Made-from-Scratch Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

You know what this world needs more of?

Easy desserts.

Let me rephrase that – easy homemade desserts.

Vertical closeup of a slice of pumpkin cake with white frosting, on a square plate with a fork, with a gold and a shiny orange decorative pumpkin in the background, printed with white and orange text.

While I am one who has been known to rely on a boxed cake mix from time to time, I am actively trying to get out of that habit. I think it’s almost too easy to get into that headspace where we believe making desserts like this from scratch is way too difficult a task to undertake.

It seems intimidating to have to mix all the ingredients together in a certain order. You worry that maybe it won’t come out as perfectly as you see in the pictures, so maybe it’s not even worth the effort required to make it.

The truth is, a simple sheet cake like this is unbelievably easy to whip up, making it an ideal dessert for weeknight dinners, tailgating parties, bake sales, and so much more.

Slices of pumpkin cake with white icing are on three plates, with a forkful on the side of the plate in the foreground, and the remainder of the dessert in the background beside one gold and one orange decorative pumpkin, on a patterned gold and white cloth, on a beige surface.

After all, who isn’t obsessed with all things pumpkin right about now?

There are a couple of reasons why this recipe is one that you absolutely have to make this season:

First, this cake comes out delectably moist. It’s filled with rich pumpkin flavor and warming cinnamon notes so every bite is luscious.

Next, this dessert actually isn’t the most unhealthy option that you could reach for. I know when you think cake, you probably think “unhealthy.” But this one is different. It’s made with coconut oil and pumpkin, so there’s no butter in there, and some healthy dietary fiber to boot.

Pure pumpkin puree adds the supple texture and sweet, earthy flavor that really makes it stand out in the overwhelming crowd of pumpkin flavored items that you’re likely to come across at this time of year.

A forkful of pumpkin cake with vanilla frosting is being held up to the camera, with square plates of the dessert, the full slab, and two golden-colored decorative pumpkins in the background, with a white and gold patterned cloth on a beige background.

Did you know that pumpkin has a bunch of vitamin A in it? Vitamin A promotes good vision and helps maintain healthy skin so you get a nutritional bonus in each balanced bite.

Of course, I’m not going to say that this treat is the epitome of “healthy” desserts. Obviously, it’s cake, with a buttercream frosting.

However, the veggie puree does help to improve it nutrient-wise in comparison to your typical empty-calorie options, so you don’t have to feel as guilty as you might otherwise when you dive into your second slice.

A square slice of pumpkin cake with white buttercream frosting on a square plate with rounded corners, on a folded white and gold patterned cloth, with more plated dessert and a decorative gold artificial pumpkin in the background, on a beige surface.

Let’s talk about this buttercream, shall we?

The pumpkin spice buttercream frosting is sweet and creamy, making it an ideal pairing for the richness that lies underneath. You won’t believe how much incredible fall flavor you’ll get out of every single bite.

I love to pull out this pumpkin cake for any autumn gathering, on the first day of fall, Thanksgiving, or any day in between. Whether it’s a simple dinner party, a Halloween party, or I’m bringing this epic dessert over to a friend’s house for the big game, I always receive a round of excited exclamations when I unveil it.

It disappears faster than you could ever imagine, so be prepared to not be “stuck” with any leftovers if you are feeding this to a crowd.

If you do happen to be in possession of some leftover cake, be sure to check out our pumpkin trifle recipe for a fantastic second-round option to use up any day-old slices in a unique way.

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A square slice of pumpkin cake with white buttercream frosting on a square plate with rounded corners, on a folded white and gold patterned cloth, with more plated dessert and a decorative gold artificial pumpkin in the background, on a beige surface.

Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 9x13 sheet cake 1x


Pumpkin cake with spiced buttercream frosting is the ideal fall dessert. You’re going to love this moist and satisfying seasonal treat.



For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cups homemade or canned 100% pure pumpkin puree

For the Frosting:


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, lightly beat eggs with the whisk attachment on medium-low speed.
  4. Add sugar, coconut oil, and pumpkin, mixing together until combined on medium speed with the paddle attachment. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, beating until combined well on medium speed.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Once it is light and fluffy, add pumpkin spice and beat on medium speed until combined. Frost as desired once it’s completely cooled.


