Pumpkin sheet cake is the perfect fall dessert for serving on Thanksgiving or anytime this autumn. It serves 12+ people!

What is Pumpkin Sheet Cake?

This moist pumpkin sheet cake recipe is different from a regular pumpkin pie in all the best ways. It’s light and fluffy and topped with a rich and sweet cream cheese frosting.

Plus, it’s made in a half-sheet pan and uses simple ingredients readily available. Making it perfect for large gatherings, holidays, or just about any fall or winter occasion.

ingredients for pumpkin sheet cake recipe

Ingredients

The ingredients for this pumpkin cake recipe are easy to get from your local grocery store if you don’t already have them in your pantry at home.

Cake:

  • Dry ingredients: Flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt – make sure that your dry ingredients are still fresh and haven’t expired for the best results  
  • Wet ingredients: Butter, cane sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin pureé, sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract – buy the highest quality ingredients here 

Frosting: 

  • Butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, salt – allow the butter and cream cheese to come to room temperature, so they combine easily

How to Make Pumpkin Sheet Cake  

This fluffy pumpkin cake is easy to make with these simple steps. For full directions, see the recipe card below.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

flour mixture for pumpkin cake

Beat the butter and sugars until blended and large moist crumbs form. Add pumpkin purée, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until combined.

Wet ingredients in a bowl

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix until just incorporated. Spread the pumpkin cake batter evenly into the prepared half-sheet pan.

pumpkin cake batter in a bowl

Bake at 350F for 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

Melt the butter in a pan until browned. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and transfer browned butter into a bowl. 

browned butter in a bowl

With a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and browned butter until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing.  

brown butter cream cheese frosting in a bowl

To avoid cake crumbs in your frosting, start by making one thin frosting layer over the cake to trap all the crumbs, then continue spreading the rest of the frosting over the top.

frosted pumpkin cake

Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Slice and serve.

Make Ahead Instructions

Bake the cake as directed and make the frosting. Cool the cake completely in the pan at room temperature, cover it with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Cover the frosting and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

When ready to assemble, take the frosting out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature until softened, about 1 hour. Spread the frosting over the cake, slice, and serve. 

Recipe Tips

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the best pumpkin sheet cake!

  • Cream cheese icing: If the icing is too thick after combining the ingredients, add one tablespoon of milk at a time until it’s the right consistency to spread over the cooled cake.
  • Pumpkin puree: Be sure to use pure pumpkin puree and not canned pumpkin pie. You can even make this yourself by roasting pumpkin flesh until soft, then pureeing it until smooth.
  • Room temperature: Allow anything refrigerated to come to room temperature before making this soft pumpkin cake. This includes eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter.
  • Let cool: Let the cake cool completely before spreading the smooth cream cheese frosting over the top, otherwise, the frosting will melt.
pumpkin sheet cake

Variations

This pumpkin sheet cake recipe can be altered slightly to fit your tastes and preferences. Here are some ideas to make it your own:

  • Additions: Add chocolate chips or chopped nuts to the batter for a fun spin on this dessert. 
  • Frosting: Switch out the cream cheese frosting with buttercream frosting or add spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.
  • Sheet pan: If you don’t have a half-sheet pan, use a jelly roll pan, which is a slightly smaller pan.
  • Browned butter: Don’t worry about browning the butter if you don’t feel comfortable trying this step or happen to burn it.
  • Butter: Replace the butter in the cake with melted coconut oil as alternative to butter. Use refined coconut oil for a milder scent and flavor.

How to Serve 

Serve this pumpkin spice sheet cake during the fall season or with a holiday meal. Here are some recipe ideas to help complete your holiday table:

Storing Tips 

Refrigerate: Keep leftover cake covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to five days. Allow it to come to room temperature for a few minutes before eating if you’d like.

Freeze: You can freeze this delicious pumpkin sheet cake with or without the frosting. Cover it tightly with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil to protect it from freezer burn and keep it fresh for up to three months. 

Allow it to come to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at least for a few hours before serving.

recipe for pumpkin sheet cake

FAQs

How do you brown butter for pumpkin sheet cake? 

Browned butter has a rich and nutty flavor that’s delicious in this dessert. You can easily brown butter by slowly heating it in a pot on the stove, constantly stirring. You’ll begin to notice the liquid closest to the bottom browning after a few minutes. Remove it from the heat when you get to this point because it can burn quickly.

What can I top the pumpkin sheet cake with? 

The brown butter cream cheese frosting can be topped with toasted walnuts or chopped pecans and dusted with cinnamon or even cacao powder.

How many does this cake serve?

This pumpkin sheet cake makes about 24 individual square servings, which is enough to feed 12-24 people.

More Pumpkin Recipes

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pumpkin sheet cake

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1224 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Pumpkin sheet cake is the perfect fall dessert for serving on Thanksgiving or anytime this autumn. It’s made in a sheet pan to serve a lot of people!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spoon & leveled
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. brick cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a rimmed half-sheet pan (18X13) with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with a handheld or stand mixer beat the butter, cane sugar, and brown sugar on high speed until combined and large crumbs form, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula.
  4. Add pumpkin puree, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the greased sheet pan, spreading out the batter evenly with a spatula. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

Brown Butter Cream  Cheese Frosting

  1. In a light-colored pan, melt butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once butter is melted it will begin to foam. After about 5 minutes the butter will begin to brown. There should be lightly brown specks on the bottom of the pan and it will have an intense nutty smell. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and transfer the brown butter into a bowl. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In the meantime, beat the cream cheese with a handheld or stand mixer until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Then add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and brown butter. Beat on low for 30 seconds and then switch to high speed and beat until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk. If the frosting is too sweet, add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Start by making one thin layer over the cake to trap all the crumbs, then continue spreading the rest of the frosting over the top. Slice and serve.

Notes

  • Sour Cream: Plain Greek yogurt can be used instead of sour cream.
  • Pan Size: This cake is made in a half-sheet pan (18X13). It can also be made in a jelly roll pan (15X10), which will yield a thicker cake but fewer or smaller servings. 
  • More Spice: Feel free to add more spice to the cake as it’s not overly spiced. Pumpkin spice or more cinnamon.
  • Brown Butter: Keep an eye on the butter as it can go quickly from brown to burned butter.
  • To Make Ahead: Bake the cake as directed and make the frosting. Cool the cake completely in the pan at room temperature, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Cover the frosting and refrigerate for up to 5 days. When ready to assemble, take the frosting out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature until softened, about 1 hour. Spread the frosting over cake, slice, and serve. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 square
  • Calories: 299
  • Sugar: 34.5 g
  • Sodium: 170.8 mg
  • Fat: 12.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 44.3 g
  • Protein: 3.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 48.7 mg

Keywords: holidays, pumpkin, fall