Pumpkin sheet cake is a fall favorite. Baked in a sheet pan, it is perfect for a crowd. Make this for Thanksgiving dessert!
Fall is in the air and we're excited for all the pumpkin recipes! This pumpkin sheet cake is an easy dessert that will feed a lot of people, so make it now and then again for the holidays. The rich brown butter icing is poured over top the warm cake straight from the oven for a delightful treat!
I'm from Michigan, not Texas. But, during my childhood years one of my favorite desserts was a Texas sheet cake that a lady in our church brought to every church potluck. It was a densely rich chocolate cake topped with a shiny chocolate frosting. It's a very large dessert and fed a ton of people. I remember going back for seconds and thirds. Today I'm sharing a pumpkin spin of this sheet pan cake.
🧾 Grocery List
It is really easy to make a pumpkin cake from scratch. Here is what you need.
Gather these ingredients:
- Unsalted butter (3 sticks)
- Milk (about ½ cup)
- Pumpkin puree (15 oz. can)
- Granulated sugar (1 cup)
- Brown sugar (½ cup)
- Powdered sugar (3 ½ cups)
- Eggs (3 large)
- Flour (2 cups)
- Vanilla extract
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground ginger
- Ground cloves
You can substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in the cake recipe. Use about 3 teaspoons. You will still need cinnamon for the icing.
Click here for full recipe ingredients and instructions.
👩🏽🍳 Sheet Cake Icing
Although I do not have her recipe, I remember our church friend poured the chocolate icing over her Texas sheet cake still warm from the oven. Therefore, it was essential I used a pour-able icing for this pumpkin version, too.
The icing is a thin layer, which is great in my opinion. I like less frosting so the cake is the highlight of each bite. Because of the brown butter, the flavor of icing really shines but with a perfect balance to the cake. You will want to spread it quickly because it hardens soon after you pour it.
Typically, sheet cakes call for a jelly-roll pan. Do you know what that is? It is a baking sheet with a 1-inch rim generally used to make sheet cakes like this. There is controversy over the dimensions for a true jelly-roll pan. A classic jelly-roll pan is smaller than a half-sheet pan. For this recipe, you should use the half-sheet pan which is about 13- x 18-inches when you measure the outer rims.
I keep the process simple by using only one large mixing bowl for the cake batter. Forget dirtying one for wet ingredients and one for dry! Also, you do not need to line the pan with foil or parchment. Instead, grease it with my ultimate go-to for perfect release of all my baked goods -- Baker's Joy.
I'm excited for you to try this recipe because I know you'll love it as much as I do! There is no better welcome into the fall season than a delicious pumpkin dessert!
📖 Other Favorite Pumpkin Recipes
Love this pumpkin cake? Try these other delicious pumpkin recipes that are family favorites!
- The Best Pumpkin Muffins
- Easy Pumpkin Pie
- Panera Pumpkin Muffies
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes
This recipe was originally published September 2018 and updated August 2020.
Pumpkin Sheet Cake
For the cake:
- 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter melted
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
For the icing:
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4-6 tablespoons milk
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13- x 18-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray (I recommend Baker's Joy). Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, pumpkin, and sugars. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in the rest of the cake ingredients.
- Pour batter into the pan. Bake on center rack 15-20 minutes, checking at 15 minutes to avoid over-baking. If it passes the toothpick test, it's done.
For the icing:
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- As the cake is baking, melt the entire stick of butter in a pan over medium heat. Continue to heat until it turns a deep golden brown. It will foam and pop, so be careful.
- Pour the brown butter into the bowl with the sugar and stir. Whisk in the vanilla and 4 tablespoons milk until the mixture becomes smooth and pour-able. Use more milk as needed, adding 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Gently pour over the warm cake. Using a rubber spatula, quickly spread to cover the entire surface. The icing layer will be thin.
- Serve immediately or store covered at room temperature up to 3 days.
- Helpful tip: When pouring the icing on the cake, make sure to cover as much surface area as you can so it is easier to spread with the spatula.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only.