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Pumpkin Cake

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Our Pumpkin Cake is a moist pumpkin spiced cake topped with a decadent butter and cream cheese frosting! It’s so easy to prepare, and doesn’t last long. Your family will ask for this cake year round!

You don’t have to wait until pumpkin season to enjoy this pumpkin cake recipe. It’s made with easy to find pantry staples and can be prepared any time of year.

This cake is lightly, fluffy, perfectly moist, and has plenty of warm spices. Don’t forget the sweet cream cheese frosting!

Serve a slice of this Fall favorite with a warm cup of cinnamon coffee or for dessert after enjoying a bowl of French onion soup.

Bite taken out of a slice of pumpkin cake.

Our homemade pumpkin cake recipe is the perfect fall dessert for a weeknight sweet treat or a spot on the holiday table. It’s similar to a pumpkin roll but in full cake form with the cream cheese frosting on the top instead of rolled up on the inside.

It’s made from scratch, so you’ll need a few basic ingredients.

No cake mix here! It also uses 1 full can of pumpkin purée, so there’s no worry about having leftovers. All that pumpkin purée makes this cake moist and incredibly soft. 

What is Pumpkin Cake Made Of?

Our cake uses simple, pantry ingredients to make the best cake! We’ve listed the exact amounts of each ingredient in the recipe card further down the page.

For the Cake:

  • All-Purpose Flour: Makes up the base of pumpkin spice cake.
  • Sugar: You’ll need both granulated (white) and brown sugar for sweetness.
  • Leavening Agents: Baking soda and baking powder give this cake lift and a wonderful texture.
  • Spices: Pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon are our picks.
  • Large Eggs.
  • Oil: You’ll need a neutral tasting cooking oil similar to canola oil or vegetable oil.
  • Canned Pumpkin Purée: Gives this cake moisture, flavor, and color.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Powdered Sugar.
  • Cream Cheese: Softened to room temperature.
  • Butter: Unsalted and softened to room temperature.
  • Vanilla Extract.
  • Milk (optional): Any variety to thin out the frosting.
Ingredients needed for pumpkin cake.
Ingredients needed for cream cheese frosting.

How to Make a Moist Pumpkin Cake:

Scroll to the recipe card below for the full instructions and ingredient amounts.

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9×13-inch cake pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and pumpkin purée.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Whisk until well combined, but don’t overmix.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cake batter in bowl.
Baked pumpkin cake in a pan.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese and butter.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract until creamy and smooth. Add milk a little at a time to reach the desired consistency.
  3. Apply the frosting to the cooled cake with an offset spatula. Slice, and serve.
Powdered sugar and vanilla added to a bowl of cream cheese and butter.
Cream cheese frosting in a bowl.

Tips for Success:

  • Cool the cake! Make sure the cake is completely cool before applying the frosting; otherwise, it will melt and slide off the cake.
  • Mix well. Make sure to fully incorporate the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Small lumps of flour in the batter don’t “bake away” as the cake bakes.
  • Don’t overmix. While the cake batter should be well mixed to fully incorporate the ingredients, it’s important not to overmix the ingredients. Overmixing promotes gluten development and makes this cake dense and tough.

Variations for a Delicious Cake:

  • Layer on the flavor. Add a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg over the top of the cake for a pop of flavor.
  • Add some nuts. For some extra texture, add some walnuts or pecans to the cake batter or to the frosting.
  • Change the pans. Divide this recipe into two 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch cake pans and double the frosting to make a beautiful layer cake. The baking time may need to be adjusted depending on the pan size.
  • Want to make a pumpkin bundt cake? Place the batter in a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and increase the cook time by a few minutes.

Storage Options:

Refrigerator: Store leftover cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days. The cake can become dense once it’s been refrigerated, almost like pumpkin bread.

Freezer: Pumpkin cake freezes well for up to 2-3 months. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a couple layers of aluminum foil. Make sure to bake it in a freezer-safe pan!

Thawing and Reheating: Transfer the frozen cake to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Make sure to leave the foil and plastic wrap on while the cake thaws. After it’s completely thawed, frost as written in the directions.

To reheat from the refrigerator, place a slice of cake in the microwave for 8-12 seconds just until barely warm. If the cake is too warm, the frosting will melt.

Cinnamon sticks laid over a slice of cake.

Can you mix the sugar with egg and oil mixture?

Yes, absolutely! We’ve mixed the sugar with the eggs and oil before adding the pumpkin purée, and it works well.

How can you add more flavor to pumpkin cake?

There are several ways to add extra flavor to homemade pumpkin cake. Here are some options:

  • Add cinnamon to the frosting to make cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
  • Add ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, or a pinch of salt to the batter.
  • Make a poke cake and drizzle with caramel sauce.
  • Stir in some grated carrots or raisins.

Why did my pumpkin cake come out dense instead of light and fluffy?

Make sure the batter isn’t overmixed. If the gluten in the flour is overworked, it will cause the cake to be dense instead of light.

Double check that the baking powder and baking soda are fresh and not expired. They need to be good to give the cake lift.

Like This Recipe?

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Close up view of pumpkin cake sprinkled with cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Cake

4.8 from 5 votes
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Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 20 Slices

Ingredients

Pumpkin Cake Batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces block-style cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, optional to thin out frosting

Instructions
 

To Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9×13-inch cake pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Set aside.
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup granulated sugar
    ½ cup light brown sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, oil and eggs. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients, and whisk to combine.
    4 large eggs
    1 cup canola or vegetable oil
    15 ounces canned pumpkin purée
  • Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour milk (if using) a little at a time to reach the desired consistency.
    2 cups powdered sugar
    8 ounces block-style cream cheese
    8 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • Use a spatula to apply the frosting to the cooled cake. Slice and serve.
  • See post for storage options, tips, variations, and FAQs.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 143mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 3651IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 1mg

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 slice. Actual calories will vary.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
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