Looking for a delicious pumpkin dessert? 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! It’s great for a fall festival, Halloween party, or to replace or compliment your pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving!
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.
This pumpkin crunch cake is one of those new recipes, and it is absolutely delicious. My family was never huge on pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, we were more a striped delight family. Or a linzer cookies type of family.
I’m happy to now have a yummy go-to pumpkin dessert for the fall lineup!
My in-laws call this Kauai Krunch Kake, but I don’t particularly like that name so I’m calling it pumpkin crunch cake.
There are layers of pumpkin, layers of crunch, and it uses a cake mix – pumpkin crunch cake!
And it’s the perfect dessert after you enjoy a few of these Thanksgiving games!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Foolproof – Unlike pumpkin pie, (other than no bake pumpkin 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!?!).
Pumpkin Crunch Cake Ingredients
- 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.
- 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.
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 This 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.
Here’s how to make it!
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and spraying a 9×13 pan with non-stick baking spray.
Then mix your pumpkin, sugar, spices, and sweetened condensed milk together in a bowl or if you want to save on dishes, you can mix them in the baking dish.
Just make sure to mix them up well so there’s spice throughout the cake. That’s a little tougher to do in the baking dish since the sides are lower, but you can do it!
If you mix it in a bowl, then go ahead and pour that onto the bottom of your baking dish when you’re done. Use a spatula to spread it all over the bottom of the dish until you have a fairly even layer.
Next, pour the 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.
Just try not to stir or mix the cake mix into the pumpkin – not a big deal if it happens here or there, just try not to make it totally mixed!
I also like to gently pat it down to create one nice even layer of cake mix.
Next you’re going to 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 pumpkin cheesecake bars instead.
This crunch cake might be healthier if you skip the melted butter, but I can’t guarantee it’ll bake up or taste the same. If you want something healthier, try these pumpkin cream cheese muffins instead.
And honestly, it may not even work because the butter is what makes the cake mix liquid and mix together well with the pumpkin.
Moral of the story – don’t skip the butter. You’d be better off just not making this at all.
And it may seem like a lot of butter, but it all gets soaked up into the cake giving this an amazing flavor!
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!
Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh whipped cream, spray whipped cream, or my personal favorite – 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!
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.
Store in the refrigerator for up to five days before tossing. You can either serve it cold directly out of the fridge or put in a cold oven, preheat to 350 degrees, and let it warm up with the oven to reheat.
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.
Other Pumpkin Recipes
If you like this pumpkin crunch cake, you’ll love these other delicious pumpkin recipes!
- 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 cinnamon rolls – a shortcut cinnamon roll recipe with pumpkin flavors!
- Pumpkin pizzas – darling pizzas designed to look just like pumpkins, a fun recipe for any age!
- No bake pumpkin pie – my favorite kind of pumpkin pie! This one is easy from start to finish.
Pumpkin Crunch Cake Recipe
- 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
- 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 cup walnuts , chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
- Mix pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and milk together. Pour batter into a 9x13 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
Update: This post was originally published in 2015. The photos have been updated but the recipe remains the same. Below is a photo from the original photos!