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This crowd-pleasing vegan pumpkin cake (sheet cake or layered cake) is moist, fluffy, and perfectly spiced, with a rich, sweet, & tangy vegan cream cheese frosting. The ultimate fall cake!

completed Vegan Pumpkin Cake against a white surface
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Cozy Vegan Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Practically the day it turns to fall, we’re pulling out cans of pumpkin puree from the pantry and turning our kitchen into a factory of cozy pumpkin chip cookies, pumpkin brownies, and pumpkin muffins. Got an event or gathering coming up, though? This vegan pumpkin cake is a must-try!

This vegan pumpkin sheet cake will be a new favorite for the season. Not only is it perfectly fluffy, soft, and super moist (thank you, pumpkin), but it’s loaded with cozy fall flavors like pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and brown sugar, topped with a decadent sweet and tangy vegan cream cheese frosting. Children, adults, vegans, and non-vegans alike will love this one.

Since we made it as a sheet cake, it’s also so easy to pull together with just a couple of bowls and minimal effort. Plus, it’s super portable and, best of all, really easy to slice and share at potlucks, parties, over the holidays, and any special occasion. We’ve also included conversions for making a round cake, though – just in case.

There are several other ways you can adapt the recipe to your liking, too. Including using different flours, making it gluten-free, swapping out the vegan frosting, and experimenting with your favorite mix-ins – like walnuts and/or vegan chocolate chips. Best of all, it can be made ahead and even frozen for later – perfect for a low-fuss holiday!

The Ingredients and Substitutions

ingredients for Vegan Pumpkin Cake measured out against a white surface

The Wet Ingredients

  • Pumpkin: You’ll need canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, which is sweetened and spiced). Homemade pumpkin puree can work, too, but it is often more watery and requires pre-straining to get to the right consistency.
  • Flax egg: A simple combination of ground flaxseed (or chia seeds) and water makes a simple, binding egg replacement in this vegan pumpkin cake.
  • Dairy-free butter: Use your favorite unsalted vegan butter (room temperature). Ours include Miyoko’s and Earth Balance. Salted works in a pinch, but omit extra salt from the batter.
  • Vanilla extract: Use natural vanilla extract (or paste) to avoid an artificial aftertaste.  
  • Brown sugar: Brown sugar has a delicious caramel-like molasses flavor that complements the pumpkin spice cake wonderfully while adding moisture. However, unrefined coconut sugar or date sugar should also work.

The Dry Ingredients

  • Flour: We’ve only tested this vegan pumpkin cake recipe using regular all-purpose flour, though you can experiment using spelt flour or up to 50% whole wheat flour. A gluten-free AP blend like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur’s should also work, though the cake may be slightly denser/ drier.
  • Salt: Just a little to balance and enhance the various flavors within the cake.
  • Leavening agents: This eggless recipe for pumpkin sheet cake relies on both baking powder and baking soda to provide lift for a fluffier cake.
  • Pumpkin spice: Use store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice for heaps of flavor in this pumpkin spice cake recipe.
  • Cinnamon: Extra cinnamon makes for an even more delicious vegan spice cake.

Plus

  • Frosting: (Optional) Use store-bought (Pillsbury cream cheese frosting is ‘accidentally vegan’!) or homemade vegan cream cheese frosting to perfectly complement pumpkin spice cake. Vegan caramel, espresso (for a pumpkin spice latte cake), or cinnamon buttercream also complement the flavors well.

Optional Add-ins or Variations

Add up to 1 cup of any add-ins below (unless otherwise specified).

  • Dried fruit (Like raisins, cranberries, or chopped dates)
  • Chopped pecans, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds (alone or with other mix-ins)
  • Vegan chocolate chips (Use regular OR sugar-free chocolate chips)
  • Finely chopped apples/pears (sweet or tart, crisp apples)
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut (just a few tbsps will add extra flavor and texture)
  • Orange zest (use the zest from one orange for a subtle, bright, citrusy flavor)

Optional Decorations

Along with the luscious vegan buttercream frosting, why not add…

  • A drizzle of regular or salted caramel
  • Melted biscoff
  • Crumbled biscoff cookies
  • Crushed walnuts, pecans, or pepitas
  • Piped pumpkins or pumpkin sugar decorations
  • Fall inspired sprinkles

How to Make Vegan Pumpkin Cake

  • 1) First, preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Leave an overhang on at least 2 sides for easier removal.
  • 2) Then, combine the flax meal and water in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside.
  • 3) Meanwhile, in a large bowl or mixer, cream the (room temperature) vegan butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).

You can use a hand-held mixer, a mixer bowl, or a whisk.

