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

Overview: How to Make Pumpkin Cake

While the full written recipe is below, let me walk you through these simple steps first. 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.

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.

Looking for a cookie recipe with this same flavor and texture? Try my super soft pumpkin cookies. No cookie dough chilling required and they’re incredible with that maple cream cheese icing on top!

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 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?

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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


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.


  • 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


  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.


  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 Toppers, and 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. Bundt Cake: This batter will fit into a 9.5 or 10 inch bundt pan. Same oven temperature. But for ease, I suggest using my pumpkin bundt cake recipe. Same great flavor and texture as this cake! You can leave out the chocolate chips.
  5. 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.
  6. Spices: Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, and ground ginger.
  7. 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.
  8. Pumpkin: I strongly recommend using canned pumpkin puree over homemade in this recipe, though 2 cups of homemade would work just fine in a pinch. If using fresh, blot out as much excess moisture as you can using a clean towel. Overall, I found the flavor better with canned. I prefer Libby’s brand for this cake.

Keywords: pumpkin spice, fall dessert, Thanksgiving

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


  1. I am so excited for the return of pumpkin flavors! I just started planning my Thanksgiving menu and the Great Pumpkin Pie recipe is obviously on there. I’ll have to test this out in the next few weeks!!

    As a side note, I made you white layer cake that you posted back in January a few birthday celebrations this month and it is absolutely delicious. It’s so fluffy!

    Enjoy the rest of your maternity leave! (Can you call it that if you’re still doing some work??)

    1. Thanks Kylie! I definitely call this maternity leave because I’m taking off from the most strenuous part of the job– recipe creation, baking, and photography!! I appreciate the well wishes. And I’m so glad you enjoyed the white layer cake. It’s definitely my favorite cake to make for bdays!

  2. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    I am sooo ready for all things pumpkin, especially desserts. And those pumpkin fondant toppers are so cute!

  3. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Pumpkin cake in my opinion is 1000 times better than pumpkin pie.  I always make some kind of pumpkin cake dessert during the Fall and for Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your time with Noelle!

  4. Hi Sally, Being born on Sep 24 I have to say your baby is the most gorgeous baby. I hope you are resting and enjoying your time as a new mum. Thank you for the best pumpkin cake. It is very similar to my carrot cake recipe so I am interested to try it. In case you want to try another the best pumpkin pie/cake check the link:

    1. Thank you so much!

  5. I was planning on making a pumpkin cake/cupcakes for Thanksgiving this year, so what perfect timing! Is this recipe much different from your Favorite Pumpkin Cupcakes recipe?

    And I thought I had decided on the cinnamon buttercream but I had forgotten about the brown butter buttercream. Decisions…

    1. Hey Anna! I discuss the differences between the cupcakes in the blog post. Slight differences, yes! 🙂

  6. Hi Sally!! Congrats on your new bundle of joy!! I miss those days when my little ones were that small, the time goes by so fast! I have a question, do you think this could be made in a jelly roll kind of pan to end up with pumpkin cake bars almost? 

    1. Hey Ashley! Yes, absolutely. I would use a 12×17 size sheet pan.

  7. I LOVE pumpkin cake! I used your pumpkin cupcakes as a base recipe to make Halloween (Jack-o-Lantern) cupcakes last October & they turned out amazing. Can’t wait to make Halloween cupcakes again – but maybe I’ll do a sheet cake instead 🙂 Best of wishes to you & your family as you settle into this new life!

  8. Kayla @ Sweet Me in St. Louie says:

    I can already tell this is going to be a staple in my fall baking repertoire!

  9. Julie Teicher says:

    This is similar to my favorite recipe that I have been using for decades that always gets rave reviews, except my recipe uses all brown sugar and I bake it in a jelly roll pan for 25 min. (more pumpkin yumminess to share).

  10. Hi Sally,

    I am hoping you can help. I have been trying to copy the lemon loaf cake from Starbucks. I have the lemon pound cake part done – but I can’t get the icing to be thick like theirs. I am thinking of experimenting with cornstarch, tapioca starch, sweetened condensed milk etc..but I am wondering if you have a recipe for thick white icing. The one on SB lemon loaf is not the runny kind at all. Thanks for any tips…

    1. This is my recipe for it.
      If this icing isn’t as thick as you would like I would suggest decreasing the amount of heavy cream a bit – or adding more sugar.

  11. Congratulations!! Enjoy your “break” and thanks for baking ahead so that we’d still have new recipes to read about 😀

    1. You’re very welcome! And thank you so much for the congrats.

  12. Hi Sally!
    Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes! I’ve tried so many and they always come out perfectly. Congrats to you and your husband on your new bundle of joy!

  13. This looks awesome! I think I’ll make this for my birthday cake (Halloween, super spooky). If I want to make this as a layer cake I think I’d prefer a bit of a lighter frosting so it’s not overwhelming in the layers. How would you recommend me altering the recipe so that it’s a bit of an airier, fluffier cream cheese frosting? 

    1. Hey Christina! What about layering with whipped cream?

  14. Would it taste okay without the frosting?

    1. Definitely– there is SO much flavor!

  15. I love pumpkin cake and I will try this new recipe this week-end. Thanks for the recipe. Enjoy your wonderful baby.

    (excuse-me, I’m french and I don’t speak very well american)

    1. Thank you so much Sylvie!

  16. This looks incredible! Totally making this over the weekend!


  17. HI Sally. First, Congratulations! Children are a true miracle.

    Question for you. I made this cake today and it is delicious. My only concern is that after cooling it really sunk considerably in the pan (9×13). I did test it before I took it out and it was done. Thoughts????

    I was able to cover it with frosting but it was hard to distribute since it all went to the middle.

