This pumpkin cake is easy to make, soft, super moist, and topped with an easy homemade cream cheese frosting. This cake is perfectly spiced and a wonderful dessert for fall!
This is easily my favorite time of year because the weather starts to cool off and pumpkin desserts are everywhere right now. Last week I shared a couple of fall-inspired treats with you and today I have another one I absolutely adore – this homemade pumpkin cake!
While I love making cakes and decorating them, there’s also something I love about the simplicity of this cake. All you have to do is whisk together your dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients, combine them, pour the batter into a pan, and bake it.
Another great thing about making cakes in a 9×13 pan is that you don’t really have to worry about decorating them. All you have to do is mix up your favorite frosting and spread it on top. I used a cream cheese frosting on top of this cake, but I’ve included another option for you to try if you prefer!
This pumpkin cake recipe uses simple pantry staples that you likely have on hand. For the dry ingredients you’ll be using all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. The wet ingredients are just a simple mixture of pumpkin puree, oil, sugar, eggs, and pure vanilla extract.
I do want to touch on a few ingredients for this cake before getting started:
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: To keep things simple, I just use a mix of pumpkin pie spice and ground cinnamon. I know it isn’t available everywhere though so I have a homemade pumpkin pie spice substitute here. That recipe will make about 1/3 of a cup, feel free to scale it down if you need to make less.
- Pumpkin Puree: I’ve mentioned this in other pumpkin recipes, but you want to make sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling is already sweetened and spiced and could affect your cake if you accidentally use it.
- Oil: Stick with a neutral-flavored oil like canola or vegetable oil. You can also use melted coconut oil, but if you do, just make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature so the oil doesn’t solidify.
- Cream Cheese: The cream cheese is only used in the frosting and not the actual cake. However, if you are going to top this cake with my cream cheese frosting, make sure to use a block or brick of cream cheese. You want to avoid using cream cheese spread in a tub because it has ingredients added to thin it out, which can result in a runny frosting.
How To Make Pumpkin Cake
To make this cake, start by preheating your oven to 350°F (177°C) and spaying a 9×13 pan well with non stick cooking spray. Next, whisk together your dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and ground cinnamon. Set them aside, then mix together the wet ingredients.
For the wet ingredients, mix together your pumpkin puree, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. I used an entire can of pumpkin in this recipe to make it even easier, so there’s no need to have to measure it out!
Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix them together until just combined. At this point, your batter should look like the picture above on the left. Then, just scoop the batter into your prepared pan and bake the cake for 30 t0 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Once the cake is done, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled completely, you can mix up your frosting and spread it on top. For the frosting on this cake, I used my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe because it pairs so well with pumpkin. The frosting is just a simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
You can find my full tutorial for how to make the cream cheese frosting here. If you love cinnamon, feel free to add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the frosting for a little extra flavor.
If you want to try a buttercream frosting instead, I have vanilla, chocolate, and caramel frosting recipes in my post on how to make buttercream here that would work great on this cake too!
How To Store Your Cake
One of the most common questions I get about cakes is how to store them. Is it okay to leave them at room temperature or should you refrigerate them? The answer – it depends!
Because the frosting in this cake has cream cheese in it, I recommend refrigerating the cake if it’s frosted. You can store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Another option is to let the cake cool and then add the frosting later. If you want to do this you can let the cake cool completely, cover it tightly, and store it without the frosting at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. Then, mix up the frosting and add it on top of your cake. You can also prepare the frosting in advance, cover it tightly, and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 days. Just make sure to let the frosting come to room temperature and mix it well before frosting your cake.
For longer storage, I suggest freezing the cake. I’ve included freezing instructions in the recipe card if you prefer to freeze it.
- When measuring your flour, avoid scooping it from the container. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- Avoid overmixing the cake batter when you combine the wet and dry ingredients. I suggest mixing them together until just combined for a lighter, softer cake.
- Make sure to let your cake cool completely before adding the frosting.
- For the best flavor in your cake and frosting, I recommend using pure vanilla extract.
More Cake Recipes To Try
For the pumpkin cake:
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup (240 ml) oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 cup (200 grams) light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1 (8-ounce) package brick-style cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make the pumpkin cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, ground cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it around into one even layer. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If needed, cover loosely with foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning.
- Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Scoop the frosting onto the cooled cake and spread it around into one even layer.