This vegan pumpkin cake is moist and fluffy and full of delicious fall spices. Made in just one bowl and using simple ingredients, there are no eggs, no milk, and no butter needed!
Vegan Pumpkin Cake
Pumpkin cake is one of my favorite fall staples. There’s nothing more comforting than a slice of pumpkin cake with a cup of coffee or cup of tea, to avoid the afternoon slumps. What I love about this cake is just how simple it is to make, and uses basic pantry staple ingredients. You won’t need any eggs, any milk, or any butter to make this, but you’d never tell.
The cake itself is moist, fluffy, and with a light and tender crumb. It’s sweet and with a light pumpkin flavor, and the vegan cream cheese frosting gives it a little tang that takes it up a notch.
Made in just one bowl and ready in just 30 minutes, you can do what I did and serve this for a holiday party or after-dinner dessert. I simply tripled the ingredients and made it a pumpkin layer cake!
How do you make a pumpkin cake?
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
- All purpose flour– Either plain all purpose flour or gluten free flour can be used. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking flour, as it works as a cup for cup replacement for standard flour. If you use another brand of gluten free flour, be sure that it contains xanthan gum in it.
- Baking powder– Gives some rise and fluffiness to the cake.
- Salt– Brings out the natural sweetness of the cake, and a must for any good baked good!
- Pumpkin pie spice– A fabulous fall spice mix, this intensifies the pumpkin flavor. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, use a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice.
- Cinnamon– Even though the pumpkin pie spice already has a little cinnamon in it, adding more gives it a more intense flavor hit.
- Pumpkin puree– Unsweetened pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. I used homemade pumpkin puree but you can use the canned variety. If you use the latter, your cake will be a little darker in color.
- Sugar of choice– A mix of white sugar and brown sugar is best, but use whichever you have on hand. Like the pumpkin puree, if you use all brown sugar, your cake will be much darker.
- Oil of choice– Any neutral flavored oil can be used. Coconut oil (refined), vegetable oil, or even canola oil are all fantastic options.
- Maple syrup– Adds extra sweetness and gives the cake a more tender and moist texture. You can also use agave nectar.
- Vanilla extract– A must for any good cake or baked recipe!
- Water– To mix everything together! If you’d prefer to use milk, unsweetened almond milk or any plant based milk will work well.
- Cream cheese frosting– Optional, but highly recommended. I used my cream cheese keto frosting, subbing out the butter for vegan butter and the cream cheese for dairy free cream cheese.
In a small bowl, add your flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of your ingredients, and mix until combined. Gently fold through the dry ingredients until just combined. Transfer the cake batter into an 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 180C/350F for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cae to cool in the pan completely, before frosting.
Can I make this recipe as pumpkin muffins or cupcakes?
If you’d prefer to make pumpkin muffins or pumpkin cupcakes instead of a cake, make the following changes to the recipe.
Grease a 12-count muffin tin with muffin liners. Pour the batter amongst the 12 muffin cups, around 2/3 full, to allow them to rise. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the center and the tops bounce back slightly when touched.
Tips to make the best pumpkin layer cake
- The ingredients provided make a single layer cake and frosting. For a 2 layer cake, double the ingredients and bake in 2 cake pans. For a 3 layer cake, triple the ingredients and bake in 3 cake pans.
- Do not overbake the cake, as it continues to cook as it cools down. Once a skewer comes out clean from the center, the cake is done.
- Don’t be worried if your cake comes out darker in color than what I pictured. If you use canned pumpkin or brown sugar, your cake will be considerably darker.
- This pumpkin cake tastes delicious sans frosting, so if you’d prefer more of a snack cake, omit the frosting and bake this in a 9-inch square pan.
Storing and freezing cake
- To store: If your cake is unfrosted, you can store it at room temperature, covered, for up to 5 days. If frosted, or if you’d like the cake to keep longer, store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Let the refrigerated cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
- To freeze: Place slices of cake in a freezer friendly container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
More vegan fall desserts to try
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour gluten free, if needed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar of choice * See notes
- 1/3 cup oil canola, vegetable, or refined coconut oil
- 3/4 cup Pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup cream cheese frosting
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together your flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. In a mixing bowl, add the rest of your ingredients and mix until combined.
- Gently fold through your dry ingredients until just combined. Transfer to the greased cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely, before frosting.