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Thanks to help from a box of yellow cake mix and vanilla pudding, this easy pumpkin cake recipe comes together in minutes. Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, the perfect fall dessert tastes like it’s made from scratch!

Side shot of a slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting on a blue and white plate
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Easy Pumpkin Cake Recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make Pumpkin Cake with Cake Mix
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Pumpkin Cake with Yellow Cake Mix and Pudding
  8. Easy Pumpkin Cake with Yellow Cake Mix and Pudding Recipe

If you love pumpkin recipes as much as we do, be sure to try these easy one-bowl pumpkin muffins, a loaf of one-bowl pumpkin bread, a batch of easy baked pumpkin donuts, and these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, too!

Why You’ll Love this Easy Pumpkin Cake Recipe

‘Tis the season for a warmly-spiced, moist slice of pumpkin cake slathered in cream cheese frosting! It’s the perfect sweet ending for your next Sunday supper, to enjoy for an afternoon snack with a friend and a cozy cup of tea, or to make your Thanksgiving feast feel extra special.

Best of all, this easy pumpkin cake recipe takes advantage of a handful of shortcuts for a seasonal dessert that comes together with just 10 minutes of prep! Get out and enjoy the fall leaves, pick some apples, or go for a crisp, cool hike. You won’t be stuck in the kitchen tending to a complicated cake!

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a yellow cake mix pumpkin cake. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step baking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Yellow cake mix: I always use Duncan Hines brand, but any similar boxed yellow cake mix will work.
  • Vanilla instant pudding mix: just the small 4-serving (3.4 ounce) box of dry mix — not prepared into actual pudding.
  • Can of pumpkin puree: make sure that you use just 1 cup (not an entire can) of 100% pumpkin puree. This is different from canned pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar and spices.
  • Vegetable oil: keeps the cake moist.
  • Water: to thin the batter.
  • Eggs: give the cake structure.
  • Warm spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger pair nicely with the pumpkin and give the cake its classic fall flavor.
  • Cream cheese frosting: use a can of store-bought cream cheese frosting for an easy shortcut, or make this easy cream cheese frosting recipe instead.
Box of yellow cake mix and can of pumpkin for pumpkin cake recipe

Why Add Pudding to Cake Mix

The gelatin component in the instant pudding mix makes the cake super moist. It’s the secret ingredient to make your cake more fluffy, too! When baking a cake in a Bundt pan, a very moist batter is necessary so that the cake doesn’t dry out. Don’t omit the pudding, which is a key ingredient.

Pumpkin cake batter in glass mixing bowl

How to Make Pumpkin Cake with Cake Mix

My friend Jackie gave me a copy of this recipe last fall, and I’ve finally come around to sharing it with you on here. Jackie says it’s one of the best cakes she’s ever had, and I totally agree!

You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Beat together all of the cake batter ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
  • Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a greased baking dish.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Cool the cake.
  • Frost with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Pumpkin cake in glass dish with cream cheese frosting spread on top

Serving Suggestions

This cake is delicious at room temperature, or even straight out of the refrigerator when it’s cool! It’s perfect on its own with a cup of coffee or tea, but it’s even more decadent when paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Try serving the cake with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, or butter pecan ice cream. A dollop of whipped cream is also great!

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Make Ahead: Bake the pumpkin spice cake ahead of time, cool, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Store the cake at room temperature overnight, and then frost before serving. You can also freeze the unfrosted cake for up to 2 months.
  • Storage: Store the cake covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bring it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes so that it comes to room temperature before serving.
  • How to Freeze: Freeze the baked, frosted cake for up to 2 months. Just make sure that it’s wrapped tightly to prevent freezer burn, and remember that the frosting might not look nearly as pretty when it’s unwrapped. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Front shot of easy pumpkin cake on a plate with coffee

Recipe Variations

  • Prefer a spicy pumpkin cake recipe? Use a box of spice cake mix instead of yellow cake mix. It will add some extra “zip” to your spiced cake! You can also add extra ginger, fresh ginger, candied ginger, or other spices to the cake batter.
  • Omit the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, and substitute with 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Use a box of white cake mix instead of the yellow cake mix.
  • Can’t find cream cheese frosting at the store? Substitute with a can of vanilla frosting.
  • Instead of a store-bought cream cheese frosting, make your own easy cream cheese frosting recipe at home.
  • Bake the cake batter in two or three round cake pans to make a layer cake. You will likely need extra frosting for the layers.
  • Prepare a similar pumpkin coffee cake that’s perfect for breakfast by adding a cinnamon crumble topping instead of the frosting.
Front shot of pumpkin cake on a plate

Tips for the Best Pumpkin Cake with Yellow Cake Mix and Pudding

  • Make sure that you use just 1 cup (not an entire can) of pumpkin puree. This is 100% pure pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie filling.
  • The total baking time will vary depending on your individual oven, as well as the type of pan that you use. Dark or nonstick pans bake the cake faster, while a glass or light-colored dish will need a bit more time. Use a toothpick inserted deep into the middle of the cake to know exactly when it’s done.
  • Let the cake cool completely before frosting, or the frosting will melt on the warm cake.
  • Garnish the cake with finely chopped pecans or walnuts for a crunchy, nutty taste and texture.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with candy pumpkins, candy corn, or colored sprinkles for a festive touch.
Side shot of pumpkin cake on a plate with bite on a fork

More Easy Pumpkin Recipes with Cake Mix

Square side shot of a slice of easy pumpkin cake with yellow cake mix.

