This pumpkin crunch cake recipe is easy to put together, only takes a few ingredients, and is one of the most delicious pumpkin desserts ever! We’ve been making it for Thanksgiving for years, and it’s always the first thing gone!
In this cake, a creamy pumpkin layer gets topped with cake and crunchy nuts for the ultimate pumpkin treat! You just dump all the ingredients together, bake, and enjoy an amazing pumpkin cake in no time at all!
What is Pumpkin Crunch Cake?
One of the best things about getting married is gaining a whole new family in your in-laws. And with in-laws come all sorts of new traditions, new experiences, and new recipes.
I’m happy to now have a yummy go-to pumpkin dessert for the fall lineup! We’ve made this pumpkin cake every year I’ve been married (and that’s a lot of years) for Thanksgiving, and it hasn’t failed us yet!
There are layers of pumpkin, layers of crunch, and a sprinkling of cake mix – pumpkin crunch cake! It’s the perfect dessert after you enjoy a few of these Thanksgiving games!
Why you’ll love this
- Foolproof – Unlike pumpkin pie, (even if it’s pumpkin slab pie), it’s pretty much impossible to screw this up. Even my kiddo helps make it!
- Easy – just like with a dump cake, this recipe is literally just dumping things into a pan and baking. Super easy and hands off!
- Great flavor – the pumpkin mixed with the yellow cake gives this a nice fall flavor without being overly pumpkin flavored. It’s good for anyone who likes pumpkin or anyone who’s a little meh on pumpkin (are those a thing!?!).
Ingredients in Pumpkin Crunch Cake
- Pure pumpkin – we use Libby’s canned pumpkin/pumpkin puree but mostly because that’s the most readily available, anything works, just make sure to get the pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling. Save that for the pumpkin blondies!
- Sweetened condensed milk – one of those cans you’d find in the grocery store. Same stuff I used in this Snickers poke cake! I know most pumpkin crunch cake recipes call for evaporated milk, I personally have been making this with sweetened condensed milk for years and like it better. But either one works!
- Melted butter – I always recommend melting the butter and letting it cool slightly before you add it to the cake, especially since you’re adding it to close to raw eggs.
- Yellow cake mix – you can use whatever kind you want, just make sure it’s yellow and doesn’t have any sort of add-ins. I’ve also tried with this spice cake mix, which works, but has a little too much fall flavor for me personally.
- Chopped walnuts – or you can just buy regular walnuts and chop them on your own. You can also substitute walnuts for chopped pecans if you prefer pecans. If you really don’t want to use nuts, I recommend making something like this pumpkin magic cake or these pumpkin cheesecake bars instead.
- Cinnamon – I personally prefer this with cinnamon so it’s not too pumpkin flavored, but you could use pumpkin pie spice instead or do half cinnamon and half pumpkin pie spice.
You’ll likely also want to have some whipped cream and/or ice cream on hand to serve this with. It’s so good served warm with vanilla ice cream!
How to make pumpkin crunch cake
The best thing about this recipe is that unlike pumpkin cinnamon rolls or Texas sheet cake, pumpkin crunch cake is something you just throw together, bake, and not think about it again until you’re enjoying it for dessert.
1 – Make the Pumpkin Batter
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick baking spray.
- Mix your pumpkin, sugar, spices, large eggs, and sweetened condensed milk together in a large bowl, mixing well until there are no clumps or pockets of one single ingredient left.
2 – Add the pumpkin crunch topping
- Pour the pumpkin cake batter into a prepared 9×13 baking dish. Use a spatula to spread it all over the bottom to get one even layer.
- Sprinkle cake mix over top of the pumpkin mixture making sure to spread it evenly across the cake. You want cake in every single bite. Again, you can use a spatula to gently spread it across if there are any spots not covered.
- Gently pat the cake mix down with your hand to create one nice even layer of cake mix.
Slowly sprinkle the cake mix over the pumpkin mixture, moving it as you go so you can cover as much as possible of the pumpkin mixture without ever having to touch the cake mix. Then once you’re done, gently use the spatula to fill in any missing spots that are still showing pumpkin through. You don’t want to mix the cake mix and pumpkin batter together, you want it to be one layer then the next.
