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This retro vegan pineapple upside down cake is moist, fluffy, and sweet, combining vanilla cake topped with a caramelized brown sugar, pineapple, and maraschino cherry topping for a crowd-pleasing treat!

completed Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake sliced against a light surface
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Retro Homemade Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Turns Vegan

This vegan pineapple upside-down cake is a perfect example of a retro, classic, old-fashioned recipe, like chocolate depression cake or vanilla cupcakes, that has stood the test of time. However, this version contains no eggs and no dairy for a crowd-pleasing vegan treat (even non-vegans will love) that transports you back to childhood memories!

This simple vanilla cake is moist, tender, rich, ‘buttery’, and bursting with sweet, fruity flavors thanks to its pineapple and cherry topping with caramelized brown sugar. And, while it may look like it’s taken lots of time and effort to prepare, this easy pineapple upside-down cake is actually a fuss-free, practically fail-proof recipe, even for beginner bakers.

You don’t even need a mixer—just one bowl, a spoon, a cake pan, and several simple and inexpensive ingredients. Plus, you can make this eggless pineapple cake year-round thanks to canned pineapple, so it’s perfect for serving up on Easter, Mother’s Day, and other big gatherings… just don’t expect any leftovers!

Looking for more simple bakes? Check out our recipes for simple banana bread, coconut pineapple pie, lemon blueberry scones, or pineapple walnut muffins.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake graphic

 

The Ingredients

ingredients for Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake measured out against a white surface

The Topping

  • Pineapple: We use a 20oz can of pineapple slices, though pineapple tidbits/chunks also work.
  • Maraschino cherries: (glace cherries/candied cherries) Classic pineapple upside-down cake wouldn’t be complete without these super sweet candied cherries. Omit them if preferred, though.
  • Vegan butter: Just a little to grease the cake tin, as parchment paper can ruin the pineapple design. However, for more caramelized brown sugar syrup over the cake, increase the amount (quantity in notes).
  • Brown sugar: Added to the vegan butter, this creates a delicious caramelized brown sugar topping for the vegan upside down cake. Use coconut sugar for an unrefined option.

The Vanilla Cake

  • Flour: All you need is all-purpose flour, though you could add some whole wheat flour (up to 50%) if preferred. You may be able to use a gluten-free all-purpose blend (like King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill), though we haven’t tried it.
  • Flax egg: (or a chia egg) To replace 2 eggs, we’re using a combination of ground flaxseed or chia seeds and warm water. When combined, they congeal and help to bind ingredients like eggs do.
  • Sugar: White sugar works best within the vanilla cake batter, though you can use raw cane sugar for a less refined option.
  • Oil: Use any mild cooking oil, like canola oil, vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil, for a tender, moist eggless pineapple upside down cake.
  • Plant-based milk: Use any vegan milk. I.e., almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, etc. It’s best to use a ‘full fat’ milk (or canned coconut milk) for the moistest results.
  • Baking powder: Baking powder provides lift and a fluffier texture to the eggless pineapple cake.
  • Vanilla extract: Natural vanilla has the best flavor. Paste also works.
  • Salt: A little salt will always enhance sweet treats and bakes.

What Could I Add To Vegan Pineapple Cake?

  • Chopped pecans: You could replace some cherries with pecans.
  • Coconut: Add ⅓-½ cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut to the cake batter.
  • Ginger: Either add a small amount of fresh, grated ginger (about 2 tbsp) to the cake batter or finely chopped crystallized ginger.

How to Make Vegan Pineapple Upside-Down Cake?

  • 1) First, whisk the flax meal and water in a small bowl and set it aside for 10 minutes to thicken/congeal.
  • 2) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F/176C and lightly grease a 9-inch pie/cake tin with the melted vegan butter. A springform tin will work best, but place a baking sheet beneath it in the oven in case it leaks). It can help to spray the cake tin with cooking spray before adding the vegan butter.
  • 3) Next, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly into the pan. Then, spread the pineapple slices within the pan by placing 6 in a circle around the outside and a 7th in the middle. Then place the cherries into the holes of the pineapple slices (refer to the photos if needed).

Optionally, cut the remaining pineapple slices in half to place around the sides of the pan. You can also place cherries in any gaps between the pineapple.  

  • 4) Next, prepare the cake batter in a large bowl by combining all the ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, oil, vanilla, salt, plant-baed milk, and flax egg), and whisk until well combined. Be careful not to over-mix it, though.
  • 5) Pour the cake batter into the pan and spread it evenly using a spatula.
  • 6) Transfer the pineapple cake to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, loosely covering it with foil in the last 15 minutes – until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake (not all the way to the bottom) comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.
  • 7) Finally, remove the pan from the oven, peel away the foil, and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Gently flip the cake over onto a serving dish and enjoy!

How To Flip Upside-Down Cake?

