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This pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting is the perfect fall dessert! It's soft, fluffy, warm-spiced, and the spiced cream cheese frosting is heavenly. This pumpkin sheet cake is ready in under an hour and made with simple ingredients!
This recipe was originally published in October, 2020. It has been updated with new photos, detailed instructions, and step-by-step photos and video.
This pumpkin sheet cake is actually one of the first pumpkin desserts I crave once the summer is over. Just like my pumpkin banana muffins, there is something about it that feels cozy.
At Thanksgiving, I often serve either a chocolate pumpkin cake, or this pumpkin sheet cake with cream cream frosting.
Why This Pumpkin Sheet Cake Works
- This pumpkin snack cake can be made completely dairy free, or it can be made with regular dairy ingredients.
- These bars are easier to make then a pumpkin pie, and are always a hit!
- Sheet cakes are quick to make - this one is ready in under an hour
- This dairy free pumpkin cake can be easily sliced and served to a crowd.
- Butter: Use regular dairy butter or dairy free butter. This recipe has been tested both ways!
- Flour: this recipe works best with all-purpose flour.
- Pumpkin Puree: this recipe uses pumpkin puree (from a can or homemade), and not pumpkin pie filling!
- Pumpkin Spice: If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own. The recipe for this is in the notes section of the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
- Milk: any kind of milk will work fine here - it can be dairy free or regular. If using vegan milk, be sure to use unsweetened.
- Cream Cheese: Vegan cream cheese or regular dairy cream cheese will work. Add more powdered sugar to adjust the frosting to get your desired consistency.
Step By Step Instructions
Note: Full ingredient measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
STEP ONE: Begin by greasing the sides of a 9x13 rectangular sheet pan, then line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper so the pumpkin cake can be easily taken out of the pan.
STEP TWO: Whisk together all the dry ingredients and set them aside for later. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugars until just combined. Add in the eggs, milk, and vanilla and mix again.
STEP THREE: Add in the pumpkin puree and mix until incorporated. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and continue to mix until combined. The batter will be fairly thick.
STEP FOUR: Pour the batter into the sheet pan and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer in the pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely while you make the cream cheese frosting.
STEP FIVE: Using a mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese and the butter until it's smooth with no clumps. Add in the vanilla and mix again.
Add in the cinnamon followed by the powdered sugar, ¼ cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Add more as needed to adjust the consistency.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Scoop a large dollop of frosting on top of the cake then spread it around using an offset spatula or regular spatula. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top and voila!
Depending where you live, it may be difficult to find dairy free cream cheese, or it might be on the pricier side. If dairy free cream cheese isn't accessible to you, this cake pairs beautifully with a cinnamon buttercream as well.
To make a cinnamon buttercream, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into this vanilla buttercream.
Pumpkin puree is pumpkin that has been cooked and then pureed, with no additional sweeteners or spices.
Pumpkin pie filling, on the other hand, is pumpkin puree with sweeteners and spices added into it. I strongly advise against swapping the two in this recipe, as the cake will turn out overly sweetened and overly spiced.
If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can use the following combination of spices: ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, and ½ teaspoon ground allspice.
- Properly measure your flour - I recommend using a $15 kitchen scale to weigh your dry ingredients (metric measurements are in the recipe card below). If you aren't using a scale, use the scoop and level method. Too much flour will make the cake dry and crumbly.
- Don't over-bake the pumpkin sheet cake! Be sure to check on the cake early, as over-baking will lead to dry cake.
- Refrigerate the cream cheese frosting until the cake has cooled completely
- Adjust the confectioner's sugar in the frosting, adding more only as needed
Storage and Freezing
Once the cake has cream cheese frosting on it, it should be stored in an airtight container for around 2-3 days. If the temperature is very warm where you live and the frosting seems to be melting, refrigerate the cake instead.
If you aren't going to serve the cake right away, refrigerate the cream cheese frosting, then frost the cake right before serving!
More Recipes You'll Love
Pumpkin Sheet Cake
- 1 9x13 baking pan
Pumpkin Sheet Cake
- ¾ cup butter, softened (regular or dairy free)
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup milk of choice (regular or vegan)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice SEE NOTES
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups flour SEE NOTES
Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
- ¼ cup butter, softened (regular or dairy free)
- ½ cup cream cheese, softened ( 4 oz) (regular or dairy free)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2¾ cup powdered sugar
Pumpkin Sheet Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 rectangular pan with cooking spray and place a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl of a standing or handheld mixer, beat together butter and sugars. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, and beat until just combined. Add in the pumpkin puree and mix again.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl of the standing mixer and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl every so often.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. It will be thick, so spread it out evenly throughout the pan with a spatula.
- Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before adding the frosting.
Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or using the wire whip attachment in a standing mixer, whip together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
- Add in the vanilla and cinnamon and mix until incorporated.
- Add in the powdered sugar, ¼ cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often until desired consistency is reached.
- Scoop a large dollop of spiced cream cheese frosting on top of the cake then spread it around using an offset spatula or regular spatula. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top if desired. Enjoy!