Homemade Butter Rum Cake

Made from scratch without the crutch of cake mix, this homemade rum cake is perfectly moist, extra buttery, and flavored with rum. Top with boozy butter rum glaze and serve warm or cold. Rum cake doesn’t require a special occasion, but it’s perfect for the holidays!

rum cake

A quick search online (or a sift through cookbooks) will turn up with MANY rum cake recipes. However, you’ll notice that a majority use cake mix and/or instant pudding mix. Not knocking either (looking at you, cake batter chocolate chip cookies), but I definitely appreciate from-scratch cake recipes when I can find them. And I know you do too.

I’ve had many requests for rum cake and I’m so excited to finally share my version with you! This is my 100% homemade rum bundt cake and it’s even better than it looks and sounds. I didn’t know that I needed rum cake in my life until I took my first bite.

This Rum Cake Is:

  • Completely from scratch
  • Very buttery and moist
  • Lightly flavored with rum
  • Heavily flavored with butter rum glaze
  • Filled with brown sugar, orange, and buttery flavors
  • Not as dense as pound cake, not as soft as white cake (in between!)
  • Delicious warm + delicious cold
  • Topped with butter rum glaze

rum cake

Totally From Scratch

Instead of using cake mix and pudding mix, I took a look at some of my from-scratch bundt cakes. Like vanilla cake and white cake, I have a standard bundt cake recipe that I use for different flavors including chai cinnamon swirl bundt cake and cranberry orange bundt cake. Both are some of the best cakes I’ve ever made because they’re easy, insanely buttery, extra moist, and dense… without being too heavy.

With a quality base recipe like this, the options are endless. Rum cake, let’s go!

rum cake batter

Rum Cake Ingredients

Because they’re so large, bundt cakes have a tendency to dry out. To avoid this, it’s important to use the careful ratio and ingredients listed below.

  • Flour: We use sturdy all-purpose flour as the base of this bundt cake. It’s strong enough to hold up all the liquid ingredients. I don’t recommend swapping in cake flour because it’s simply too light.
  • Baking Powder: 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder is more than we use for a typical cake, but it’s needed to help this hefty cake rise.
  • Salt + Vanilla Extract: Both salt and vanilla extract add flavor.
  • Butter: This is a very buttery cake, so expect a lot of butter!
  • Orange Zest: Trust me on this. Orange, rum, and brown sugar are a trio you need in your baking. The orange zest adds a fleck of background flavor without competing with the rum. My husband, who isn’t usually super descriptive besides the simple “it’s good”, complimented the delicious orange flavor.
  • Sugars: Paired with orange and rum, brown sugar is definitely welcome. We use brown sugar as the primary sweetener, with just a touch of granulated sugar.
  • Rum: We’re replacing most of the liquid with rum. You need 1/2 cup of regular, dark, or spiced rum. I tested with several and they’re all fantastic. We really liked the cakes with dark or spiced rum best. It does not need to be a fancy rum!
  • Eggs, Sour Cream, + Milk: 5 eggs, sour cream, and milk add moisture. It’s a lot of volume but remember, we want a mega moist cake with a buttery crumb.
  • Pecans: Perhaps the best part of all, pecans line the bottom (which ends up being the top) of the bundt cake pan. This added texture, paired with the butter, rum, brown sugar, orange, and butter rum glaze, is completely unforgettable– probably the best part of this cake.

rum cake batter in bundt pan

rum cake bundt

rum cake icing

How to Make Rum Cake

This doesn’t get any easier– mixing bowl to oven in 15 minutes.

  1. Add chopped pecans to a greased bundt pan.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Beat wet ingredients together.
  4. Combine all ingredients and add the rum + milk.
  5. Spoon batter into bundt cake pan. It’s a very thick batter.
  6. Bake.
  7. Cool for at least 45 minutes. It will still be warm!
  8. Invert cake, then top with glaze.

This cake is unbelievable when it’s still warm and I love serving it with sweet maraschino cherries on the side. Optional, of course!

Before You Bundt

  • Bundt Pan: Use a large bundt pan that holds 10-12 cup capacity. I love this one and this one. Both are nonstick, but I always grease it with nonstick spray just to be safe. The bundt cake releases so easily.
  • Curdled Ingredients: The wet ingredients will look somewhat curdled before you add the dry ingredients– this is due to the ranging temperatures and textures of the ingredients. It’s normal. The butter may be warmer than the eggs, the sour cream may be colder than the butter, etc. It will all come together when the dry ingredients are added.

rum cake bundt

Butter Rum Glaze

Let’s finish this beauty off with a butter rum glaze that sets. (Meaning: it won’t stay drippy and wet.) Like the brown butter icing I use on my brown butter apple blondies, we’ll whip this up with some heat. Melt butter with a little rum in a small saucepan or microwave, then stir in vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt. The icing is thin at first, but thickens as it cools.

