This vegan pumpkin cake is soft, fluffy and moist and the perfect dessert in Fall/Autumn! It's packed with flavor as it uses a whole can of pumpkin puree, has lots of warm spices and is paired with a delicious maple cinnamon frosting.
Simple ingredients you'll need
The full list of ingredient quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Notes about the ingredients
Pumpkin puree, either canned or homemade (I've tested this recipe with both and they both work well). I used Libby's canned pumpkin puree which is thicker and more flavorful than other brands. For homemade pumpkin puree, make sure it's thick (like above).
Dairy-free milk. I always prefer using soy milk in baking as it's creamy and higher in protein so makes cakes more soft and tender. However, any dairy-free milk will work (such as oat milk or almond milk).
Brown sugar for depth of flavor and moisture, and granulated sugar for a fluffy cake. For a refined sugar-free cake, you can use all coconut sugar (your cake will be darker in color and moister).
Even though this is an eggless pumpkin cake, we don't need any special egg replacers to make it fluffy and stable for layering!
Preparing the batter for the pumpkin cake
One of the best parts about this recipe is that the cake comes together in one bowl!
To make the cake, mix the wet ingredients, mix in the spices and raising agents and finally the flour. I suggest mixing the spices and raising agents before the flour to ensure it's evenly distributed. Once you add the flour, you'll want to keep mixing to a minimum so you don't overwork the gluten in the flour.
Here are my top tips for making the best vegan pumpkin cake:
- Make sure you don't overmeasure your flour. If you use measuring cups, use the spoon and level method. Or just use the grams measurements. More info is in the notes of the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
- Don't overmix the batter. It's okay if there are some small lumps are in your final cake batter!
- Use a large mixing bowl. This recipe produces a lot of batter and you can use fewer strokes to mix the batter if you're using a larger bowl. Using a smaller bowl can lead to overmixing.
Tips for baking the cake
This cake is straightforward to bake! However, here are a few expert tips to ensure your cake is as fluffy as possible:
- Make sure your oven is at the right temperature. When your oven is too cool, your cake will be too dense. If your oven is too hot, your cakes will dome more and the edges may dry out. For the best results, I recommend using an oven thermometer.
- Use cake strips, if you have them. Cake strips encourage cakes to bake more evenly which means they dome less and their edges are less likely to be dry. If you don't have any, your cake will still bake well!
Options for decorating the pumpkin cake
I decorated my vegan pumpkin cake with a maple cinnamon buttercream and Biscoff pumpkins. It would also be delicious with:
- Simple vanilla buttercream frosting
- Vegan cream cheese frosting, like the one I used for my vegan red velvet cake.
- Chocolate ganache drip. See the ganache I used for my vegan oreo cake recipe.
- Chopped pecans or walnuts.
- Or a caramel pecan sauce, from my pumpkin cheesecake recipe
Customizing this cake recipe
Yes, this vegan pumpkin cake will also work in:
- A 9 x 13-inch sheet pan. Bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes.
- Two 9-inch cake pans. Your cakes will be thinner and will take around 30-35 minutes to bake.
- Three 6-inch cake pans. Your cakes will take about 35-40 minutes to bake.
Alternatively, check out my vegan pumpkin coffee cake (one layer 8-inch cake), vegan pumpkin bread (uses a loaf pan) or pumpkin cupcakes.
I haven't tested it but readers have successfully made some of my other pumpkin cake recipes with King Arthur's measure for measure flour. Unfortunately, Bob Red Mills 1:1 flour doesn't work well.
More vegan pumpkin desserts
Vegan Pumpkin Cake
Wet ingredients for pumpkin cake
- 15 ounces (425g) pumpkin puree, canned or homemade (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 ½ cups (375g) dairy-free milk
- ⅔ cup (165g) neutral flavored oil
- 1 cup (190g) packed light brown sugar, or use more granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice, optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Dry ingredients for pumpkin cake
- Preheat your oven to 355°F (180°C). Grease or line 2 x 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pans with parchment paper.
Make the pumpkin cake:
- Add the wet ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add the pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda to the bowl and mix well. Add the flour and salt then mix until just combined. Make sure you don't overmix the batter otherwise your cake will be dense (some lumps are fine, as long as they aren't lumps of dry flour).
- Evenly divide the pumpkin cake batter between your prepared cake pans.
- Bake the cakes for around 33-38 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 15-20 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Let the cakes completely cool before decorating.
Make the maple cinnamon frosting and decorate the cake:
- Add the butter to a large bowl (if using an electric hand mixer) or bowl of a stand mixer (with the whisk or paddle attachment). Beat until pale and light. Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the maple syrup until the frosting reaches your desired taste and consistency. Chill the frosting until needed.
- If your cakes have domes, use a serrated knife to slice them off. Place one flat cake layer on a serving plate. Spread or pipe around ¾ cup of frosting on the cake and place the remaining cake on top.
- Spread the remaining frosting on the whole cake. Top the cake with biscoff pumpkins or as desired.
- If you live in a cool climate, store the vegan pumpkin cake in an airtight container at room temperature until serving. If you live in a warm climate, store the cake in the refrigerator. Allow the cake to come to room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 1 month.
- It's important to measure the flour accurately otherwise, your cake will be dry and dense. If using measuring cups, use the spoon and level method where you fluff up the flour in its bag, use a spoon to add flour to a measuring cup, then level it off with a knife. I don't recommend using the measuring cup to scoop flour out of your bag as it'll add too much flour to the recipe. Alternatively, use the grams measurements.
- For homemade pumpkin spice, use 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground ginger and a generous pinch of ground cloves. If you don't have any nutmeg, ginger or cloves, use more cinnamon.
Alternatively, you can skip the maple syrup and cinnamon and use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. See more options in the post above.
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