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Pumpkin Crunch Cake is the perfect Thanksgiving dessert for a crowd and is easier and faster to make than traditional pumpkin pie.

A piece of pumpkin cake with pecans on a white plate with a fork, garnished with whole pecans, cinnamon sticks and pumpkin.

This Pumpkin Pie Sheet Cake is made with a delicious layer of pumpkin pie topped with a crunchy pecan topping! Not only is this cake easy to make, but it’s also incredibly delicious and makes a perfect fall dessert. We love pumpkin desserts like Pumpkin CakePumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Pumpkin Cupcakes, but this sheet cake is probably the easiest way to make a fall-flavored dessert for a big crowd!

This recipe is similar to a dump cake, but to get the best results, I prefer to mix the topping with a pastry cutter instead of just dumping it on top of the pumpkin pie. This way you get an even layer and no dry spots. Even friends that are not the biggest pumpkin pie fans love this crunchy spiced cake!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Easier and faster to make than pumpkin pie
  • A perfect combination of crunchy topping and smooth filling
  • Perfect for beginner bakers
  • Made with minimal effort and just a handful of simple ingredients
  • No dry spots in the topping

Ingredient Notes

Here is an overview of the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom for quantities.

  • Pumpkin purée – Make sure to use pumpkin purée and not Pumpkin Pie filling. Pumpkin purée has no added spices or sugar in it and is also called Pure Pumpkin or 100% Pure Pumpkin.
  • Evaporated milk – It helps thicken the pie filling and makes it creamier. Evaporated milk is thicker and creamier than normal milk and is not sweetened.
  • Eggs – Large eggs at room temperature work best.
  • Sugar – This recipe uses a combination of white granulated sugar and brown sugar.
  • Spices – Using individual spices adds more flavor. This recipe calls for cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, but you can also use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice plus 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Cake mix – You need a package of spice cake mix, e.g. 15.25 oz Betty Crocker, for this recipe, but you can also use a white cake mix, yellow cake mix, or vanilla cake mix.
  • Butter – Unsalted butter works best for this recipe. Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Pecans – I use pecans, but you can also use walnuts. Measure after chopping the nuts. If you prefer, you can also omit the nuts, but the cake will lose its crunch.

How to make this recipe 

Detailed measurements and instructions can be found at the bottom of the page on the printable recipe card.

Steps for making pumpkin crunch cake from scratch.
  1. Pumpkin Pie Layer: We start by making the pumpkin pie layer. You’ll need a large mixing bowl and a whisk. Combine the pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, room temperature eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Mix until well combined and smooth, there shouldn’t be any lumps. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Pecan Crunch Topping: Many recipes just dump the cake mix on top, followed by the butter and pecans. But the results are not the best, that’s why I recommend combining the cake mix and melted butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Then add in the chopped pecans and sprinkle the topping over the pumpkin mixture.
  3. Bake: Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 50–55 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.
  4. Finish and serve: Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack at room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight. This makes it easier to slice. Serve topped with whipped cream.

Tips for Making Pumpkin Pie Cake

  • This recipe can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge overnight
  • Instead of a spice cake mix, you can also use a yellow cake mix. I think other cake mixes will work too, even gluten-free cake mixes.
  • Instead of the individual spices, you can also use 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • This recipe uses pecans in the topping, but you could also use walnuts
  • You can also add a handful of chocolate chips to the topping or some unsweetened coconut flakes
  • If you can’t use nuts, you can leave them out of this recipe, and it will still be delicious
  • This cake is quite soft and moist like a pumpkin pie, so it’s best to serve it right out of the pan. It’s easier to get nice slices if the cake is really cold
  • If you want cleaner cake slices, you could prepare a graham cracker crust to go under the pumpkin pie layer. Combine 1 3/4 graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Press into the pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350 F
  • This cake tastes best served cold from the fridge (like a pumpkin pie) and should be stored in the fridge.
A baking pan, with pumpkin crunch cake with pecans and whole pecans and a pumpkin next to it.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use condensed milk instead?

No, this recipe only works with evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk is different from evaporated milk, as it has a high sugar content and a different consistency.

Can you use pumpkin pie filling instead of pumpkin purée?

No, you need to use pure pumpkin purée. Pumpkin pie filling has some additional ingredients which would require adjustments to the rest of the recipe,

Does Pumpkin Crunch Cake need to be refrigerated?

You’ll want to chill this cake according to the instructions so it firms up before serving. It’s a delicate and moist cake with a texture like a pumpkin pie at the bottom, so it should be stored in the fridge.

A piece of pumpkin cake with pecans on a white plate with a fork, garnished with whole pecans, cinnamon sticks and pumpkin. There\'s a cup of espresso in the background

What to serve with it

Just like our German Apple Cake, this Pumpkin Cake tastes even more delicious topped with a big dollop of homemade whipped cream. For a special treat, you can also serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or drizzle some caramel sauce over the top of the cake before serving.

Storage and Leftovers

This recipe can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge overnight. Pumpkin Crunch Cake is a delicate and moist cake with a texture like a pumpkin pie at the bottom, so leftovers should be stored in the fridge, just like traditional pumpkin pie.

More Pumpkin recipes to try

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5 from 3 votes

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake is the perfect Thanksgiving dessert for a crowd that can be made in minutes and is a great alternative to traditional pumpkin pie.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 20

Ingredients 

  • 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 12 fluid ounce can evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 spice cake mix, 15.25 ounce package (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Lightly grease and flour the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, spices, and salt. Mix until well combined and smooth. Pour into the prepared baking pan.
  • Combine cake mix and melted butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Mix in chopped pecans. Sprinkle over the pumpkin mixture.
  • Bake for 50–55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Serve topped with whipped cream.

Notes

  • This recipe can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge overnight
  • Instead of a spice cake mix, you can also use a yellow cake mix, white cake mix, or vanilla cake mix.
  • Instead of the individual spices, you can also use 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • This recipe uses pecans in the topping, but you could also use walnuts
  • You can also add a handful of chocolate chips to the topping or some unsweetened coconut flakes
  • If you can’t use nuts, you can leave them out of this recipe, and it will still be delicious
  • This cake is quite soft and moist, like a pumpkin pie, so it’s best to serve it right out of the pan. It’s easier to get nice slices if the cake is really cold
  • If you want cleaner cake slices, you could prepare a graham cracker crust to go under the pumpkin pie layer. Combine 1 3/4 graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Press into the pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350 F
  • This cake tastes best served cold from the fridge (like a pumpkin pie) and should be stored in the fridge.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 3535IU | Vitamin C: 1.4mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 1.9mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This post was originally published in 2018, but updated and republished in 2022.

About Julia Foerster

Hi, I'm Julia! Born in Germany, I call Canada now my home and love to share my favorite dishes with you! Here you'll find hundreds of recipes, all made from scratch, with lots of tips and detailed step-by-step instructions.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My family likes sweet breads and cakes with any flavours, we are all sweet teeth. Usually I make pumpkin, lemon or caramel plus apples cakes, or I add walnuts and chocolate. When I saw this one, I was very surprised, I’ve never made pumpkin crunch cake before. Pumpkin is kind of a product not everyone likes… But this recipe is flawless. It smells and tastes magically. My friend asked me to do it one more time for the next weekend. Thank you a lot, I love your blog, the photos are always so appetizing and the recipes are really good and creative!