Pumpkin Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

pumpkin cake

Topped with swirls of cream cheese icing, this pumpkin cake is a dessert version of my grandmother’s now-Internet-famous pumpkin bread (which, for many of you, was the gateway recipe to my blog). Not only does the cake keep well, but it’s also easy to make, easy to transport, and 100% kid-approved — making it the perfect fall treat for potlucks, bake sales, and holiday parties.

how to make pumpkin cake

Begin by combining the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

how to make pumpkin cake

Whisk well to combine.

how to make pumpkin cake

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the melted butter and sugar.
how to make pumpkin cake

Beat on medium speed until just combined.

how to make pumpkin cake

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

how to make pumpkin cake

Add the pumpkin.

how to make pumpkin cake

Beat until combined.

how to make pumpkin cake

Add the dry ingredients.

how to make pumpkin cake

Mix on low speed until well combined.

how to make pumpkin cake

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

how to make pumpkin cake

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

how to make pumpkin cake

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Combine the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl.

how to make pumpkin cake

Beat on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, then beat in the salt and vanilla. how to make pumpkin cake

Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed for 30 seconds.

how to make pumpkin cake

Switch to high speed and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

how to make pumpkin cake

Spread the frosting on the cooled cake.

how to make pumpkin cake

Create swirls in any pattern you like.

how to make pumpkin cake

Cut into squares and serve. Cover any leftover cake tightly with aluminum foil and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

pumpkin cake

My Recipe Videos

Pumpkin Cake

Servings: 12 to 16
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (15-oz) can 100% pure pumpkin

For the Frosting

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-x-13-inch baking dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the melted butter and sugar on medium speed until just combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well combined.
  4. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting

  1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve. Cover any leftover cake tightly with aluminum foil and store in the fridge for up to 4 days (bring to room temperature before serving) or at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  2. Make-Ahead Instructions: The cake can be made and frosted up to two days ahead of time. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator; allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.
  3. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Freeze the unfrosted cake, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost the cake to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Calories: 417
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 58 g
  • Sugar: 44 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 229 mg
  • Cholesterol: 96 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • I can’t even begin to explain how big of a hit this was on Thanksgiving. My boyfriend nearly ate the entire cake prior to us leaving the house! Everyone was so pleasantly surprised by the flavor – we even are thinking of skipping the pumpkin pie going forward for this dessert.

    I did not have the specific cake pan that Jenn used in her recipe/ photos from Sur La Table. I do actually have a similar set, but couldn’t find the specific dimensions she used. I ended up using a Wilton heart shaped cake pan that we got around Valentines Day. It worked really well, but had to bake for about 20 extra minutes, so we clocked in around an hour or so in the oven at 350.

    As for the frosting – going forward I would actually prefer to use less sugar, and probably cut the entire recipe in half. We did a thin layer and it was great – any more would be too sweet in my opinion, but that’s easily adjustable.

    • — Jessica Temple on November 30, 2018
    • Reply
  • Wonderful! The cake is absolutely delicious and I love that it’s really easy to transport because you serve it right from the baking dish. I’m also thrilled with the cream cheese frosting! It’s nice and thick. I live in England now, and the cream cheese here (even the Philadelphia brand) isn’t as thick as American cream cheese. So other cream cheese frostings I’ve tried have been too thin. My only suggestion would be to call for the butter (and maybe the cream cheese, if you live in the US) in the frosting to be at room temperature before beating. (Oh — I left out the nutmeg and cloves from the cake because I’m not a fan. But the cinnamon alone still gives it great flavor.)

    • — Rachel on November 27, 2018
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it, Rachel! I’ve updated the recipe – it should have said room temp. Thanks for catching that!

      • — Jenn on November 27, 2018
      • Reply
  • Made this last week as a “test run” and had my husband take it to work and it was a big hit!!! Everyone who had it raved about it. I followed the directions exactly. Delicious and so easy to make. I’m making this tonight for my family’s Thanksgiving. I’m going to make mini cupcakes so it’s easier for everyone to get a bite.

