Enjoy a moist, tender Pumpkin Sheet Cake with real pumpkin and tangy, sweet homemade cream cheese frosting. Another pumpkin dessert winner!

Pumpkin isn’t just for pies anymore! Be sure to also try our Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, Pumpkin Creme Brulee, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and Pumpkin Dump Cake.

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slice of pumpkin cake with a pumpkin candy on top. Sheet pan of cut cake in background

Pleasing Pumpkin Sheet Cake!

We love how pumpkin popularity has pushed past the traditional October-November perimeter. There were a lot of “P’s” in that sentence, so keeping with the theme, here are p-lenty of reasons to love pumpkin sheet cake!”

  • Perfect: The tender pumpkin spiced cake and tangy cream cheese frosting are a classic pairing. 
  • Precise: Uses exactly one 15-ounce can of pumpkin; no extra to store.
  • Plenty: A jelly roll-sized cake pan provides more than a dozen slices of pumpkin cake.
  • Portable: A sheet cake travels well, especially in a cake carrier. (Fewer mishaps than a layer cake!)
  • Pretty: Clean, neat slices and lots of creative ways to decorate white cream cheese frosting.
  • Party: Or any occasion you feel like having a delicious, satisfying cream cheese frosted pumpkin cake!
pumpkin cake ingredients on a counter

Ingredients Needed

A yellow cake mix makes this time-saving, crowd-pleasing pumpkin sheet cake recipe quick and convenient, eliminating the process of measuring extra baking ingredients. (And clean-up!)

For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Pumpkin Puree –  Use canned pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Buttermilk – Room temperature to incorporate into the pumpkin batter, adds a rich, tangy flavor to the cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can DIY with one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk.
  • Vegetable Oil – use a neutral flavored oil, such as grapeseed oil, for a moist and tender crumb.
  • Large Eggs – Room temperature
  • Vanilla Extract –  
  • Yellow Cake Mix – Dry mix is incorporated with the other dry ingredients; it is not prepared according to the box instructions.
  • Brown Sugar – firmly packed into the dry measure cup.   
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice –  is a blend of spices commonly used in pumpkin recipes. It typically includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
  • Kosher Salt
cream cheese frosting ingredients

For Frosting:

  • Cream Cheese – Use a full-fat brick of room-temperature cream cheese for superior taste and textured frosting.
  • Butter – Unsalted butter should be softened (room temp) but not to the point where the butter is shiny or oily. 
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Kosher Salt

*WDYM?

When you add colder ingredients to a batter, it brings down the overall temperature. In conventional baking, the outside cooks before the inside, so if the center is cold, you might have overly done edges to get the whole thing cooked through.

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Directions

Grab a couple of mixing bowls, a whisk, a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan, and preheat the oven. Let’s get baking!

When you are making this recipe, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.

  1. Whisk the wet stuff: pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. 
  2. Whisk the dry stuff: cake mix, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. 
  3. Mix them together; pour the pumpkin batter into the generously greased pan and bake for 18-23 minutes.
  4. When an inserted toothpick in the center comes out clean, cool the sheet cake on a wire rack before frosting.

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. 
  2. Add vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar and beat.
  3. Continue to beat cream cheese frosting for 1-2 more minutes until smooth. 
  4. Frost the completely cooled pumpkin cake and garnish as desired. (See notes.) Serve or refrigerate.
slice of pumpkin cake with a pumpkin candy on a cake server

Pumpkin Cake Tips

  • Ready – Pull the eggs, butter, and buttermilk from the fridge ahead of time, and gather your supplies and equipment.
  • Grease – Evenly cover the sheet pan with a non-stick baking spray, or generously grease and flour the baking pan so the cake does not stick. 
  • Purist – Pure, packed pumpkin puree is crucial for a pumpkin sheet cake made with cake mix
  • Thicken – Make the cake in a 9×13-inch metal cake pan for a thicker pumpkin cake and bake for another 10 minutes. The frosting is thicker, too, and just as delicious. 
  • Chill out – Make the cream cheese frosting after the cake is completely cooled, then frost it.
  • Prepare – Use room temperature ingredients for the cream cheese icing to ensure a smooth and creamy consistency.
cut serving of pumpkin cake with a pumpkin candy on a cake server

Storage

Busy week? Make the pumpkin sheet cake a day in advance, cool it, and cover it unfrosted on the counter. Whip up the cream cheese frosting when ready for your pumpkin dessert, and serve or refrigerate!

Refrigerate/Leftovers

Homemade cream cheese frosting must be refrigerated, so any leftover frosted pumpkin cake should be delicious for up to three days when well-covered.

