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Tornado Cake aka Do Nothing Cake

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Texas Tornado Cake is a super easy and fast dessert recipe to whip together in a pinch. With just a few pantry staples you can have this delicious cake ready to serve in less than an hour!

sliced Texas Tornado cake in white baking dish

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Texas Tornado Cake is a classic old-fashioned recipe. I’ve seen it also called Do Nothing Cake because you literally stir and bake! Because the recipe was invented in the 1940s when baking required a lot of measuring and weighing, this cake was about as close to “do nothing” as it could get!

Tornado cake is a moist cake filled with crushed pineapple and topped with a decadent sweet coconut frosting. While I haven’t seen it described as a poke cake (you KNOW I love a poke cake!) I do make it that way, poking holes in the cake before pouring the topping over it so that all that flavor can get soaked up.

close up of slice of tornado cake

If you like poke cake too check out my triple lemon poke cake, OREO poke cake, Boston cream pie poke cake or all of my poke cakes here!


  • flour
  • baking soda
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • vanilla extract
  • crushed pineapple
  • butter
  • evaporated milk
  • coconut
  • chopped pecans

Step by step

As you can imagine, for a cake nicknamed “do nothing cake” it is pretty easy to make!

  1. Mix all cake ingredients in a bowl until blended.
  2. Pour batter into a baking dish. Bake 30-40 minutes.
  3. When cake is done, remove from oven and immediately prepare topping.
  4. Bring butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan.
  5. Cook about 5 minutes to thicken, then remove from heat and stir in coconut and nuts.
  6. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer, chopstick, or spoon handle and then pour the topping over the cake and spread evenly.

That’s it! You’re done!


Can this be made ahead?

Make this cake up to 5 days ahead of time and keep at room temperature covered tightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Can it be frozen?

I don’t recommend freezing this cake as the texture is off when it is thawed.

Can I use different fruit or nuts?

I have seen this cake made many different ways so feel free to experiment! I have seen canned peaches or fruit cocktail used instead of crushed pineapple and walnuts instead of pecans.

Can I use unsalted butter?

If you use unsalted butter add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the topping mix when bringing to a simmer.

sliced Texas Tornado cake in white baking dish

If you try this recipe, please comment and rate it below, I love hearing from you!

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close up of slice of tornado cake

Tornado Cake

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.9 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Melissa Riker
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x


Texas Tornado Cake is a super easy and fast dessert recipe to whip together in a pinch. With just a few pantry staples you can have this delicious cake ready to serve in less than an hour!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple


  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes 


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
    2. In a large bowl, stir together all cake ingredients until blended.
    3. Pour into prepared dish and bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove to cooling rack and poke holes about 1 inch apart in the cake with a wooden skewer, chopstick, or handle of a wooden spoon.
    4. Combine butter, vanilla, evaporated milk, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring often, until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in nuts and coconut flakes. Pour mixture over the cake while it is still hot and spread evenly. Let topping set a few minutes before serving for best results.
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 40 minutes
    • Category: dessert
    • Method: baking
    • Cuisine: American


    • Serving Size:
    • Calories: 471
    • Sugar: 56.3 g
    • Sodium: 213 mg
    • Fat: 17.5 g
    • Carbohydrates: 75.7 g
    • Protein: 5.4 g
    • Cholesterol: 51.3 mg




    Its easy! I will show you how.

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    1. Hi
      Thank you for post the Tornado cake sounds fabulous.
      Do I add the juice in the pineapple can into cake mixture?

      1. I think it would’ve said drained. So yes add the can of fruit juice and all. That’s my expert advice

    2. Have been making this cake for 60 years we add a handful of brown sugar around top before we bake it adds a delicious flavor in oven now

    3. We loved this cake, it was delicious and so moist. My husband said this is possibly the best cake he has ever eaten!! I am making another one today to take to a family meal tomorrow, I have never taken anything I made before, but I feel confident this cake is a winner. Thank you for this recipe.

    4. I made this, and took it to a church function. Huge hit! Everyone that got a piece loved it! One lady even said it was the best dessert on the table! Had several ask for the recipe. Needless to say I will be making it more often.

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