Nutritional information calculated below is for the cake only (does not include icing).

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: fall, autumn, pumpkin, cake, buttercream frosting

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Melt Coconut Oil and Measure Remaining Ingredients

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the coconut oil. This should take approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute, in short 15-second bursts on low power. Set aside to cool slightly.

Measure all remaining ingredients. Set them out in the order listed, as this will make it easier to work once you start the recipe.

Top-down image of a large 9x13" metal baking pan, coated with oil and flour, on a beige surface.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan. I used a light-colored metal one. If you use a darker pan, or one made from a different material, you may need to adjust your bake time.

Step 2 – Mix Together Dry Ingredients

Cinnamon and flour are being sifted through a fine mesh strainer set into a stainless steel mixing bowl, on a beige background.

Sift all of the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt – into a medium-sized bowl.

A blend of flour and other dry ingredients, in a stainless steel mixing bowl on a beige surface.

Set aside.

Step 3 – Mix Together Wet Ingredients

Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Lightly beat on medium-low speed.

Four eggs cracked into a stainless steel mixing bowl.

Switch the whisk to the paddle attachment.

Beaten egg and a pile of white granulated sugar, in the bottom of a stainless steel stand mixer bowl.

Add the sugar, coconut oil, and pumpkin to the bowl.

Orange pumpkin puree mixed with other ingredients in a stainless steel mixer bowl.

Beat on medium speed until the ingredients are combined.

Step 4 – Make Batter

An orange batter fills a stainless steel stand mixer bowl, on a beige background.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and beat until well combined on medium speed.

Orange-colored cake batter is spread smooth on top, filling a large square metal baking pan coated with oil and flour, on a beige background.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top gently with a spatula if you need to.

Step 5 – Bake

Bake for 30-40 minutes on the middle rack. The cake will be done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Oblique view of an orange-colored sheet cake in a 9-by-13-inch metal pan, on a beige background.

Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then loosen the edge with a knife and invert over a baking sheet or large serving platter to remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Step 6 – Make Frosting

A rectangular pumpkin sheet cake on a piece of white parchment paper on top of a black metal cooling rack, beside a glass measuring cup of vanilla spiced buttercream frosting, on a beige wood countertop.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting according to the instructions. Once it’s light and fluffy, beat in the pumpkin spice on medium speed until combined.

Top-down shot of a pumpkin slab cake topped with vanilla buttercream frosting, on a metal cooling rack topped with a sheet of white parchment paper, on a beige surface.

Frost the cake as desired once it’s completely cooled.

Coffee and Dessert Is a Match Made in Heaven

My grandparents used to always serve coffee and dessert at the end of every single meal. It was a tradition of theirs, because my grandfather loved sweets and my grandmother loved coffee.

I am not always one for coffee at the end of the meal, since the caffeine usually keeps me up all night, but this pumpkin cake is the exception to that rule. Coffee goes with this dessert in the most lovely way.

Three slices of pumpkin cake with vanilla frosting in front of the rest of the slab, on a white piece of parchment on a beige countertop.

The warming spices in the cake mingle with the slight bitterness of the coffee, making it feel like you are drinking a pumpkin spice latte – but without paying for it, and without any artificial ingredients.

The only question is, what coffee drink would you most like to pair with this dessert? Would you go a step further down the autumnal rabbit hole and even use our pumpkin creamer?

Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe once you’ve tried it.

For more pumpkin-themed treats, we have so many for you to try:

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on October 12, 2012. Last updated: October 25, 2020 at 23:25 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

The staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

12 thoughts on “Made-from-Scratch Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream Frosting”

    • Hi all. This looks yummy. Perfect for my granddaughter’s 1st birthday!

      Tell me please if this cake can be made into a layer cake or is it too dense?

  1. Love the story, and I LOVE trifle. I’ve made many on purpose and many by accident when bundt cakes don’t release properly 🙂 Pumpkin is one of my favorite cakes, for sure!

  2. I haven’t been a big fan of pumpkin desserts (I guess I only really know the mandatory thanksgiving pumpkin pie), but this looks fantastic. I will have to give it a try.

    • Any type of a more neutral oil – such as sunflower, grapeseed, vegetable or canola – should work well in this recipe. Enjoy!


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