Freeze

Unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap it well with plastic wrap and a layer of foil before freezing. Allow the cake to defrost at room temperature before frosting.

fall cake with a candy pumpkin on a white plate

FAQs

Why can’t I substitute pumpkin pie mix for pumpkin puree in this recipe?

It’s important to use pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie mix in this pumpkin sheet cake recipe.

Pumpkin pie mix already contains sugar and spices, and often thickeners that would alter the flavor and texture of the cake. The yellow cake mix has sugar and other ingredients, using pie mix would make the cake too sweet and dense.

Can you use a different flavored cake mix?

Yes, you can use a different flavored cake mix in this recipe. However, it is important to choose a cake mix that has a flavor profile to complement pumpkin. For example, you could use spice cake, carrot cake, or a white cake mix. I would recommend reducing the pumpkin pie spice by half if using either a boxed spice cake or carrot cake mix.

How do you make sharp, clean cuts and edges on a pumpkin sheet cake?

Refrigerate the pumpkin cake first, then on a flat surface, use a sharp, serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion. If the pumpkin cake is dense enough and the knife will slide down through the cake without crushing it, press straight down with the knife and draw back through. Dip the blade in warm water, removing any crumbs or frosting, and continue.

Fall cake with cream cheese frosting and a candy pumpkin on top. On a white plate with a fork

Serving Suggestions

This pumpkin sheet cake recipe is a must-try for fall lovers, with its moist texture, rich pumpkin flavor, and decadent cream cheese frosting. A simple pumpkin treat that can be “dressed up” as an elegant finger food:

  • When serving this pumpkin cake as a nibble with other desserts, cut it into 1½” or 2” squares (or 1” x2” rectangles) and pipe a full-sized (+) sign in colored icing and a small bow to create a decorative bite-sized “present.”
  • Add food coloring to the cream cheese icing to match the color of your themed occasion.
  • Make your own fondant pumpkins.
fork in a slice of pumpkin sheet cake

Recipe Variations

  • Toss 1 cup of golden raisins into the batter for an extra pop of natural sweetness and a satisfying chewy texture. 
  • Add a half cup of white chocolate chips and ½ cup of toffee bits to the batter.
  • Add a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg for a spiced cream cheese frosting.
  • Sprinkle chopped or arrange whole cinnamon glazed pecans (walnuts, macadamia nuts, or hazelnuts) on top of the cream cheese frosting for visual appeal and added nutty crunch. 
  • Replace the cream cheese frosting with maple glaze made from powdered sugar and maple syrup. 
  • DIY Buttermilk: If you don’t have any buttermilk, you make your own by combining 1 cup of whole milk with ½ tablespoon of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice and allowing it to sit for 5 minutes.
sheet cake with a slice on a cake server

Like This Recipe?

I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a review below and let me know how you liked the recipe!

serving of fall cake with white frosting on a white plate and topped with pumpkin candy

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 15 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 18 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 23 minutes

Indulge in the perfect fall dessert – a moist and tender Pumpkin Sheet Cake crowned with tangy, sweet homemade cream cheese frosting. The taste of autumn in every bite!

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temp
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) yellow cake mix
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

For Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously grease and flour (or spray with baking spray) a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla together until well combined. 
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. 
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. 
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and cool in pan on a wire rack. Cool at least 2-3 hours before frosting.

For Frosting

  1. Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and well combined.
  2. Add the vanilla, salt, and one cup of powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating after each addition.
  3. Beat the frosting for 1-2 minutes until smooth. 
  4. Frost the completely cooled sheet cake. Add candy pumpkins for garnish, if desired, or sprinkle top of frosted cake with cinnamon.

Notes

Allow at least 2-3 hours for your cake to cool completely. Then, refrigerate the cake for up to 30 minutes before frosting.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days. Once the cake is frosted, it should be refrigerated due to the cream cheese in the frosting. 

The unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap the pan well in plastic wrap and a layer of foil before freezing. Allow the cake to defrost at room temperature before frosting. 

If you don’t have a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan, you can make the cake in a 9x13-inch pan. The cake will take around 10 minutes longer to bake, and the cake and frosting will be thicker but just as delicious.

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own homemade pumpkin pie spice blend.

Ensure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before making the frosting. If the ingredients are cold, they will not combine as well, and you will end up with lumps of cream cheese in the frosting. 

Use full-fat brick-style cream cheese for the richest, creamiest frosting. 

Top the cake with a dusting of cinnamon, chopped walnuts or pecans, candy pumpkins, or just frosted.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 467Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 368mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 1gSugar: 50gProtein: 5g

    Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used and are just estimates. We encourage, especially if these numbers are important to you, to calculate these on your own for most accurate results.

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    pumpkin sheet cake photo collage