This Campfire Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake bakes beautifully over campfire coals and makes a delicious dessert alternative to the usual campfire s’mores. Find more of my cast iron campfire Dutch oven recipes.
When my boys were younger, they were active in scouting. First they were cub scouts and eventually they both became Eagle Scouts. In between those achievements, there were a lot of camp outs. A LOT.
While in cub scouts, we participated in many family camps. In the beginning the meals were free for alls, but eventually we started organizing in group meals. Now the fun was starting to happen!
Why you must try this recipe
It was during this time that I discovered the fun Dutch oven cooking and started cooking and baking a lot during these family camp outs. And this was when my family discovered this iconic American dessert, the pineapple upside down cake.
Upside down cakes were baked in cast iron skillets with legs called “spiders.” Our favorite campfire Dutch ovens also have the same little feet which helps elevate the pot and allow the hot air to circulate, avoiding burn spots.
In the arly 1900’s, pineapple icon James Dole developed a machine that cut the pineapple into perfect rings making them easy to can. This made pineapple readily available to families all over the country.
It wasn’t long after the birth of the canned pineapple when they were used in the upside down cake. Bright red Maraschino cherries were added in the center for a pop of red color.
I personally love the flavors of this cake. It’s tropical and fruity without being overly sugary – of course that is if you prepare it properly. I do use canned pineapples in natural fruit juice to help keep the sugar factor low.
And save that juice! I add it to the cake batter for more pineapple yumminess.
Sweet fruit caramelized and gorgeous with a moist and delicious cake – I’ll take this over s’mores any day – or camp night! And your kids can help you mix this up.
Ingredients you need
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- Extra virgin olive oil: If you’ve read my blog before, then you learned your lesson on how to bake with olive oil. Your baked goods are only as good as the ingredients you put into it. Choose a mild tasting olive oil for this cake recipe, not a peppery one.
- Greek yogurt: Thick plain Greek yogurt is my secret to moist cakes. You can also use sour cream.
- Pineapple rings and juice: I use canned pineapples in their own natural juices without additional sugar added. You can use fresh pineapple if you want to peel and cut it up. But you also need pineapple juice, which you can get from the canned pineapple or buy the juice separately.
- Maraschino cherries: Yup, keeping it retro I use the bottled bright red maraschino cherries in this cake.
- Eggs: When I bake, I primarily use large eggs. You can use flax meal to make this cake vegan.
- Pantry staples: Granulated sugar, light brown sugar, all purpose flour, vanilla extract, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and olive oil until whipped and smooth.
3. Whisk in yogurt, pineapple juice, eggs and vanilla extract.
4. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt into egg mixture until smooth and combined.
Place one layer, evenly spaced on the bottom of your Dutch oven with 7 pineapple rings. Place a maraschino cherries into the center of each pineapple ring and into any empty spaces on the bottom of your Dutch oven.
6. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the pineapple and cherries.
7. Pour cake batter evenly over the pineapple slices and place lid over Dutch oven.
8. In a fire ring or fire safe pan, place 12 of the hot charcoal briquettes using long handled tongs. Place Dutch oven over the hot briquettes. Place 8 remaining hot charcoal briquettes evenly on top of the lid of your Dutch oven and bake until cake is done, approximately 30 minutes.
9. Remove Dutch oven from heat and use a lid lifter to remove lid. Let cake cool for 15-20 minutes. Place a serving plate over Dutch oven, right side down. Very carefully flip the dutch oven over, using grill mitts because the pot is still hot, so that the upside down Dutch oven is resting over the plate.
Carefully place the plate on a table and slowly remove dutch oven, making sure the cake remains on the plate. Carefully peel the foil off the cake. Serve warm or room temperature.
Expert tips and recipe FAQs
Whether you are making the cake from scratch or with box mix, you will need a 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven. And I’m not talking about the fancy enamel pots we all covet.
When choosing the right Dutch oven, you want the kind with little feet. As I mentioned above, this elevates the pot and allows the heat to circulate and prevents hot spots and your cake from burning.
You also want a lid that has a rim around it. When cooking in a Dutch oven, you are placing coals on top and underneath the pot. You do not want coals and ash to fall into your pot, which the rim around the lid prevents.
Want to bake this at home? No problem! I still prefer cast iron when I bake upside down cakes at home. Instead of a Dutch oven, I use a cast iron skillet instead. Easy peasy and bake at home at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
When we first made this cake at camp, we used yellow cake mix. It is super convenient to use on camping trips, especially with young scouts who aren’t quite ready to make a cake totally from scratch. Just swap out the water you add to the batter with pineapple juice. Don’t replace the oil with pineapple juice as your cake needs the fat from the oil.
Lining your Dutch oven is not necessary for baking a cake. But if you do not want to deal with the cleanup, some people like to line the pots with foil. I personally prefer NOT lining my pot because it guarantees the brown sugar and butter caramelizing and browning your beautiful pineapple.
Another successful adventure in campfire cooking! Mad about your Dutch Oven? Here are my tips on how to cook in a Dutch oven.
And if you want more outdoor cooking inspiration, check out my new cookbook, The Camp & Cabin Cookbook (Countryman Press 2018). I have 100 recipes that are all prepared outdoors and over fire using multiple techniques. Learn more about my camp cookbook!
This cookbook was definitely a labor of love! I share 100 recipes, from breakfast to mains, even drinks, all prepared over a campfire. I share multiple cooking techniques, including ash, grilling and Dutch oven cooking. There is something for everyone!
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup thick plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 TBS light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 7 pineapple rings, canned or fresh
- 21 maraschino cherries
- In a fire ring or other fire-safe container add 20 charcoal briquettes.
- Light the briquettes and allow to heat up for approximately 20-30 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar and olive oil until whipped and smooth.
- Whisk in yogurt, pineapple juice, eggs and vanilla extract.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt into egg mixture until smooth and combined.
- Line the bottom and sides of your 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven with aluminum foil. This is optional, but makes cleanup much easier.
- Place one layer, evenly spaced on the bottom of your Dutch oven with 7 pineapple rings.
- Place a maraschino cherries into the center of each pineapple ring and into any empty spaces on the bottom of your Dutch oven.
- Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the pineapple and cherries.
- In a fire ring or fire safe pan, place 12 of the hot charcoal briquettes. Place Dutch oven over the hot briquettes.
- Pour cake batter evenly over the pineapple slices and place lid over Dutch oven.
- Place 8 remaining hot charcoal briquettes evenly on top of the lid of your Dutch oven and bake until cake is done, approximately 30 minutes.
- Remove Dutch oven from heat and remove lid. Let cake cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Place a serving plate over Dutch oven, right side down.
- Very carefully flip the dutch oven over, using oven mitts because the pot is still hot, so that the upside down Dutch oven is resting over the plate.
- Carefully place the plate on a table and slowly remove dutch oven, making sure the cake remains on the plate.
- Carefully peel the foil off the cake.
- Serve warm or room temperature.
You can also bake this cake at home in a cast iron skillet at 350ºF for 30 minutes.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 448Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 78mgSodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 3gSugar: 42gProtein: 7g
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