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The Best Pumpkin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

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Fall is here, and pumpkin cake is the perfect treat to welcome autumn. This recipe has a wonderful balance of spice, pumpkin, and sweetness. This southern favorite recipe makes a super moist and perfectly spice cake with pecans and brown sugar frosting.

This is my aunt’s pumpkin cake recipe. I know she would be delighted that I have cherished her recipes for years.

Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake

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How to Make Pumpkin Cake

This recipe is so easy to make using canned pumpkin puree and pantry staple ingredients.

The easiest way to prepare any recipe is to gather all your ingredients and supplies (tools).

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans

Please note: the pumpkin can be canned pumpkin puree with no other ingredients in the can or baked fresh pumpkin pureed. You can learn more about the best types of pumpkins for eating in this post.

You can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice for the spices.


Cake ingredients

Cake ingredients


Mixing the Ingredients

The easiest way to mix the cake ingredients is with a stand mixer (this is the one I use).

Next, I measure out all my ingredients. Then I group them by in the order I will be adding them to the recipe mixture.

Cream together sugars and butter in a large mixer bowl on medium speed.

In a liquid measuring cup, add buttermilk and baking soda. Slowly add to butter and sugar mixture.

In a medium bowl, add pumpkin puree and the egg, then mix by hand.

Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and chopped nuts to a medium bowl stir by hand.

Slowly add the pumpkin and flour mixtures alternating and scraping the bowl between additions.

Tip: You can substitute spices for 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.

Grease a loaf pan (this is the one I used) and then add batter. Note: you can use a loaf pan liner like this to make the cake easy to remove.

Baking the Cake

Bake the cake in a 350 F degree oven for 65 – 75 minutes (baking times vary). To test for doneness, use a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake.


Cake in a loaf pan

Cake in a loaf pan

Tip: I recommend using a loaf baking pan for this recipe; however, my aunt’s recipe also suggests 8-inch cake pans or a bundt pan. Suppose you would like to frost this cake as a layer cake, double the frosting recipe.

Cool completely on a wire cooling rack (this is the cooling rack I used) for approximately 30 minutes before frosting.

Cool on a rack

Cool on a rack

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Cake with brown sugar frosting and pecans

Cake with brown sugar frosting and pecans

Perfect autumn cake snack

Perfect autumn cake snack

Pumpkin cake with frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

This southern favorite recipe makes a super moist and perfectly spice cake with pecans and brown sugar frosting
4.86 from 7 votes
Print Recipe Rate
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Cake Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 362kcal


  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • cup pecans chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
  • Cream together sugars and butter in a large mixer bowl
  • Measure the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and add the baking soda then slowly add to sugar and butter mixture
  • In a medium bowl mix together (by hand) the pumpkin and egg - then add it to the sugar mixture.
  • Place flour, baking powder, spices, and chopped nuts in a medium bowl and mix by hand
  • Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture beginning with the flour.
  • Scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as you add ingredients
  • Add cake batter to a greased 9" x 5" loaf pan
  • Bake for 65 to 75 minutes

Brown Sugar Frosting

  • Add to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat:
    I cup brown sugar
    1 Tablespoon butter
    ⅓ cup milk
    Boil for one minute then remove from heat and cool 3 minutes.
    Place in a mixer bowl and add 2½ to 3 cups of 10x sugar.
    Spread on top of loaf cake and garnish with additional chopped nuts.
    Note: double this recipe if making a layered cake.




Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 378mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 3187IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 2mg
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Brown Sugar Frosting for Pumpkin Cake

Frost the cooled cake with homemade brown sugar frosting and garnish with additional chopped pecans.

Note: This cake would be delicious with cream cheese frosting as well. You can find my favorite cream cheese frosting in my chocolate cake post HERE.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup cream or canned milk
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups 10x sugar (powdered sugar)

Place the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil for 1-minute stirring the entire time.

Take off burner and allow to cool slightly (3 minutes).

Place the slightly cooled mixture into a mixer bowl and slowly add 2 1/2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar. Add enough powdered sugar until it the frosting is spreading consistency.

Use an icing spatula to spread frosting on the top of the cake. Garnish with chopped nuts if desired.

Brown sugar frosting 

Brown sugar frosting

 Baked Gift-Giving

This cake is a wonderful hostess gift. Also, this cake can be baked in smaller loaf pans and given as Christmas gifts. I like to bake them in these pans and wrap them up with parchment paper and bakers twine for gifts.

Some other baked goods I like to give as gifts are cranberry nut bread, pumpkin bread, and chocolate cake (baked in these mini bundt cakes pan) and wrapped in parchment paper and baker.

You Might Also Enjoy These Recipes:

For a special fall treat, I like to use some of the leftover pumpkin puree to make homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I use this easy pumpkin spice latte recipe. The coffee used in this recipe needs to be strong for this reason I make the coffee in a French press and use fresh ground coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Our favorite autumn soup is this super easy butternut squash soup I am sure you will enjoy. I serve it with fresh baked 2 ingredient biscuits.

Garnished butternut soup

Garnished butternut soup


One of our holiday favorites is a Moscow Mule.  This recipe includes a Cranberry Moscow Mule recipe too.



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Bon appétit,



Recipe Rating

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Saturday 4th of November 2023

The frosting really takes this bread up a notch. Sounds and looks so yummy.


Friday 22nd of September 2023

Pumpkin breads/cakes are so delicious!


Tuesday 28th of September 2021

I am looking forward to making your pumpkin cake recipe. Brown sugar frosting is amazing! So delish!

Anita Holland

Monday 27th of September 2021

I always hated pumpkin as a child and it was considered punishment if I had to eat it. As an adult, I got around to actually trying it and it is delicious. I will be trying this.

Maria Brittis

Monday 27th of September 2021

I’m so hungry after I read this post: pinned

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