Upside Down Pear Cake
Upside Down Pear Cake may look all elegant and fancy pants, but don’t let it fool you. This pear cake recipe is so easy! It’s made with a moist, fluffy spice cake mix, which is the perfect foundation for slices of delicious caramelized pears lining the top. The perfect fall dessert that’s sure to impress!
Made this for a girl’s night last night and it was SO good! There wasn’t a slice left by the end of the night. Thanks for the great recipe!— Kristin
I am SO excited that the fall season is here! I love all the amazing desserts and comfort food recipes that always pop up this time of year. Pumpkin is definitely my first love when it comes to fall flavors, but apple and pear are very close behind! This weekend we had company over for dinner, and I wanted to come up with a dessert using some beautiful pears I picked up from the store. I decided to make an upside down pear cake, swapping the classic pineapple rings for delicious fresh pears!
I absolutely LOVE the way this recipe turned out! Not only does it look super impressive, but it tastes incredible, as well. The rich, cinnamon-infused flavor of spice cake combined with the buttery brown sugar coated pears is absolutely divine! I could almost just eat the pears off the top and leave the cake on my plate… Well, ALMOST 😉
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Easy. It’s super easy to make this recipe with a spice cake mix and few other simple ingredients!
- Uses up pears. I’m always looking for ways to use up this underrated fall fruit!
- So moist & delicious. Feast your sweet tooth on a generous slice of this incredibly moist, flavorful cake that has such a wonderful texture! It’s perfectly spiced and loaded with tender, sweet pears.
I love that everything in this dessert is simple with no hard to find ingredients! Here are the ingredients that you’ll need:
- Butter. The small amount of butter needed for this recipe will be melted in the cake pan to make the pears buttery and delicious.
- Brown sugar. Sprinkle this over the melted butter before placing the pears in the bottom of the cake pan. The butter/brown sugar combo caramelizes the pears and turns them into an irresistible treat!
- Pears. You’ll want to use ripe pears that are not too soft. I like to use Anjou (red or green), Bartletts (red or green), or Bosc pears in baking recipes. We’ll talk about the pears in detail below.
- Cinnamon. Added to give the pears the perfect fall flavor. You could try using pumpkin pie spice instead.
- Spice cake mix. Use any 15-ounce boxed cake mix. I chose a spice cake mix, which includes ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. The warmth from the spices gives me all the fall feels. This cake looks and tastes amazing, but it will save you time and effort in the kitchen.
- Water & oil. My cake mix called for 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil and 3 eggs. Use whatever ingredients your cake mix instructs.
- Eggs. You’ll need three! It’s best if these are room temperature.
How to make this recipe
This pear cake really couldn’t be easier to make! Instead of baking a cake from scratch, I used a spice cake mix, and my family honestly couldn’t even tell the difference. It’s great to make things from scratch, but when you’re short on time and don’t have the patience for it, using a boxed cake mix is an awesome kitchen shortcut.
- Melt the butter. Place butter in a round cake pan and heat it in the oven until melted. Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven and add the brown sugar over the butter.
- Arrange the pears. Peel and slice the pears and toss in the 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Then, place the pears over the brown sugar in the cake pan. You’ll want to slightly overlap the pears as you place them into the bottom of the cake pan. You can see how this is done in the photos.
- Prepare the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, stir the cake ingredients as the box instructs (wet and dry ingredients). Gently pour or spoon the cake batter over the pears. Carefully, without moving the pears around, spread the cake batter evenly over the pears.
- Bake and enjoy. This cake will need to bake for 45 minutes and until a toothpick comes out clean. I know 45 minutes seems like it may be too long, but trust me, it will take about that amount of time. Let cake cool for about 5 minutes and then invert the cake onto a serving plate. Now let everyone oooh and aaaah over your gorgeous creation before diving in! It really is something to be marveled at : ) Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
Frequently asked questions
I like to use Anjou pears (red or green), Bartletts (red or green), or Bosc pears when baking. To avoid the pears getting overly mushy, look for pears that are slightly firm. I recommend purchasing about 4 pears, then place them in a paper bag for around 2 days to ripen up a bit. Keep an eye on them because we don’t want them to get too soft. You’ll only need about 2 pears for the cake, but I suggest picking up a couple of extras in case any develop soft spots.
Yes, we recommend peeling the pears before cooking them, as their skin grows tough when heated.
We only recommend using brown sugar for this particular recipe. It’s what makes the pears become caramelized and extra delicious.
I have not tried using a gluten free cake mix for this recipe, but I’m pretty sure a gluten cake mix would work well.
Tips for recipe success
A few notes for recipe success and a delicious pear cake!
- Inverting the cake is easy, but timing is important. If the cake is too hot, the fruit layer is still too juicy to flip. However, if the cake cools for too long, you run the risk of the pears sticking to the pan. Cool the cake for 5-10 minutes and you’ll be good to go!