    1. Hey Laura! If the cake sunk, it sounds like the BP and BS were not completely fresh (here’s how to test for freshness) and/or the cake was underbaked. I’m glad you loved its flavor!

      1. Thanks so much that you take the time to check comments and reply–Newborn and all!!!!! I tested both BP and BS and they were good. As we got closer to the center of the cake while cutting, I realized the cake was underbaked which baffles me even more because I tested it in two places in the center and the tester came out clean. UGH!!! Any other suggestions as to how to test for doneness?

        Again, the cake is so delicious!!!! At least we have the perimeters to enjoy.

  18. I can’t wait to try this one! I’m all about Pumpkin when it comes to Fall Baking.
    I wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU for using weight measurements in all of your recipes, even in the ones from the very beginning! I always get frustrated when looking for recipes from other blogs because almost ALL of them use *only* cup measurements, which sucks because I have to take the time to convert them to grams. Anyways, thank you, Sally <3 

    1. So glad it’s helpful for you! I’m trying to go back to oder posts and add the gram measurements when I re-make that specific recipe. It’s taking me awhile. But hopefully all recipes will have them at some point.

  19. Sally, I hope you enjoy your maternity leave. It must be an amazing feeling for you to spend time with your little sunshine. Wish you all the best! 
    Your pumpkin cake looks amazing, will definitely be the best pumpkin cake I’ve ever had!

    1. Thank you so much Sabine 🙂 

  20. Christa Walker says:

    Could I make jumbo cupcakes with this? How would the baking time need to be adjusted?

    1. Definitely! I’m unsure of the exact bake time. Slightly more than the given time for cupcakes. (see notes)

  21. This recipe looks amazing! Question though, would you recommend using it to make mini cupcakes? If so, what would you suggest the baking time be? I love everything about fall, especially pumpkin cake! Congratulations on your new sweet baby!

    1. Thank you for the congrats 🙂

      And absolutely! Same oven temp– bake for about 11-13 minutes.

  22. Alison O'Haver says:

    Congratulations, Noelle is beautiful! She picked a good day and month! My baby girl just turned one on Sept. 26, and I was actually due to be born around the 24th, but I was a premie instead 🙂 Anyway, the best pumpkin cake (because it’s probably the only one I’ve had) was Paula Deen’s recipe, which looks very similar to yours. I switched it up and flavored the cream cheese frosting with maple!! Pumpkin and maple go so well together! Speaking of which, I plan on making your pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple icing for breakfast tomorrow 😀 Fall is seriously my FAVORITE time of year. I am practically giddy over it, I love it so much!

    1. I MUST try this cake with some maple flavor in the frosting. Sounds incredible, thanks for the suggestion Alison! I hope you enjoy the pumpkin cinnamon rolls. I need to make them again soon. 

      Thank you so much for the congrats and happy belated to your sweet baby girl!

  23. I just made this cake with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting for my roommate’s birthday! Pumpkin cake is her favorite, and this recipe came out just in time! It’s absolutely delicious. Thank you for the awesome recipes … my roommates and I (with the help of friends!) went through 2 batches of your white chocolate pumpkin snickerdoodles this week, too!

    Also, welcome to the world, baby girl Noelle!

    1. Lots of pumpkin baking for you this week, I love it! So happy you enjoyed the pumpkin snickerdoodles too. Thank you for reporting back about both recipes!

  24. This. Cake. Enjoyed tonight at my husbands birthday celebration and it was everything promised! Amazing pumpkiney-spicy flavor and the texture was just spot on. I used your  cream cheese frosting and even added the pumpkin candy corns to top each piece like you did with the fondant pumpkins. A great presentation that everyone adored!
    Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad this pumpkin cake was a hit!! Thank you for reporting back about it 🙂

  25. Thanks so much for another fantastic recipe! I subbed half the oil for applesauce like you suggested in the note and I couldn’t tell any difference! Next time, I want to try subbing in some whole wheat flour with the all purpose to up the health factor even more! I also added around a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the frosting and oh man, I highly recommend it to anyone making this cake! It’s so good! Overall, super delicious! Also congrats on your baby girl! So happy for you!!

    1. So glad it was a hit– even with the applesauce. I love the cake’s flavor with that substitution!

  26. I was a little skeptical at first, but as I kept on reading I knew this would also be one of my new favorite cake recipes. Thank you for sharing it!

  27. Loved this cake! Made it with the applesauce and oil suggestion with no problems…I used an aluminum pan so it took 38 minutes. Made the browned butter cream cheese frosting only using about maybe 3 cups tops powdered sugar…I always use less powdered sugar in my frosting as I like to taste the tang of the cream cheese and the goodness of the browned butter and not just sugar taste…was really a great cake for our family! I just might not ever return to boring pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving again!!!! Thank you, Sally!

    1. So happy you enjoyed it! If there is room for two desserts on your Thanksgiving table, make this AND The Great Pumpkin Pie 🙂

  28. Made cupcakes with my kindergartener. Sprinkled some chocolate chips on top before baking. First time baking pumpkin anything and it was really good. Thanks, Sally, and congrats on the baby!

    1. I’m glad you tried a pumpkin recipe! This is a wonderful option to start with. And thank you for the congrats!

  29. This looks so delicious! Will have to try it asap 🙂


  30. Hi Sally! I love your method for properly measuring flour, I can definitely tell it makes a difference. I do it for everything I bake now! I have a question though- do you measure other powdered ingredients the same way? Like the powdered sugar for the frosting here, would you suggest spooning and leveling or is scooping ok for non-flour ingredients? Thanks so much! And also congratulations on your new baby girl!! 

    1. Thank you for the sweet congratulations, Claire! I only spoon and level flour. I don’t do that for confectioners’ sugar, regular sugar, etc.

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