  • 4) Then, add the flax mixture, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree and beat for about 2 minutes until well incorporated.
  • 5) Next, combine the vegan butter, sugar, and pumpkin puree in a bowl and cream with an electric mixer.
  • 6) Mix in all the dry ingredients (flour, leavening agents, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon), being careful to only mix until combined but not over-mix the batter.
  • 7) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a spatula, then bake it in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick (or fork) inserted into the middle comes out clean – or with a few moist crumbs.

If it’s not ready at 30 minutes, bake it in 5-minute increments until it is.

  • 8) Finally, remove the pumpkin spice cake from the oven, remove the cake from the baking pan, and leave it to cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cooled before, optionally, topping it with vegan cream cheese frosting. Slice and enjoy!
post baked sheet cake on wire rack

For more flavor, add pumpkin spice/cinnamon to the frosting and/or sprinkle it over the top.

FAQs

Can I prepare the batter ahead?

You can prepare the pumpkin spice cake batter 1-2 days in advance, but you’ll need to leave out the leavening agents. When you want to pick up where you left off, bring the batter back to room temp for 20-30 minutes, stir in the leavening agents, and bake. Add a few minutes to the baking time if necessary.

Can I use homemade pumpkin puree?

You can make this pumpkin cake with canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree. Since homemade puree can be thinner and more watery, though, you may need to strain it through a cheesecloth-lined strainer first (for about 45-60 minutes or until it’s the same consistency as canned pumpkin).

Can I make a round pumpkin cake?

Divide the batter between two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans (it may fit in one 9-inch cake pan, but we haven’t tried) and adjust the baking time accordingly.

Pro Recipe Tips

  • Measure the flour correctly: To avoid using too much flour and ending up with dense bakes, first fluff it up in its bag, then spoon it into the measuring cup before using the back of a knife to level the top.
  • Avoid over-mixing the batter: Over-mixing can overwork the gluten in the flour and lead to a dense, rubbery cake. Mix it until ‘just’ combined – a few tiny lumps are fine.
  • When using homemade pumpkin puree: If it’s thinner than canned pumpkin, first strain it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve for around 45-60 minutes or until it’s thick enough for this vegan pumpkin muffins recipe.
  • Leave the pumpkin sheet cake to cool completely: Otherwise, the vegan frosting (if adding some) will melt and create a massive mess.
completed Vegan Pumpkin Cake against a white surface

Storage Instructions

The un-frosted vegan pumpkin spice cake will store at room temperature, loosely covered, for 2-3 days. If frosted, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.

You can also freeze the vegan pumpkin cake, whole or sliced. It’s best (but not necessary) to do so unfrosted and wrap the cake in plastic wrap. However, you could also flash freeze frosted slices until solid, then wrap them and transfer them to a Ziplock/Stasher for up to 3 months.

Leave it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

More Vegan Pumpkin Desserts

Or browse this list of 24 vegan canned pumpkin recipes for more inspiration!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Vegan Pumpkin Cake against a white surface

Vegan Pumpkin Cake

5 from 40 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 9 pieces
This crowd-pleasing vegan pumpkin cake (sheet cake or layered cake) is moist, fluffy, and perfectly spiced, with a rich, sweet, & tangy vegan cream cheese frosting. The ultimate fall cake!

Ingredients 

  • cup of flax meal
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 1 cup of vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • Storebought of homemade vegan cream cheese frosting* (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9×13-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, mix the flax meal and water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or a whisk, mix the vegan butter and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy for about 2 minutes. Add the flax mixture, vanilla, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes until incorporated.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add them to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined and do not overmix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth top with a spatula.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Insert a fork into the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, bake for 5 minute increments.
  • When ready, using the parchment paper, lift the cake and place it on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool completely before frosting.

Notes

Pillsbury cream cheese frosting is accidentally vegan and pairs perfectly with this cake. It’s also recommended you stir in some pumpkin spice into the frosting. If you want some crunch, it’s also tasty with crumbled biscoff cookies or pepitas sprinkled over the frosting. 
  • Measure the flour correctly: To avoid using too much flour and ending up with dense bakes, first fluff it up in its bag, then spoon it into the measuring cup before using the back of a knife to level the top.
  • Avoid over-mixing the batter: Over-mixing can overwork the gluten in the flour and lead to a dense, rubbery cake. Mix it until ‘just’ combined – a few tiny lumps are fine.
  • When using homemade pumpkin puree: If it’s thinner than canned pumpkin, first strain it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve for around 45-60 minutes or until it’s thick enough for this vegan pumpkin muffins recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 440kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 5gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 4gSodium: 533mgPotassium: 225mgFiber: 4gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 7356IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 88mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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