. was still jiggly. I’m a nazi about oven temp (2 thermometers in there), don’t open the oven door except to check when done, and am careful about measuring ingredients. Never have this problem with baking, so not sure what I’m doing wrong. It’s for a funeral so I’m grateful for a cake that will help feed a crowd, thank you for the recipe. I’ll find out in 2 days how it came out.
For incorporating flour and milk at the end, if using a standard mixer, try mixing them in by hand a bit before turning on the mixer to prevent splashing milk and flying flour.
Hi Holly -
I'm sorry to hear this recipe gave you a little trouble and for your recent loss. Thank you for your feedback, I hope the end result of the cake was delicious.
Beverly Nobrega says
I made this recipe as stated as a 1X recipe. I put in a 12X18X3 aluminum pan. At 45 min. it was still wiggly in the middle.It looks like it will be 2X as tall as your cake in the picture. Was I supposed to put this in two pans? I am serving 40 ppl. so I made the recipe twice and feel like I'm up to my elbows in cake batter. Please specify. Thanks!
Hi Beverly - You made it in the correct pan! It may need a few more minutes, especially if the oven was opened during the cooking process. The cake will rise the whole depth of the pan but it won't spill over.
I have the correct size pan but it's not 3 inches high. Will this matter?
Yes, this will matter! If the pan is not 3 inches deep you will need to use two pans or the cake will bake over.
I'm super excited to make this for my work group, but I'm worried about oven overflow because your sheet pan looks like it might be deeper than mine. It is a standard half-sheet pan that you're using that's 12x18 and about 1 inch deep?
Hi Anne! Thanks for asking, unfortunately that size pan is definitely not deep enough. You want a cake pan and forgive me if I'm wrong but it sounds like you're referring to a sheet tray for baking (like cookies and what not.) The 12x18 size pan I'm using can be purchased at any craft store like Michaels, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, etc in the cake department. It should be 3 inches deep. Hope you love this cake as much as we do!
Carol Davidson says
I want to use 5 9 x 12 cake pans as I don't have 12 x 18 cake pans, but am having trouble figuring out the amounts. Do you have it broken down into a 9 x 12 size?
Hi Carol - I have not made this recipe in 9x12 pans. Technically a 12x18 pan is a half sheet and a 9x12 and a quarter sheet so it should, in theory, fit in 2 9x12 pans. Just make sure you leave room at least 1/2 inch from the lip of the pan as this cake gets a fair amount of rise during baking.
Baker 👩🍳 says
I am making this now. 40 minutes at 350 degrees and the cake is still way undercooked. Top was getting brown , so I put foil loosely on top and the cake stuck to it! What a mess.
It smells good. hope it will turn out ok since it had a lot of expensive ingredients in it, and it is for a birthday celebration tomorrow.
The cake was delicious!!!
sorry for the delay! I'm so happy it came out great!
The cake will brown on top while baking, but a nice golden brown. Depending on the type of pan used the baking time may vary (also preheating/whether oven has been opened, etc. can contribute to longer bake times). Per your other comment, I'm thrilled you enjoy the end result. So happy this was a delicious recipe for you!
Lauren, I will definitely make this again!! The cake was very moist and flavorful. I will pass along the recipe to friends who really enjoyed it, too.
So, I made this today. First of all, it tastes great! I doubled the recipe because I understood it to make one sheet pan of cake. However,something went wrong. Two cans of pineapple rings is not enough for one sheet pan—I ended up cutting my slices thinner to make enough rings and my sheet pans must be larger because I could fit four rows of 6 rings. Which makes the next issue even harder to understand. I had cake dough gone wild in my oven. There was smoke...so I checked my oven, and batter was running off all sides of one of my pans, and I think the top pan must have been dripping into the bottom one. The bottom of my oven had little cake dough sand castles everywhere that the batter had dripped. Some of it started burning as it reached the oven element. Then my smoke alarm went off and the dog freaked out, so I had to let him out. Then I mucked up both my oven mitts pulling the bottom pan out of the oven. I scooped out all the sand castles, fighting the fires as the grease flamed up when it contacted the elements. I lined the oven rack with tin foil and carefully put the pan back in. Saved! But then I had to clean up the dough that dripped onto my counter, the floor, I stepped in some of it, and meanwhile my dog was still outside barking like the whole neighbourhood was on fire, I had all my doors open to air out the smoke...and did I’d I mention it was -20* C here today?
In other words, EPIC FAIL!
I think there is too much butter and maybe too much batter....
Oh no!!! I'm so sorry to hear things didn't work out! Would you happen to know the exact measurements of the pan you used? I've made this cake many times for our restaurant using a 12x18 pan and have never had a problem with it cooking over the sides. A typical 'sheet pan' style cake using a box mix will fit in a standard 9x13 pan, but this uses standard bakery sizes (half sheet vs full sheet cake) so it requires a 12x18 size cake pan. Either way, I'm glad to hear it tasted good, but I'm sorry you had such a hectic afternoon!
I’d like to make this in a regular full size sheet pan....it’s shallow, but for a wedding, so that’s fine....do you think a double recipe, with extra pineapple slices would work?
Hi Robin -
A double recipe in a full sheet cake will work (24x18) but it will need to be at least 3 inches deep. If the pan is not deep I would consider only 1.5x the recipe to avoid the pan overflowing during baking.
I enjoy baking exceptional cakes researching the best recipes. I made this cake last night, following the above recipe exactly as written, for a "Hula" Birthday party today, and it was overwhelmingly loved by all. Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe. ????
On to the next one...☺
Hi Maria - Thank you SO much for your feedback. A Hula Birthday Party sounds so fun, I am so thrilled to hear everyone enjoyed the cake! Happy baking!!
Anne Murphy says
That looks delicious! And I love the big recipe - we're coming into the time of year when we all seem to be getting ready for end of year potlucks and family gatherings and graduations and... need a dessert we can easily make (and serve!) for a crowd. This one ticks all the boxes!
Pineapple upside down cake is the traditional birthday cake of my husband's family. He's a twin, so I love how many this sheet pan version serves! Will have to try it.
I love a good pineapple upside down cake and this one looks SO delicious! Your photos are beautiful and my daughter is obsessed with pineapples right now...she’s probably love this.
Kim @ Berly's Kitchen says
This is such a great idea! Most of the time, pineapple upside down cakes are made in a bundt pan. It’s awesome that you made it baking dish! That means more to go around!
Kim @ Berly's Kitchen says
This is such a great idea! Most of the time, pineapple upside down cakes are made in a bundt pan. It's awesome that you made it baking dish! That means more to go around!
I read that recently! It's so funny how family traditions adapt different ways of doing things. My family has never made this cake in a bundt pan, I had never heard of that, but sounds equally delicious!
Eileen Kelly says
This yummy pineapple upside down cake sends me back to great memories of my childhood. I love your recipe and I can't wait to make it, My family will love it and my Mom will love to take a walk down memory lane when we enjoy a slice.
Jenni LeBaron says
I had a friend who used to make a similar recipe and this totally brings back those warm feelings of friendship. Your recipe looks lovely! I especially love your addition of sour cream to keep everything moist and rich.
Your photos are gorgeous, this looks absolutely delicious!
thank you Carrie!
I loved the receipe. But being vegetarian wanted to know I can substitute eggs with the same results?
I haven't tried it without the eggs. In some recipes I know you can do a 'flaxseed egg' but I'm not sure how it would affect the texture. Perhaps try halving the recipe first to see how it changes?