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. 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. 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.

315 Comments

  1. I’m excited about making this recipe for my 7 year old son’s birthday party this weekend. He was born on Halloween, so he is our pumpkin! Would two 8 inch round pans work? Any difference in oven temp or time?

    1. Hi Katy! So special! Yes, you can use this recipe for 2 8-inch cake pans. See my recipe note about a layer cake. May take an extra minute since the cakes will be thicker (as opposed to 9-inch cake pans).

  2. I’m fond of this cake. I LOVE it. I was surprised by the texture, really moist, not dense… (I think I didn’t bake it enough because it’s a little cakey and wet XD) withall the flavor of the spices :O … It’s an amazing cake and I keep this recipe all my life. Thank you Sally !

      1. I want to cook it in a bundt cake pan to make it into a pumpkin shape. I don’t think the bundt cake recipe works for what I’m going for. Can I still use the same temperature and cooking time? *novice baker here*

  3. Very light and fluffy.
    Used homemade puree. Didn’t taste very pumpkiny. Like you said. But I had already baked it, so it was ready to go. Next time I will use canned. I also used melted butter instead of the oil. I love butter!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  4. Made this tonight and you’re not kidding. Tastes like your Grandmother baked it! I opted for the dark brown sugar vs. light, used 3/4 cup vs. one cup of oil and upped the pumpkin by 1/4 cup (fresh puree rather than canned) to make up the difference. It came out the *perfect* combination of flavorful, light, fluffy and moist. Topped it with maple buttercream frosting. Really delicious. Thanks for another great recipe!

  5. Made my cake as written with slightly less sugar, and it turned out DELICIOUS, but I had to bake it much longer, at least 45-50 minutes (didn’t keep track, just kept checking and adding more time). It was a very moist, bouncy cake, and I served it with barely sweetened bourbon vanilla whipped cream instead of the cream cheese icing, which was just perfect with black coffee. Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. This cake was super frustrating–I am a very experienced baker and things usually turn out with the time specified in the recipe. However, this cake took MUCH longer to be done than 36 minutes. The center was still very wet at even 40 minutes. I did cover with foil at the end, but this was very annoying to keep checking on the cake. It was still a little too brown for my liking by the time the center was not wet.

  7. This cake was absolutely delicious! I made it with fresh pumpkin puree and I thought it tasted divine. I don’t liked canned pumpkin in general, and this recipe doesn’t need it – despite what you say in your tips, the fresh pumpkin works great. Thanks for the great recipe!

  8. This cake was moist and came together easily, but it could have used more pumpkin. May be increasing the pumpkin pie spice? The cream cheese frosting was delicious.

  9. I made this today and this recipe is amazing. Cake came out moist and delicious. I used mable extract for the frosting instead of vanilla and it tasted great!! I definitely recommend giving this one a try.

  10. I made this a couple of years ago for my office and got so many compliments on it. In fact, one of my co-workers asked if I would please make another one for their family to eat on Christmas and she would pay me! It really is deliciious! In fact I’m going to make it again this week.

  11. Just tried this recipe, you were not lying. It really is amazing. My husband who doesn’t like sweets had two slices! Couldn’t believe it. Thanks

  12. I have made this cake five times within the past two months! Everyone keeps asking me to bake it again and again. Twice I made it to use for cake pops and it was divine! Can’t say enough good things about this recipe.

  13. Oh my this cake is amazing ..light ,fluffy and Morrish ..girls at David jones where I work couldn’t get enough ..Thank you ..Great Revipe

  14. Hi Sally, I am going to try this cake. I love cakes that use a vegetable or fruit in them…more fiber and more of the good stuff that keep us healthy. I also have a tendency to use less sugar and add either raisins or semi-sweet chocolate chips to make up the difference.
    I wanted to comment that You may want to do some research as canola oil is not that good for us. Organic unrefined coconut oil and/or grass-fed butter would be a healthier choice. I make a German chocolate cake and use both butter and coconut oil and have many requests from friends and family to make them one. In this recipe I will probably use all coconut oil in the cake as there is butter in the cream cheese
    frosting.
    I can’t wait to check out more of your recipes and your cookbooks.
    Enjoy that little girl…she’s precious!
    God bless!

  15. Sally,
    I made exactly to your recipe and waiting to serve tonight. Two questions, how much would you adjust for altitude , and if using cake flour would you use same amount as all-purpose flour?
    Thank you,

    1. I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  16. Thanks Sally, I’ve been baking for 50 yrs and I’m saving your recipe!
    I made pumpkin muffins yesterday and they weren’t what I was looking for. This is what I was looking for! I halfed the recipe. I used thawed (fresh) pumpkin from garden. I put pumpkin in coffee filter in sieve to extract extra liquid. Everyone loved it and I shared recipe.

    1. Hi marsha if using fresh pumpkin steam it with a little water on the top stove then cool and puree in blender you will take away the raw taste and texture of the pumpkin.

  17. Just made it and even halved the oil as you suggested. I did half oil and half applesauce. It still tasted wonderful. I used fresh pumpkin because that is what I had on hand. I defrosted my pumpkin purée, so I looked for a pumpkin cake recipe. I squeezed as much water out as I could and had it over a sieve. I think it still tastes great.

    I was wondering if I refrigerate this, even with a tight lid, will the cake dry out? I have left other cakes out for a few days with cream cheese frosting and it was totally fine. Is that why you recommend refrigeration? I was going to put it out in room temp. I hate dried out cakes.

    1. So glad you enjoy this cake, thank you so much! I recommend refrigerating the cake if it’s already frosted and you are serving it at a later time. Simply because the cream cheese frosting shouldn’t sit out for an extended amount of time.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. For a recipe perfectly proportioned for a bundt pan, I recommend this one (with or without the chocolate chips): https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bundt-cake/

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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

×