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

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

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

Pumpkin cake on

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

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

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

  • 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! 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 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 Spreader | 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.
  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.

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

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


  1. I made this cake last night and it is one of the best cakes ever! My husband could of ate the whole cake haha. I substitute the oil with mostly apple sauce. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So I’ve done this recipe twice to the letter exactly as laid out. The cake came out stodgy and after an extra hour of cooking in the oven with a foil top is still stodgy. Anyone else experience this and tell me what went wrong? I followed the instructions to the letter.

    1. Hi Jo! Are you using fresh or canned pumpkin? I strongly recommend canned pumpkin puree if you can get your hands on it. From what I tested, Libby’s brand is the best for this cake.

  3. I made this cake for my family last night and my kiddos helped too! I needed up adding the extra 1/4 cup of powder sugar to the frosting (it tasted better to me this way) but everything can spit great!! It took only 30 mins to cook in two round pans. I’ve even shared it with my neighbors! Best pumpkin cake ever! And I’m. It a pumpkin treat lover… but my husband is and he definitely approved!

      1. Think I could double this recipe (best pumpkin cake) and bake in two bundt pans to fit together to make a pumpkin shape?

  4. Thanks so much for this easy-to-follow recipe. I made the cake yesterday and it’s delicious. Everything I’ve made from your recipes has been a success.

  5. Good morning Sally,

    This truly is the best Pumpkin Cake I have ever had! I made it for a picnic last weekend and it was a tremendous hit. Since there are a few who are gluten free, I made the cake with King Arthur measure for measure gluten free flour and it turned out marvelously to say the list…everyone who eventually found out that it was gluten free could not believe it…and I did not skimp on the cream cheese frosting…amazing!!! Love your recipes girl, keep up the good work!

  6. Hi Sally, I don’t have pumpkin spice mix and was about to use the mix of spices you recommend, but I see that the recommendation doesn’t include cinnamon, whereas commercial pumpkin spice mix does. Can I assume that I should include, say 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon (in addition to the 1.5 teaspoons the recipe calls for).
    I’m about to try making this in a bundt pan. I wonder if anyone else has had success with this?

    1. Hi Vivienne! There is enough cinnamon in the cake batter (trust me!) that you won’t need the extra even if you use the store-bought pumpkin spice spice. When using the spices individually, I usually don’t add extra cinnamon.

  7. Excellent. Moist and delicious cake. I did butter scotch icing for Thanksgiving and we loved it.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  8. My stepson has asked for a pumpkin cake for his birthday cake (tomorrow!). I would like to bake it in a bundt pan to make it look more special-occasion. I compared the two recipes you offered for bundt options, but I just want the pumpkin cake – no cream cheese filling or chocolate chips. Should I make the chocolate chip recipe and just leave out the chips? Or should I just make this recipe and possibly not use all the batter? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Kim! Pumpkin pie filling has sweeteners, flavors, and spices added. The texture is completely different from pure pumpkin puree and it’s not recommended for this pumpkin cake recipe.

  9. Hey I’m curious if you think this cake is sturdy enough to stack even higher? I’d love to make it a taller layer cake. Thanks!

  10. Hello Sally,
    Try as I might, I have no chance of finding canned pumpkin here in Turkey. But I do have a huge pumpkin from my mother-in-law. How can I best make the pure so it is worthy of this cake?

  11. I love the flavor of pumpkin with raisins in a baked item. Can you give suggestions of an amount to add, and would you suggest plumping the raisins up by soaking for a bit in hot water prior to adding to the batter?

    1. Hi Lynn! I would add anywhere around 3/4 – 1 cup of raisins. You can plump them if you wish to take a few extra minutes to do so.

  12. I’m baking this cake right now and have the frosting ready to go. Is there any reason I can’t place cake in fridge to cool right out of oven?

  13. This is a great cake to whip together on a Saturday morning while you’re doing laundry – just like i just did.

    i added a bit of Salted Caramel to the frosting – it was amazing.

  14. Amazingly delicious!! Followed the recipe exactly and muffins came out perfect. Yielded 22 standard muffins for me.

    Wonderful recipe! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  15. Used this recipe and doubled up on almost everything as I made a three layered cake and it is phenomenal! I was so shocked how good it turned out bc I’ve never really baked a cake homemade before! Thanks so much!!

  16. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and it worked perfectly. Had some leftover batter and made some cupcakes which came out perfect as well. Great crumb and just the right amount of moist. It’s hard to stop eating this!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally