Pumpkin Cake (BEST EVER!)

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The BEST ever moist and perfectly spiced pumpkin cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting and optionally garnished with candied pecans

Up close shot of one slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting being pulled off of a cake stand

Everyone loves this recipe!

Pumpkin cake has been on my list to perfect every Fall time, and after creating this pumpkin carrot cake, I thought my work was done. (Seriously that cake is unbelievable!) But as August started approaching this year I was dying to pull out the pumpkin and experiment so I set to making the best pumpkin (without carrot!) cake.

To have the perfect pumpkin cake it needs to be moist, sweet, perfectly spiced, AND have the perfect cream cheese frosting. I’m excited to tell you this cake ticks all the boxes (and then some) and it’s been a hit with everyone that’s tried it — especially my pumpkin obsessed boys!

Up close shot of a slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting being served onto a plate

How do you make a pumpkin cake?

  • This pumpkin cake is exceptionally easy to make! It’s as easy as mixing together the wet ingredients (pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, brown sugar, & white sugar) in one bowl, mixing the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt & lots of pumpkin-y spices) in a separate bowl, and combining the two! You don’t need a stand mixer to make this cake — hand mixers will work just fine! Once the mixture is combined you can pour it into a prepared pan (greased and floured) and bake it!
  • While the pumpkin cake is baking, you can whip up the frosting and frost the cake the minute it’s completely cooled!

Can you make this pumpkin cake with canned pumpkin? Fresh pumpkin?

This recipe is made with a good solid-packed canned pumpkin. I highly recommend Libby’s canned pumpkin (not sponsored) as I’ve found it always has the best results as far as moisture content, color, and overall flavor. However, you can use fresh pumpkin at the same volume (1-3/4 cup fresh puree for 1-3/4 cup canned for this specific recipe) so long as you’ve drained excess moisture.

If you are using fresh pumpkin you’ll want to make sure you drain any excess moisture to avoid a pumpkin cake that is “too wet” and doesn’t cook properly. To drain fresh pumpkin: rest a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Line that mesh strainer with cheesecloth and then add the fresh pumpkin puree to the lined strainer. Let the pumpkin stand (at room temperature) and drain for 1-2 hours or until the pumpkin is thick and can hold its shape when pressed together in the cheesecloth. Once the pumpkin is to this consistency, you can use it in this recipe!

Tips for success

  • Don’t over mix the batter. Over mixing the batter activates the gluten in flour (great for breads and rolls, not so much for cakes and cupcakes!) which will result in a denser cake as opposed to a light and airy cake.
  • Correctly measure the flour: If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour you will pack in way too much flour (which will result in a pumpkin cake with the wrong texture — way too dense!). To properly measure your flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup until its overfilled. Then use the back of a butter knife to level the measuring cup at the top. You’ll have a perfect flour measurement now!
  • Use room temperature eggs: This ensures the eggs disperse more evenly into the batter giving this cake a lighter texture (the eggs trap air). Soaking refrigerated eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for about 10 minutes is a quick way to do this. Otherwise, pull the eggs out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before use.

Up close shot of a slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate

Is this a healthy pumpkin cake? 

I wouldn’t consider this a healthy cake, but using a vegetable like pumpkin in a cake is always going to make it a better option than say a chocolate or vanilla cake :). This cake has pumpkin, eggs, and so many different delicious spices (which are zero calories). For more details on calories you can see our nutrition facts below the recipe. πŸ™‚

For healthier substitutions, you can use a white whole wheat flour in place of the white flour (1:1 substitution), reduce or omit the frosting, and can reduce the sugar by up to 1/2 cup. For the best results on a rich and delicious pumpkin cake, follow the ingredients listed πŸ™‚

This pumpkin cake recipe has cream cheese frosting on it which is my all-time favorite! If you want to try a different frosting you could try:

  • You can cover this pumpkin cake in a glaze (which is especially pretty on a bundt cake). For this pumpkin cake I’d suggest using a glaze like this one.
  • If you like the combination of chocolate and pumpkin i’d recommend using this milk chocolate frosting. If you’re going the chocolate + pumpkin route, I’d also add 1 cup of miniature chocolate chips to the cake batter!
  • Finally, this cake would also be really good with a brown butter frosting. I’d recommend this brown butter frosting.

Up close shot of a slice of pumpkin cake on a place with a bite taken out of it.

Can I freeze pumpkin cake?

You CAN freeze this pumpkin cake. Pumpkin cake pre-baked will freeze well and retain its moisture and flavor for up to 2 months. (After 2 months you can expect the flavor to change a little and it may have more of a dry texture.)

If freezing this cake, I would suggest freezing just the cake base and making the frosting fresh. (If you’re in a pinch, cream cheese frosting is one of the best frostings to freeze, but I tend to prefer that frosting made fresh.)

To freeze: make sure you cover the cake well before freezing! I like to wrap it in plastic wrap several times before freezing When you take it out of the freezer, expect it to take about 1-2 hours (at room temperature) to defrost. In that time you can whip up the frosting πŸ™‚ Frost the pumpkin cake only when it is fully defrosted for best results.

How far in advance can you make this pumpkin cake?

Fresh pumpkin cake like this will last about 3-4 days at its peak. If you keep it refrigerated it should last about a week. If you frost this pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, you’ll want to refrigerate it (covered tightly) the first day you’ve made it.

I actually like this cake best the SECOND DAY it’s made! The spice flavors and moistness have intensified and I think it’s the very best on the second day. Whenever I make this cake to share with others, I make it 1 day in advance πŸ™‚

Hand is pulling a slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting from the rest of the cake that is resting on a cake stand.

