This Festive Pumpkin Dump Cake Is Almost Too Easy to Make

The best cakes are often given luxurious names (think: red velvet, hummingbird, or funfetti) to evoke the sweetness, tender crumb, or playfulness of the dessert. But judge a cake solely on its name, and you’ll miss out on fall’s easiest and most festive dessert: pumpkin dump cake. If you can get past the unfortunate moniker, you’ll quickly fall in love with the decadent dessert, which is easy to whip up and boasts three (equally delicious) layers.

What Is a Dump Cake?

A cousin to wacky cake, dump cakes are the result of mid-20th century ingredient experimentation. (The Do-Nothing Cake also emerged around the same time). Early editions of the cakes call for canned fruit, boxed cake mix, and liquid. There was no creaming butter or sifting flour required — you simply dumped the ingredients into the baking pan.

Read more: 10 Easy Dump Cakes That Basically Make Themselves

How to Make Pumpkin Dump Cake

The base of this cake is a pumpkin custard made from pumpkin purée, eggs, evaporated milk, brown sugar, and pumpkin spice. We’re paying homage to the cake’s origins and using boxed cake mix (both vanilla and spice cake mixes work well), which you’ll sprinkle over the spiced custard along with a layer of chopped pecans. The cake mix suspends the nuts over the batter, preventing them from sinking to the bottom. Finish with a drizzle of melted butter and bake.

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The cake bakes into three layers: a creamy pumpkin base, moist vanilla middle, and a caramel crisp topping (make it four if you top it with whipped cream). This pumpkin dump cake is impressive enough to serve on your holiday table, but easy enough for even the most amateur baker.

More Pumpkin Desserts

  • Easy Pumpkin Pie
  • Pumpkin Swiss Cake Roll with Hazelnut Buttercream
  • Pumpkin Pie Mug Cake
  • Pumpkin Slab Pie
  • No-Bake Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Dump Cake


  • Cooking spray

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • 1 (12-ounce) can

    evaporated milk

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    pumpkin pie spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 4 ounces

    pecans (about 1 cup, optional)

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box

    yellow cake mix

  • Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Melt 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stove, and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. Whisk the can of pumpkin purée, the can of evaporated milk, 3 eggs, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

  3. Coarsely chop 4 ounces pecans (1 cup), if using. Sprinkle half of the box of yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle with the pecans. Sprinkle with the remaining cake mix. Pour the melted butter evenly over the cake.

  4. Bake until the cake is golden-brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Wrap the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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