- Sprinkle the nuts on top of the cake mix.
The nuts are what gives this cake its crunch. Don’t skip them unless of course you’re allergic to nuts but then you’ll probably want to skip this cake and try something like these pumpkin cupcakes instead.
- Pour melted butter all over the top of the cake, doing your best to coat every inch of the cake in butter. The butter is what allows the cake mix to combine with the pumpkin to create the actual cake part of this dish so don’t skip the butter!
3 – Bake the Pumpkin crunch Cake
- Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until the a knife comes out of the center cleanly.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes before serving – you don’t want any burned mouths!
Cooling the cake also lets everything solidify and come together like you need it to before slicing and serving. If you try to slice right out of the oven, the pieces tend to fall apart! I like to give it at least 10-15 minutes before serving or you can even chill this and eat it chilled!
- Slice into small squares once cooled.
This is a rich cake, so I like to go with smaller squares and people can get seconds if they want.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh whipped cream, spray whipped cream, or my personal favorite – topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
The warm cake with the cold vanilla ice cream is kind of like the fall variation of homemade brownies and ice cream! It’s my favorite! It would also be really good topped with a drizzle of dulce de leche or caramel sauce (like my caramel apple dump cake).
how to store this pumpkin cake
Store any leftovers of this pumpkin crunch cake in the refrigerator either in the baking dish with a lid on it, in another airtight container, or in the pan wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. This will keep the topping of the cake as crunchy as possible for as long as possible.
You can either eat this cake while it’s still chilled straight out of the refrigerator or put it in a cold oven, set the temperature to 350 degrees, and allow the cake to warm up while the oven preheats. This will warm up the cake without burning the top.
Pumpkin Crunch Cake Video
If you want to see how easy this is to make, check out this video where I’m showing how to make this pumpkin dump cake recipe!
Tips & tricks
Make sure the walnuts are chopped small. The store bought ones are typically okay but if they’re bigger chunks, I recommend giving them a quick rough chop with a knife anyway. You want them to add crunch but not be an entire mouthful of walnut.
Try different variations of this recipe by switching out the type of cake mix, the type of nuts, and even the type of spice you use with the pumpkin!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake FAQs
I’ve made this the day before and reheated with no issues, but it’s super easy to make so if you can, I highly recommend making it day of to enjoy warm.
If you don’t have sweetened condensed milk, you can use evaporated milk instead. I know a lot of recipes do that – I just prefer the taste with the creamy sweetened condensed milk.
Pumpkin puree and canned pumpkin are the same thing, just different ways of saying them. Both can be used in this pumpkin crunch cake. Just make sure to stay away from pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin pudding, or anything else that is already mixed with any sort of spices.
More Pumpkin Desserts
If you like pumpkin, you have to try out these other tasty pumpkin desserts!
- Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies – super simple pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with a yummy glaze on top!
- Pumpkin crisp – a soft pumpkin dessert topped with the most amazing crumble topping!
- Pumpkin streusel bars – layers of shortbread crust, pumpkin filling, and a streusel topping combine together for one deliciously creamy dessert!
- Pumpkin balls – no bake pumpkin balls that taste just like pumpkin pie!
- Pumpkin blondies – pumpkin and chocolate chip cookie bars that are perfect for the fall!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake Recipe
- 29 oz can of Libby’s (or similar) Pure pumpkin
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- 3 eggs
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 cup walnuts , chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
- Mix pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and milk together. Pour batter into a 9×13 baking dish.29 oz can of Libby’s (or similar) Pure pumpkin, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 3 eggs, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- Sprinkle cake mix over top of the pumpkin mixture then pat down gently.1 box yellow cake mix
- Sprinkle chopped walnuts on top of cake mix then pat down gently.1 cup walnuts
- Pour melted butter over top of cake making sure to cover all of the cake mix.1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
- Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Tips & Notes:
- Pure pumpkin – this may also be called pumpkin puree, just don’t use pie filling
- Sweetened condensed milk – you can also use evaporated milk if you don’t have this, I just prefer the sweetened version.
- Walnuts – can replace with chopped pecans instead if you prefer