More Amazing Pumpkin Treats:

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The BEST Pumpkin Cake

5 from 7 votes
The BEST ever moist and perfectly spiced pumpkin cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting and optionally garnished with candied pecans. Feel free to make this cake the night before, we like it best on the second day!
Print Recipe

The BEST Pumpkin Cake

5 from 7 votes
The BEST ever moist and perfectly spiced pumpkin cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting and optionally garnished with candied pecans. Feel free to make this cake the night before, we like it best on the second day!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword pumpkin cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 10 -12 slices
Calories 378kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $4.49

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) or 1-3/4 cups solid-packed pumpkin (I highly recommend Libby's)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 package (8 ounces) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Chopped (plain or candied) pecans, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and lightly flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add the canned pumpkin (if you have wet/fresh pumpkin make sure to drain off excess liquid), white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat with hand mixers until combined and well blended. 
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk until combined. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and beat until just combined. Use a spatula to ensure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50-65 minutes or until a toothpick when inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist cake crumbs. The cake should spring back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes before inverting the cake onto the cooling rack to cool completely. 
  • For the frosting: in a large bowl, beat ROOM TEMPERATURE cream cheese and butter until completely smooth. It's important the cream cheese and butter are at the same temperature so you don't get bumpy cream cheese! Add powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and salt; beat until completely smooth. Pipe over the completely cooled cake. If desired, garnish with chopped candied or plain pecans. (See recipe notes for my candied pecan recipe).

Video

Recipe Notes

To make candied pecans, click here.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 378kcal

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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Highly Adapted from Taste of Home

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How many calories are in one slice of this pumpkin cake?

378 calories per slice of cake.

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29 Comments

  1. This cake sounds delicious! I was wondering why there’s pumpkin pie spice listed as an ingredient as well as what goes into pumpkin pie spice? Will this be over-spiced by doubling-up on the spices? I guess I’ll find out after I bake, but was just wondering. Thanks!

    1. It depends on the brand you use of pumpkin pie spice, but most are mainly cinnamon so I wanted to make sure all the other spices are well represented while also ensuring there is a boost of that overall spice πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t say it’s over-spiced, this is exactly how we like it, but you can definitely reduce spices if you’re worried! Hope you love the cake!

    1. Sure! πŸ™‚ I’d add a cup of coarsely chopped nuts — toss with the flour so they don’t sink to the bottom!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the best pumpkin cake ever. This was delicious. I made a change to the recipe, Γ­ substitute the flour with pancake flour and it was so fluffy and moist. Also last longer fresh .

    1. Ahh I’m so happy to hear this! That sub sounds really good! That’s my favorite part about this cake, it is just as good 5 days after making it! Haha! Thanks Thayza! πŸ™‚

    1. I’m sorry Maria, I really have no idea! I’m not very experienced with gluten free flour. Wish I could be of more help

    2. Maria,
      I have made a similar pumpkin cake recipe for several years, sometimes using gluten-free flour. It works quite well, although the texture is just slightly different.

    1. I’ve actually never had a pumpkin buttercream! Sounds delicious though πŸ™‚ Sorry to not be of more help, but I really don’t know how it would taste without personally trying it. I think if you love pumpkin, it’s worth a try!

      1. Well thank you for your honesty answer, muchly appreciated. I just made the cake and the batter, OMG, so good. I think maybe the cream cheese might be better but can I add color to it and will it spread on like buttercream? I’m gonna attempt to make a pumpkin but if the cream cheese isn’t suitable I’ll have to try plain orange buttercream. Sorry for all the questions and thank you for your answers

        1. Yay!! So happy you love it πŸ™‚ Cream cheese frosting doesn’t spread as nicely as buttercream, so I’d think a vanilla buttercream died orange would be your best bet for making it look like a pumpkin. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe! The spices are perfect – not too much! I made this with less sugar – 1.5 c brown sugar and I didn’t use any white sugar. The frosting is quite sweet so it’s nice that the cake can be a bit less sweet and still be delicious.

    The second time I made it with applesauce for oil – no difference – and used one tsp orange extract, one tsp orange zest in the batter and one tsp orange extract in the frosting (in addition to the other spices and extracts). I called overnight and took out a few hours before serving – really good!

    Made it ahead for thanksgiving tomorrow with a butter sub for oil. Looks beautiful!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this as a 3 layer cake for Thanksgiving and it was astonishingly good and super moist. I put prunes (chopped up and stewed and slightly sweetened) in one layer and cranberry sauce (made from the berries) in the other layer. Crazy good. Thanks for the recipe! I know the prunes might sound weird but it was my sister’s idea, and turned out to be a good one.

  5. 5 stars
    Hello, I wanted to make this in a regular cake pan so I can do a crumb top. Should I adjust the baking time and/or temperature? I’ve made it at a bundt cake and it was fabulous. Thanks!

    1. I should have clarified. I was hoping to make it into a 2 layer cake with crumb baked into each layer and then the cream cheese frosting in the middle and top. I plan to use 2 9″ pans. Any suggestions are appreciated!

      1. I’m not completely sure how it will turn out, but I imagine the batter should do well in 2 9-inch pans baked for maybe 20-25 minutes. Wish I could be of more help, but without trying myself I don’t want to give certain recommendations. Would love to hear how it works out!

        1. 5 stars
          Ok, so I ended up doing it and it turned out great! I used the exact same recipe but in 2-9″ round pans. I used parchment paper on the bottoms. Their bake time was 37 mins at 350, but my oven is admittedly very old. I often have slightly longer times. I did a pecan crumb topping on both layers. And I did the cream cheese frosting in between and on top with bare sides. Everyone loved it! One of my new favorite recipes! The only thing I’d do differently is I would wait longer to frost. It seemed cooled, but I should have waited another half hour or so. Great Recipe!

          1. Thanks for sharing your results!! πŸ™‚ So happy these turned out well and the crumb topping sounds delicious.

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