A delicious holiday spiced pumpkin cake sponge with cream cheese frosting. This could easily be a holiday dessert right next to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin cake squares with cream cheese frosting

Sometimes desserts don’t have to be elaborate or demand lots of work, they can be mix, dump and bake and still be just as good as a made-from-scratch pie. This pumpkin cake is a perfect example of a no-fuss but super tasty dessert. It’s a light pumpkin sponge cake baked in a 9×13 inch baking pan and then covered with a sweet cream cheese frosting just like you’d see on your favorite carrot cake. Perfect for snacking on, this pumpkin cake could be served on Thanksgiving with a scoop of ice cream on the side and it would be so much better than regular pumpkin pie.

what’s in this pumpkin cake?

  • Pumpkin- Canned is perfect but not the canned pie filling. For this you’ll need just canned pumpkin puree which you can find on the baking aisle of your local grocery store.
  • Buttermilk- Provides a great flavor for the cake and helps keep it moist.
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable oil or canola oil
  • Vanilla
  • All purpose flour
  • Baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin pie spice

Making the pumpkin cake batter

This is a classic wet ingredients and dry ingredients mix. Combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla to make a loose batter. In another bowl you’ll need to whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Whisking them makes sure they are all evenly distributed through the flour. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go. A stand mixer is preferable to use, it’ll make the job so much easier but a handheld mixer will also work. If all else fails, this cake can be made completely by hand though.

how will I know when my cake is done?

I like to gently press the center of the cake lightly and if it springs back without leaving a dent, then you should b good. If it feels wet or sticky and leaves an imprint in the top of the cake, then it might need and extra five minutes or so.

squares of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting

can I freeze this pumpkin cake?

If you plan to freeze it, make sure to freeze the cake before frosting. You could also make the frosting ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 10 days. Let it come to room temperature before using.

does it have a strong pumpkin taste?

No, it tastes mildly spiced with a light pumpkin flavor. It actually tastes very similar to Starbucks Pumpkin bread.

more fantastic pumpkin desserts

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 563kcal
Author: foodnessgracious
A delicious and holiday spiced pumpkin cake sponge with cream cheese frosting spread all over. This could easily be a holiday dessert right next to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving!
Print Recipe


  • 1 pound canned pumpkin
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 9×13 inch baking tray with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla until well combined.
  • In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and pie spice.
  • In two stages add the dry ingredients to the wet bowl and whisk well after each addition to create a smooth batter.
  • Pour the pumpkin cake batter into the prepared baking pan and spread out evenly.
  • Bake in the oven for around 35 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when gently pushed.
  • let the cake cool before adding the frosting.
  • To make the frosting, cream the cream cheese and the butter together at high speed in a mixer.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Spread the frosting over the cool cake and garnish with chopped walnuts or pecans if desired.
  • Slice into individual squares.


Serving: 1square | Calories: 563kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 360mg | Potassium: 178mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 6415IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg