Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Merry Christmas! All vaccinated and boostered up, we were excited to have family over, which was a change from the previous year. For appetizers, we had a selection of meats, cheeses, olives, and fruits along with Ina Garten’s amazing Rosemary Roasted Cashews. These nuts are incredible: a little sweet, a little herby, a little spicy, and a little salty. I highly recommend them. It’s also easy to make and it’ll impress your guests.

For dinner, I ordered a Honey Baked ham and served it with mac and cheese (also Ina’s and hands down the best mac and cheese ever), candied sweet potatoes, apple almond crunch salad, frozen cranberry salad, and rolls (sorry, not homemade…I’m not much of a bread maker!).

For dessert, I broke with tradition and did not…wait for it…serve pie. I know. This was a controversial move on my part. Don’t get me wrong. I love pie. Pie is my friend. But I find apple pie and pumpkin pie BORING. Inevitably, some likes one pie over the other and suddenly you’ve got multiple pies on your hands and now your jeans don’t fit. Last year, I bought a pie (can’t remember what kind…see how boring this is that I can’t even remember…was it apple? was it pumpkin? who knows!) and made a pumpkin cake because damn it, I like cake. Guess what? Everyone had a little bit of both and hands down everyone loved the cake more than the pie. Told you. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

So here’s a super difficult, highly complicated pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting. Kidding! Easiest. Cake. Ever. Give many thanks to Delish.

Warning. The pictures suck. I was in a big hurry because I had a million other things to do, but that’s the beauty of this dessert. So simple to make.

Grab your ingredients while rushing around and setting the table. Mix your dry ingredients.

Pumpkin Cake

Whip out you stand or hand mixer and the rest of your cake ingredients. Swear to yourself because you forgot to set out the butter to soften. Never fear. Bring it out, cut it into small pieces, leave it on a metal surface like a cookie sheet, and return 15 minutes. You’ll be a happy camper. Trust me. And while you’re waiting for the butter to soften, run around the house and pick up stuff so you’re in-laws don’t think you’re a slob.

Now that the butter is ready to go, use your mixer to beat the butter and sugars. Add your eggs, one at a time. Throw in some vanilla and pumpkin puree. Then, slowly add your dry ingredients and mix. Pour it into a greased 9×13 baking pan and pop it in the oven.

Pumpkin Cake

About 30 minutes later, you have cake. See how easy that was?

Pumpkin Cake

While you’re waiting for it to cool so you can frost it, run around and make the mac and cheese and candied sweet potatoes. If you’re so inclined, have a glass of wine. Or two. It’s important to make sure you are serving your guests good wine.

Now that the cake is cool, make the frosting. Kick yourself AGAIN for forgetting to pull out ahead of time the cream cheese and butter to soften. Will one ever learn?! Cut both up in small pieces and set aside. Now this is a good opportunity to make those nuts. Be sure to snack on a few to ensure they’re okay. Quality control is important.

When your cream cheese and butter are softened and ready to go, in your trusty mixer, beat them together until creamy, add the powdered sugar, beat some more, and then add the vanilla and a tiny bit of salt. Sounds weird to use salt, but it brings out the sweetness of the frosting.

What I love about this frosting is that it’s super smooth and easy to spread. Not sure if it’s the cake or the frosting, but the frosting never tears the top layer of the cake that sometimes happens while frosting a cake.

Pumpkin Cake

You’re done! And you’re also kicking yourself because you forgot to buy the gingersnaps to crumble on top and every grocery store is closed. I thought about using Nilla Wafers, but decided against it.

What I love about this cake is not only how easy it is to make, but how delicious it is. It’s super moist, sweet but not too sweet, infused with those pumpkin spices everyone loves, and just simply yummy. Now go run around and set up your appetizer plate. The family is about to show up.

Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings 12


For the cake

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree

For the frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9”-x-13” baking pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger.
  • In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and pumpkin puree, and beat until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, 30-45 minutes. Let cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until no lumps remain, then add vanilla and a pinch of salt. 
  • Frost cake using a spatula and top with crushed gingersnaps.