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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Pumpkin Cake

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Topped with swirls of cream cheese icing, this pumpkin cake is easy to make and 100% kid-approved — the perfect fall treat for potlucks, bake sales, and holiday parties.

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 and pumpkin muffins. 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.

What you’ll need to make pumpkin cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

how to make pumpkin cake

If canned pumpkin isn’t available where you live, or you’d just prefer to use fresh, that’s not a problem. For baking, the most flavorful pumpkins are smaller than those typically associated with Jack-O-Lanterns. They’re usually in the 4 to 8-pound range and are referred to as sugar, cooking, or pie pumpkins. This detailed piece from King Arthur Flour provides guidance on how to convert a whole pumpkin into purée that can be used in this cake (or any of my other pumpkin recipes).

While my preference in this recipe is to use cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg to spice the cake, many readers have asked if these three spices can be replaced with pumpkin pie spice. Although the mixture of spices in pumpkin pie spice is not an exact match (pumpkin pie spice often includes ginger and/or allspice), it’s fine to use it here. Just replace the individual spices with an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice (1 tablespoon).

How to Make Pumpkin Cake with cream cheese Frosting

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.

If you’d prefer a cake that you can remove from the baking dish, feel free to give my Glazed Pumpkin Pound Cake a try (it’s made in a Bundt pan).

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.

I really like using an offset spatula to frost cakes, particularly cakes that are served right from the baking dish like this one. These angled spatulas make easy work of spreading frosting onto the corners of the 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

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Topped with swirls of cream cheese icing, this pumpkin cake is easy to make and 100% kid-approved — the perfect fall treat for potlucks, bake sales, and holiday parties.

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
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ 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
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3¼ 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.

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Comments

  • Thank you for this recipe, it sounds delicious and I’m planning on making it for Christmas eve. Do you think a coffee buttercream frosting will go with it? I’d love the cream cheese frosting but my daughter has requested the coffee frosting that she loves. Thank you so much!

    • — msEm on December 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • It’s hard to say without having tried it, but I think it should work.

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • We made it for Thanksgiving. Amazing flavor and texture even though we only used 1 stick of butter instead of 1.5. We also used a different cream cheese frosting recipe using only 1 cup of sugar which we prefer. I look forward to making this again!

    • — Lulu on November 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • Browsing through a number of pumpkin cake recipes looking for one to try, I noticed that most recipes with 2 cups of flour and 4 eggs specify 1-1/2 tsp baking powder in addition to the 1 tsp baking soda. Your recipe has the same quantity of baking soda but only 1/2 tsp baking powder. I just want to confirm if this is correct? Thanks for clarifying! (Will add my review after I try it!)

    • — Jennifer C on November 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep, that is correct – hope you enjoy if you make it! 😊

      • — Jenn on November 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, i dont have enough butter for frosting, can i substitute with egg?

    • — Barbara on November 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, I don’t recommend it – do you have coconut oil or shortening?

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Would this recipe work as cupcakes also?
    Thank you!

    • — Sophia on November 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Lovely recipe. Made it for the first time today. I reduced sugar in cake by 1/2 cup. I reduced confectioner’s sugar in frosting by 1 1/4 cups! Also, added 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon to frosting. And topped cake with chopped toasted pecans.

    • — Kelly on November 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • I would like to make this for a layered birthday cake also. Would you recommend 8 or 9 inch cake pans?
    Always a fan of Once Upon a Chef recipes!

    • — Kim on November 10, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Kim, So glad you like the recipes! I’d use 8-inch round pans. I’d love to hear how it turns out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made this for a work function and it was a huge success! The cake was perfectly spiced and the icing was buttery and tasty! I didn’t find it overly sugary and it was flavorful. It was perfect with the cake. Thank you so much for the recipe. Your recipes are always the best!

    • — Sue on October 31, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is now one of my favorite cakes! There is nothing I would change.

    • — Andrea on October 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Loved this bread and frosting! I omit the cloves and nutmeg, as my family does not like those flavors. My grandchildren gobbled up the bread and loved it.
    I used the frosting on Jenn’s perfect pound cake recipe (which is perfect) and it was delicious!
    Great find – love Jenn’s recipes!

    • — Robin on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was a good cake my only suggestion would be to reduce the ground cloves to 1/4 tsp. because it overpowered the pumpkin flavor. I added maple flavor and maple syrup to the frosting and topped it with finely copped toasted walnuts.

    • — Alexis on October 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi – If I doubled this, would it work in a half sheet pan? thanks!

    • — TS on October 21, 2023
    • Reply
    • I’m afraid you’d have a little too much batter for a sheet pan.

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • My husband planted pumpkins this year in our garden. Needless to say, we have lots of fresh pumpkin. I found this recipe and decided to try it. Everyone loved it! I used pumpkin pie spice since that is what I had but it turned out great!!

    • — Shelly on October 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve never made a pumpkin cake before. I made this for a party and it was delicious. Rave reviews from guests. So moist and flavorful, not too spicy. Loved it! Thank you.

    • — Sue Herman on September 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • Super tasty cake! The frosting was too sweet for our liking. We would make the recipe again, but try slowly adding the powdered sugar to taste.
    Thanks!

    • — Amanda Groves on September 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • What a great recipe! Delicious and beautiful. Thank you, Jenn. Well done!

    PS… it made a gorggggg layer cake. 🥰
    I did some teensy adjustments (based on preference, what I had, and the fact that pumpkin spice was cheaper than buying the others separately 😊) but it was absolutely delicious. I would MOST DEFINITELY be willing to make this again- I don’t think my family would mind either, haha!

    • — Chloe on March 31, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    Would this work as a layer cake? If so, would the amount of frosting be the same?
    Thank you very much for your help!

    • — Chloe on March 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Chloe, Yes, I do think it would work as a layer cake and that you should double the frosting (you may end up having a bit of frosting leftover).

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you! So excited.

        • — Chloe on March 16, 2023
        • Reply
  • So easy I was able to make this with a one and a two year old ‘helping’ me. I first made this as a birthday cake because my youngest didn’t like anything sweet at the time but she loved pumpkin and it was a hit with all of the kids. I don’t use as much sugar in the frosting as I don’t like it as sweet and it’s still great!

    • — Bethaney on January 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • i made a pumpkin quickbread from an ‘oven bake recipe’ & it came out very good..do you think i could make this in my breadmaker, w/this recipe? i have many cans of pure pumpkin puree.

    thank you

    • — POOKIE on January 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • I’ve never used a breadmaker so I can’t say confidently whether or not this would be appropriate for one (but I’d be inclined to say no). Sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • My son has already requested this again for Christmas dinner! Terrific cake.

    • — Beth on December 18, 2022
    • Reply

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