    • — Vanessa on November 21, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m a huge fan! I would like to make this cake but I need to make it dairy free. Think I can sub vegetable oil or Earth Balance for the butter? Is there a different oil you would use? Thanks!

    • — Linda M on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, I think you could definitely use vegetable oil with great results. Please let me know how it turns out! 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
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      • I made the cake last week with butter (yum!) and I made it again today using canola oil instead of the melted butter (also yum!). It’s great for people who can’t eat dairy — or for those who feel like being lazy and skipping the step of melting butter. I’m not sure how the two cakes would compare in a blind taste test, but I think the canola oil would absolutely hold its own. I don’t know much about dairy-free baking, but I think cream cheese frosting would be hard to do without dairy…

        • — Rachel on December 5, 2018
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  • I love your pumpkin bread, so I know I’ll LOVE this too. Planning on making it for Thanksgiving. What brand is your yellow baking pan? Such a happy color to add to a kitchen!

    • — Janice R. on November 13, 2018
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    • Yes, if you like the pumpkin bread, I think you’ll really enjoy this! And the dish is from Sur La Table. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
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  • This was very easy to make and is delicious!!! I highly recommend!!

    • — Terrie Lee Weisz on November 12, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Canned pumpkin is hard to find in Ireland, but fresh pumpkin is available right now. How would you recommend using fresh pumpkin in this recipe?
    Thanks for all your great recipes!!
    Amanda

    • — Amanda Mc Kinley on October 30, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Amanda, Glad you like the recipes! 🙂 You’ll need to roast and puree it. Just make sure after it’s pureed, that you squeeze out any liquid after roasting the pumpkin so the bread is not too moist. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 31, 2018
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  • This was sooooo good. Such a light but flavorful cake. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers with coffee.

    • — Kathleen on October 27, 2018
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  • Could this be made with persimmon pulp instead of pumpkin?

    • — Susan on October 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, I’ve never worked with persimmon pulp before, so I looked it up. Based on what I read here, it sounds like it could be a reasonable substitute. It sounds like persimmons are sweeter than pumpkins, so you may want to reduce the added sugar a bit. Also, be sure to drain it of excess water so that the consistency is similar to that of canned pumpkin. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it with persimmon!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2018
      • Reply
  • If I want to make this in two 9″ (or 8″?) cake pans, at what temperature and length of time should I bake the cakes?

    • — Bette Land on October 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Bette, I’d go with 8-in pans and start checking around 25 to 30 min. That said, if you’re looking for a more cake-like texture, you might try my pumpkin cake recipe instead.

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2018
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your quick reply. However, the link you attached is for the same recipe, Jenn. Was there perhaps another one that you meant to attach instead?

        • — Bette Land on October 27, 2018
        • Reply
        • My mistake, Bette. I was thinking your original comment was left on my pumpkin bread recipe! This is the recipe to use and two 8-in pans will work.

          • — Jenn on October 28, 2018
          • Reply
          • Marvelous! Thanks so much, Jenn!

            • — Bette Land on October 28, 2018
      • FYI, Jenn – In my oven it needed to be baked 35 minutes as it was a bit raw in the center at 30 mins. Just the same, everyone loved it. In fact, I won the best dessert award for it at my office luncheon. Everyone asked where I found the recipe. You were highly commended.

        • — Bette Land on November 8, 2018
        • Reply
        • Yay! ☺️

          • — Jenn on November 8, 2018
          • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    I’m having friends over for dinner tomorrow night and was wondering if this is the type of cake that tastes even better on day two? I notice that a lot of breads of this sort are even better day two. I have time to make it today or tomorrow so I wanted to know, is it best the day it is baked or even better day two? I would make the frosting tomorrow either way.
    Your recipes are my favorite!
    Kathleen

    • — Kathleen on October 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, I’d make it the day of the dinner, if possible. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2018
      • Reply
  • I love everything Pumpkin! Can’t wait to make this cake! I also like that yellow cake pan! Is it old?

