This Easy Pumpkin Cake is the best way to gussy up a box of spice cake mix. Super moist, full of warming spices, and topped with tangy cream cheese frosting, this cozy cake recipe is what fall is all about!
If you’re a regular reader, you know I love to find ways to make a boxed cake mix taste homemade and this pumpkin cake recipe is the perfect example of how you can take an ordinary store-bought cake mix and create a swoon-worthy dessert. Adding a can of pumpkin, sour cream, and extra eggs results in a tender crumb you just can’t get by following the recipe on the box. And the homemade cream cheese frosting? Well, that’s just the icing on the cake. (Literally!)
Pumpkin Cake Recipe
Anyone who spends the end of summer counting down the days to pumpkin spice latte season will appreciate this pumpkin spice cake recipe. In fact, you might just want to pair a PSL with a piece of pumpkin cake for a festive fall snack!
I love that this recipe starts with a shortcut, but there are enough ingredients added to the mix that it feels like baking from scratch. No need to measure flour, spices, and baking powder—it’s all in the cake mix!
For the pumpkin cake:
- Spice cake mix
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs – This may seem like a lot of eggs compared to the instructions on the box, but they help give the cake more volume and lift, which it needs with the added pumpkin and sour cream.
- Vegetable oil
- Sour cream
- Canned pumpkin – Make sure you buy pumpkin puree, not pie mix.
For the frosting:
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Canned pumpkin – You can use homemade pumpkin puree too, but keep in mind that it usually has a higher water content than canned. I recommend lining a colander with a cheesecloth or paper towel and letting the pumpkin puree sit for 20 minutes to drain off some of the excess moisture.
- Cream cheese frosting – Use my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe or a can of store-bought cream cheese frosting if you want to make this easy pumpkin cake even easier!
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Cake
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and coat the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with baking spray with flour.
2. Make Batter
Combine all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat on low speed with an electric mixer. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then bake the cake for 24 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
4. Make the Frosting
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on low speed. Once the mixture is smooth, start pouring in the powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat it in until all of the sugar is incorporated and the frosting is smooth and creamy.
5. Frost the Pumpkin Spice Cake
Spread a thin layer of the frosting along the sides of the cake, then use the rest to frost the top. Store the cake in the refrigerator.
- Pumpkin Walnut Cake – Add chopped walnuts to the cake batter or sprinkle them over the frosting. (Or if you really love nuts, do both!)
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake – Add 2/3 cup of mini chocolate chips to the cake batter.
- Cupcakes – Make the recipe into cupcakes; bake at the same temperature, but check the cupcakes after 18 minutes.
How do you make pumpkin cake?
Follow the recipe below! It’s the easiest way to make pumpkin cake.
Should pumpkin cake be refrigerated?
Yes, this pumpkin cake needs to be refrigerated since it has cream cheese frosting. It will last about 5 days in the fridge.
What brings out pumpkin flavor?
Pumpkin doesn’t really have much flavor on its own, so when baking with pumpkin, we look to pair it with spices that complement its mild, earthy flavor. Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, and nutmeg all work well with pumpkin.
Can you freeze pumpkin cake?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze pumpkin cake! I recommend freezing it without the frosting, although you can freeze it with the frosting too (it’s just a little bit harder to keep it looking nice). Wrapped well, this cake will last up to 2 months in the freezer.
Make sure the cake is completely cooled before you frost it for the best results.
If you’re looking for more….try these recipes next!
- Pumpkin Dump Cake
- Pumpkin Caramel Poke Cake
- Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread
- Pumpkin Cookies
- 1 box spice cake mix
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup water
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1 can 15 oz pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 2 packages 8 oz each cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup butter softened
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 9×13 pan with baking spray with flour.
- In large bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, then on high speed 2 minutes.
- Add batter to pan and spread evenly. Bake 24 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool completely on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth.
- Spread thin layer of frosting on side of cake. Spread remaining frosting on side and top of cake. Store covered in refrigerator