Pineapple Cake

This pineapple cake recipe was passed down to me by my step-grandmother, Bessie. I’ve made it several times but never quite the same way. Bessie’s original version used cake mix, so sometimes I use that too – the “butter flavor” cake mixes work the best. Sometimes I make the cake from scratch. Yesterday I used a scratch recipe off Recipezaar but wasn’t too happy with it and will not point it out. Luckily, the topping made up for the lackluster cake and Todd loved it. In my opinion, it’s the topping that makes this cake. It’s a nice change from the usual frosting and pineapple lovers will go crazy for it.

pineapple cake


Pineapple Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pineapple Cake Filling and Frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
  • You choice of yellow or butter cake mix plus whatever is needed to make it
  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick) – regular salted type
  • 5 oz can evaporated milk.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, whisked together in a separate bowl
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9 inch metal cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Drain crushed pineapple and reserve juice. You should get about 2/3 cup of juice.
  3. Prepare cake as directed on box or use your favorite scratch recipe for yellow cake or pineapple cake. My grandmother used a box yellow cake, but instead of using water as directed, she used half pineapple juice/half water instead of all water.
  4. Set a large (3 quart) nonstick (heavy, insulated types work best) saucepan over medium heat and add butter. When butter is about halfway melted, add evaporated milk and sugar. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking often, until butter is completely melted and mixture is hot and just beginning to simmer around the edges.
  5. Add the egg yolks and continue cooking over medium, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Cook and whisk for a little over a minute, then remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add vanilla extract and drained pineapple. Leave pineapple mixture at room temperature (still in pan) while cake continues to bake and cools.
  6. When cake is cool, pour room-temperature pineapple mixture over cake. Place in refrigerator and chill until pineapple topping sets.

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  1. Valerie says

    I made this a few years ago when you gave the recipe to me or posted it somewhere. it was really good! I made it in a 13×9 pan and added 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated shredded coconut to the topping. I have it in my mastercook under the title Bessie’s Pineapple Cake. so thanks, bessie!

  2. says

    Hi Valerie,

    Thanks for the reminder! I couldn’t remember whether or not I’d given it to you. What I’m wondering now is how that topping would work on a spice cake.

    Rina, thanks for reading! It’s fun to hear from people reading the blog. Thanks for that link. No, I was not aware of that recipe! I had trouble with the link so I did a search and found two pineapple cheesecake squares recipe. They sound delicious! I will definitely put them on the list.

  3. Debbi says

    Huge pineapple fan here, I will for sure be making this next time a cake is needed. Who am I kidding! A cake is ALWAYS needed!

  4. says

    I think the seniors would really like this. I’m saving it. Btw, you should add a delicious link to your recipes!! There are so many I want to save.

  5. Debbi says

    I made this yesterday and the topping is wonderful! I love pineapple and I am not a huge icing fan. I just used a yellow butter recipe box cake with some pineapple juice rather than just water like suggested. I thought the cake tasted good but the topping make it super. If I was serving it at a party or something, I would dress it up like you did with the whipped cream and cherry, it was kinda odd looking after it cooled with just the pineapple topping. If the rest of the family liked coconut, I would have added it.

    I have made a tropical cake with pina colada mix poured over a cake (with holes poked in it) with whipped cream and coconut topping with strawberries garnishing the top. This reminded me of that cake.

  6. says

    Debbi, that’s great news!

    When I get a chance, I want to try using it as a filling. I suppose if it was chilled until thick enough to spread, it would work perfectly in a 4 layer cake (cut two layers horizontally through center to make 4) covered with something like cream cheese icing.

  7. Debbi says

    I think that sounds awesome! That way you get the best of both worlds, pineapple filling and icing!

    I like pineapple in my carrot cake, how do you think it would be for a filling in a carrot cake with cream cheese icing? Hmm, the urge to bake and stop doing laundry is sounding appealing!

  8. says

    Hi Anna:

    I plan to make this as a dessert for Easter lunch. I like the idea of making a layer cake rather than a sheet cake. I would like to stay away from adding frosting as I want something a little lighter. Do you think if I chilled the filling enough it would work in between two layers of cake and then spread on top, kind of like a German chocolate cake? Thanks!

  9. says

    Hi Brooke,

    Putting it between the layers and on top should work just fine. What’s tricky is using it to cover the sides. It can be done. My grandmother use to cover the entire cake with it and I’ve done it once or twice myself, but putting it in the layers and on top should be simple.

  10. Oye says

    Hey Ann…I already tried your recipe. It’s rich and very sweet.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  11. Sabrina says

    Hi Anna,

    I made this recipe for mum, dad and the rest of the family as mums a big pineapple fan. They just looooooved it.
    Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Helen says

    I really like your site. About your Pineapple Cake recipe can you use brown sugar instead of granulated sugar? Thanks so much.

  13. says

    Hi Helen,

    I’ve never tried using brown sugar in the topping. It might be good, but it might be a little overpowering. I like the topping the way it is because you really taste the butter, pineapple and vanilla.

  14. says

    Hi Andrea,

    Regular. If I don’t specify what type of sugar or if I say “white”, that means granulated. I’ll try to remember to say granulated ;).

  15. Rachael says

    I would how this would be with a little rum added in either the cake or frosting? Doesn’t rum pair well with pineapple? This recipe seems like something my husband would like so I may try it tomorrow.

  16. Konnie says

    Came across your blog while searching for some kind of pineapple cake recipe. I was in the mood for cake and pineapple , but wanted something different from the usual pineapple upside-down cake. This looks amazing! It is in the oven right now. I plan to share it in the teacher’s lounge tomorrow. Yum!

  17. Darlene says

    Hi Anna, I found your blog while looking for the Original Red Velvet Cake. ( You are now on MY FAVORITE’S list) I use the International Delight brand coffee creamer in some of the boxed cakemixes. Even the cheaper brands turn out good. I especially like the Amaretto for chocolate cake, and Hazelnut in yellow cake mixes. Also, to gussy up icecream, International Delight Amaretto or Hazelnut creamer and Bailey’s brand Irish Cream coffee creamer goes great poured over Vanilla Bean ice cream. (A little or a lot depending on how you like it)

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