It’s Pumpkin Bread Season—and This Perfect Pumpkin Loaf Cake Is the Only Recipe You Need to Bookmark

A one-bowl ticket to fall’s delights.

By Camille Styles
Photography Michelle Nash
best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting

Out of every season, fall is the one that brings out what some might consider my most basic side. (So cynical, people!) Give me all the vanilla-scented candles, plush throws to curl up in, handmade artisanal mugs, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. If fully leaning into my Rory Gilmore side is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Inevitably, it’s around this time of year that I start regularly googling “best pumpkin bread recipe” and going down the rabbit hole of reviews to find my go-to loaf for the season. Last year, we even tested the five best pumpkin bread recipes on the Internet to find the fan favorite. But I still felt that I hadn’t reached perfection.

So, after loads of testing and tweaking to make it my own, I landed on today’s pumpkin cake recipe… with cream cheese frosting! It encapsulates everything I’m looking for in a loaf of pumpkin goodness. Read on for a few tips on making this pumpkin cake recipe, and drop a comment letting us know if you give it a try.

best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting

How to Make This Pumpkin Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

First things first: this is a one-bowl cake that comes together in under 30 minutes. Which makes it a perfect weekend baking project to do with kids or when you just want to get in your baking flow without having to think too hard. These are the ingredients you’ll need for the cake itself:

  • all-purpose flour (you can also sub half whole-wheat)
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • ground ginger
  • melted unsalted butter (I find it so much more delicious than most recipes that call for vegetable oil)
  • eggs
  • brown sugar
  • sugar
  • canned pumpkin
  • vanilla extract

The method follows a typical process of mixing the wet ingredients, then stirring in the dry ingredients before pouring the batter into the pan to bake it in the oven. Simple!

camille holding pumpkin cake_foods making a comeback
best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting

All About This Cream Cheese Frosting

This cream cheese frosting is about as good as it gets. It’s actually addictive. Make sure that your cream cheese is full-fat and at room temperature. Then, you’ll blend it in a mixer with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. The secret ingredient here is the heavy cream, which whips up and lightens the entire frosting to make it fluffier and less dense.

best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting

Tips for Success

  • Room temperature ingredients. This will ensure that everything combines smoothly and reaches the consistency we want.
  • Use high-quality, canned 100% pure pumpkin. Organic, if you can find it. Do not use a can of “pumpkin pie filling” here.
  • Prep your loaf pan. Lightly spray the inside of your loaf pan to ensure the cake can be removed easily. You’ll want to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into the cake.
best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting_foods making a comeback

Tips for Getting the Perfect Texture

Baking time is important here—overcooking will result in a dry texture. However, if your pumpkin cake comes out too wet or moist, it likely means that it’s undercooked. (A common problem with loaf cakes.) Here’s how to test it: After the cake has been in the oven for an hour, insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out with wet batter, bake for another 10 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs, you can pull it out and let cool on a wire rack. It’s ready!

best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting

Ingredient Swaps and Other Ideas

  • Swap out your spices. Most pumpkin bread recipes call for pumpkin pie spice, but since I’m not a huge fan of nutmeg or ground cloves, I decided to use just cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla to flavor this one. However, you can absolutely swap the cinnamon and ginger for a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, instead.
  • Make these into pumpkin cupcakes or pumpkin muffins! Just fill a muffin tin with the batter about two-thirds full (I like to use muffin tin liners to make it easy), then bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Pump up the protein. To add more protein to this pumpkin bread/cake, you can add two scoops of vanilla protein powder with the dry ingredients, and reduce the flour by two tablespoons.
  • Add more whole grains. Substitute half of the all-purpose flour with white whole-wheat flour.
  • Change up the texture. Feel free to add a scoop of toasted walnuts or pecans to the batter if you like a crunch!

More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes You’ll Love This Fall

No-Bake Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

It’s a pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake in one—plus the fact that it’s no-bake means it’s not taking up any valuable oven space on Thanksgiving.

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bars

This one takes the no-bake theme and translates it to the most delicious bars that are perfect for taking to a holiday potluck.

Chewy Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cinnamon Glaze

These cookies are perfectly spiced with cinnamon and drizzled with icing for a cozy fall treat that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
best pumpkin cake recipe with cream cheese frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Camille Styles
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


This pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting is the ultimate cozy baking recipe you need this fall. Moist and spicy, it’s perfect for curling up with a cup of coffee.


  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) melted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 15-ounce can of pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

for the cream cheese frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

optional garnish: toasted pecans, walnuts, star anise


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F with the oven rack in the middle. Spray an 8×4-inch loaf pan with nonstick or olive oil spray (or grease with a little softened butter).
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together melted butter and both sugars on medium-high for 3 minutes. Add eggs, beating in one at a time, then add pumpkin and vanilla. Mix to combine.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger, and use a fork to combine the dry ingredients lightly together. Turn mixer on lowest “stir” setting and beat just until you no longer see any of the flour.
  4. Scrape down with a spatula, stir together a few times, then transfer the batter to your prepared pan.
  5. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 60 minutes. Test for readiness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs, it’s ready. If wet batter is still visible on the toothpick, bake for 10 more minutes.
  6. When the cake is ready, remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inserting onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
  7. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, maple, and vanilla until smooth. With the mixer running, stream in the whipping cream and beat on high for about a minute until light and fluffy.
  8. Spread the frosting in a fairly thick layer on top of the cake. Sprinkle with toasted pecans or walnuts if desired. Slice and eat!


  • Store the cake in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Or, freeze for up to a month without the frosting in a gallon-sized freezer bag or wrapped well in foil. When ready to eat, thaw in fridge then frost.
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Category: dessert

Keywords: best pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, cream cheese frosting, fall desserts

Comments (1)

  1. Joanna says:

    I made this recipe with 1:1 gluten free flour and vegan butter. Came out amazing. Recipe is a keeper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star