Pecan Upside Down Cake Recipe
Food & Cooking

Pecan Upside Down Cake Recipe

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Upside Down Pecan Cake Recipe – Sweet and gooey pecan cake is a fun twist on traditional upside down cake recipes. It tastes similar to a classic pecan pie, but with an extra layer of spongey cake (that’s easy to make with box mix)!

Single slice of upside down pecan cake on a white plate.

Why We Love This Pecan Cake Recipe

If you like a traditional pineapple upside-down cake (BTW we’ve got a fabulous Bundt cake variation you have GOT to try) then you are going to love this festive Pecan Upside Down Cake recipe for the fall and winter!

It is similar to our amazing apple upside down cake with whiskey sauce and a unique orange blueberry upside down cake as well. However, this recipe combines the rich gooey filling of pecan pie with an upside-down cake for an absolute winner of a holiday dessert.

We use yellow box cake and just a handful of pantry staples for a super convenient and practically no-fail recipe. Simply make a quick praline in a deep skillet, add cake batter right on top, and bake for about 30 minutes. Then flip over and present the gorgeous, gold brown cake with caramel and crunchy nuts to your guests… It’s sure to make any gathering feel like a special occasion!

Top down view of a whole upside down pecan pie cake.

Ingredients You Need

  • Pecans – roughly chopped
  • Butter – unsalted
  • Light brown sugar – packed
  • Light corn syrup – for that iconic pecan pie shine
  • Salt – a pinch to balance the sweetness
  • Ground cinnamon – adds a touch of flavor
  • Yellow cake mix – a box of your favorite brand (or vanilla cake mix)
  • Eggs – room temperature is best
  • Buttermilk – homemade buttermilk, or whole milk
Knife is starting to lift a slice from the full pecan cake.

How to Make a Pecan Upside-Down Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 10-12 inch deep dish cast-iron sauté pan. *This needs to be deeper than a classic skillet. You can use another oven-safe sauté pan of the same size, but I prefer cast-iron! You can also make the topping in a skillet then transfer it to a 10-inch springform cake pan to bake.

Set the sauté pan over medium heat. Then add in the chopped pecans, ½ cup of butter, light brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ground cinnamon

Recipe ingredients in a cast iron skillet: chopped nuts, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon.

As the butter melts, stir the mixture until it comes to a light simmer, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, turn off the heat.

Candied pecans in a cast iron skillet.

Meanwhile, set out a large mixing bowl. Combine the yellow cake mix, three eggs, and buttermilk. Melt the remaining ½ cup of butter and add it to the bowl. Whisk well until the cake mixture is completely smooth

Spoon the batter evenly over the top of the caramelized pecan mixture in the cast iron skillet.

Hand with spatula spreading batter out over the nuts in a cast iron skillet.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center of the cake is puffed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Get the Complete (Printable) Pecan Pie Upside Down Cake Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Baked cake in a skillet.

Allow the upside-down cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan. Then carefully flip the cake out onto a cake stand or cake plate.

Side view of a whole upside down pecan pie cake.

If any remaining caramel pecan topping sticks to the pan, scoop it out and spoon it back in its place.

Top down view of a whole upside down pecan pie cake.

Recipe Variations

  • Nuts – swap pecans for walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or almonds
  • Dairy-free – substitute traditional butter with your favorite plant-based butter alternative
  • Gluten-free – use your preferred variety of GF-friendly box cake mix

Serving Suggestions

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. It is delicious as-is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

It’s perfect for the holidays with a mug of hot apple cider, hot cocoa, or eggnog. And it makes a super yummy afternoon snack with coffee or tea.

Knife is starting to lift a slice from the full pecan cake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What pan is best for upside-down cake?

For this pecan cake recipe you need a deep, 10 or 12-inch oven-safe cast iron skillet.

When should you flip an upside-down cake?

Wait for the baked cake to cool in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes before flipping. I suggest placing your serving platter on top of the pan, so that the face of the plate is pressed against the “top” of the cake. Then carefully place one hand on the bottom of the plate, and, keeping your hand pressed on the plate, use the other hand to flip the skillet over. Place the plate bottom-down on the counter, and carefully lift the skillet up to reveal the cake.

Should you use parchment paper for upside-down cake?

There’s no need to use parchment when making this dessert. The pecan praline is made right in the bottom of the skillet.

Does pecan pie cake need to be refrigerated?

Yes, the cake should be refrigerated after being at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Then warm it before serving.

Single slice of upside down pecan cake on a white plate. A second slice is on another plate in the background.

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

Pecan Upside Down Cake Recipe

Sweet and gooey pecan upside down cake is a fun twist on traditional upside down cake recipes. It tastes similar to a classic pecan pie, but with a layer of spongey yellow cake.

Servings: 12 pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 10-12 inch deep dish cast-iron sauté pan. *This needs to be deeper than a classic skillet. You can use another oven-safe sauté pan of the same size, but I prefer cast-iron! You can also make the topping in a skillet then transfer it to a 10 inch springform to bake.

  • Set the sauté pan over medium heat. Then add in the chopped pecans, ½ cup of butter, light brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ground cinnamon. As the butter melts, stir the mixture until it comes to a light simmer, about 3 to 5 minutes . Once the sugar is fully dissolved, turn off the heat.

  • Meanwhile, set out a mixing bowl. Combine the yellow cake mix, three eggs, and buttermilk. Melt the remaining ½ cup of butter and add it to the bowl. Whisk well until the cake mixture is completely smooth.

  • Spoon the batter evenly over the top of the pecan mixture in the cast iron skillet.

  • Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center of the cake is puffed, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Allow the upside down cake to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan. Then carefully flip the cake out onto a cake stand or cake plate. If any remaining pecan mixture sticks to the pan, scoop it out and spoon it back in its place.

Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
To store: Lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Serving: 1pc, Calories: 452kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Sodium: 519mg, Potassium: 120mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 564IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 122mg, Iron: 1mg

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