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Welcome Fall and cooler weather with this amazing homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake. A classic pumpkin cake that is so soft and moist thanks to the oil and pure pumpkin, baked in a 9×13 pan, perfectly spiced with warm pumpkin spice flavors, and then it’s topped with a simple cream cheese frosting. This is one pumpkin recipe that you will want to make year round.
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe
I think I’ve waited long enough to share some pumpkin recipes with you all! I just can’t get enough of all things pumpkin spice when this time of year comes around.
You will love this homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake because it’s soft, loaded with moisture (no dry cake here!), and it has a moist and tender crumb texture to it. Top it off with a simple cream cheese frosting and it’s basically pumpkin dessert heaven. Oil + pure pumpkin are the star ingredients because they had tons of moisture, tenderness, and richness to the cake.
If you prefer a cinnamon streusel on top of your cake then try my Cinnamon Streusel Pumpkin Cake. If you want a mix between cheesecake + pumpkin cake then you will love my Cheesecake Swirl Pumpkin Cake.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Spice Cake Ingredients
- All-Purpose Flour – It’s best to use regular all-purpose flour here. Using something like gluten-free flour or almond flour can change the taste and texture/density of the cake. I use unbleached all-purpose flour.
- Light Brown Sugar – Make sure this is packed inside the measuring cup. Meaning, don’t just lightly scoop it up like flour but rather press it into the measuring cup to make sure it’s packed in there. You know the brown sugar is packed well if it holds the measuring cup shape when you dump it into the bowl.
- Granulated Sugar
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – You can substitute with homemade pumpkin pie spice. I have linked a recipe I have used before down below in the substitutions paragraph.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Kosher Salt – If using table salt or sea salt reduce the salt by half.
- Pure Pumpkin – Make sure the can says ‘100% pure pumpkin’ and NOT ‘pumpkin pie filling’. They are very different!
- Vegetable or Canola Oil – I love baking with oil, especially in pumpkin recipes, because it adds so much moisture and tenderness to the cake.
- Large Eggs – Try to get these as close to room temperature as possible. It helps them incorporate better into the batter.
- Whole Milk – Again, try to get the milk as close to room temperature as possible. I just place the measured milk and the eggs out on the counter top a few minutes before I start the recipe.
- Vanilla Extract – For the best taste use pure vanilla extract. It tastes much better in baked goods than imitation vanilla extract.
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- Cream Cheese – I recommend using full fat cream cheese and not 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese for the frosting. Regular fat cream cheese is made with milk + cream so it’s going to have a much richer texture and thickness to it.
- Butter – You can use salted or unsalted butter. If using salted butter omit the extra salt from the recipe. If using unsalted butter, then be sure to use the additional salt called for in the recipe.
- Powdered Sugar
- Whole Milk – You can also use heavy whipping cream instead for a fluffy whipped texture of frosting. If you are using heavy cream then you will end up using more than the 2 tablespoons called for as it’s much thicker.
- Vanilla Extract
- Kosher Salt – Again, only add this if you are using unsalted butter.
How To Make Pumpkin Spice Cake
Learn how to make your own pumpkin spice cake in your kitchen with the steps below. Be sure and read to the bottom of the post where there is a printable recipe card, a pin it button so you can save it for later, and a detailed recipe card with all the ingredients and directions to make the recipe.
- Prep : Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Dry Ingredients for Pumpkin Cake : Add all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir with a whisk. Set aside for later.
- Wet Ingredients for Pumpkin Cake : In a smaller bowl, add the wet ingredients and mix together with a wire whisk.
- Pumpkin Cake Batter : Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently, with a rubber spatula, just until combined and no flour streaks remain. Pour it into the prepared pan.
- Bake : Set the oven timer for 25-30 minutes and let the cake bake. Test the center for doneness with a toothpick to ensure it’s baked through before taking it out. Let the pumpkin cake cool completely inside the pan before frosting it.
- Cream Cheese + Butter : Beat the cream cheese and butter together, in a mixing bowl, until smooth and creamy. You can either do this with a stand mixer or use an electric hand mixer.
- Frosting : Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt (if needed). Start mixing on low speed and increase the speed as needed. If you want a thicker frosting then add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you prefer a thinner frosting, then add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it’s where you want it.
- Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting : Frost the cooled cake and serve. If you want to serve it chilled, then cover the frosted cake with plastic wrap or tin foil, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.
How Do I Store Leftovers?
Store your pumpkin spice cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can either place the pieces of cake inside an airtight container or just cover the baking pan with a lid or tin foil. Either way will work great.
Once the cake is frosted with the cream cheese frosting, it’s best to store it in the fridge, otherwise the cream cheese will soften and become warmer in temperature.
Can I Freeze Pumpkin Cake?
Yes you can freeze this cake but make sure it’s unfrosted if freezing it. Prepare the cake as directed and let it cool down completely. Double wrap the pan in tin foil and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve let it thaw in the fridge overnight, and then prepare the frosting and frost the cake before serving.
If I am freezing baked goods like this one, I always bake it up in a disposable tin baking pan (9×13 size). That way it’s easier to wrap it up in tin foil.
Do I Serve Pumpkin Cake Cold or at Room Temperature?
You can serve this homemade pumpkin spice cake at room temperature or chilled from the fridge. I prefer eating this cake chilled from the fridge, mainly because I like a cold cream cheese frosting rather than a room temperature one that is softer. There are a couple options you have here.
- Option 1 – Make the pumpkin cake the day before, or morning of, let it cool to room temperature and then cover it tightly and store it at room temperature until you’re ready to frost it. Serve the cake immediately after frosting it.
- Option 2 – For a chilled pumpkin cake, prepare the cake as directed and let it cool down completely. Make the frosting and spread it onto the cooled cake. Then, cover the dish with a lid or tin foil and refrigerate the cake for up to 24 hours before serving it.
- Option 3 – If you like both way, make the cake and let it cool to room temperature. Frost with the cream cheese frosting and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge and then the leftovers will be chilled, so this way you can eat it both room temperature and chilled.
Variation & Substitutions
There are a few things that you can substitute and change up if wanted. I make this recipe as is but these are things that you could do if you’re missing an ingredient or want to switch it up.
- Milk : The recipe calls for whole milk and I do recommend using it. If you don’t have any, you can substitute with 2% milk or half and half. I would not recommend using anything lower than 2% because it won’t have a high enough fat content to make this cake moist and rich.
- Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting : For that elevated pumpkin spice taste, add some ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice into the cream cheese frosting. I would start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if necessary. You don’t want to overpower the classic cream cheese frosting with too much spice.
- Salt : Any salt can be used in this recipe. I prefer kosher salt because it elevates flavors without making it taste salty. Sea salt or regular iodized table salt will both work well. If you are using table salt or sea salt, reduce the amount by half of what the recipe calls for. In this recipe that would be 1/8 teaspoon for the pumpkin cake + 1/8 teaspoon for the cream cheese frosting. Table salt and sea salt are finer sized pieces of salt which means you can fit more within the measuring spoon. So we want to use less as not to over salt the cake.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice : If you don’t have this you can learn how to make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice, and use it instead.
Tips For Success
Here are a few of my helpful tips that will hopefully make this pumpkin spice cake recipe easy to recreate in your own kitchen.
- Let The Cake Cool Completely : Plan ahead so you have plenty of time to let the pumpkin cake cool before frosting with the cream cheese frosting. If you try to spread the frosting on a warm, or even slightly warm cake, it will just melt all over.
- Make It Ahead of Time : Pumpkin and banana are the best things to make the day before, because they get better and better as leftovers. If you want to make this recipe ahead of time, prepare the cake up to 24 hours before, and cover it tightly with a lid or tin foil and leave it at room temperature until the next day when you frost it. You can also make the cake, cool it, and frost it and then cover it with a lid and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving it. Basically, once the cake is frosted it needs to be stored in the fridge.
- Test The Cake : Use a toothpick, or a cake tester, to ensure that the cake is cooked all the way through before pulling it out of the oven. This pumpkin cake is not like cookies where you want to pull them out when they’re still slightly underbaked… insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out with wet batter then it needs to stay in there longer. If it comes out dry or with moist crumbs on it, then it’s ready to take out of the oven.
- Use Pure Pumpkin : The cans look similar so make sure you are using 100% pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling.
More Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Love
- Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- Caramel Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Honey Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
- Pumpkin Pie Pecan Cobbler
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Layered Pudding Dessert
Pumpkin Spice Cake
Pumpkin Spice Cake
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (omit if using salted butter)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray, set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a wire whisk. Set aside.
- In a separate smaller mixing bowl, add the pure pumpkin, oil, beaten eggs, whole milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk together with a wire whisk, or you can use hand mixer if wanted, until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. * For beaten eggs : Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and use a fork to stir them up, then add them into the batter.
- Add the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Mix until everything is combined and no flour streaks or spots remain in the batter.
- Pour the pumpkin cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.* The edges will turn golden brown and pull away from the sides of the pan, and the cake will be puffy in the middle, and a toothpick inserted in should come out clean or with crumbs, not wet batter. * Mine takes almost exactly 30 minutes to bake.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely before frosting.Once cooled, you can either frost it and serve. Or you can cover the cooled cake with a lid or tin foil and refrigerate it until ready to serve. The cake can also stay out at room temperature, unfrosted, if needed.
Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- Place the softened cream cheese and butter into a mixing bowl, or use a stand mixer, and beat on low speed, increasing speed as needed, until it's smooth and creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar, whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt (if needed). Beat on low speed, increasing speed as it thickens, until it's at your desired thickness. * If you want a thicker frosting then add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired thickness is reached. If you want a thinner frosting then add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it's where you want it.
- Frost the cooled cake and cut into squares. You can top each serving with a marshmallow pumpkin candy, or chopped pecans or walnuts, or top the cake with some Fall or Halloween colored sprinkles.
- Option 1 - Make the pumpkin cake the day before, or morning of, let it cool to room temperature and then cover it tightly and store it at room temperature until you're ready to frost it. Serve the cake immediately after frosting it.
- Option 2 - For a chilled pumpkin cake, prepare the cake as directed and let it cool down completely. Make the frosting and spread it onto the cooled cake. Then, cover the dish with a lid or tin foil and refrigerate the cake for up to 24 hours before serving it.
- Option 3 - If you like both ways, make the cake and let it cool to room temperature. Frost with the cream cheese frosting and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge and then the leftovers will be chilled, so this way you can eat it both room temperature and chilled.