In fact, you might notice two different consistencies of the glaze in these photos. (2 test cakes, same cake + glaze recipe.) I drizzled the glazes on the cakes, but the thicker glaze had cooled for 10 minutes.

Thick or thin, warm or cool, this butter rum glaze is liquid gold. It would be incredible on my iced oatmeal cookies and peach bundt cake, too.

rum cake

rum cake slice

How Alcoholic is This Rum Cake?

The cake itself has 1/2 cup of rum in the batter. It has a light rum flavor and the alcohol bakes out. You’re also not consuming the entire cake (well, hopefully not!), so don’t expect to get tipsy off of 1 or 2 slices. The butter rum glaze, however, has a fairly strong rum flavor. It’s not cooked, so the alcohol is there. Again, you aren’t consuming the entire cake and 1-2 spoonfuls of glaze won’t get you tipsy.

Use your best judgement serving to minors, pregnant women, or anyone abstaining from alcohol.

Want to skip the alcohol altogether? Replace the rum in the cake and the glaze with milk.

Print
rum cake bundt

Homemade Butter Rum Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, plus extra cooling
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Made from scratch without the crutch of cake mix, this homemade rum cake is perfectly moist, extra buttery, and flavored with rum. Top with boozy butter rum glaze and serve warm or cold. Review recipe notes prior to beginning.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (130g) finely chopped pecans
  • 3 cups (375gall-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100ggranulated sugar
  • zest from 1/2 orange (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoonpure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) rum or spiced rum*
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk, at room temperature

Butter Rum Icing

  • 3 Tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) rum or spiced rum*
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • small pinch of salt (a bit less than 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 10-inch bundt pan. Spoon pecans evenly into the bundt pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and orange zest together until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The mixture will look curdled; that’s ok– it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and begin mixing on low speed. As the mixer runs, slowly pour in the rum and milk. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the batter is completely combined. Batter is thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the cake batter evenly over the pecans.
  5. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with just a couple lightly moist crumbs. This is a large, heavy cake so don’t be alarmed if it takes a little longer in your oven. Mine always takes about 55 minutes.
  6. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 45 minutes to 2 hours inside the pan. Then, invert the slightly cooled bundt cake onto a wire rack or serving dish. (You can glaze and serve it while warm, or wait for it to cool completely.)
  7. Make the glaze: Melt the butter with the rum in a small saucepan over medium heat. If using the microwave, melt the butter in the microwave, then stir in the rum. Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle warm glaze over cake before slicing and serving. Glaze quickly thickens and sets as it cools. If desired, serve with maraschino cherries.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the entire cake ahead of time (before topping with icing). Cover cooled cake and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before icing and serving. Baked cake can be frozen up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (if desired) before icing and serving.
  2. Sour Cream: You can use 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Just as moist and delicious!
  3. Rum: Use your favorite rum including light rum, dark rum, or spiced rum. See How Alcoholic is This Rum Cake above the recipe. If desired, swap the rum in the cake and glaze for milk.
  4. Pecans and/or Orange Zest: Both are optional, but add incredible flavor. I don’t recommend leaving out either. Replace the pecans with walnuts, if desired.
  5. Layer Cake: Use my vanilla cake recipe and replace 1/2 cup of buttermilk with 1/2 cup of rum. (Use 1 cup buttermilk + 1/2 cup rum.) Sprinkle the bottom of each lined cake pan with 1/3 cup chopped pecans before adding the batter. Replace 2-3 Tablespoons of milk in the frosting with rum.

Keywords: rum cake, bundt cake, pecans, Christmas cake

88 Comments

  1. Thank you Sally. I haven’t been able to find a from scratch rum cake recipe.
    Could you add rum to the cake after it has baked like traditional rum cakes? If so I’m wondering how that would be done.

    1. You could definitely brush the warm cake (after inverting) with rum before glazing. Yum!

    2. Jim in Estonia says:

      So, I made this delicious cake…sort of. I also fell in love with the spiced chai recipe as well. I thought, “what the heck, why not both?” OMG…perfection. My mother used to make a bundt pan rum cake similar to this for me. But she was the old box of pudding and Duncan Hines school. This blows it away. I know she would love it.

