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Nana’s Pineapple Delight is a vintage recipe from my grandmother featuring sweet, fruity pineapple bars with creamy vanilla frosting and flaky butter crust. It’s a staple summer dessert that makes enough to feed a crowd!

top view of sliced pineapple bars in vintage pan

As a kid summertime functions had different desserts on my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family.

On my maternal side, it was usually strawberry shortcake or sometimes a fruity pie like blueberry, peach, or cherry.

And in my dad’s family it was things like cookies, brownies, or my Nana’s Old-Fashioned Pineapple Delight.

These dessert bar cookies have a flaky pie crust bottom, sweet/tart pineapple pie filling, vanilla frosting, and crunchy walnut topping. Each slice has its own glistening sticky sweet red maraschino cherry on top. I remember we all enjoyed it, but my dad in particular loved this treat.

It was the type of thing my grandmother would bring to every summertime family function. And of course it was always one of the first things to disappear from the dessert table. Which was good in the sense that it was less to pack up and cleanup!

If you’re looking for a new treat to try for summer gatherings, bookmark this recipe. It makes 20 servings so there’ll be enough for the whole family. And its sweet/tart fruit filling, flaky butter crust, and decadent vanilla frosting will make it a treat everyone can get on board with. Just be prepared to have people ask you for the recipe!

stack of cookie bars with partially eaten one in front

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • With 20 servings, it makes enough for the whole party. And you can cut the squares a bit smaller to get more servings.
  • The textures in this dessert are perfect. Flaky crust, fruity filling, creamy frosting, and crunchy walnuts!
  • If you’re pressed for time, you can make this semi-homemade-style! Use store-bought pie dough, pie filling, and vanilla frosting.
front view of pineapple delight served with walnuts and cherries on top

The Best Pineapple Bars Recipe

Like many vintage recipes that are passed down, this one came with minimal instructions. My grandmother Nancy’s original recipe stated:

“Pineapple Delight: Make enough dough for 2 double shelled pies, spread in pan, spread pineapple (or other fruit) filling on that, bake at 400F for 1/2 hour (or so). Frost, then sprinkle with nuts.”

I filled in the gaps! And I’m sharing step-by-step instructions to walk you through the whole process.

The end result is a lovely summer dessert that’s sure to be a new favorite at your family gatherings.

Ingredients

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

Crust Ingredients

pie crust ingredients
  • All-purpose flour: Regular flour is what we’re going for here.
  • Salt: This is for flavor, don’t skimp!
  • Unsalted butter: Use unsalted because it lets us add salt to taste, and it’s fresher! Make sure the butter is cold when you cut it into the flour.
  • Ice water: The water needs to be icy cold so it doesn’t melt the butter.

Pineapple Filling Ingredients

pineapple filling ingredients
  • Canned crushed pineapple in heavy syrup: If you can only find crushed pineapple in juice, use that and add another 1/4 cup granulated sugar.
  • Granulated sugar: To make it sweet and balance out the tart pineapple flavor.
  • Fresh lime juice: This enhances the fruit’s natural flavor and creates balance. Fresh lemon juice will also work fine.
  • Salt: This pulls out the fruity flavor.
  • Cornstarch + water: This creates a slurry and thickens our filling.

Frosting Ingredients

easy frosting ingredients
  • Unsalted butter: This is the rich, creamy base for our American buttercream frosting.
  • Vanilla: Adds aroma and flavor.
  • Salt: This balances the sweetness and pulls out the butter and vanilla notes.
  • Powdered sugar: Along with butter, this is the other classic component of American buttercream. It adds sweetness, structure, and volume.
  • Heavy whipping cream: Helps create the perfect creamy consistency. If you prefer, you can use half and half or whole milk instead.

Ingredients For Decoration

  • Chopped walnuts: For crunch and nutty flavor! You can omit them or swap them out for any type of nut you like.
  • Maraschino cherries: My Nana always served this summertime treat with a cherry on top of each slice!

Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Make Pie Dough From Scratch

how to make pie dough from scratch
  1. Add the flour and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter.
  2. Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks crumbly. There should be some pieces of butter the size of small peas.
  3. Drizzle in the water a little at a time, stirring in between additions.
  4. The dough should look shaggy. Only add enough water so that the dough comes together when you squeeze it.
  5. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball.
  6. Flatten the dough out to a rectangle about 8 inches wide by 11 inches long (this will help you roll it out later). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill.

How to Roll Out Pie Dough

how to roll out pie dough
  1. Flour a piece of parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and place it on top of the floured parchment paper. Flour the top of the dough, and place another piece of parchment paper on top.
  2. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 15 inches wide by 22 inches long.
  3. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper from the dough. Place an 11.5 by 17.5-inch baking tray on top of the rolled out dough.
  4. Carefully invert it so that the tray is on the bottom and the dough is on the top. Slowly peel off the bottom piece of parchment paper, which is now on top. Gently press the dough up the sides of the tray.

Make the Pineapple Pie Filling

how to make pineapple pie filling
  1. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water in a bowl to form a slurry.
  2. Add the pineapple (with liquid), sugar, lime, juice, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Once the mixture is steaming, stir in the cornstarch slurry.
  4. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, about 1 minute. Cool.

