This chocolate pumpkin cake is the best pumpkin sheet cake you can make. It has canned pumpkin baked right into the cake and the swirls of pumpkin cream cheese frosting just takes it over the top! It is so incredibly fluffy, moist and easy to make!

Chocolate pumpkin sheet cake sliced into squares on a piece of parchment paper.

Pumpkin desserts- either you love em or you hate em. I think that’s because a lot of people group together pumpkin and pumpkin spice as one flavor, and let me tell you they are most definitely not.

I for one am not a fan of pumpkin spice desserts but I like a good pumpkin (no spice) recipe.

As a trained pastry chef, I really love making different sheet cake recipes like this pumpkin sheet cake!!

This cake is so incredibly moist, light and fluffy and slices like a dream. It’s easy to make and is topped with a pumpkin cream cheese frosting that I could bathe in if I was allowed.

Seriously, even if you arent a pumpkin lover, this pumpkin puree dessert recipe will make you change your mind! But if you are a pumpkin lover (not talking pumpkin spice here) then my pumpkin cupcakes are not to be missed! Try these pumpkin maple cookies or this pumpkin mousse for other fun pumpkin recipes.

Why you will love this recipe

  • It’s super easy to make!
  • This is a really fun sheet cake recipe to make for the Fall!
  • Pumpkin and chocolate are a delicious combo that not most people try!

Ingredients you need

Ingredients for a chocolate pumpkin cake.

For the Pumpkin Sheet Cake:

  • White Sugar- Sugar helps with the cakes structure and lends sweetness.
  • All Purpose Flour– This is the bulk of the cake.
  • Cocoa Powder– Adds the chocolatey taste!
  • Baking Soda– Baking soda helps the cake to rise.
  • Baking Powder– Another leavening agent that helps the cake rise.
  • Kosher Salt– Brings out the flavor of the cake.
  • Eggs– Helps to build the structure.
  • Vegetable Oil– Keeps a tender and moist crumb.
  • Buttermilk– Buttermilk adds fat and helps keep the cake moist.
  • Canned Pumpkin– Make sure to buy fresh pureed pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling.

For the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Unsalted Butter- The butter needs to be softened. Learn how to soften butter quickly.
  • Cream Cheese– Cream Cheese needs to be at room temperature to mix well.
  • Powdered Sugar– This is the base of the frosting.
  • Canned Pumpkin– Make sure to buy pureed pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Cinnamon– This adds a nice spice to it, add as little or as much as you like.

You’ll need an entire 15oz. can of puree for the cake, plus more for the frosting. So that means you either have to open another 15oz. can OR buy the bigger size (29 oz.) can of pumpkin puree and measure it out for the cake.

You also have the option of not using pumpkin in the frosting but then I would be sad for you. If you have leftovers you can always use them for other recipes like these pumpkin bars!

How to make chocolate pumpkin cake

This cake can be make in a 9×13 pan as a sheet cake, or you can make it into round layers. I tested it in the sheet cake size because I liked how much easier it was to serve versus making a layer cake.

Prepare the pan: Start by spraying your pan generously with baking spray. My favorite is and always will be Bakers Joy.

Combine the dry ingredients: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients- sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Give it a little whisk so it all mixes together.

Add the eggs: Next add in the 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. The mixture will be dry and crumbly.

Add the wet ingredients: Measure out the oil and buttermilk and add it to a bowl. Then add the can of pumpkin puree to it, mixing it all around. Pour it into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until and even batter forms.

Bake: Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 28-30 mins on 350° F. The sheet cake is done when the edges start to pull away from the pan and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

This pumpkin cream cheese frosting man- it is silky, sweet, and delicious.

Like I mentioned before you can definitely leave out the pumpkin part if you don’t have or want to open another can but I think it’s the way to go.

A piece of cake on a gray plate with a spoon.

In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, pumpkin, and cinnamon on low until it comes together. It should not be lumpy.

Frosting alternatives:

  • Leave out the pumpkin
  • Add in maple syrup (1 tablespoon)
  • Add in pumpkin spice (if you’re that kind of person, it’s fine)

Decorating the cake

Keep the cake in the pan and slather on the frosting. I use the back of a spoon or an offset spatular to spread it. Sprinkle with some more cinnamon on top for garnish.

Chocolate pumpkin sheet cake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting decorated with cinnamon sticks.

Making ahead and storing

You can make this cake 2 days in advance and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days. The cake tastes great at room temperature but also amazing straight out of the fridge at midnight. You cant go wrong!


If you want to freeze, just make the cake and wait on the frosting until serving day. Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe tips

  • Make sure the refrigerated ingredients are at room temperature so that the batter mixes and bakes evenly
  • The best way to measure dry ingredients is with a kitchen scale. If you dont have one, the best thing to do is to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and then level it off with a knife.
  • Make sure you are buying pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling has sugar in it and will make the cake too sweet.

Recipe FAQ

Should I bake with canned or fresh pumpkin? Baking with canned pumpkin is a lot easier than baking with fresh pumpkin because you would have to cook it and puree it first. I recommend the canned version.

Can I make this cake into cupcakes? Yes! Measure out the cupcakes and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Can I make this cake into layers? Yes, you can bake this cake into 2, 9″ round pans and check after 25 minutes.

What other frostings can I use on this? Try this caramel buttercream, this cream cheese frosting or this brown sugar buttercream, all perfect for fall!

For more pumpkin recipes try these:

Try these other awesome cakes!

Chocolate cake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting and decorated with cinnamon sticks
5 stars (4 ratings)

Easy & Moist Chocolate Pumpkin Sheet Cake

This chocolate-pumpkin sheet cake is tender, moist and incredibly easy to make at home! The 9×13 sheet cake emerges from the oven soft but thick, thanks to the addition of buttermilk. It’s an easy dessert made with canned pumpkin puree that’s ready in under 1 hour. Top with homemade pumpkin cream cheese frosting, and enjoy! The sheet cake yield 16 servings.


For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (187.5 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (64.5 g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp (0.5 tbsp) baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp (0.75 tsp) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) kosher salt
  • 2 (2) eggs, large
  • 1/4 cup (54.5 g) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) buttermilk
  • 1 can (1 can) pumpkin puree, 15 oz. Plus more for the frosting

For the pumpkin cream cheese frosting

  • 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (227 g) cream cheese, or 8 oz, softened
  • 3 cups (360 g) confectioners sugar
  • 1/3rd cup (81.67 g) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2-1 tsp (0.5 tsp) ground cinnamon


Bake the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer combine the 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cups cocoa powder, 1/2 tbsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix lightly until combined. Add in the 2 eggs and mix again. The batter will be dry and crumbly don't worry!
  • In a large measuring cup combine the 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup buttermilk, and one 15 oz. can pumpkin puree. Mix until evenly combined.
  • Pour the oil, buttermilk, and pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until an even batter forms.
  • Pour into a greased or parchment lined 9×13 pan and bake for 28-30 mins. The cake is done when the edges are pulling away from the pan or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cake cool before frosting.

Make the frosting

  • Combine the 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 cup softened cream cheese, 3 cups of confectioners sugar, 1/3rd cup of pumpkin puree, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in the bowl of a hand or stand mixer. Mix on low until the frosting forms about 30 seconds. Switch to medium for 1 min to get rid of any lumps.
  • Spread the frosting all over the cooled cake. Garnish with more cinnamon and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.


This recipe uses pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling.
You will have to buy 2 15oz. cans of pumpkin puree to make this recipe or one 29oz can, then measure accordingly.
You can add pumpkin spice to the cake or frosting if you like the taste.
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own. Measure 1 cup of milk in a measuring cup and take out 1 tablespoon. Replace it with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes!
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 364kcal, Carbohydrates: 56g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Sodium: 263mg, Potassium: 177mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 43g, Vitamin A: 5338IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 2mg
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