Pumpkin Cake With Browned Butter Icing Recipe

Pumpkin cake with browned butter icing

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 18 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 53 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
377 Calories
19g Fat
50g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 377
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 244mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 36g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 72mg 6%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 105mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Browning the butter for this pumpkin cake's icing adds wonderful flavor, and it goes so well with the spiced cake. Feel free to use your favorite cream cheese icing, or if you're pressed for time, use a purchased frosting. This pumpkin cake makes a fabulous dessert for Thanksgiving or make it for a fall treat any time.


For the Cake:

  • Cooking spray, or butter, for greasing

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1 cup vegetable oil (e.g., canola, safflower, or corn oil)

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree, packed

For the Brown Butter Frosting:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Cake

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Ingredients for pumpkin cake
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan. 

    Flour pan
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; stir and set aside.

    Combine the flour
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  4. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar and brown sugar with oil, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin until smooth and well blended.

    Add wet ingredients
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  5. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients until moistened; beat for about 1 minute on medium speed, or until the batter is smooth and well blended.

    Slowly beat in dry ingredients
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

    Pour batter in pan
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched with a finger. Cool completely before frosting.

    Bake cake
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prepare the Frosting

  1. Heat the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, just until the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and let cool.

    Heat butter
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  2. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl. When the butter is completely cooled, add to the confectioners' sugar along with the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. Slowly beat to blend, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, or enough to get to a desired spreading consistency.

    Stir in confectioner's sugar
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  3. Spread on the cooled cake.

    Spread on cooled cake
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  4. Cut into bars or squares and serve.

    Slice a piece
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga