This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
This easy Pumpkin Cake recipe can be entirely made in one bowl! You’ll fall for this tender, moist, spice-infused pumpkin cake layered with creamy cinnamon cream cheese frosting!
Let’s make an easy pumpkin cake to celebrate the beginning of Fall. Yes, a whole cake to do the season justice! With its perfectly-spiced silky cream cheese buttercream layered around a soft, moist, tender cake, it is easily the best pumpkin cake ever.
Why you will love this pumpkin cake:
- Ridiculously easy to make. This pumpkin cake recipe is so easy to make you’re going to be wondering “are we working, even?” The answer is not really, and it doesn’t matter, because the cake is delicious.
- One bowl. You can make this whole cake in one bowl if you choose to! No extra dishes, no extra effort, one beautiful cake.
- So stunning and so moist. The pumpkin puree, the canola oil, and the light brown sugar, make this cake incredibly moist. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Libra birthdays, this cake is ready for any occasion!
Professional Tips for easy pumpkin spice cake:
- Be sure to buy pumpkin puree: Double check you grabbed pure pumpkin puree at the store and not canned pumpkin pie mix! I would not suggest using homemade pumpkin puree due to the varying moisture content. Canned pumpkin puree’s moisture is tightly controlled within a certain percentage.
- Temp your ingredients: Bringing your eggs, butter, and cream cheese to room temperature before use will help them combine easier.
- Make your pumpkin spice mix at home: I’ve been a card-carrying member of the pumpkin spice club for a long time, and I published my professional-chef tested pumpkin spice mix recipe online for you! Take advantage of it all season long!
What is pumpkin cake made of?
- Eggs: Whole eggs allow you to emulsify all that oil into the batter, resulting in moist, not greasy, cake.
- Sugar: I use granulated sugar for my pumpkin cake. It is here for the more obvious flavor reasons, but also to aid in leavening, moisture, texture and stability.
- Light Brown Sugar: Using light brown sugar adds sweetness along with a little moisture. This will keep the cake softer while adding a nice, rich molasses flavor. You can substitute this for coconut sugar or dark brown sugar if you like.
- Pumpkin Puree: I use Libby’s pumpkin puree because it is consistent and that is what I use to develop all my recipes. Use whichever brand you prefer.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It heightens the flavor here and will keep your cake from tasting dull or flat.
- Baking Powder: Double acting baking powder reacts instantly when it mixes with an acid and then again when it interacts with heat Because it is double acting, it has a slower, more stable rise than baking soda alone.
- Baking Soda: Do check the freshness of your baking soda! It does lose potency over time. If it’s not fresh, send it to the back of the refrigerator to absorb some odors, or clean your marble countertops with it!
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Spices are best used within one year of purchase. They will be most potent and true to their original flavor. This recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice mix, which is the ideal spice blend for more than just pumpkin pie! I used my homemade pumpkin pie spice recipe but you could use store-bought as well.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil makes this cake exceptionally moist. I emulsify it into the sugar and eggs to make the batter extra moist and not greasy. Be sure to choose a neutral oil because there is enough in this cake that you will taste it if you use olive oil or a blend.
- Cinnamon: I use Saigon cinnamon but any cinnamon will do.
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour has just the right amount of gluten to hold all the sugar, oil and puree without making a chewy, tough cake texture.
- Cream Cheese: I use original Philadelphia Cream Cheese for all my baked goods including frostings and buttercreams.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter for baking, because you want to control the amount of salt you are adding. In rich and buttery frostings, the butter is there for stability. It will firm up when cold, which helps the buttercream stay in the cake layers.
- Confectioner’s Sugar: We use confectioner’s sugar in this cream cheese buttercream because it is ground finely into a powder.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Extract adds a beautiful flavor to the buttercream.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- 3 Layers: You can absolutely divide this batter between three layers and make a fabulous three layer cake instead! If you’d like to dust off a decorative bundt pan, my pumpkin spice bundt cake is just the recipe for you.
- Add nuts or dried fruit. Add chopped, toasted nuts or chopped dried fruit to the batter for an easy twist.
- Festive cake decorating: How to decorate the best pumpkin cake you’ve ever had might feel serious, but it’s something that can be creative! A Halloween fondant pumpkin cake topper is a definite possibility…use the chocolate cream cheese buttercream recipe from my chocolate mayonnaise cake.
- Soak the cake in flavored simple syrup. Make an easy flavored simple syrup by bringing 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil. Allow this to infuse with whole spices or citrus rinds as it cools. Or add a splash of your favorite alcohol.
