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Thanks to help from a box of yellow cake mix, this Easy Pumpkin Cake recipe comes together in minutes. Topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, it’s a perfect fall dessert that 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

‘Tis the season for a warmly-spiced, moist slice of pumpkin cake slathered in cream cheese frosting! It’s the perfect sweet ending to finish 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!

Front shot of pumpkin cake on a plate

How to make Pumpkin Cake:

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 need the following ingredients:

  • a box of yellow cake mix
  • a small box of vanilla instant pudding mix
  • canned pumpkin
  • oil
  • water
  • eggs
  • cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger
Box of yellow cake mix and can of pumpkin for pumpkin cake recipe

Beat together all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Pumpkin cake batter in glass mixing bowl

Transfer the batter to a 9 x 13-inch dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. So easy, right?!?!

Baked pumpkin cake without frosting

Once the cake has completely cooled, it’s time for the frosting! Again, you’ll use a simple shortcut by stirring some cinnamon into a can of cream cheese frosting.

Can of cream cheese frosting with cinnamon stirred in

Spread the frosting evenly over the cake.

Pumpkin cake in glass dish with cream cheese frosting spread on top

Slice into squares and serve. Ta-da! A moist, fluffy and perfectly spiced cake!

Front shot of easy pumpkin cake on a plate with coffee

How to serve this easy Pumpkin Cake recipe:

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 ice cream.

Try serving the cake with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon ice cream or butter pecan ice cream.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • How long will pumpkin cake last? The cake stays fresh on the counter at room temperature for about 2 days. To extend the life of the cake, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator. The cake will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Can pumpkin cake be frozen? This is a great dessert to make in advance! I recommend freezing the baked cake before adding the frosting. Wrapped tightly, the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, allow the cake to thaw on the counter overnight. Frost with the cream cheese frosting, slice and serve!
  • 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!
  • Can’t find cream cheese frosting at the store? Substitute with a can of vanilla frosting.
  • Is pumpkin cake healthy? This is a dessert — so I definitely wouldn’t call it health food! That said, since the single-layer cake only includes a thin layer of frosting, it’s relatively low in calories compared to other similar desserts. A small square of the cake has just 223 calories!
Side shot of pumpkin cake on a plate with bite on a fork

More easy pumpkin recipes that you might enjoy:

Side shot of a slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting on a blue and white plate

Easy Pumpkin Cake Recipe

5 from 6 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
  

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix (the 4-serving box)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 (16 ounce) can cream cheese frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stir remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon into the cream cheese frosting. Spread frosting evenly over cooled cake.

Notes

  • How long will pumpkin cake last? The cake stays fresh on the counter at room temperature for about 2 days. To extend the life of the cake, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator. The cake will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Can pumpkin cake be frozen? This is a great dessert to make in advance! I recommend freezing the baked cake before adding the frosting. Wrapped tightly, the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, allow the cake to thaw on the counter overnight. Frost with the cream cheese frosting, slice and serve!
  • 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 pumpkin cake!
  • Can’t find cream cheese frosting at the store? Substitute with a can of vanilla frosting.
  • Is pumpkin cake healthy? This is a dessert — so I definitely wouldn’t call it health food! That said, since the single-layer cake only includes a thin layer of frosting, it’s relatively low in calories compared to other similar desserts. A small square of the pumpkin cake has just 223 calories!
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: pumpkin cake, pumpkin cake recipe, pumpkin cake with 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!

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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. 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!

    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!

    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. 🙂