- Brown sugar is a MUST for this cake recipe. It’s what gives the pears that caramelized flavor. Don’t replace the brown sugar with granulated sugar or coconut sugar.
- Toppings are optional and honestly this cake is pretty amazing on its own. But I’ve never been one to pass up a scoop of ice cream! You can pair this cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce or a dusting of powdered sugar to make it even more fancy.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you like the cake warm (I do!) just pop a slice in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds.
We love this pear cake recipe as-is, but it can also be easily customized to include your favorite flavors.
- Nuts. For an added crunch, you can toss sliced almonds, chopped pecans, or walnuts over the brown sugar before layering on the pears. Or sprinkle the nuts over the top of the cake, prior to serving.
- Pear + apple cake. Use a combination of pears and apples for the top of the cake.
- Upside down apple cake. Replace all of the pears with apple slices.
- Upside down yellow pear cake. Switch up the cake and use a yellow cake mix instead of the spice cake mix.
A beautiful addition to your fall spread, this upside down pear cake is full of flavor and is sure to impress your friends and family. I hope you get a chance to make this easy pear cake recipe very soon because it’s truly one of my favorites!
More fall recipes
Looking for more fall desserts? Give these other favs a try!
If you try this easy cake recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Upside Down Pear Cake
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 medium pears, peeled
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 (15.25 ounces) package spice cake mix
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup oil
- 3 large eggs
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter in a 9″ round cake pan and heat in oven until butter is melted. Once melted, sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
- Cut peeled pears in half lengthwise and remove cores. Cut pears again lengthwise in 1/4″ thick slices and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and gently toss to coat. Arrange pear slices over the butter mixture in pan, slightly overlapping.
- Prepare cake batter as directed on package using water, oil, and eggs. Carefully spoon and spread cake batter over the pears.
- Bake cake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then carefully invert cake onto a serving plate.
Did you make this recipe?
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Thanks for sharing your recipe. The finished cake is absolutely gorgeous! I use my black cast iron skillet for all my upside down cakes. For pear and /or apple, I use half cup of my delicious Virginia maple syrup. For pineapple upside down cakes, I use the brown sugar and crushed pineapple drained which usually yields a cup of liquid which I use instead of the water. Spiced cake mix for the pear is excellent choice.
Sounds wonderful! So glad it turned out great!
I was pretty sure it wouldn’t all fit in my 9″ cake pans that are only 1-1/2″ deep, so I used double the topping and made two cakes. I still had to bake for 40 minutes even though they were thinner. I had some leftover candied pecans, so I sprinkled those on top of the ice cream I served it with. Yum! I’m going to gift one to the person who gave us the Harry & David pears I was trying to use up. Win-win!
So glad you were able to make it work! Thanks for your feedback!
I made this and it was delicious. However, in a 9 inch pan the inside of the cake was not done after 45 minutes. Can I use a 13X9 glass pan?
I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure, but I think it would.
This was so good! Will definitely be making for Thanksgiving this year!
Can you use a springform pan? Also could
canned pears work in this recipe?
This recipe sounds like a real winner..
Thanks for sharing it
I think both could work great, but I haven’t tried either. If you use a springform pan you may have some batter left over, but that’s fine.
Delicious! Turned out just the way I dreamed it would. I had a craving for this cake, and searched the internet for Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Cake recipes. I narrowed them all down to two – yours and Martha Stewart’s. Your recipe made much more sense to me so I chose it – thank goodness! You wisely recommend melting butter in the bottom of the cake pan (the cake flipped out easily after baking), you insisted on brown sugar (yes! it tasted like pear toffee on the edges of the cake – yum) and you used a cake mix. Easy! BRILLIANT! I used a Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Cake Mix and it was darn near effortless to have a party worthy cake in a short amount of time without totaling the kitchen with dishes. I baked the cake in a deep 8′ square baking dish, cooled it, put in a basket with a sealed bowl of freshly whipped cream on the side and everyone at the party was happy! Thank you so much!
Best review ever! It sounds amazing… I’ll definitely have to try it with that Trader Joe’s cake mix! Happy holidays!
I am wondering how full you are filling the pan, since obviously the whole prepared cake mix will not fit in one 8” pan. Especially when pears are taking up some of the volume.
If I try this, maybe I should be prepared to make 2-3 pans worth?
It should all fit, depending on the size of your pan. My pan was very deep, so it was fine. If you do have cake leftover, you could make cupcakes. 🙂
Made this for a girl’s night last night and it was SO good! There wasn’t a slice left by the end of the night. Thanks for the great recipe!
We loved this cake! Such wonderful flavor and perfect consistency.
So easy and delicious. I would definitely make this again.