Crisp apples are abundant in the markets and at farm stand and this Apple Upside Down Cake recipe is a perfect use for them! 

Skillet Apple Upside-down Cake | Kita Roberts

Looking for the best apple upside down cake recipe? 

Our apple upside down cake is a classic dessert, kind of like a cross between an apple pie and an apple and browned butter custard tart. It’s the perfect easy dessert to indulge in your love affair with apples, whether it’s apple season or not. 

A perfect reason to use up a variety of fruits and satisfy a sweet tooth while filling the home with sweet smells. Skillet cakes, a perfect snack or warm breakfast, are a favorite of ours. We love using stone fruit, apples, pears, or even pineapple on the quick-to-make fast skillet cakes without any of the pomp and circumstance of layered frosted confections.

Cooking in cast iron is a favorite of ours. There’s something about the crisp outer layer that you can only get on hot iron that we love. It’s simple or, as trends would have it, rustic. Often mixed in one bowl and poured right into the skillet, it’s the perfect no-fuss sort of baking we enjoy. Perfect for when we need a mindless activity to break up the day. And it’s actually the pan of choice for making upside-down cakes. 

What Is Apple Upside Down Cake?

Originating in France, upside down cakes were actually created by accident. Long story short, the baker put the fruit on the bottom of the pan instead of the top. So, she took the pastry dough and covered the fruit with it. Once the cake came out of the oven, she flipped it over to serve, resulting in what we call Tarte Tatin, aka upside down cake. 

Why you’ll love this recipe

This delicious apple upside down cake combines the sweetness of fresh apples with classic upside-down cake, creating the perfect dessert. The golden brown, fluffy cake, topped with a sliced apple layer, creates an unforgettably fruity yet light treat. With simple ingredients and easy steps, this cake bakes into a crowd-pleaser that even the pickiest eaters will love.

Skillet Apple Upside-down Cake | Kita Roberts


For the Apple Layer

  • Unsalted Butter: This adds richness and prevents sticking.
  • Granny Smith and Red Apples: These two provide a sweet-tart flavor combo, like the dynamic duo of the fruit world.
  • Light Brown Sugar: This adds a warm caramel note, stealing scenes from the apples.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: This adds a zesty kick, making sure it’s an apple show.

For the Cake

  • All-Purpose Flour: The backbone of every cake.
  • Cornmeal: Adds a little crunch for texture.
  • Baking Powder: A leavening agent that helps the cake rise.
  • Salt
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds sweetness to the cake batter. 
  • Eggs: The binding force that holds the cake together.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
  • Sour Cream: Adds moisture and a subtle tang.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a depth of flavor and accentuates the other flavors in the cake. 

How to Make Apple Upside Down Cake 

First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring out your 9-to-10-inch cast iron skillet. Turn the heat to low, melt some butter, and add those apple slices. Let them cook for 4 to 6 minutes until they’re soft. Sprinkle in some brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice – give it a little stir and slide it off the heat.

Press those apple wedges into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. While the apples are settling in, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until blended. Stir in the melted butter and a dash of vanilla.

Now, fold that flour mixture into the egg concoction – just until they’re perfectly combined.

Pour this cake batter over the apple layer in the skillet. Slide it into the oven and let it bake for 35 to 40 minutes. It’s ready when it’s golden brown on top, and a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.

Handle with care! Using your heatproof gloves, carefully retrieve that skillet from the oven. Let it cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes until it’s safe to handle.

Glide a small knife around the sides of the pan, place a wire rack or cake platter on top, and flip that skillet. Watch those sugary drippings work their magic as they cascade down the sides, creating a sweet pool around your masterpiece. Enjoy and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Skillet Apple Upside-down Cake | Kita Roberts

Expert Recipe Tips 

  • For a hint of warm spices, add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. 
  • Add a drizzle of warm caramel sauce on top to make a caramel apple upside down cake!
Skillet Apple Upside-down Cake | Kita Roberts

How to Store Leftovers & Reheat

Store leftover apple upside down cake in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days. After that, freezing is recommended to avoid letting the cake dry out. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months. Just slice the cake into individual slices and freeze in separate airtight containers. 

Before reheating, make sure your cake comes to room temperature first. 

To reheat, pop a slice of cake into the microwave for at least 10 seconds, adding more time as desired. 

What to serve with apple upside down cake

While a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a classic choice, you can always opt for a cup of hot coffee, a caramel spiked apple chai cocktail, or an apple cider margarita to wash it down with. 

Recipe FAQs

Can I use a springform pan if I don’t have a cast iron skillet?

Absolutely! Just make sure to line it with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray before adding the ingredients.

Can I use golden delicious apples for this recipe?

Yep! Feel free to mix and match, too. You can do some red and some golden, some green and some golden, etc. Or, you can do only golden if you’re strictly a golden delicious aficionado. 

How do I avoid a dry cake?

Make sure you don’t overbake your cake. If you’re worried about overbaking, we recommend subtracting a couple of minutes from the suggested bake time and checking the doneness with a toothpick. Remember, you can always add more baking time later. 

More apple recipes 

Move over, pineapple upside down cake. This easy apple dessert takes the cake (literally). This delicious apple upside down cake is the perfect pick-me-up for when you’re craving something fruity and fluffy. If you try this recipe, please rate the recipe card and leave a comment down below to help out the next reader! 

Skillet Apple Upside Down Cake

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Author: Kita


For the Apple Layer:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples - cored and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 Red honeygold or braeburn apples - cored and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teas fresh lemon juice

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 teas baking powder
  • 1/2 teas salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter - melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teas vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat a 9 to 10: cast iron skillet over low heat. Melt the butter in the pan and add the apples and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, until the apples have softened. Add the brown sugar and lemon juice and remove from heat.
  • Gently press the apples into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk the sugar, brown sugar and eggs together until smooth. Stir in the butter until combined. Add the vanilla.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined.
  • Pour the batter evenly over the apples in the skillet and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven with heat proof gloves. Place on a wire rack and cool 20 minutes until safe to handle.
  • Run a small knife around the edges of the cake and skillet to loosed from the sides. Place a wire rack or a cake platter over the top of the skillet and flip. Gently wiggle and lift the skillet, revealing the apple cake below. Sugary drippings will run down the sides and pool around the cake.


The Best of America’s Test Kitchen Magazine 2011

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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