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. I made this cake for the first time this week, it instantly became mine and my husband’s favorite cake EVER!! I will make this anytime I need a cake from now on!

    1. Oh my goodness! This cake is fabulous!I made it fir my daughter’s birthday and she loved it. It was simple to make, and so moist and flavorful. My husband doesn’t have a sweet tooth, and he raved about it! I’ll be making it again!

  2. Sally, I am so happy I found you. I have made about five of your cakes since being in quarantine and each one is perfection! This cake is simply *chef kiss*. This is also the best cream cheese icing I’ve ever had. It’s going in my recipe box!

  3. Forgot to give stars!

    1. The best, most moist cake ever!! I’ve made it three times in two weeks!

  4. Can I make this into a 9 inch round cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes! See recipe note #5 🙂

    2. Hi Sally. Can I use frozen pumpkins?

  5. Olive and rebecca says:

    best cake ever!!!!!!!!! highly recommend making this cake totally worth it yum!!!!!!! I baked this cake myself

  6. This cake is awesome! I didn’t have pumpkin spice powder so I just put extra cinnamon powder and it was still amazing! I will be making this again for sure!

  7. Hi Sally! I’m wondering if I can make a double portion with this recipe so it’ll just be one larger thicker cake in the 9×13′ pan? In that case what’ll cooking time/ temperature have to be? (155-160 for one hour plus?)

    1. Hi Joel! Double the amount of batter won’t fit into a 9×13 inch pan, unfortunately. You can try a bigger pan for a thinner cake, though. I’m unsure of the exact bake time, but the oven temperature remains the same no matter what size pan you use.

      1. Thank you ma’am!

  8. I’m excited to make thsi cake soon! Is it strong enough to be layered? I’m hoping to make a 2-3 layer cake!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, this batter fits into two 9-inch round cake pans. See recipe notes for details.

  9. Do you think I could use butternut squash instead of pumpkin for this recipe?

    1. Absolutely! Same amount of butternut squash puree– a 1:1 substitution.

  10. How thick are the layers if you do the two 9 inch round cakes?

    Thinking about making this recipe into two 8 inch round (for more height) pumpkin chocolate chip layers then doing the same with a half batch for a third layer. Is there a different recipe you’d recommend for this purpose or do you think this recipe will work well?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Kristin, Yes you can use 8 inch round pans and this recipe will work well! Your layers may take an extra minute to bake since they will be slightly thicker. 1.5 times the recipe will definitely work for a 3 layer cake. Happy baking!

  11. I made this cake and it was TO DIE FOR! I’ve been wanting to make cake pops, and I was wondering if I could use this recipe. I know I need a single layer cake, with about a cup of frosting. What do you think? Could it work? Thank you!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Katie, Yes this would work for cake pops! Happy baking 🙂

  12. So excited to make this recipe
    It’s going to be a back up cake for my grandsons Birthday
    This is exactly what I was looking for
    I have made the icing many times. It’s my go to frosting. It never fails and I have made chocolate by adding coco. I also made it strawberry for my granddaughter whose a strawberry addict

  13. Hi Sally! Would it work to halve this recipe and bake in an 8 inch square pan?

    1. I recommend halving the recipe for a 9 inch square pan. I fear the 8 inch size would be too small and the cake wouldn’t bake evenly.

  14. Do you have recommendations for what to do if the cake isn’t cooking through the middle?

    1. Hi April, make sure you’re using a 9×13 inch pan. You can lower the oven temperature down to 325°F (163°C) and extending the bake time. Tent aluminum foil on top of the cake after about 20 minutes to help ensure it bakes more evenly, too.

  15. I made this last night for dessert and everybody seemed to like it! Not quite as pumpkin-y as a pumpkin pie, but still yummy especially with the cream cheese frosting! Our oil smelled a bit rancid so I just substituted 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce for the one cup of oil and it still was really moist and sponge like. I think I will experiment with oil next time to see if that changes the texture at all.

  16. As long as you follow this recipe exact step by step you’ll make the perfect cake ! The best recipe ever

  17. Hi Sally, I am in Australia and we don’t have tinned pumpkin puree. Can I make it with pumpkin that I cook and mash myself? So sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful dog – we are dog people and totally understand how tough this is. Be kind to yourself and know that we are sending you love and good energy from the other side of the world.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mark, Canned pumpkin has a slightly different texture, but you can use fresh pumpkin puree: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/pumpkin-puree-recipe-1922629
      We’ve found that lightly blotting the fresh pumpkin puree before adding to the batter helps. The cake may take a little longer to bake with fresh. Enjoy!

  18. Lovely recipe, moist and delicious. One thing I do want to know is how many calories per slice?!

  19. Kaitlyn Quintero says:

    Hi Sally I have a question why did you decide to use 2 tsp of baking powder instead of one?

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