Pineapple Sunshine Cake

Take a trip to the tropics with this fruity dessert.

Pineapple Sunshine Cake
Photo: Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray Prop Stylist: Heather Chadduck Hillegas
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 35 mins

Good news: You can experience the tropics in less than four hours without ever boarding a plane. So maybe you won't technically find yourself parked on the white, sandy shores of a remote island, but this recipe for Pineapple Sunshine Cake will get you pretty close. Perfect for summertime's pool parties and backyard barbecues, this fruity dessert marries the best of your favorite frozen summer drink (pineapple and coconut) with the stars of every classic Southern dessert (cream cheese and toasted pecans). Best of all, while this sheet cake tastes like it took a lot of effort and elbow grease, it's incredibly easy to throw together, calling on a store-bought box of yellow cake mix and only requiring 10 minutes of active time. Take note of this tip from the Test Kitchen too: Poking the cake and pouring the crushed pineapple over it while hot allows the pineapple juice to evenly saturate the entire cake for an impressive summertime dessert that bursts with tropical flavor.


  • Baking spray with flour

  • 1 (15.25-oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix

  • 3 large eggs

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 3 cups whole milk, divided

  • 1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 (5.1-oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix

  • 1 (9-oz.) container frozen whipped coconut topping (such as So Delicious Cocowhip), thawed, or regular whipped topping, thawed

  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans

  • ½ cup unsweetened toasted coconut chips  


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with baking spray with flour.

  2. Beat cake mix, eggs, oil, and 1 cup of the milk in a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading into an even layer.

  3. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Poke warm cake all over using handle of a wooden spoon. Pour crushed pineapple with juices over warm cake, spreading evenly with a spatula. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

  4. Whisk together cream cheese and 1 cup of the milk in a large bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add pudding mix and remaining 1 cup milk, whisking until smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes more. Pour pudding mixture over cooled cake, spreading into an even layer.

  5. Top with thawed whipped topping, and sprinkle with toasted pecans and coconut chips. Refrigerate, uncovered, 2 hours before serving.

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