This gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake has a buttery, caramelized brown sugar pineapple/cherry topping with the most, tender delicious gluten-free white cake underneath.

This is the best pineapple upside down cake I’ve ever had – gluten-free or not. See the posts below for the tricks that make it extra delicious!

pineapple upside-down cake

If you’re looking for a gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake reminiscent of the original classic, this recipe is it!

The earliest recipes for pineapple upside-down cake were printed in the 1920s. The unique cake soared in popularity with Dole hosted a baking contest for pineapple desserts, and its been an American classic cake recipe ever since!

I love that this cake is made with basic simple ingredients that are pantry staples. No need to worry about buying fresh pineapple—in fact, all the better to use the classic canned pineapple slices the recipe was originally made with. It will remind you of your grandmother’s pineapple upside down cake!

This classic cake makes a statement with the bold pineapple ring design. It looks so fun and eye-catching when dotted with the maraschino cherries.

I knew I had to come up with a gluten-free version of pineapple cake to rival the original, and thankfully, I’ve achieved my goal!

My version of gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake has a soft, pillowy crumb and is always moist. It’s one of my all-time favorite gluten-free desserts!

Just like this gluten-free cake, I use a combination of sour cream and oil instead of butter to keep the cake rich and the crumb light. For another gluten-free dessert try these gluten-free lemon bars.

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Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Soft and pillowy crumb
  • Made with easy-to-find gluten-free ingredients
  • Bakes up in under an hour
  • Makes a stable and reliable cake
  • Show-stopping appearance

Video

Ingredients You’ll Need

The biggest trick to making a delicious gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake is to use a combination of sour cream and oil for richness instead of butter.

While I love butter, sour cream and oil produce a lighter crumb for gluten-free cake. Really, it’s like a buttery cake without the butter!

I also use this trick in this gluten-free birthday cake and this gluten-free red velvet cake. Butterfat causes gluten-free flour to clump up and make a denser crumb. Sour cream is also the key ingredient in this gluten-free coffee cake!

Ingredients for pineapple upside-down cake laid out on a countertop
  • Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour: This gluten-free cake turns out best when you use a high-quality 1:1 gluten-free flour blend. Look for a gluten free all purpose flour blend that contains xanthan gum so the cake has the structure it needs. This is my favorite brand for this recipe.
  • Sour Cream/Oil: Adds richness and tenderness to the cake without weighing down the crumb. I usually use vegetable oil or coconut oil.
  • Lemon Juice: Lemon juice helps to tenderize the crumb. It’s the secret ingredient in my gluten-free pumpkin bread as well.
  • Baking Powder: I use a good amount in this recipe for the perfect rise.

How to Make Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Make the topping

  • Pour the melted butter into the bottom of the pan. I recommend using an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish, round cake pan, or springform pan. (Make sure the pan is 2 inches deep.) Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. 
  • Pat the pineapple and cherries with paper towels until they’re very dry. (Wet fruit will make a soggy cake.)
  • Arrange 6-7 pineapple slices and all the cherries (I like to place a maraschino cherry inside each pineapple ring) on top of the brown sugar.
  • Halve 3 pineapple rings and arrange them around the sides of the pan. (See my photo.)
  • Place the pan in the fridge while you prepare the cake batter to help set the arrangement. 

Make the Cake

step by step photos of how to mix together the gluten free cake batter
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and white sugar. Whip on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in the oil. (You want to do this slowly so you don’t loose the air that you’ve mixed in. This will create a light gluten-free cake!)
  • Mix in the other wet ingredients, including vanilla extract and lemon juice.
step by step photos of how to make add the dry ingredients to the cake batter
  • With the mixer on low, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated.
  • Add the sour cream and mix to combine. Add another ⅓ of the dry ingredients and continue to mix.
  • Add ½ of the milk followed by the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients.
  • Add the remaining milk and stir until totally combined.

Note: Adding the dry ingredients alternately with liquid ingredients ensures the flour absorbs into the batter. This prevents dry, grainy gluten-free pineapple upside down cake.

Four photos showing each stage of the upside-down cake, including the first layer of sugar, the batter, the cooked cake, and the flipped cake
  • Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, over the single layer of pineapple. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center of the cake is cooked through. You can cover the top of the cake with foil towards the end of the bake time if it starts to brown too quickly. 
  • Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for ONLY 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving platter.
  • Cool the cake completely to room temperature before slicing and serving to ensure a fluffy cake. (Do not refrigerate the cake to speed up the cooling or it will be dense.) Slice, top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, and enjoy this classic pineapple upside down cake!

Storage Instructions

This gluten free pineapple upside down cake is best eaten the day it’s made. To store, simply cover this classic dessert will also keep covered tightly with plastic wrap in the fridge for 24 hours.