- Canola Oil: Feel free to use the neutral oil of your choice. You can use coconut but it will impart a small flavor on the cake. You could also use butter, but be warned that it will make the texture of your cake a little drier.
- Spices: I added a little flare to the BEST Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe by adding ground cinnamon, but you could use it plain or go crazy with pumpkin pie spice or even a dash of maple extract.
- Full-fat cream cheese is best. For the best texture, use full-fat cream cheese and not low fat or whipped. The fat helps keep the buttercream thicker and smoother.
How to Make Pumpkin Cake
Use these instructions to make the perfect pumpkin cake every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Make cake batter:
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F (convection or regular), and line 2, 9” round pans with parchment paper. Spray your pans with a neutral oil, or lightly butter it, whichever is your preference.
I use a Sharpie or pen to trace the outside of my pans on the parchment, and then cut inside the sharpie line to make relatively perfect circles.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and flour; set aside.
Step 3: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs followed by the oil until emulsified.
It helps the emulsification process if you whisk the eggs until smooth before drizzling in the oil.
Step 4: Whisk the granulated sugar and light brown sugar into your wet mixture, followed by the pumpkin puree. Gradually fold in the dry ingredient mixture until very few lumps remain.
Be careful stop mixing once you have uniform batter, because over-mixing leads to tough cakes with tunnels of air!
Step 5: Divide your cake batter between your two prepared pans. Grab an offset and use it to spread the tops of the batter so they look even.
Step 6: Bake in the preheated oven for 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown and the center springs back when pressed lightly. You will also see that the sides of the cake will have cracked and pulled away a little from the pans.
Different pans and baking dishes bake differently! A glass dish will take longer to bake than a metal one. Be sure to keep a firm eye on your cake while it is baking.
Step 7: Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes and then cool completely on wire cooling racks over a baking sheet. Be careful not to squish your cakes, they are going to be quite soft. While the cakes are cooling, prepare your buttercream.
Step 8: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract.
If your buttercream gets too warm, chill it. Just pop the whole bowl and attachments in the fridge and give it an hour.
Assemble your cake:
Step 9: Once cakes are cool, you can start frosting. I like to cover my cake stand with parchment paper strips so that the frosting doesn’t spill onto it. Place the first layer of your cake on your cake stand, take your buttercream and spread it on the first layer. Place the second layer on top, and finish frosting. Enjoy!
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
While assembling your cake, you could fill the center with something fun, like apple compote or mixed berry jam with pectin!
Frequently Asked Questions
Store unfrosted pumpkin cake well-wrapped at room temperature. Unfrosted Pumpkin Cake will keep at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerated for a week. Store unused cream cheese buttercream in an airtight, clean container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Once frosted, cake can be kept at room temperature for up to three days before the buttercream spoils. For longer storage, store in the refrigerator.
Yes, you can freeze pumpkin cake. Unfrosted, it will keep in the freezer for two months! Buttercream can also be frozen for longer storage.
Pumpkin cake is a beautiful seasonal dessert to serve with hot drinks, like cider, hot chocolate, or tea. Serve the cake either by itself or topped with some homemade whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or salted caramel sauce!
If you used homemade pumpkin puree, it’s likely due to that. Homemade puree has varying moisture content, and too much moisture will make the cake gummy. Stick with store-bought puree, and you’ll be glad you did! There’s also a possibility that the cake was underbaked, which is more difficult to tell due to the oil in the batter. Test your cake for doneness by checking if the center of the cake springs back lightly when touched and if the edges have pulled away from the pan.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Make cake batter:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (convection or regular), and line 2, 9” round pans with parchment paper. Spray your pans with a neutral oil, or lightly butter it, whichever is your preference.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and flour; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs followed by the oil until emulsified.
- Whisk the granulated sugar and light brown sugar into your wet mixture, followed by the pumpkin puree. Gradually fold in the dry ingredient mixture until very few lumps remain.
- Divide your cake batter between your two prepared pans. Grab an offset and use it to spread the tops of the batter so they look even.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown and the center springs back when pressed lightly. You will also see that the sides of the cake will have cracked and pulled away a little from the pans.
- Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes and then cool completely on wire cooling racks over a baking sheet. Be careful not to squish your cakes, they are going to be quite soft. While the cakes are cooling, prepare your buttercream.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Assemble your cake:
- Once cakes are cool, you can start frosting. I like to cover my cake stand with parchment paper strips so that the frosting doesn’t spill onto it. Place the first layer of your cake on your cake stand, take your buttercream and spread it on the first layer. Place the second layer on top, and finish frosting. Enjoy!