My Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is made from scratch with simple pantry ingredients. It’s sure to become a staple for your Fall and holiday menus!
There’s just something about a pumpkin cake with homemade icing that gets me ready for the Fall season. Although I make this cake year-round, it moves to the top of my recipe rotation when cooler temps arrive.
Many people choose to use store-bought frosting or buttercream, but I think the homemade cream cheese topping is where it’s at! The slightly tangy frosting adds extra flavor and another level of sweetness that complements the spices in the cake.
I’m answering common questions & sharing tips to help you get the best results with this recipe. If you don’t need the tips, simply scroll to the bottom for the full recipe, including a printable recipe card.
If you’re ready to get in the spirit of Fall, be sure you try my Salty Sweet Fall Harvest Snack Mix. It’s great for a simple snack, appetizer for parties, or treat bags!
Fall also brings a change to the variety of vegetables in season. If you’re a squash lover, give my easy slow cooker butternut squash a try.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Flour – use all-purpose for best results.
Eggs – be sure these are room temperature before cracking.
Oil – The recipe calls for vegetable oil, but you an substitute applesauce for a healthier option. See below for the details.
Pumpkin puree – I buy Libby brand but use your favorite or make homemade pumpkin puree.
Cream cheese and butter – You HAVE to soften these before starting. Tips to speed up the softening process are below.
Other ingredients: salt, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
Can I use Pumpkin Pie Filling?
I don’t recommend it. Pumpkin pie filling has added sugar and spices, which will affect the final results.
How To Substitute Applesauce for Oil in Pumpkin Cake?
Applesauce can be used in place of ingredients with higher fat content, such as butter and oil. For this recipe, you can substitute a cup of unsweetened applesauce for a cup of oil, or use a half and half mixture. It also helps to keep baked goods moist because of its water content.
How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree?
If you don’t want to use canned pumpkin puree, it’s fairly easy to make your own. Cut your pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and most of the stringy portion. Season with a little salt
Place pumpkin side up on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 45-65 minutes. You will notice the pumpkin start to pull away from the outer layer when it’s done.
Afterward, scoop out the pulp and blend to puree. Drain off any extra liquid. Be sure to let it cool before adding to your cake.
I’m in a hurry, can I use Store-Bought Cream Cheese Icing instead?
Yes! As always wait for your pumpkin cake to cool completely before topping it with frosting.
How to Soften Butter Quickly
If you are like me, sometimes you forget to take ingredients out of the refrigerator ahead of time. But don’t worry I have a trick for you!
Boil some water, then carefully pour it into a glass. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then pour it out. Stand your stick of butter up on the counter and place the glass upside down over the butter stick. You will have perfectly softened butter in no time!
Softening Cream Cheese the Easy Way
To get your cream cheese to soften, remove it from the wrapper and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave in 15-second increments until desired consistency.
How To Store
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is best stored in the refrigerator. You can serve it cold or let it come to room temperature before serving.
Tips for Making
- Don’t cut your cake into slices all at once. Once it is cut, it starts to dry out and won’t keep as long.
- Be sure to gradually add in powdered sugar to keep from making sugar clouds in your face while mixing. I know you know exactly what I’m talking about!
- Unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a plastic freezer bag.
Other Easy Desserts Recipes:
- Vanilla Spiced Pumpkin Bread
- Nantucket Cranberry Pie
- Cherry Pie Glazed Bars
- S’mores Rice Krispie Treats
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 4 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil , (see notes)
- 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree , (not pumpkin pie filling)
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare a 13×9 baking pan by coating with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs.
- Add the sugar, oil and pumpkin puree and mix until smooth.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until combined and smooth after each addition.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition until reaching desired consistency. You may not use the full 5 cups.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- Frost cake (an offset spatula works well for this).
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
- For a healthier version, substitute 1 cup unsweetened applesauce for 1 cup oil or do ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce.
- Nutritional information is estimated using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently.
Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.