FAQs

Why is my pineapple upside-down cake soggy?

Prevent a soggy pineapple cake by blotting excess liquid from your pineapple rings and maraschino cherries before placing them on the cake. This will give you a moist cake that isn’t too wet!

Does pineapple upside-down cake need to be refrigerated?

Pineapple upside-down cake can last at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that point, store in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Do you flip a cake when it’s hot?

For best results, let your cake cool for 20 minutes, then flip the cake. It’s best to not let it cool completely before flipping it, but it should not be hot.

Tips for Success

  • Important: Blot your pineapple and cherries dry before placing on the cake. Otherwise, your cake might be soggy!
  • I recommend using one 20-ounce can of pineapple slices for this cake. It’s the perfect amount for the fruit arrangement!
  • Let the cake cool for ONLY 20 minutes before turning it out onto the serving plate. Then let it cool completely before slicing.
  • Do not place this cake in the fridge while it’s cooling—otherwise, the cake will be dense.
A piece of pineapple upside-down cake

I hope you love this gluten-free pineapple upside down cake as much as we do! If you try this gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you!

Plated pineapple upside-down cake
5 from 7 votes

Best Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 8 people
If you’re looking for a gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake reminiscent of the original classic, this recipe is it!

Video

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/4 cup butter 60g (melted)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 100g
  • 8 –10 pineapple slices patted dry
  • 15 –20 maraschino cherries patted dry

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free 1:1 baking flour 175 grams
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cups sugar 200 grams
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 50 grams
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream 60 grams
  • 1/2 cup milk 125 grams (I use 2%)

Instructions 

For the Topping:

  • Pour the melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan. (Make sure the pan is 2 inches deep. I recommend this pie dish, which is 1.8 inches deep but I never have an overflow issue.) Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
  • Pat the pineapple and cherries with paper towels until they’re very dry. (Wet fruit will make a soggy cake.) Arrange 6-7 pineapple slices and all the cherries on top of the brown sugar. Halve 3 pineapple rings and arrange them around the sides of the pan. (See my photo.) Place the pan in the fridge while you prepare the cake batter to help set the arrangement.

Make the Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and sugar. Whip on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, slowly drizzle in the oil. (You want to do this slowly so you don’t lose the air that you’ve mixed in.) Mix in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  • With the mixer on low, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix to combine. Add another ⅓ of the dry ingredients and continue to mix. Add ½ of the milk followed by the last ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Add the remaining milk and stir until totally combined. (You want to add the dry ingredients alternately with liquid ingredients so the flour absorbs into the batter.)
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center of the cake is cooked through. You can cover the top of the cake with foil towards the end of the bake time if it starts to brown too quickly.
  • Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for ONLY 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate. Cool the cake completely to room temperature before slicing and serving. (Do not refrigerate the cake to speed up the cooling or it will be dense.) Slice, top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Notes

Tips for Success
  • Important: Blot your pineapple and cherries dry before placing on the cake. Otherwise, your cake might be soggy!
  • I recommend using one 20-ounce can of pineapple slices for this cake. It’s the perfect amount for the fruit arrangement!
  • Let the cake cool for ONLY 20 minutes before turning it out onto the serving plate. Then let it cool completely before slicing.
  • Do not place this cake in the fridge while it’s cooling—otherwise, the cake will be dense.

Nutrition

Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 1mg

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Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. I am planning to serve this to my guests this weekend however I don’t have time later in the week and want to know if the finished cake will freeze for 3 days? Also plan to use my fresh pineapple and it is at the stage to use now.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for a friend’s dinner & it was so delicious
    I took my time mixing everything & the only thing I changed was 1/2t tsp vanilla & 1/2 tsp almond extract
    It was like an Angel food cake & just so good
    Will keep trying other GF items to bring as a treat.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! Almond extract sounds like a delicious addition. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. I was wondering if I could substitute plain yogurt for sour cream and a nondairy milk for the 2% that you used. I try to stay away from bovine dairy products. This looks delicious and would really love to make it. Thanks for your assistance.

    1. I think that would work great! You could use goats milk yogurt or a dairy-free sour cream. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. 5 stars
    This cake is delicious! Pineapple Upside Down Cake is my favorite and this will be my go to recipe. My husband didn’t realize it was gf. I wasn’t sure about the time so I started checking at 30 min., it definitely needs the stated time. My oven runs a little hot so that is why I was checking early. I wasn’t sure if I should use whisk attachment or the paddle. I did use paddle but I think whisk would be better. Thank you Erin for all your great recipes!

    1. I’m so glad it turned out for you! Great your husband enjoyed it too. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  5. Just made this for my husband birthday! It was delicious. I will be making this again and again. You can never go wrong with any of Erin’s recipes. Her website is the first place I look for my baking needs.

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