      1. I’m so happy you loved it, Jim! Thanks for your positive feedback 🙂

    3. Hello Sally. Thanks for your perfect recipes. They’re amazing. Can you provide tips how to make mini versions if this? Oven temp, suggested mini pans, how much batter to put in each mini pan, and baking times etc? Can you also provide your favorite storage tupperwares for your flour etc?

      Thank you!

      1. Hi Rosanna, I have not made this particular recipe in mini bundt pans, but I make my vanilla pound cakes in my mini bundt pans! The link to the exact pans I use and the baking directions for that recipe can be found in my post Mini vanilla Pound Cakes.
        Also you can find my favorite flour storage containers in this list I posted (5th item down!).

  2. Hi Sally –
    I only have bourbon and don’t want to buy rum if I can do this same cake with bourbon. Can I sub out the rum for bourbon?

    THANK YOU for so many great recipes, plus the how-to’s and the why-to’s, too. Love your work.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Absolutely! You may replace the rum in the cake and glaze with the same amount of bourbon.

      1. Yay! And thanks for a quick reply!

  3. Can this cake be baked in a tube pan

    1. Definitely!

  4. I would like to try making a rum cake using your vanilla cake recipe and making a cannoli cream filling. I don’t envision doing this until 2020. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
    Sally, many thanks for all your wonderful recipes. You always make me look good. I hope you and your family have a very Happy Holiday.

    1. Thank you so much, Ann! Please do let me know how it turns out- sounds delicious! Wishing you a wonderful holiday 🙂

  5. We have some nut allergies and wanted to know if you have any replacement suggestions that could give us that crunch pecans would? TIA

    1. Hi Hanh, you can try some pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or for something that’s not crunchy, but still festive, chopped maraschino cherries.

      1. Thanks so much Sally. I received a lot of compliments on Christmas. Definitely making it again!!!!

  6. Paige Cassandra Flamm says:

    This looks amazing! We totally need to give this a try over christmas break!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

    1. Thank you so much, Paige!

  7. This looks phenomenal (I love Bundt cakes). I was wondering if rum extract could be subbed for the actual rum – neither hubby nor I drink and I really don’t want to buy rum simply for this.
    Just an FYI – I now have my sister hooked on your site.

    1. Hi Jill! You can use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of rum extract. Use milk for the rum 🙂

  8. How can u get the cake flat? I feel when I bake in the Bundt it rises a lot and then the Bundt looks likes like it’s on hill. Still tastes good:)

    1. Hi Kiran! My bundt cakes aren’t usually flat at first, but after sitting on its own weight on the cake stand, it settles down. Still not completely flat– and you can tell from some pictures that the top has a hump– but better!

  9. I’d like to make this recipe, but don’t have a Bundt pan. Could I make it in cupcakes or a 9 x 13?

    1. Hi Lora, the cake will be very dense and won’t rise much in a 9×13 pan. How about 2 loaf pans? Of if you’d like a 9×13 inch pan rum cake, I recommend my white cake recipe. Follow the 9×13 inch pan instructions. Add orange zest and replace 1/2 of the milk with rum.

      1. Hi! Urgent!
        Whats the bake time in a loaf pan? Can i halve the recipe to bake just one loaf?
        Thank you!! Merry Christmas!

  10. So excited to try this for Christmas dinner! It should fit right in with egg nog and cookies. Your recipes always turn out perfectly Sally and I love love love how you explain why ingredients are important or optional. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you so much, Toni! Wishing you a wonderful holiday 🙂

  11. Can this Rum Cake be put into mini bundt . If so what the baking time …Ty

    1. Absolutely! I’m unsure of the baking time– it depends how big the mini bundts are. You can use a toothpick to check for doneness.

  12. Yes! Yes! Yes! To anyone wondering about glazing the cake with a rum simple syrup after baking. You will not regret this step!

    And I thought I had made he ultimate rum pound cake recipe!

    1. Sally,
      I work with trees and the tray you are displaying the cake on looks fabulous! Do you remember where you got it?

      1. Thank you! It’s from Pier 1 a few years ago. 🙂

  13. Can the recipe be poured into loaf pans instead of a bundt pan? Multiple small loaf pans or two larger ones?

    1. I can’t see why not! I’m unsure of the bake time for smaller pans.

  14. Hi Sally

    Instead of orange zest could I use orange extract? I don’t want to go back out to into the Christmas madness!!! How much would I use?

    1. Hi Alexis! Absolutely. I recommend only 1/2 teaspoon. You don’t want its flavor to over-power anything else.

      1. Thank you Sally!

        Just taking some Peanut Butter Blossoms out of the oven now. They look and smell delicious!! I love your site!!!