    • — Judy on October 24, 2018
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  • Hi Jen! Do you know how many cupcakes this recipe would make? Thank you in advance.

    • — Lauren on October 21, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Lauren, It should make 24. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 24, 2018
      • Reply
  • This is sooo yummy! I was thinking of using this same recipe to make frosted mini pumpkin muffins. What would you suggest for the oven temp and baking time? Thanks!

    • — Vee on October 20, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Vee, Same temp but start checking them around 12 to 15 min. Please let me know how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I’ve made your lemon bundt cake several times and it’s always a huge hit (and so gorgeous)! I’m wondering if I can make this recipe in a bundt pan? If so, what would the cook time be and would the amounts remain the same? Thanks in advance! Liz

    • — Liz on October 19, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Liz, I have a pumpkin bundt cake recipe in my cookbook. I’m happy to email you the recipe if you’d like — just shoot me an email at [email protected].

      • — Jenn on October 19, 2018
      • Reply
  • Big Hit!!! Wouldn’t change a thing. Also froze some pieces with frosting. Slow thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter before you get started with dinner. Was still perfectly yummy : ) That frosting is really something. Thanks Jenn.

    • — Rebecca on October 17, 2018
    • Reply
  • Made this cake, amazingly delicious! I made it in a spring form cake pan and it turned out fine. My frosting had a strange heavy texture, might have been because I used a hand crank egg beater but still tasted great.

    • — Hadley on October 15, 2018
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  • I made this for my family last Sunday. It tasted fantastic and my family loved it. I guess every oven is different, it took 35 minutes.

    • — Tasha Fine on October 14, 2018
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  • Fabulous exactly as written. This is a winner. Not a crumb left on any plate!

    • — B.J. on October 13, 2018
    • Reply
  • Although my cake was extremely dense (more brownie-like), the taste was wonderful. I didn’t ice it but served it with whipped cream and caramel sauce. I’m not sure what happened except I used my own pumpkin puree.

    • — ty on October 10, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Ty, you mentioned that it was really dense – did you squeeze out all the extra liquid in the pumpkin puree before incorporating it into the recipe?

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2018
      • Reply
  • Made this yesterday and we’ve eaten more than half of it already. Wonderful flavor and moist cakey texture without being too dense. The winner though is the cream cheese frosting which is off the charts delicious! As with all of your recipes, simple and easy. Adding it to the list of OUAC go-to recipes!

    • — Allyson Cherins on October 9, 2018
    • Reply
  • Would this recipe work baked in mini loaf pans? It would be great for gift giving.

    • — Lucy on October 9, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on October 9, 2018
      • Reply
  • Delicious!

    • — Amy on October 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • This pumpkin cake is wonderful. The only changes I made was to add a splash of heavy cream to the frosting and a sprinkle of chopped, roasted walnuts.

    • — Joyce on October 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • Pumpkin cake is delicious, especially good with coffee. Thanks for a delicious Autumn treat.

    • — Jenn Brown on October 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • Wonderful. I’m at 4800 ft altitude and the only change I made was to shorten the bake time to 37 minutes. My husband and daughter typically avoid frosting, but they really liked the cream cheese frosting because there wasn’t too much of it and it wasn’t too sweet.

    • — Sue on October 8, 2018
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  • I made this cake according to the recipe, and it was delicious! One of my family favorites, just brimming with the taste of fall.

    • — Paula on October 6, 2018
    • Reply
  • This cake is absolutely delicious and reminds me of my childhood. I live in Norway now and shared this cake with my family. I made exactly as written and it turned out perfectly. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Jessica Gabrielsen on October 6, 2018
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  • Can I do cupcakes instead? What would the cooking time be?

