This pumpkin cake recipe has a delicious cinnamon crumb topping and is the ultimate Thanksgiving dessert that can be made ahead of time and perfect for your holiday gathering. It’s a straightforward recipe anyone can follow!
Pumpkin cake uses ingredients that are easy to find, easy to prepare in one bowl for the most delicious single layer pumpkin cake.
This pumpkin crumb cake is super moist and the perfect fall treat for potlucks, bake sales, and holiday parties. It’s easy to transport, easy to make and everyone will rave about it!
Pumpkin spice cake was always a favorite in our family. I found this recipe for pumpkin coffee cake in my collection of heirloom recipes from my family’s farm. It’s super simple to whip together in one bowl, wonderfully moist and the perfect 9×13-inch cake!
Be sure and try my Pumpkin Bread. That’s a reader favorite!
Why this recipe works
- Flavor – It’s loaded with plenty of pumpkin spice flavor since it uses an entire can of pumpkin puree, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
- Texture – Oil and buttermilk keep this cake soft and super moist.
- Ease – This pumpkin cake recipe is a single layer cake that is easy to make in one bowl using everyday ingredients. You’ll need two mixing bowls, an electric hand mixer or a whisk and a 9×13-inch baking pan. Pumpkin cake is the perfect addition to your holiday dessert menu.
Use a 9×13-inch baking pan (metal or cast iron) for this cake recipe. My favorite 9×13 inch baking pans are from USA Pans and Lodge Cast Iron. Those are my go-to baking pans!
What you’ll need
- Pumpkin – This recipe uses an entire 15-ounce can of pumpkin.
- Sugar – This pumpkin cake recipe is sweetened with granulated sugar and brown sugar. Brown sugar adds more depth of flavor and helps moisten the cake.
- Oil – Helps keep this cake nice and moist.
- Eggs – Adds moisture and help the cake rise. With all of our baking recipes, we recommend using large eggs.
- Vanilla extract – We always recommend using pure vanilla extract for the best possible flavor. Yes, it’s worth the money!
- Buttermilk – Adds moisture and a bit of flavor. Buttermilk substitute; make buttermilk at home with 1 cup of whole milk and 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. You can also substitute buttermilk with Greek yogurt or sour cream.
- Flour – All-purpose flour works best for this pumpkin cake recipe. Be sure and sift it for the best results and a very light and fluffy cake. (Use a metal fine mesh strainer over a bowl to easily sift flour.)
- Baking soda and powder – Act as leavening agents to help this cake rise properly.
- Spices – You can use pumpkin spice, but we love to make our own mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Adds a wonderful pumpkin spice flavor to this cake!
How to make Pumpkin Cake
- Grease baking pan – Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Sift dry ingredients – Sift flour, baking soda and powder together. Then spoon in the spices.
- Whisk moist ingredients – Mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl with a whisk or an electric hand mixer.
- Add dry ingredients – Combine the dry ingredients with wet ingredients with an electric hand mixer or a whisk until completely combined.
- Pour into baking pan – Pour the batter into prepared baking pan.
- Top with crumb topping – Use your hands or a large spoon to top the cake evenly with crumb topping.
- Bake – Bake at 350 degrees F for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick when inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Tips for making this recipe
- Not all canned pumpkin is the same. Libby’s is my preferred brand as it is thick with rich pumpkin color and offers the best taste. Different brands may be lighter in color and have a more watery consistency.
- Eggs are best at room temperature to ensure they incorporate into the batter evenly. Take them out of the fridge an hour or so before you start to prep this cake.
- All ovens are different! I highly recommend using an oven thermometer to properly check the temperature of your oven.
- Metal or cast iron are the best baking pans for cakes. Metal transfers heat more better than glass baking pan.
- Always rotate baking pans about half way through baking to ensure the cake bakes evenly. Use caution to not bump or disturb the pan or you take the chance that your cake will fall!
I love cake recipes that are made in one bowl. Simple ingredients- easy to mix everything together and one of the easiest Thanksgiving dessert recipes to make!
If you don’t like nuts, you can certainly leave them out of the crumb topping. This recipe is very similar to a Pumpkin coffee cake. It’s super moist, plenty of pumpkin spice flavor and has a delicious crumb topping.
Pumpkin cake can be left out on the counter for a day. But, after that should be wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated to maintain freshness.
While butter often adds lots of flavor, oil or vegetable shortening helps cakes be much more moist.
Yes, crumb topping can be made ahead of time and placed in a large zip-style freezer bag and refrigerated for a few days or frozen for up to one month. The freezer bag helps keep crumb topping fresh and from absorbing other flavors/scents in your fridge or freezer.
More Thanksgiving desserts
- Apple Pie
- Apple Hand Pies
- Cherry Hand Pies
- Cherry Cobbler
- Cherry Crumb Pie
- Cherry Pie Filling
- Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Pie
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- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup buttermilk (or Greek yogurt)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ cup (1 stick butter) softened
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon with a spoon.
- Use your hands or a fork to work in the softened butter into the flour sugar mixture. Mix together until you can squeeze the crumb mixture together and it will stay formed in your hand.
- Toss in chopped pecans.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. If prepping the night before, you put the crumb topping in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. I always use a metal or cast iron baking pan.
- Mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl with a whisk or an electric hand mixer.
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
- Combine the dry ingredients into the pumpkin batter using an electric hand mixer or a whisk until completely combined.
- Pour the batter into prepared baking pan. Top with evenly with crumb topping.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick when inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Carefully rotate the baking pan 190 degrees about half way through the baking process. This will help your cake bake more evenly.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a baking rack. Let the cake cool for 45-60 minutes before cutting.
- Remove the cake from baking pan and cut into squares.
Crumb ToppingOften times, I wear food safe gloves and use my hands for making crumb topping. Because your hands tend to be warm, it helps incorporate the butter into the flour and sugar better. You can adjust the cinnamon amount to your liking. Crumb topping can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days or frozen for several weeks.
Pumpkin CakeUse canned or fresh pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling. Carefully rotate the baking pan 190 degrees about half way through the baking process. This will help your cake bake more evenly. Be very careful not to bump the pan or your can potentially fall.
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Absolutely lovely! I left out the buttermilk as I didn’t have any and it was still so so good. Got a huge thumbs up from all the children and husband too. I have lots of pumpkins left over from the allotment so will be turning them all to a purée and freezing it to use in future baking.
Jessica Robinson says
So glad to hear you loved this recipe! You can always substitute something like sour cream or Greek yogurt for the buttermilk. OR you can make a buttermilk substitute with 1 cup of milk to 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice.
I can’t wait to take this to Thanksgiving! I know my family would really love it.
Jessica Robinson says
It’s such a delicious and easy to make dessert for Thanksgiving!
Seanna Borrows says
This is the perfect Thanksgiving Dessert! Thank you for sharing your family heirloom recipe with us. 😊
Jessica Robinson says
Thank you so much for always being a loyal follower!