  15. Delicious cake! I baked it for 50 minutes and it turned out perfect!

    1. Omg I’ve been searching for a from scratch rum cake recipe since thanksgiving. I will definitely be making this.

      What’s your preferred brand of butter?

      1. I usually use store-brand or whatever’s on sale. Honestly! Land O Lakes is great too.

    2. I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe, Carla! 🙂

  16. Could brandy be used instead? Thanks so much!

    1. Absolutely.

  17. My Christmas dinner guest list just went up by two and I needed something else for dessert. The two new people were also here for Thanksgiving so I didn’t want to repeat desserts. I thought “let’s see what Sally has!” Not only is there a bundt cake recipe and I am really loving bundt cakes right now but I also get to use up liquor before we move! It’s a win win!
    Thanks Sally!

    1. Woo hoo! Perfect timing 🙂 Hope it’s a hit! Merry Christmas and happy moving!

  18. I made this today and my husband said it’s the best cake I’ve ever baked. It came out amazing.

    1. I’m thrilled that you tried it and that your husband enjoyed it so much, Stephanie!

  19. I made this today to bring to a Christmas Eve gathering. It’s beautiful and is going to be a hit! I’d love to share a picture-I sliced it and am presenting in a round, glass platter. Thank you, Sally!

    1. Love reading this, thank you Brenda!!

  20. Melanie Gluss says:

    Just had to try this cake. Can’t wait to taste tonight!!

    1. I hope you loved it, Melanie!

  21. I am wondering what I did wrong?? I made the cake to bring to a friends for Christmas dinner and it was very dry! I was so disappointed. I reviewed the recipe and I followed it just as written but something didn’t work. I baked for 55 min but wondering if 45 – 50 would have been better? Also, what rack are you baking at in the oven? I LOVE your website and have made so many amazing things, can’t wait to perfect this one!

    1. Hi Laurie! Thank you so much for trying this cake recipe and I’m happy to help if you decide to try it again. Follow the recipe exactly and bake the cake on the center or lower rack. Begin checking for doneness at 45 minutes because it sounds like your oven works quickly! Also, I think you will find this post very helpful: How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake.

  22. Made this for Christmas dessert. It was a huge hit and the next day the cake tasted even better!

  23. Excelente!! Bravo!!! Everybody loved it! Thank you for sharing With Us, Happy New Year !!

  24. I made this recipe as a last-minute add-on to my Christmas baking and HOLY COW! It is so delicious. I made it with spiced rum which added incredible flavor and while it was amazing warm, we preferred it served cold with fresh whipped cream. And you’re right, the pecans are the best part of an already amazing cake. Another winner, Sally!

  25. Wow! This cake is amazing! I made it today for a New Year’s party and it was a hit! I substituted chopped toasted almonds for pecans and the flavor was fantastic. Will definitely make is cake again. Thank you for another winner Sally!

  26. Hi, Sally!
    I am an experienced home baker and LOVE your site! I made this cake yesterday exactly as noted (correct ratios, pan size, etc) except I kept the rum out of the glaze and substituted milk. The flavor profile was good. I baked it 50 minutes, and I think that it was slightly overdone (dry and darker than your sample, not burnt in any way), so I recommend checking it at 45 minutes. I LOVE the orange flavor. Next time, I am going to do your orange bundt, check early, and add a cinnamon streusel to the center (making sure as you note, not to have it touch the sides of the pan.

  27. I knew I had to make this cake for my mom as soon as you published this recipe. She’s not a fan of overly sweet “American” desserts but this is right up her alley. I made it to bring to New Year’s Day dinner and it was fabulous! I ended up using the exact rum you have pictured here too and the rum flavor is phenomenal without being overwhelming. I baked it for exactly 55 minutes but I think I could have baked it a little less. It was still so yummy! Loved the addition of the orange zest and pecans and the rum glaze was literally the icing on the cake!

  28. My mother and I both made this cake. The flavor was good but we both thought it was very dense and a bit dry. This is the first recipe of Sally’s that I was disappointed in. I bake a lot and use many of her recipes. Everything else I have made has been great.

  29. Hi Sally, is this recipe ok to use with 9” springform pan? If so, any changes to baking time? Cheers.

    1. Jeannie, The volume of a springform pan is similar to the volume of a bundt pan (cake pan sizes) but I haven’t tested it so I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed!

  30. Gloria Pierce says:

    Been looking for a good rum cake recipe. This cake is awesome. So glad I made it. It was a big hit. Will definitely be making it again and again!!!!!

    1. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it, Gloria!

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