Easy Pumpkin Cake with Yellow Cake Mix and Pudding

5 from 11 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 24 slices
Calories 223.7 kcal
Thanks to help from a box of yellow cake mix, this easy pumpkin cake recipe with cinnamon cream cheese frosting comes together in about 10 minutes!

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, pumpkin, oil, water, eggs, 1 ½ teaspoons of the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping the side of the bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well blended.
    Pumpkin cake batter in glass mixing bowl
  • Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
    Baked pumpkin cake without frosting
  • Stir remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into the cream cheese frosting. Spread frosting evenly over cooled cake.
    Pumpkin cake in glass dish with cream cheese frosting spread on top

Notes

  • Make sure that you use just 1 cup (not an entire can) of pumpkin puree. This is 100% pure pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie filling.
  • The total baking time will vary depending on your individual oven, as well as the type of pan that you use. Dark or nonstick pans bake the cake faster, while a glass or light-colored dish will need a bit more time. Use a toothpick inserted deep into the middle of the cake to know exactly when it’s done.
  • Let the cake cool completely before frosting, or the frosting will melt on the warm cake.
  • Garnish the cake with finely chopped pecans or walnuts for a crunchy, nutty taste and texture.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with candy pumpkins, candy corn, or colored sprinkles for a festive touch.
  • This recipe came from my friend Jackie, who originally adapted it from a recipe published by McCormick spices.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 223.7kcalCarbohydrates: 32.1gProtein: 1.6gFat: 10.3gSaturated Fat: 1.9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.9gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.6gCholesterol: 23.3mgSodium: 228.2mgPotassium: 47.7mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 23.7g
Keyword: easy pumpkin cake, easy pumpkin cake recipe, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cake recipe, pumpkin cake with cake mix, pumpkin cake with yellow cake mix
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

      1. 5 stars
        I made this as a Bundt cake and followed the baking instructions on the back of the cake mix box. It turned out so yummy! Will be making this again for sure!!!

        1. 5 stars
          Love this recipe. I used spice cake mix and french vanilla pudding. It was what I had. It was so moist and delicious. Co workers loved it. The package of pudding makes it so good. I didnt have to add the spices since i made it with the spice cake. We will be making this often. Thank you

  1. I assume I can use the sugar free option cake mix, frosting and pudding…trying to avoid sugar as much as possible. I look forward to trying it.

    1. Quick question…recipe states use 3.4 oz box of pudding, 4 serving size. I did not see any that size in the store, yet the 1 oz box says 4 servings.
      Please clarify.

      1. Hey, Stella! I think that the 1 ounce box is the sugar-free version of the Instant Pudding, which would be fine to use as well. The 3.4 ounce box is the regular version that serves 4. You just want to make sure that you’re using the smaller box. Hope that helps to clarify!

        1. Indeed it is the sugar-free. Thank you so much for your quick reply as I am taking this to a get together tomorrow!

    2. Hi Stella I use the sugar free ingredients and it still turns out good. I just got finished making one this morning. I also use the whole can of pumpkin instead of a cup. It stays super moist. It’s my favorite ❤️

      1. Thank you for the feedback, Joyce! We’re so glad you were able to make the recipe work for you.

    1. Hi, Jeana! Yes, you can — but the taste will be slightly different because you won’t have the same ratio of spices. That said, I would try using about 2 teaspoons or up to 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice in the cake batter in lieu of the other spices. Enjoy!

    2. 5 stars
      I used sugar free cake mix and sugar free pudding mix. The cake rose very high when baking. As it cooled it fell flat and shrunk away from the sides of the baking pan. I think it was the sugar free pudding mix that made this happen. It still tasted good, but I won’t use sugar free pudding mix again when baking. This happened once before when I made a chocolate cake.

    1. Hi, Amanda! You could probably do the Bundt pan, but I haven’t tried it that way, so I’m not sure about cooking time/temp. 🙂

  2. I was a little confused about the cake mix. It says beat cake mix does that mean prepare the cake mix as directed on the box and then add all the other ingredients ? Or use the cake mix as your flour ingredients and then and all the other ingredients.

    1. Hi, Joy! The full instruction says to “beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, pumpkin, oil, water, eggs, 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping the side of the bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well blended.”

      So you’re making the cake batter by combining the cake mix with all of those other ingredients listed. Hope that clarifies!

    1. Hi, Patricia! I think so, but I haven’t actually tried it myself. In general, pumpkin puree tends to have a bit more moisture in it than sweet potatoes do, so the texture of the cake may be a bit different, but I think you could probably make that substitute okay. 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I made two of these cakes and took one to church and one to the senior center and their wasn’t a bite left! Everyone raved about them. Thanks for sharing. Will be making this for Thanksgiving!

    1. That’s amazing, Sue! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. I’m so glad that the cake earned a spot on your Thanksgiving table. 🙂

  4. I used sugar free cake mix and sugar free pudding mix. The cake rose very high when baking. As it cooled it fell flat and shrunk away from the sides of the baking pan. I think it was the sugar free pudding mix that made this happen. It still tasted good, but I won’t use sugar free pudding mix again when baking. This happened once before when I made a chocolate cake.

  5. 5 stars
    So delicious!! I made it three times this month. Once with cream cheese frosting, another time I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the top before baking it (and then rippled it with a knife so it baked nice and crispy/crunchy) and the third time I spread a warm caramel frosting/glaze on it and let it set up. All three were great with this very flavorful, moist cake!!!!