Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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This Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is made with fresh caramelised pineapple and a touch of coconut for tropical flavour.

Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is the only thing Mum ever bakes and as such is the only cake I have ever baked with her, to my recollection. I have happy warm memories of it which Mum usually served as a dessert rather than a teatime treat. Often warm from the oven, the surface glistening with the golden pineapple rings and sticky from the caramel. She would serve it with lashings of custard and, despite as a child never liking pineapple, I always had a soft spot for this dessert. But like I say, it was the only one she made so I kinda had to if I wanted pudding.

To be honest, I am still on the fence about pineapple but thirty-something (very something) years into the game I actually might be coming around. Especially if there is caramel involved. Always if there is caramel involved.

Cut slice of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is somewhat removed from my mum’s recipe and is definitely the teatime treat sort of a cake rather than a dessert. Even though you could obviously eat this cake for dessert. This cake still feels like the warm hug of home, although it does shy away from the Pineapple Upside Down Cake you might be more familiar with. Jamie Oliver, I blame you for this as his Pineapple Upside Down Cake in his Comfort Food book definitely led me down my final direction.

If you love Pineapple Upside Down Cake then maybe you’ll love these other bakes:

Gluten-Free Fruit Cake
Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge
Gluten-Free Coffee and Walnut Cake
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.


The first key difference in this Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake will be the initial step you take as you make the recipe. The inclusion of coconut. It makes the cake the most delicious consistency, a little chewy but bursting with tropical flavour. Both desiccated coconut and coconut milk are included here for the perfect texture and taste. This was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s version.

Fresh Pineapple

The next difference will be the swap of tinned pineapple rings for fresh pineapple. The bright juicy flavour of the fresh pineapple was no contest. I find the tinned ones a little tasteless and too sweet. By using fresh you are amping up the pineapple vibe immeasurably.


Rather than using just brown sugar at the base of my cake tin to encase the pineapple I actually made a very easy caramel and dipped the pineapple in the caramel. I love the plain brown sugar version but it was a little crunchy for my taste and the cake would sometimes fall apart at the edges after it had been turned upside down. The caramel holds everything together perfectly and ensures the cake is always beautifully turned out.

Side view of Pineapple Upside Down Cake

How To Arrange the Pineapple

The way that the pineapple is arranged in a concentric circle looks a little more finickity than pineapple rings but it looks more impressive than it actually is to arrange and also means you get more pineapple for your money on the surface of the cake. I used glacé cherries right in the centre and if you have homemade glacé cherries then all the better.

Gluten-Free Flours

Of course the most significant change from Mum’s original version to this Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake will be in the use of alternative flours. Here we use flours which will give something back to the flavour of the cake, rather than just being used for structure and texture.

  • Sweet rice flour which binds the cake and gives it moisture and bounce with a delicate taste to give the coconut and pineapple a chance to shine.
  • Sorghum flour to give a tender crumb and lightness to the cake.
  • Potato starch to balance out the sweet rice flour so the whole cake doesn’t take on that gumminess that gluten-free cakes are infamous for.

Cut slice of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Of course the ultimate test for this cake was when I served it up to Mum, the connoisseur of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Needless to say she loved it. It’s a bit different but all the better for it and she has requested it for her birthday.

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If you make this Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Overhead of Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake with a pineapple and glass of caramel next to it.

Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This Gluten-Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake is made with fresh caramelised pineapple and a touch of coconut for tropical flavour.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 568kcal



  • 200 g coconut milk
  • 75 g desiccated coconut

Caramelised Pineapple

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g unsalted butter cubed
  • 8 glacé cherries


  • 225 g unsalted butter
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 190 g sweet rice flour
  • 170 g sorghum flour
  • 50 g potato flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt



  • Pour the coconut milk and the desiccated coconut into a small saucepan and heat until just at boiling point then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Caramelised Pineapple

  • Line and grease an 8 inch x 4 inch round baking tin.
  • Trim the top and tail of the pineapple and cut away the skin. Halve the pineapple then remove the core by cutting it out in a ‘v’ shape. Slice the pineapple very thinly lengthways then set aside whilst you make the caramel.
  • Melt the sugar on a gentle heat in a large saucepan, do not stir but gentle shake the saucepan every once in a while to ensure even melting.
  • Add the butter, once it has melted, stir to combine then remove the caramel from the heat.
  • Tip the pineapple slices and the glace cherries into the caramel and stir so everything is evenly coated.
  • Line the bottom of the cake tin with the pineapple slices, overlapping slightly in concentric circles, the rounded side facing towards the sides of the tin. Leave a small gap in the centre of the tin to fill in with the glace cherries.
  • Drizzle the rest of the caramel over the fruit and set aside whilst you make the cake.


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan assisted oven/gas mark 4.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour in the vanilla extract and the coconut mixture and mix in well.
  • Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt then mix into the rest of the ingredients until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the baking tin, on top of the pineapple and cherries, smoothing the top
  • Bake in the oven for around 55-60 minutes until the sponge has browned on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven, rest for five minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack.


Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 212mg | Potassium: 312mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 780IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1.9mg
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  1. 5 stars
    I tried out a cake with the above recipe. The cake was very soft and tasty. Thank you.

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