Easy Apple Upside-Down Cake Recipe – This delightfully tender and moist apple cake features a fluffy spiced cake and caramel apple layer on top as built-in decoration! Add a homemade whiskey sauce on top for a truly decadent dessert!

Upside down apple cake on a serving plate with whiskey sauce being poured on top.

Why We Love This Apple Upside Down Cake Recipe

Everyone knows that cake is what turns a gathering into a true cause for celebration! From showstopper recipes like Mexican Fried Ice Cream Cake and Southern Caramel Cake – to casual and cozy staples, like a classic Vanilla Cake and Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake – there is a perfect cake for nearly any and every occasion.

This Apple Upside-Down Cake is a new family favorite for us… In fact, it’s one of the best desserts we’ve made all year! It’s a simple cake that’s easy to make with apples instead of pineapples typically used in upside-down recipes. For a real punch of pizzaz, the cake is kissed with a simple whiskey sauce once out of the oven. (We use a very small amount of whiskey here, but you are also welcome to omit the sauce altogether if you prefer.)

If you love pineapple upside down cakes, then this fall version is going to be your new favorite!

It’s an easy dessert that looks impressive and tastes like heaven. I’m sure you’re going to love it as much as we do, and fully expect it to be your new go-to dessert for parties, potlucks, or any time the family’s all together!

Top down apple upside down cake on a platter.

Ingredients You Need

  • Light brown sugar – packed
  • Cinnamon – or apple pie spice
  • Apples – choose a tart variety, like Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith
  • Lemon juice – freshly squeezed is best
  • Sugar – or coconut sugar
  • Butter – unsalted, softened
  • All-purpose flour – use your preferred gluten-free baking flour alternative, if you like
  • Baking powder – for just the right fluffy cake
  • Salt – a pinch to balance the flavors
  • Eggs – room temperature is best
  • Milk – whole or 2%
  • Vanilla extract – a must-have for all of the tastiest baked goods

For the Whiskey Sauce –

  • Heavy cream – no substitutions here!
  • Light brown sugar – packed
  • Butter – unsalted
  • Whiskey – your favorite brand for cooking
  • Salt – a bit helps to cut the sweetness
Slice of apple upside down cake on a white plate.

How to Make Apple Upside-Down Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, or regular cake pan, with parchment paper. Then grease just the sides of the pan. 

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.

Springform pan coated with sugar and spice mixture.

Then peel, core, and slice the apples. Toss the apple wedges with lemon juice so they don’t brown. Arrange the apples over the brown sugar layer in a pretty overlapping pattern like in the image below.

Slices of apple arranged in a spiral shape inside a springform baking pan.

Next, set out a large mixing bowl. Combine the granulated sugar and softened butter. Beat on high to cream the butter until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula, then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Scrape the bowl again and beat for just a few more seconds until perfectly smooth. Do not over-mix the batter. 

Spread the cake batter gently over the top of the sliced apples. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles.

Cake batter spread in a springform baking pan.

Then place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool on the counter for at least 15 minutes.

Get the Full (Printable) Apple Upside-Down Cake Recipe Below!

Baked cake in a springform pan.

Then carefully flip the cake out of the pan onto a cake plate. Peel off the parchment paper.

Apple upside down cake on a platter.

How to Make Whiskey Sauce

  1. Set a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the heavy cream, brown sugar, butter, whiskey, and salt.
  2. Whisk and heat until the brown sugar is fully dissolved and the sauce is smooth.
  3. Pour the whiskey sauce evenly over the top of the cake.

Done!

Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t over mix the batter! Once you add the dry ingredients to the cake batter, make sure not to over-mix. Over-mixing can result in a dense and tough cake!
  • Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the apples into 1/4-inch thick wedges!
  • Don’t skip the cooling time! It is important to let the cake cook for about 15 minutes before flipping it and releasing it from the pan! This will make sure that the caramel apple layer is slightly set and stays in place.
Pouring whiskey sauce onto the apple cake.

