Grilled Spicy Pineapple Upside Down Lime-Scented Cake. Photo and recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love.

Grilled Spicy Upside-Down Pineapple Lime Cake

The smell of grilled pineapple reminds me of Hawaii because we always had pineapple in our condo and would throw some spears whenever we fired up the grill. Pineapple will soften as it sits at room temperature, but it never ripens or gets sweeter once it’s picked. That said, the smokiness of the caramelized sugar from the pineapple on the grill adds so much dimension that even the dull pineapple that we get here in the mainland taste richer and more complex. Try grilling the pineapple next time you fire up the grill, then store the pineapple rings in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready to make this cake. It’s well worth the minimal effort. The Korean peppers sounds a little unusual, but the mild fruity spiciness of the peppers really brings the cake to the next level. I’ve included substitution suggestions for the Korean peppers at the bottom of this recipe in case you don’t have it, or can’t get ahold of them.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, cast iron skillet, citrus, dessert, lime, pineapple, spicy, upside down
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 500 kcal
Author Irvin



  • 1 pineapple
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 115 g or 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar 110 g
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes gochugaru, see note below for information and substitutions


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 170 g or 1 1/2 sticks
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar 400 g
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest from 4 medium limes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek style yogurt 325 g
  • 1/2 cup lime juice about 4 medium limes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 420 g


  1. Fire up a grill. Trim off the top and bottom of the pineapple, then peel the pineapple with a sharp knife. Cut the pineapple into 1/2-inch slices. Using a small round cutter, remove the center core from each ring. Once the grill is hot, place the pineapple rings on the grill directly and cook anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes or until grill marks form. Rotate 90º to and cook an additional 1 to 3 minutes to make more grill marks. Flip and repeat on the other side of the rings. Remove from grill and let cool. Pineapple rings can be grilled ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350°F. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet cook the butter, sugar and salt, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the entire mixture is bubbling thickly. Remove from heat.

    cook the caramel until thick and bubbly.
  3. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the Korean red pepper flakes over the caramel. Arrange the pineapple rings on top of the caramel, cutting apart rings to fit them in between the whole rings. You may not use the entire pineapple, reserve the leftovers for another use or just eat them. Sprinkle the remaining pepper flakes over the pineapple.

    arrange pineapples in pan on the caramel.
  4. Make the cake by placing the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt and lime zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until a paste forms and clings to the side of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions until incorporated before adding the next egg. Repeat the process with the egg yolks.
    cream together the sugar, butter, baking soda, salt and lime zest.
  5. Stir the yogurt and the lime juice together then add it to the batter. Mix to incorporate, then add the flour and stir until the flour is absorbed. 

    add the yogurt. mix then add the flour and mix until absorbed.
  6. Pour the batter over the pineapple and then carefully spread it to the edges of the pan evenly. Place in the oven and bake 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

    Pour into pan, then spread carefully over the pineapple.
  7. Once the cake is done, let the cake cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then place a large serving plate upside down on the pan. In one fluid motion, flip the pan over and then remove it from plate, leaving the cake upside down on the plate, with the pineapples on top. If any pineapple stuck to the pan, just carefully pick it up with a fork and place it back on the cake. Let the cake cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Korean red pepper flakes are a fruity spicy pepper flake that can be found in large bags at Asian or Korean grocery stores or online. They come in various spicy strength, from mild to spicy. This recipe uses the mild version (deolmaewoon gochugaru) but if you only have the spicy version (maewoon gochugaru), cut the pepper flakes down to 1 teaspoon. Aleppo pepper is also a great substitute for Korean red pepper flakes, use the same amount if you have that on hand instead. Or you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of regular red pepper flakes, along with 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika.

Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry