The Best Pumpkin Cake I’ve Ever Had

This is my perfectly spiced, rich, and moist pumpkin cake topped with luxuriously creamy and tangy cream cheese frosting. It’s simply the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had.

pumpkin cake

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. This pumpkin cake recipe is simple, straightforward, and positively perfect. It’s for those of us who want pure pumpkin spice flavor with nothing else in the way.

Pumpkin cake


Why This is the Best Pumpkin Cake

I’ve tried a lot of pumpkin cakes and confidently say this is the best one. Here’s why:

  • Packed with flavor thanks to a whopping two cups of pumpkin puree
  • Tons of cozy fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice
  • Soft and super-moist– I call it “stick-to-your-fork moist!”
  • Smooth and silky cream cheese frosting
  • Single layer and easy to transport to potlucks, parties, tailgates, and any fall event!

Pumpkin Cake Recipe Video


pumpkin batter

pumpkin cake batter


How to Make Pumpkin Cake

This is a very easy cake to prepare– it actually reminds me of spice cake in terms of preparation, ease, taste, and texture. Only two bowls needed!

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients.
  3. Combine wet & dry ingredients.
  4. Pour into prepared 9×13 inch cake pan.
  5. Bake.
  6. Make cream cheese frosting.
  7. Chill. 30 minutes in the refrigerator makes cutting easier.
  8. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cake Ingredients

Homemade pumpkin cake requires basic ingredients. I actually use these same exact ingredients for my favorite pumpkin bars, too.

  1. Flour: All-purpose flour serves as the base. We use sturdy all-purpose flour instead of cake flour in this recipe because of the thick, wet batter.
  2. Baking Powder & Baking Soda: These ingredients help the cake rise.
  3. Cinnamon & Pumpkin Pie Spice: These are essential spices for any pumpkin dessert! Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger.
  4. Salt & Vanilla Extract: Add flavor. Try using homemade vanilla extract instead.
  5. Oil: Oil guarantees a moist crumb.
  6. Eggs: Eggs provide structure and moisture.
  7. Sugar: 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!)
  8. Pumpkin: Use an entire standard can of pumpkin, roughly 2 cups of pumpkin puree 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.

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting

How to Decorate Pumpkin Cake

Cakes with a similar spice flavor and texture profile like hummingbird cake, carrot cake, and banana cake all taste best with the holy grail of frosting: cream cheese frosting. So we MUST use silky cream cheese frosting to garnish this perfect pumpkin cake.

Want to jazz it up? Here are some other flavors:

PS: These little fondant pumpkins are extra cute! I didn’t make them myself since that would be the utmost test to my decorating patience. Or try these super adorable fall sprinkles!

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frostingpumpkin cake

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

Print

Pumpkin Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is the BEST pumpkin cake I’ve ever had and I know you’ll feel the same way! It’s supremely moist, soft, rich, and spiced with pumpkin spice flavor.


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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9×13 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 cups 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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass 9×13 Baking Dish | Icing Spatula | Pumpkin Fondant Toppers | Custom Stamped Fork
  3. 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. For 1 dozen cupcakes, use my pumpkin cupcakes recipe.
  4. 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.
  5. Spices: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger.
  6. Oil: 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.
  7. Pumpkin: 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.

Here are my pumpkin cupcakes! Same recipe, just reduced down.

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

228 Comments

  1. Great recipe! I had a similar favorite years ago and remember it to contain an entire cup of oil. So when I saw yours I knew the end result would be as moist as my previous experience. I thought I would leave my subs here in the comments in case someone was wondering if they could do the same. I used coconut oil for the entire measure of oil. I used coconut palm crystal sugar for the entire measure of sugar. (it also has a brown sugar like flavor). I added about 1/4 cup of additional oil to compensate for my experience of Coco sugar absorption of moisture. I used a gluten free flour mixture/same measure. Your four eggs had me EGGY worried, but surprisingly it was not! I feel they contributed to the moisture. My result is not a strong pumpkin just a great moist spice cake. I always buy organic pumpkin, I find the color and flavor more superior than that of Libby’s. : ) There is a great icing recipe that can top this fabulously if you are low on the other kitchen staples discussed afore. It is called burnt sugar frosting. Butter, brown sugar and heat. It will harden a wee bit to a great crumble. Thanks for this recipe Sally! I needed a great go to for my pantry staple of canned punkin’ and girl, yours is! Forgive me for messing with your ingredient list.

  2. Delicious
    No pumpkin pie spice in Australia but I used cinnamon, mixed spice and ginger along with cooled mashed pumpkin. So good. Quick to make and cook.

  3. This cake was delicious and really easy to make. Mine took 40 minutes to bake. I used the cinnamon in the icing and it really complimented the flavors in the cake. I had one piece after it was cool and it was good. Several hours later I had another piece after setting in the refrigerator for awhile. It was even better. I imagine tomorrow that it will be even more terrific. So, I will make this a day before Thanksgiving to let the flavors marry. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. I made this cake for a Labor Day weekend BBQ and it IS the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had! I used Kerry Gold butter in the frosting and it was the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever made!

  5. I wanted a recipe to use for a Farmers Market. If I switched the cream cheese frosting for something that doesn’t require refrigeration do you you think the cake could be left out? (Meaning no refrigeration)

  6. This looks delicious! I have a question. I want to make 2 of these. One of the cakes would be eaten on Thanksgiving day and the next would be eaten 2 days later (Saturday). We would be traveling Wednesday night to the first location and again Friday night to the second location.

    Do you think I can just make both cakes ahead of time, freeze them, and then transport them in a cooler to the first location, put them both in the fridge, and then transport in a cooler to the second location?

    Should I wait to ice them until I get there? It doesn’t need to look fancy; just to taste good. I have a container that will protect the cakes in the cooler while traveling, so that’s not an issue.

    If I do wait to ice them until I get there, how far ahead of time can I make the frosting? Can it just be refrigerated the whole time?

    Thanks :)!!

    1. Hi Sera! Freezing would be best. Here’s a tutorial on how to freeze cakes. You can just bake this sheet cake in a disposable/freezer friendly container and freeze it right in there. For best taste, I recommend frosting the cake before serving. You can prepare the frosting a few days ahead of time and refrigerate it. Let it soften to room temperature, then beat it again for 1-2 minutes before using because it will still be quite solid after refrigeration.

  7. Thank you so so much for sharing this recipe. It is indeed the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had! So delicious and rich in flavor. This made my husband very happy for his birthday. Great post!

  8. I was never a fan of pumpkin pie so I thought I will try a pumpkin cake instead for Thanksgiving. Saw this recipe and did a taste test. Well, I did the baking and the boyfriend did the actual taste test and oh boy was he happy! He ate half of it and if I wasnt giving him the look, he would probably have eaten the whole thing! He reminded me to thaw the leftover in the freezer for us to have this weekend . Anyways, that’s how happy we are! 🙂 thanks Sally!

  9. This was THE BEST cake I’ve ever made. I too had to bake it a little longer after the toothpick test, but yes, everyone’s oven is different. Delicious and generous amount of frosting…I was able to pipe slice lines and even a border with more to spare. Purchased the little pumpkins which made the cake so cute. Only lasted a few days and tasted even better after being kept in the fridge. Thank you.

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