Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

published Apr 12, 2020
Snapshot Cooking
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

A simple rhubarb upside-down cake made with boxed cake mix.

Serves8 to 10

Prep15 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

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Closeup of sliced rhubarb upside down cake on a platter
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

You’ve probably associate upside-down cakes with pineapple, but there are plenty of other fruits (and vegetables) that deserve the upside-down treatment. Our current favorite is fresh rhubarb, in all its vibrant pink and sweet-tart glory.

This recipe takes advantage of fresh, in-season rhubarb to create a stunning upside-down cake that’s both beautiful and delicious. Stalks of rhubarb get nestled into a mixture of butter and sugar, then get covered in a simple cake batter and baked. The cake won’t look like much when it comes out of the oven, but once you invert it onto a serving plate, the bright pink streaks of rhubarb reveal themselves, making for a seriously impressive presentation.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

How to Prevent Your Upside-Down Cake from Sticking

This recipe uses three techniques to prevent your cake from sticking to the pan. You’ll coat the cake pan in nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and give the cake just enough time to cool without the sugar hardening.

The cooling time is arguably the most important factor. You want the cake to cool long enough to firm up before flipping, but not so long that the bottom layer hardens and sticks to the pan. For this recipe, we found that 20 minutes is the right amount of time. Set a timer as soon as the cake comes out of the oven and it will come out perfectly every time.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

A simple rhubarb upside-down cake made with boxed cake mix.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • Cooking spray

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 pound

    rhubarb (5 or 6 (6-inch) stalks)

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box

    vanilla or yellow cake mix

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    vegetable oil

  • 1 cup



  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, then line the bottom with a parchment paper round.

  2. Place 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high power until melted, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, melt on the stove.) Pour the melted butter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Nestle 1 pound rhubarb, rounded-side down, into the sugar in an even layer without overlapping, trimming the rhubarb as needed to fit.

  3. Place 1 box cake mix, 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 1 cup water in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour over the rhubarb and smooth out the top.

  4. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the warm cake from the pan by running a knife around the edge and gently inverting it onto a serving plate. Discard the parchment paper before slicing.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store leftovers loosely covered in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.