Recipe Variations

  • Use whatever variety of apples you like! You want ones that are crisp and tart, and not overly sweet. Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith are all great options.
  • This upside-down cake recipe is great to make with other fruits. Try classic pineapple, pear, peach, plum, or other hearty fruits you want.
  • Easily make this a gluten-free apple cake recipe. Swap regular all-purpose flour with your favorite GF baking flour.
  • The whiskey sauce has just a small amount of alcohol – not nearly enough to get anyone intoxicated, and it is drizzled on top of the whole cake. However, it does not “cook off” during the sauce-making process. If you want to omit the whiskey sauce, you can instead drizzle on some Salted Caramel Sauce or Vanilla Sauce made with heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Slice of apple upside down cake on a white plate with whiskey sauce on top.

Frequently Asked Questions

What goes great with this cake?

Serve apple cake with whiskey sauce as-is for a winning dessert. But if you want to go big, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream (have you tried our Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe? Life. Changing.)
Or a dollop of fresh whipped cream!

Can I use different fruits besides apples?

Definitely! Upside-down cakes can be made with any hearty fruit that isn’t too full of moisture. I love an upside down cake with apples, pineapples, peaches, plums, or pears! Mangoes or berries would also be super delicious!

What is the point of an upside-down cake?

These cakes are made with a layer of brown sugar pressed into the bottom of the pan, then topped with fruit slices. The brown sugar will melt and form a delicious caramelized layer at the “bottom”. When the pan is flipped, you have a gooey-sweet golden top with lovely rows of apples – because they sink to what was the bottom, they’re now right on top of the fluffy yellow cake. This makes a natural caramel apple upside down cake that is seriously to die for!

Does apple upside-down cake need to be refrigerated?

It is best to keep the cake stored in the refrigerator. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap or lock it into a cake holder. Store the cake leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.

Does apple cakes freeze well?

Yes, they do! Once the cake has cooled, wrap it in a layer of plastic cling film before placing it in a freezer zipper bag. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Fork taking a bite from slice of apple upside down cake on a white plate.

Looking for More Easy Dessert Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:

Upside down apple cake with whiskey sauce.
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Easy Apple Upside-Down Cake with Whiskey Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This delightfully tender and moist upside-down apple cake is always a hit at parties and potlucks. Add a homemade whiskey sauce on top for a truly decadent dessert!
Servings: 8 pieces

Ingredients

For the Apple Cake –

For the Whiskey Sauce –

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, or regular cake pan, with parchment paper. Then grease just the sides of the pan.
  • In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Spread in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Then peel, core, and slice the apples. Toss them with lemon juice so they don't brown. Arrange the apples over the brown sugar layer in a pretty overlapping pattern. (See images if needed.)
  • Next, set out a large mixing bowl. Combine the granulated sugar and softened butter. Beat on high to cream the butter until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula, then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Scrape the bowl again and beat for just a few more seconds until perfectly smooth. Do not over mix the batter.
  • Spread the cake batter gently over the top of the sliced apples. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles. Then place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool on the counter for at least 15 minutes. Then carefully flip the cake out of the pan onto a cake plate. Peel off the parchment paper.
  • For the whiskey sauce: Set a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add the heavy cream, brown sugar, butter, whiskey, and salt. Stir and heat until the brown sugar is fully dissolved and the sauce is smooth. Pour the whiskey sauce over the top of the cake. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This cake is best served either warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Serve as-is, with ice cream, or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Loosely cover it with plastic wrap or lock it into a cake holder, and store it in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.
To Freeze: Once the cake has cooled, wrap it in a layer of plastic cling film before placing it in a freezer zipper bag. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pc, Calories: 468kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 89mg, Sodium: 436mg, Potassium: 228mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 51g, Vitamin A: 660IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, French
Author: Sommer Collier
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