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
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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

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 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.

381 Comments

  1. Agreed. Best. Pumpkin. Cake. Ever. Big hit. Made the cream cheese frosting but used brown butter. (Bc I am obsessed with brown butter everything) definitely my thanksgiving go to now. My criteria for a pumpkin cake was that it needed the pumpkin pie spice. Can’t just have cinnamon and nutmeg. Just doesn’t cut it. So thank you.

  2. This is delicious! I don’t have the ingredients for the frosting but the cake itself is so tasty. I made a different pumpkin bread/cake recipe from another site yesterday and it had way too much sugar and ground cloves. I think I’m going to toss it today because I made this recipe and it’s leagues better lol. This has the perfect amount of spices and sweetness. I am going to get the ingredients for the frosting next time. I think one could play around with this recipe to personalize it without sacrificing the texture/taste too much but why mess with a good thing! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. I am definitely trying this!

    I don’t have a pan this size. If I use longer, thinner (3.5 inches in witdth, lenght up to 13/14 inches) pans, does the oven temperature stay the same?

    Thanks in advance for your help and a great recipe!

  4. Your recipes and baked goods bring sunshine to all I share with! Thank you for your quality recipes – there hasn’t been one we haven’t loved!

  5. I made the pumpkin cake for our thanksgiving here in Canada and it was amazing, everyone loved it and it is so moist but not soggy like some pumpkin cakes can be. This is a winner as are all your other recipes that I make, You are a fabulous baker and I look forward to all your recipes. Thank you so much!!

    1. Thanks so much Cathy!

  6. I will be trying this recipe for our office holiday party.

    Do you need to double the recipe if you are using 2 9×13 pan?

    1. Hi Cynthia! For 2 9×13 inch cakes with the best taste and texture, I recommend making the pumpkin cake batter twice (separately) instead of doubling all together.

  7. Sally I just made your pumpkin cake, it’s delicious, thank you very much.

  8. I have never tasted anything so delicious and moist that was so simple and easy to throw together!! It came out perfectly and the cream cheese frosting, simple and outstanding! My friends all want the recipe!

  9. Hi Sally,
    My son asked me to make him a pumpkin cake for his bday. I want to make in a round pan, do you think I should use the same time and temperature?

    1. Hi Gretchen, See recipe note #5 for directions on making a round layer cake. Enjoy!

  10. How long and what temp should I bake if I am using a bundt cake pan? Thank you!

    1. Hi Anabelle, see my recipe note.

  11. Barbara Donahue says:

    This cake was scrumptious! Just perfect!

  12. How many cups of batter does your recipe make? Will it be enough for a 14 inch X 3 inch round cake pan?

    1. Hi Rita, I’ve never tested a round cake that large! I would think the recipe would be just fine for one 14 inch layer but you can check this chart from Wilton that is helpful to determine how much batter you will need https://www.wilton.com/wedding-cake-guide/cms-wedding-cake-data.html

  13. I made this as a layer cake per your instructions and OMG this might be my new favorite fall cake. The flavor and texture is perfect! I took some liberties with the frosting and added a splash of rum and some finely diced candied ginger, soooo good. I will be surprised if this cakes survives past tonight!

  14. Cheryl Holman says:

    Hi Sally

    Would orange zest be okay to add to the cake batter?

    thanks
    cheryl

    1. Yes, absolutely!

      1. Sally

        I used 2 T of orange zest. The orange flavor was super, just enough for a hint of orange taste!

        Cheryl

  15. Great recipe! I used GF 1-1 flour and vegan butter (it’s what I had) for the frosting. My husband is raving. It’s great! And being a celiac it totally hits the baked good spot. Thanks!!!

  16. Hi Sally,
    This looks delicious, it I enjoy sweet potatoes a little more than pumpkin. Will a sweet potato purée work just as well?

    1. Yes, absolutely. Use as a 1:1 substitute for the pumpkin.

  17. Absolutely 5 stars!!!! This cake was so good! Everyone loved it, begging for more, kids and adults. So easy to put together too. I adjusted the spices in mine. Because of family preference; added 2 tsp of cinnamon and only 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice. Followed everything else to the letter, turned out great!

  18. I was bored and wanted something with pumpkin so of I did what everyone does and googled pumpkin cake recipes. This is the 1st one I clicked on and it sounded so good and it looked relatively easy. It did not disappoint! It is so FREAKING GOOD!!! I didn’t have pumpkin pie spice or any all spice, so I substituted the all spice by adding an extra 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I also didn’t have butter and used margarine(it is not something I generally use) instead. It turned out so good! Definitely will need to make it again!

  19. You are right! This is the best pumpkin cake ever! I made mini bundt cakes with the recipe and put a glaze on them. Perfection. I used many of your recipes & have never been disappointed. Thank you!

  20. Really, really good. I think it’s even better a couple days after it’s baked and refrigerated. So good that my son-in-law passed on Halloween candy because he had cake in reserve!

  21. I tried the recipe baked using a glass baking tray as i thought it was recommended but ended up totally flopped. The cake turned out to be wet inside but dry on top.

  22. This turned out great and it was delicious. The people at my church were commenting about how delicious it was. I baked for 35 minutes in a 9×13 pan and kept it in the fridge and it was so moist. I would definitely make this again.

  23. I made this delicious cake today and my husband and I were thrilled with the end result.
    I modified it with double the spices, because I just love the extra pumpkin spices. I also used my own puree from steamed butternut pumpkin. It is a winner for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or any time during the year!

  24. Can I add chocolate chips to this without any other alterations?

    1. Yes you can! I suggest between 1 and 1.5 cups of chocolate chips. Enjoy!

  25. Has anybody tried adding chocolate chips and substituting with chocolate frosting perhaps a Swiss buttercream?

    1. You can certainly add chocolate chips – I suggest between 1 and 1.5 cups. And feel free to use your favorite frosting, chocolate would be delicious!

  26. My cake collapsed in the middle. It looks like oven temp was good. I did not overbeat and a toothpick came out clean. I used a glass pan. Should I have reduced the temperature? It is an easy tasty recipe, but I want it to come out as nice as yours.

    1. Hi Nancy, ovens with too high heat can cause a cake to sink as it cools. (You could even double check the accuracy of your oven with an oven thermometer– highly recommended.) Also, make sure you’re making no substitutions in the ingredients. If the batter is too thin, it will rise tall before collapsing.

  27. Made this cake last night for a co-worker’s birthday.
    Came out delicious, moist and flavorful.

    I added 3/4 tsp of cinnamon and a tablespoon of maple syrup to the frosting
    and it was really good!

  28. Even though the cake took forever to get done, it was a big hit with our family. I did do one goof which may have caused it to take so long. I added the sugars to the dry ingredients instead of the wet and I noticed the batter was thinner than you said it would be. The frosting was good but too much. May half that next time. Nice mixture of spices.

  29. Trixie JOHNSON says:

    Made this cake yesterday it was delicious had to send it to work with my husband so I could stop eating it, they all loved it. Thank you for the recipe.

  30. The cake was a hit at work! I followed the cake and frosting recipes with minor tweaks. I prepared 3 6-inch cakes, and I used rum extract and a store-bought spice mix in the frosting. The cake was indeed moist while still being sturdy enough to cut! The cream cheese was just thick enough for piping delicate flowers, but I’ll continue to search for a sturdier recipe that won’t soften as I decorate. Definitely a recipe I will continue to use! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback! Thrilled this was a hit at work for you 🙂

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