The Best Pumpkin Cake I’ve Ever Had

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Because it truly is the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had.

But before we get there… thank you so much for all the well wishes about our newest addition!! We feel so fortunate and blessed that Noelle is here. Life has never been sweeter. ♥

A lot of the recipe content over the next several weeks was scheduled ahead of time. I’m taking time off from the kitchen so I can savor this transition into motherhood. I love checking in with you on my Facebook group (especially during those nighttime feedings!) so please keep those posts coming!

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This month is all about pumpkin. As it should be!! We’re concentrating on making pumpkin roll for October’s Baking Challenge and I have 2 more new pumpkin recipes coming this month. And have you tried the chewy pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies yet? Because that’s another new pumpkin recipe for Fall 2017!

With all of the pumpkin recipes floating around, there’s one extremely basic pumpkin dessert that I’ve never shared with you before. It’s my favorite pumpkin cake. Simple, straightforward, unadulterated, no strings attached, positively perfect pumpkin cake. It’s for those of us who want pure pumpkin spice flavor with nothing else in the way.

If you truly want to experience fall, forget apple picking, jumping in the leaves, hayrides, Sunday football, flannel shirts, roasting s’mores, and jack o’ lanterns because THIS CAKE IS HOW TO DO IT.

Pumpkin cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pumpkin cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

What makes it the best?!

This pumpkin cake reminds me of super moist spice cake in terms of preparation, ease, taste, and texture. The base of the cake is oil, eggs, and pumpkin, so you’re guaranteed a moist crumb. You’ll use an entire standard can of pumpkin, roughly 2 cups of pumpkin purée total. I love recipes calling for the whole can because nothing goes to waste and you don’t have a random 1/3 cup of leftover pumpkin sitting in the fridge!

Let’s talk flavor. We obviously have all the pumpkin. There’s also comfy cozy spices like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. In my notes you’ll see the actual spices listed out in the pumpkin pie spice like cloves, nutmeg, etc. I sweeten this pumpkin cake with both brown sugar and white granulated sugar, but mostly brown. Because you know that’s where the best flavor lies!

There’s more pumpkin spice flavor packed into 1 single bite than in an entire pumpkin spice latte. And hey, guess what? We’re actually using real pumpkin here. Unlike PSLs. Sorry PSLs.

Cakes with a similar spice flavor and texture profile like hummingbird cake, carrot cake, spice cake, and banana cake all taste best with the holy grail of frosting: cream cheese. So we’ve gotta use smooth ‘n’ silky cream cheese frosting to garnish this perfect pumpkin cake. Want to jazz it up? Who am I kidding, of course you do! Try my brown butter cream cheese frosting or cinnamon cream cheese frosting!

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

And how absurdly cute are the little fondant pumpkins? I didn’t make them myself since that would be the utmost test to my decorating patience– I found them on Amazon. I can’t seem to find the same exact ones again, but you can get similar pumpkin toppers here and here. Or these super adorable pumpkin sprinkles!

So, tell me, is this the best pumpkin cake you’ve ever had?

Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil*
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. I always use this glass pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
  3. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-36 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven and set the entire pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place the cake in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it). Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.
  6. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cake through step 4. Cover the cake tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.

Recipe Notes:

Cupcakes: This batter yields about 24-28 cupcakes. Same oven temperature, fill the cupcake wrappers 2/3 full, and bake 18-21 minutes or until baked through.

2 layer cake: Pour batter evenly into two 9-inch round cake pans. Same oven temperature, bake for 25 minutes or until baked through. This frosting is enough for a 2 layer cake.

*Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger.

*Instead of 1 cup of oil, try 1/2 cup (90g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 (120ml) cup oil. The cake is just as moist.

*I strongly recommend using canned pumpkin puree over homemade in this recipe, though 2 cups of homemade would work just fine. I found the flavor better with canned. I prefer Libby's brand for this cake.

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This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass 9×13 Baking Dish | Icing Spreader | Pumpkin Fondant Toppers | Custom Stamped Fork

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I've ever had! Supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

88 Comments

Comments

  1. Toni Ann on October 22, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Congratulations! You’re baby girl is beautiful. Do you think the Pumpkin cake would work as mini loafs? If so, do you happen to know the cookijng time?

    Thank you and congratulations again.

    Toni

    • Sally on October 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you, Toni! It should work but I’m unsure of the bake time.

  2. Sharon Roodhuyzen on October 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

    I made this last night, and it truly is the ‘best pumpkin cake I ever had’! Recipe was so easy. Thanks for the tip regarding freezing.

    • Sally on October 23, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Yay! Glad you think so too! 🙂

  3. Dvaes on October 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Tasty, moist pumpkin cake…but the frosting was far too sweet and I didn’t even add the extra 1/4 cup of sugar. I wish I would have started with only 2 cups of sugar and then only added a bit more if needed. The cake itself is still good but I am having to scrape off some of the frosting to balance out the sweetness – and I rarely have to do that! :\

  4. Sally K on October 26, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Hi Sally,I made your Best Pumpkin Cake I’ve ever had yesterday for our small group, and everyone enjoyed it so much! Cake was so moist and flavorful  and the frosting was over the top! I added 1/2t of cinnamon to the frosting, and needless to say I went home with an empty dish! 
    Thank you, Sally, for making me look like a rock star to our friends and family!

  5. Debbie on October 27, 2017 at 1:06 am

    Hi Sally! Congrats on the baby! I’m not a fan of cream cheese frosting/ do you think a whip cream-type frosting would work? I

    • Sally on October 27, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      Definitely!

  6. Kayla on October 28, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I am soooo excited for this cake, and am going to make some candied walnuts to top it off!

    I’m making it to bring to girls night, but also want to keep some at home for the significant other. Could I split the batter between two 8″ square pans? I think two full size cakes would be a little overkill. 

    • Sally on October 29, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      You sure can! The bake time will be slightly less when you break it up into 2 smaller pans.

  7. Morghan on October 30, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I made this over the weekend, and it was both easy and amazing – thank you! Your note about doing the layer cake version in 2x 9-inch rounds inspired me to get creative: I whipped up a batch of your delicious salted caramel sauce and used that in between the two cake layers. Yum! The saltiness of it was a great balance to the sweet cream cheese icing.

    • Sally on October 30, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      That sounds amazing with the salted caramel! So happy you were inspired 🙂

  8. Michelle on October 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    This cake is so yummy!! Flavorful and moist, I’ll definitely make it again!
    I made a half recipe to make into cake pops (I got about 26), then really wished I’d made the whole thing so I could eat the other half!! I used half melted butter and half apple sauce (thanks for that tip!) and baked it in a 8″ square pan, and I think it still took about 23-28 minutes if I remember right. I’m planning to use the other half can of pumpkin for a batch of cupcakes soon, then I’ll get to try it with frosting!

    • Sally on October 31, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      WOW – this would make such delicious cake pops! Did you use buttercream or cream cheese frosting?

      • Michelle on October 31, 2017 at 12:50 pm

        I just used a little homemade buttercream, it was so moist I didn’t need very much! Definitely using cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes though!!



  9. Celena on October 30, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    I’m making this right now for my husbands work Halloween party!

  10. laura on October 31, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    The cake was delicious, thanks for all the recipies, this was so yummi, everyone ate another slide, it’s a shame i can’t show you the pictures, i cooked two different version as a cake and cupcakes! Both with excelent results!

  11. Gerry on November 1, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Tasted too much like a spice cake than a pumpkin cake.
    Too, too much oil. I realized it would be too much as I was adding and only added 3/4 of a cup and wish I had only added 1/2.
    If I make it again will have to change something.

  12. Kinga on November 5, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Hi! Truly it’s the best cake I ever had, today I made it second time but this time it didn’t grow at all and came out totally flat, what could I do wrong? I didn’t put wet ingredients to dry ones but I put it opposite, I add dry to wet, could it be the reason? 

  13. Monae on November 6, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Hi Sally!

    Congrats!!! Love your recipes! Can I use cake flour for this recipe?

    • Sally on November 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Thank you! I don’t suggest cake flour– all-purpose is best.

  14. Amy Dee on November 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Just made this recipe this evening. I did cupcakes for a friendsgiving tomorrow. Can’t wait to share them! I did substitute 1/2 cup of applesauce for the oil. Thanks for the great recipe and congratulations on your little one!

    • Sally on November 10, 2017 at 6:37 am

      So glad you made the recipe! And thank you so much for the congrats 🙂

  15. Alexis on November 13, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Sally! My brother requested a certain pumpkin chocolate chip cake from The NY Times as a thanksgiving dessert. I’m happy to oblige to a point, but I don’t make cakes that aren’t your recipe!  I want to adapt this cake to be two layers (thanks for the instructions there!), include chocolate chips and have a chocolate frosting to make him happy. Do you recommend changing any spice ratios to go in a chocolatey direction?  Also, do you have a recommendation for one of your chocolate frostings that would complement the cake?  Love your recipes sooo much! Thanks!

    • Sally on November 13, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      Hey Alexis! I wouldn’t change the spices at all. They should taste fabulous with a chocolate frosting. I recommend following this frosting recipe/ratios. Hope it’s a hit!

  16. Kimberly Zheng on November 13, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I doubled this recipe exactly and got 48 cupcakes! I wish there was a stronger spice flavor, but paired with cream cheese frosting, these are DIVINE. For cream cheese frosting, I used 16 oz of cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, 8 cups confectioner’s sugar, and 3 tsp vanilla extract. PERFECT!

  17. Dolores Schorr on November 14, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Hello Sally! I topped my cake with a crumb mixture. To make the crumb I used 2 cups of flour, 2 sticks of butter, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp of Vietnamese cinnamon, dash of salt and 1tbsp of vanilla. I also topped it with your maple glaze from your pumpkin crumb cupcakes/muffins recipe. I cut the recipe in half. I used 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, 1tbsp of maple syrup and 1 tbsp of milk. I did not use any pumpkin spice in this recipe. Only Vietnamese Cinnamon. I baked the cake for 18 minutes then I took it out of the oven and topped it with the crumb mixture and placed it back in the oven for 18 more minutes. It was amazing! Congratulations on your new addition to your family! God Bless

    • Sally on November 15, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Sounds delish!

  18. Lizandra on November 14, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I made this pumpkin cake recipe last night. I intentionally made it for my 1 yo daughter’s snack but turn out that all family enjoys it really much.
    Recipe is so easy and doesn’t take much time to make. The cake is really moist and super tasty even without the buttercream.

    Thanks for the recipe, keep baking 🙂

    • Sally on November 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      I’m glad it was a hit with the whole family! 🙂

  19. Linda Bradley on November 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    My husband discovered this recipe and requested that I make it for his birthday the day after Thanksgiving! I am looking forward to trying it. One question….I was going to use the half applesauce/half oil option, but then thought maybe I could use more pumpkin in place of the applesauce in order to make it more pumpkin-y and less like a spice cake as someone noted. Do you think that would work? Thanks so much. Linda

    • Sally on November 19, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      I feel the cake may be a little too heavy with extra pumpkin, but you can absolutely try it!

      • Linda on December 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

        Hi! I did use more pumpkin in place of the applesauce and it turned out fine…maybe a little drier than with oil or applesauce, but still great…and pumpkiny. I used a little over half of the sugar called for in the icing, and it was quite good. Now I am going to try your pecan bars and/or the orange cranberry bundt cake and/or the chai cinnamon cake! So many good recipes! Thank you.



  20. Carolina on November 21, 2017 at 5:28 am

    I made a gluten-free version by substituting flour and raising agents with 1+3/4 metric cups gluten-free self-raising flour (could have used all-purpose and kept the raising agents in), 1/4 metric cup coconut flour and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Because gluten-free flour is so fine adding coconut flour sucks up some of the sogginess and gives a good crumb. Used 450 ml pumpkin, steamed, drained well and mashed, with half apple sauce/half oil. I thought about cutting down the sugar but was glad I didn’t – the balance was just right. In a 22cm round tin the cooking time was just over an hour. It won’t last long enough to frost. Eating some right now, warm with a dollop of cream. Terrific cake, thank you.

  21. Dale on November 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Just made the cake used only 1/2 cup of oil and replaced with 1/2 cup pumpkin work and tastes great.

  22. Rose Sainne on December 22, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    My mom made this cake four times and the requests keep coming for more! She substituted applesauce for the oil and used only 1.5 cups of confectioners sugar in the icing. 
    This cake was absolutely fabulous. The icing was perfect and sweet! I served it at game night and the whole cake was gone in a matter of hours. I don’t recommend this cake for anyone who is watching their waistline. It’s way too good to have just one piece!!  Thank you so much for this recipe. Next we are going to make your best ever banana cake.

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