Make the Frosting

how to make frosting
  1. Add the butter, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar to a large bowl. Use a handheld electric mixer to beat until smooth. Add the cream.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pro Tip: I usually whip up the frosting while the bars are cooling.

Bake and the Frost Pineapple Bars

how to bake and decorate pineapple bars
  1. Use a fork to poke several holes in the bottom of the dough. Spread the cooled pineapple filling evenly out onto the pie dough.
  2. Bake until the crust is light golden, about 28 to 32 minutes at 400F. Cool.
  3. Once the bars are cooled, evenly spread the frosting on top.
  4. Immediately sprinkle the walnuts evenly on top. Let it set for about 20 minutes, and then cut into slices. Top each slice with a maraschino cherry.

Storage

Store leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 4 days.

top view of pineapple dessert on serving plates with maraschino cherries on marble countertop

Variations

Tips

  • Be careful not to add too much water to the dough or it can become gummy.
  • Instead of making your own pineapple filling, you can use a 20-ounce can of store-bought pineapple pie filling.
  • If walnuts aren’t your thing, swap them out for chopped almonds or pecans. Or omit them if desired.
stack of pineapple bar cookies topped with maraschino cherries

Pineapple Bars Recipe FAQs

Can I Make Crushed Pineapple From Pineapple Chunks?


Yes! It’s very easy to transform pineapple chunks into crushed pineapple. And it’s versatile; you can either use fresh pineapple chunks or canned pineapple chunks. If you’re using fresh, look for a very ripe pineapple and if you’re using canned chunks add the liquid.

To make crushed pineapple from pineapple chunks, simply pulse the pineapple in a food processor until it’s chopped into small pieces (aka crushed).

If you’re crushing pineapple chunks for this recipe, make sure to add the juices because we need them to make the perfect pie filling consistency! (If your pineapple wasn’t very juicy, add 1 tablespoon pineapple juice for every 1 cup of crushed pineapple.)

What’s the Easy Version of This Recipe?


If you’re pressed for time, I have you covered! This beautiful dessert is completely do-able with a few semi-homemade tricks.

To make this quick and easy, use store-bought pie dough, pineapple pie filling, and vanilla frosting.

More Summer Desserts to Make

close up of pineapple bars in baking tray

Let’s Connect

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Nana’s Pineapple Delight Recipe (Pineapple Bars)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time30 minutes
Other Time2 hours
Servings: 20 servings
Nana’s Pineapple Delight is a vintage recipe from my grandmother featuring sweet, fruity pineapple bars with creamy vanilla frosting and flaky butter crust. It’s a staple summer dessert that makes enough to feed a crowd!

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Ingredients
 

Crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more to roll out the dough
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 19 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup + 3 tablespoons, chilled
  • 1 cup ice water

Filling:

Frosting:

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Decoration:

Instructions
 

For the Crust:

  • Add the flour and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks crumbly with some pieces of butter the size of small peas. Drizzle in the water a little at a time, stirring in between additions to form a shaggy dough. Only add enough water so that the dough comes together when you squeeze it.
  • Shape the dough into a ball, and then flatten it out to a rectangle about 8 inches wide by 11 inches long (this will help you roll it out later). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • Flour a piece of parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and place it on top of the floured parchment paper. Flour the top of the dough, and place another piece of parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 15 inches wide by 22 inches long.
  • Peel off the top piece of parchment paper from the dough. Place an 11.5 by 17.5-inch baking tray on top of the rolled out dough. Carefully invert it so that the tray is on the bottom and the dough is on the top. Slowly peel off the bottom piece of parchment paper, which is now on top.
  • Gently press the dough up the sides of the tray. You will likely not have enough dough to flute the sides; it doesn’t have to look perfect, it will look fine once it’s baked. Use a fork to poke several holes in the bottom of the dough.

For the Filling:

  • Make the filling while the dough is chilling.
  • Add the pineapple (with liquid), sugar, lime, juice, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture is steaming, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, about 1 minute.
  • Remove from the heat and cool until room temperature or just lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

To Bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Spread the cooled pineapple filling evenly out onto the pie crust.
  • Bake until the crust is light golden, about 28 to 32 minutes.
  • Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

For the Frosting:

  • Make the frosting while the bars cool.
  • Add the butter, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar to a large bowl. Use a handheld electric mixer to beat until smooth. Add the cream and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

To Frost and Decorate the Bars:

  • Once the bars are cooled, evenly spread the frosting on top.
  • Immediately sprinkle the walnuts evenly on top.
  • Let it set for about 20 minutes, and then cut into slices. Top each slice with a maraschino cherry.
  • Serve.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This makes one 11.5 by 17.5-inch pan, or 20 servings. Or you can cut it into smaller squares to get more servings out of it.
  • Only Add Enough Water to the Dough so it Comes Together: Be careful not to add too much water to the dough or it can become gummy.
  • Time Saving Tip for the Filling: Instead of making your own pineapple filling, you can use a 20-ounce can of store-bought pineapple pie filling.
  • Walnut Substitution: If walnuts aren’t your thing, swap them out for chopped almonds or pecans. Or omit them if desired.
  • Storage: Store leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1square | Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 165mg | Potassium: 93mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 639IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pineapple Bars, Pineapple Bars Recipe, Pineapple Delight, Pineapple Delight Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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