  1. Run a silicone spatula/bread knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake.
  2. Then, if you’re using a springform tin, remove the sides. Otherwise, place the center of a large plate over the top of the cake tin.
  3. Holding firmly on both the underside of the plate and cake tin, flip it over so the cake falls out onto the plate. Leave it for a minute, then remove the pan.

FAQs

Can I use pineapple chunks or crushed pineapple?

When using chunks/tidbits, we like to make a very similar design, using the chunks to create little ‘rounds’ and placing a cherry between each one. Crushed pineapple will just spread over the entire bottom of the pan.  

Can I use fresh pineapple?

While it is possible (though best only done in season), canned pineapple tends to provide more consistent results as fresh pineapple releases more moisture while baking. Use a mandoline slicer to cut thin, even slices and pat them dry.

Can I reduce the amount of oil in the cake?

We worry that the cake will turn out a little dry if you attempt this. However, if you want to try, you could replace a portion (but not all) of the oil with unsweetened applesauce.

Can I use other fruit?

Yes, we’ve tried this recipe with canned pear slices and peach slices previously and had delicious results.

Serving and Storing Recommendations

This vegan pineapple upside-down cake is best on the day of baking. While you can technically store leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days (or freeze individual slices in plastic wrap for up to 3 months), it dries out over time.

For that reason, we recommend enjoying leftovers (at room temperature or warmed) and/or serving it with something ‘wet,’ like vegan custard, nice cream, coconut whipped cream, etc.

completed Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake against a light surface

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Measure the flour correctly: First, fluff it up in the bag. Then, use a spoon to transfer it to the measuring cup, leveling it off with the back of a knife. If you scoop the cup directly into the bag, you’ll have too much flour and a dense and/or dry vegan pineapple cake.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: This will overdevelop the gluten and can lead to dense, rubbery/gummy pineapple cake.  
  • Skip the parchment paper: As it may affect the pineapple design.
  • Leave the cake to rest: This is crucial for the proper flip!
  • For more brown sugar caramel: Increase the vegan butter to ¼ cup + the brown sugar to ½ cup.
  • For more pineapple flavor: Replace ¼ cup of plant-based milk with the pineapple juice from the can.

More Easy Vegan Bakes

You might also enjoy these 35 must-try vegan cake recipes!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake

4.97 from 94 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
This retro vegan pineapple upside down cake is moist, fluffy, and sweet, combining vanilla cake topped with a caramelized brown sugar, pineapple, and maraschino cherry topping for a crowd-pleasing treat!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
  • 6 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 (20-ounce) can of pineapple slices
  • 13 maraschino cherries
  • 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • cup of canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of plant-based milk

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, beat together the flaxseed meal and water for 1 minute. Place in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly brush a 9 circular pie baking pan or dish with the melted vegan butter.
  • Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the prepared pan and lay the pineapple slices on top. There should be six in the outer circle and one in the middle. You can also cut the remaining slices in half and add them to the sides of the pie pan. Add the maraschino cherries in the holes of the pineapples (see photo for a visual).
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, canola oil, vanilla extract, salt, plant-based milk, and flaxseed meal mixture, and whisk it together until it’s well-combined.
  • Pour the batter over the prepared pie pan and spread it evenly using a spatula.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, remove from the oven and loosely cover with tin foil. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Gently flip the cake over and slide it out from the pan.

Notes

  • Measure the flour correctly: First, fluff it up in the bag. Then, use a spoon to transfer it to the measuring cup, leveling it off with the back of a knife. If you scoop the cup directly into the bag, you’ll have too much flour and a dense and/or dry vegan pineapple cake.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter: This will overdevelop the gluten and can lead to dense, rubbery/gummy pineapple cake.  
  • Skip the parchment paper: As it may affect the pineapple design.
  • Leave the cake to rest: This is crucial for the proper flip!

Nutrition

Calories: 626kcalCarbohydrates: 97gProtein: 7gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 416mgPotassium: 270mgFiber: 5gSugar: 58gVitamin A: 78IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 217mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This one is such a favorite! Love how simple it is to make and it’s such a crowd pleaser 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This pineapple cake is gorgeous to look at, moist, and so tasty! The maraschino cherries are a must too! Thanks again for another show-stopper cake.

  3. 5 stars
    I used to LOVE pineapple upside down cake when I was little. My grandma had the best recipe, but I thought I’d never be able to have it again after going vegan. This recipe is awesome and so close to hers. Definitely worth making!

  4. 5 stars
    Ahh I love pineapples! Always a winner! I’m definitely making this pineapple upside down cake this holy week!

  5. 5 stars
    Can’t believe this vegan cake is sooo good and makes a good alternative to regular pineapple upside down cake!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this for a vegan friend and she raved about it! Thanks for a delicious recipe, that I wouldn’t have known was vegan if I hadn’t made it.