Pineapple Cupcakes with Pineapple Buttercream

Completely unplanned by Ruth and I, this week has been a celebration of tropical fruits. First a delicious banana rice pudding on Monday, and a Hump Day Happy Hour drink featuring pineapple and a taste of the Islands. So, it is with a little bit of luck that I happen to have a sweet treat, also featuring pineapple to round out the week. Hope you enjoyed our impromptu tropical fruit week, and next time we’ll even consider planning a themed week!

I am the kind of person who can’t show up to a party empty handed, it just seems very wrong. Plus, parties are a great excuse for me to bake cupcakes. I certainly can’t eat 2 dozen cupcakes on my own, so I rarely have the opportunity to make them. That’s why I was excited when my friends Irene and Jeff decided to throw a house warming/birthday party a few weeks ago. A few days before the party, I texted Irene and asked what I should bring with me, and she suggested I bring Sponge Bob Square Pants themed cupcakes in honor of Jeff’s birthday. I love a challenge, but I knew with my 13 hour days I wouldn’t have the time to practice decorating themed cupcakes, so I started brainstorming. Then I remember that Sponge Bob “lives in a pineapple under the sea,” and my problem was solved.

Pineapple cupcakes were the perfect way to channel Sponge Bob Square Pants. I used Martha Stewart’s yellow butter cake recipe as the basis of my own cupcakes. I decreased the milk and added baking soda to compensate for the extra acidity brought to the recipe by the pineapple. Topped with a pineapple buttercream, kept from being to sweet by the judicious use of salt, and Sponge Bob themed cupcake picks, this was the perfect mix of sophistication and whimsy.

Pineapple Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1.75 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cups cake flour
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
20 ounces canned pineapple in juice, juice reserved.

1)      Preheat oven to 350°F and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.

2)      If using pineapple rings or chunked pineapple, drain off liquid and place pineapple in a small food chopper. Process until fine pieces.

3)      In a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

4)      In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

5)      Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.

6)      Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with additions of milk, and ending with a cup of flour.

7)      Fold crushed pineapple into batter using a spatula.

8)      Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, filling approximately 3/4  full.

9)      Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating half way through cooking time.

10)   Let cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
0.25 teaspoon salt
8 ounce can crushed pineapple, in juice
5-6 cups powdered sugar

1)      Carefully drain pineapple, setting juice aside.

2)      Cream together butter, salt, half of the pineapple fruit, and 5 tablespoons pineapple juice.

3)      Add powdered sugar about a cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

4)      Taste test frosting and adjust to reach desired flavor. If it is too sweet, add an additional dash of salt, if you want more pineapple flavor, add more of the pineapple juice (although this will require more sugar, so do this sparingly).

5)      Spoon into a piping bag and decorate your cupcakes.

21 responses to “Pineapple Cupcakes with Pineapple Buttercream

  1. I just made this buttercream for my granddaughter’s pineapple cupcakes. It was delicious. I did use salted butter and not the added salt and added a little pineapple extract to the crushed pineapple. I did not have any problems with separating or grittiness. Everyone loved it!

  2. Recipe came out exceptionally watery and I followed it exactly. Made lots of buttercream before nothing as bad as this one. Had high hopes, just melted off the cake.

  3. I have to agree with Jessica. I used the correct amounts and did everything the way you explained and my frosting separated in the mixing bowl before I even had a chance to put it on my cupcakes! What would you suggest the issue was or is?

    • Broken buttercream is actually pretty common. There are two main causes of separated, grainy buttercream:
      1) The ingredients are not all the same temperature. Especially when recipes use milk or cream, if the milk is colder than the butter, that can cause issues. That is likely less of an issue with this recipe, unless the pineapple came from the fridge.
      2) Too much liquid can cause this issue. For this recipe, I recommend pressing out as much of the liquid from your crushed pineapple as possible before starting. Then decrease the amount of pineapple juice, start with two tablespoon and increase slowly.

      If neither of these work for you, you can use a more traditional buttercream and flavor it with pineapple extract or flavoring, but it won’t have the real fruit bits.

      Some other resources for fixing broken buttercream include an article from The Kitchn ( and this video from Martha Stuart (

      Hopefully this helps and good luck!

    • What she missing in the ingredients is meringue powder..

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  5. Can I use pineapple preserves instead of crushed pineapple? Im making a two layer cake covered in fondant

    • I would be hesitant to use preserves because they often have added sugar in them, which could very possibly cause the frosting to be tooth-achingly sweet. Adding salt can help counter act some sweetness, but I don’t know how successful it would be with the added sugar of preserves. With canned pineapple in juice there is no added sugar to affect the frosting.

  6. Hi there, thank you for the fab recipe. Can you tell me how many cupcakes this makes? I know in the introduction it mentions 2 dozen but I just wanted to clarify – will be making them for my boyfriend’s office for his birthday 🙂

  7. I just made the Pineapple Butter Cream and as soon as I added the “pinch”, of salt my frosting looked as if it curdled. It’s also gritty. I read another post that she had the same problem with it being gritty so I sifted the powdered sugar before I added it to my mixing bowl. The taste is fine, a bit sweet but what concerns me is the way it looks, “curdled”. So I put the bowl in the fridge, let it set up and get cold again. Not to long though, just long enough to stiffen the frosting so I can pipe with it. Any idea why it “curdled”?

  8. I followed the recipe, to a T. The frosting came out too gritty, even using crushed pineapple and wide icing tip, the pineapple clogged the tip and through the struggle of trying to frost my cupcakes, the ingredients separated. I used exact measurements and all room temperature ingredients. (I used a different pineapple cupcake recipe, I don’t know how well the one you provided is, but the icing recipe can not be accurate)

  9. Hi Emilie, Can I make a pineapple layer cake instead of cupcakes with the same buttercream filling?

    • I have not used the pineapple buttercream in a layer cake myself, but I definitely think it would work! It is not a watery frosting, so it should stand up just fine. Let us know how it goes!

      • I actually used this frosting recipe last year for a friend’s birthday cake, and he loved it so much, I’m doing it again this year! It held up very well. 😀

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  11. are you supposed to puree the pineapple that goes into the frosting as well?

    • Hi Tobriah, if you use 8 ounces of chunky pineapple or pineapple rings, you should definitely puree it. In this recipe though, I actually used one of those small cans of crushed pineapple in juice, to A) make the process easier, and B) b/c I didn’t need as much pineapple for the frosting as I did for the cupcakes.

  12. where can I

    • Hi Carroll, there is a recipe for Pineapple buttercream frosting in this post. Near the end of the post, you’ll see a bolded titled for the frosting, which calls for butter, a touch of salt, crushed pineapple, and powdered sugar. Hope this helps!

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