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Expert Shopper Kitchen

Everything you need to make a pumpkin spice cake

How to make the best pumpkin spice cake

If you’ve got a craving for pumpkin spice cake, there’s no need to spend top dollar at a gourmet bakery to enjoy a slice. With the right baking tools and ingredients, it’s easy to whip up one in your own kitchen.

Pumpkin spice cake recipes range from sweet quick breads to layer cakes and luscious cheesecakes. Whichever type you choose to bake, a rich and flavorful pumpkin spice cake always seems to hit the spot with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

What you need to know about making pumpkin spice cake

Popular types of pumpkin spice cake

Pumpkin spice cake is a broad category. Many cake recipes, such as a basic spice cake, can be adapted to pumpkin spice varieties with the right ingredients. The most common iterations include quick breads, cheesecakes, frosted cakes, layer cakes and sponge cakes.

Baking from scratch vs. mixes

There’s a lot to love about baking a pumpkin spice cake from scratch. Bakers have the opportunity to tweak recipes, such as using egg substitutes or adding a jigger of rum. They also might add other baking spices to achieve a specific flavor profile. However, baking from scratch is time-consuming and unless you are an experienced baker, if you don’t follow a recipe carefully, the cake may not turn out well.

Many people are partial to using a pumpkin spice cake mix, which includes most of the recipe’s dry ingredients. You can prepare some of these cakes in as little as 10 minutes before they go into the oven. These mixes are cost-effective if you’re not prepared to invest in a wealth of pumpkin spice products. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many mixes available, so you may find yourself using spice cake mix and pumpkin purée instead.

Fresh vs. canned pumpkin

If you’d like to use fresh pumpkin for a pumpkin spice cake, be prepared to spend extra time roasting and pureeing it. Most people use sugar pumpkins for baking because they’re sweet and have rich, pulpy textures. One of the drawbacks of fresh pumpkins, however, is that they may be difficult to find off-season.

Canned or puréed pumpkin is ideal if you want to cut down on preparation time. Because it’s shelf stable, you can stock up on canned pumpkin if you’d like to bake pumpkin spice cake throughout the year. However, read the ingredients in canned pumpkin carefully; you may find that some varieties actually contain other types of squash.

Best baking tools for making pumpkin spice cake

Baking spatulas

Rachael Ray Lil’ Devils Silicone Spatula Trio

This spatula set covers all your baking needs, from transferring batter to smearing frosting. They’re available in orange, which is most appropriate for baking pumpkin spice cake. 

Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Fluted tube pan

Wilton Perfect Results Nonstick Fluted Tube Pan

Bake a simple ring cake in this fluted tube pan. It’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning and nonstick so you can unmold your cake with ease.

Sold by Amazon

Frosting decorating kit

Prepworks by Progressive Frosting Bulb Decorating Kit

Get creative with frosting with this decorating duo that comes with six piping tips. They’re made with heat-resistant silicone that is microwave-safe to 600 degrees.

Sold by Amazon

Mixing bowls

OXO Good Grips Mixing Bowl Set

Made by a trusted kitchen brand, these mixing bowls have nonslip bases to prevent them from traveling across counters during mixing. The dishwasher-safe trio is made with BPA-free plastic.

Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Macy’s

Springform pan

Nordic Ware Springform Pan

A springform pan, like this nonstick variety, is essential for making pumpkin spice cheesecake. The well-made design is made of carbon steel.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Cooling rack

Checkered Chef Stainless Steel Cooling Racks

These oversized steel racks help baked goods cool down so they’re ready to decorate or eat. The pair are dishwasher-safe and can be stored vertically in cupboards.

Sold by Amazon

Best ingredients for pumpkin spice cake

Pumpkin pie spice

Happy Belly Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin spice isn’t just for baked goods; it’s versatile enough to flavor vegetables, coffee, yogurt or smoothies. This variety, made by an Amazon-owned brand, is considered on par with premium kitchen spices.

Sold by Amazon


Planters Roasted Pecans

These pecans are roasted and lightly salted, ideal for adding a sweet-and-salty twist to any pumpkin spice cake. They’re packaged in a resealable container to preserve their freshness.

Sold by Amazon

Sugar-free pumpkin syrup

Jordan’s Skinny Syrups Pumpkin Trio

This syrup set, which is keto-friendly and gluten-free, includes pumpkin caramel, pumpkin spice and pumpkin cheesecake flavors. Each variety contains 0 calories, 0 sugar and 0 carbs.

Sold by Amazon

Organic cinnamon

Ceylon Cinnamon Powder

Known for its milder flavor, this organic and non-GMO Ceylon cinnamon adds a warm flavor to pumpkin spice cake. The cinnamon is 100% raw with no additives and stays fresh for up to a year in its resealable bag.

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Best toppings for pumpkin spice cake

Caramel sauce

Ghirardelli Caramel Flavored Sauce

A crowd favorite, this caramel sauce made by the famous chocolatier is ideal for drizzling over cakes, ice cream or espresso-based drinks. Rich and sweet, a little goes a long way — but feel free to use as much as you see fit.

Sold by Amazon

Powdered sugar

Gefen Confectioner’s Sugar

Many pumpkin spice cakes are dusted with a light layer of confectioner’s sugar. This variety, which comes in a resealable container, is one of the few that doesn’t contain cornstarch.

Sold by Amazon

Glitter dust

The Sugar Art DiamonDust Edible Glitter

If you’re frosting a pumpkin spice cake, add this edible glitter dust to give the cake gourmet-level curb appeal. The glitter is vegan, allergen-free and certified Kosher.

Sold by Amazon


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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