    -thanks for all your wonderful recipes. I have made so many different recipes and they never disappoint!

    • — Ashly Howard on October 6, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Ashly – cook time will be 20 to 25 minutes. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on October 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • I wonder if it’s possible to use cooked pumpkin pureed. If possible, is it the same amount as 1 15oz can? I prefer to use natural products instead of cans.

    • — Maggie P. on October 5, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Maggie – amount will be the same. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on October 5, 2018
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! Completely perfect as is! Second time around I substituted brown sugar for white and coconut oil for butter. Also omitted nutmeg and cloves and doubled cinnamon. Tasted more like a rich spice cake and less like pumpkin.
    With both recipes I used fresh roasted pumpkin- cooled and mashed. Instead of 15 oz I used a full 2 cups.
    I’ve also doubled this recipe and it turned out great!
    As always, once upon a chef does not disappoint!

    • — Gina on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • I made this cake today and I have to say, it was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted. Not many ingredients, yet so delectable. My family came back for seconds! Looks like I’ll be making it again soon. Oh, and by the way, the cream cheese frosting is just so creamy and heavenly. Another great recipe from Once Upon a Chef. Thank you Jenn! Please keep them coming!

    • — Frances Elia on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • I can’t wait to make this for my boys. They love pumpkin flavor anything. 😊😋🤗

    • — Tiffany on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • Delicious and easy. Made my whole house smell like autumn. Thanks!!!

    • — Mary T on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • This is perfect just as written!

    • — Jackie Murrie on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • I can understand why you use less sugar in the Pumpkin Cake recipe than in the Pumpkin Bread recipe since the cake is topped with icing. But can you please explain 2 other things: Why is the bread pan dusted with flour but the cake pan is not, and why do you use 4 eggs in the cake recipe instead of the 2 eggs that are called for in the bread recipe. I made the Pumpkin Bread recipe recently and had a problem with it sticking. The 2 recipes are so similar I’m wondering if not dusting the bread pan with flour and adding the 2 extra eggs might help with the sticking problem I experienced.

    • — Pam on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Pam, The extra eggs make it lighter and more cake-like. The flour is just extra insurance for the loaf pans; it’s not necessary here since the cake is served straight from the pan. Have you tried using different pans for the bread? I wonder if the coating on your loaf pans is worn out?

      • — Jenn on October 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • This time of year I love anything pumpkin and this recipe hits the spot. So easy & yummy!!! The perfect cake to make when the grandkids come over and want to bake with me 🙂

    • — June Cook on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I can tell that this is a winner! I’m looking for desserts to make for my sweet tooth loving elderly mom that I can freeze to take out one piece at a time for her to enjoy. Do you know if this will freeze well? Thanks for all your amazing recipes. I’m a huge fan!

    • — Janet on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • That’s sweet, Janet – I’m sure your mom appreciates it! This does freeze well, but you should wait until defrosting it to frost it, so not sure how convenient that would be if you’re only defrosting one piece at a time. Perhaps you should try the pumpkin bread (which is the “bread” version of this cake) or these pumpkin muffins. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • This looks delightful! What adjustments should I make at high altitude? Love your recipes!!!

    • — Alice on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Alice, I don’t have any experience with baking at high altitudes so unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share You may find these tips helpful though. Hope you enjoy the cake!

      • — Jenn on October 4, 2018
      • Reply
    • I did not have to make any adjustments for high altitude. This recipe is perfect for snacking on any time of the day.

      • — Leela on October 7, 2018
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  • I have made 99% of all the goodies you’ve posted and I LOOOOVE your recipes, and fab cookbook! The only thing I did differently was use all dark brown sugar ( my preference) and doubled the spices… so extra rich & delish❤️

    • — Wendy in CT on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • Pumpkin is my all time favorite flavor for fall! I can’t wait to try this delicious looking cake!!

    • — suzanne on October 4, 2018
    • Reply

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