This Pumpkin Layer Cake is filled with a delicious brown butter-cream cheese frosting, and is finished with my favorite super easy chocolate-sour cream frosting on the outside. It’s moist and spicy, with lots of different flavors and textures. 

A Pumpkin Layer Cake on a black cake stand.
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I finally cracked and opened my first pumpkin can of the season. I tried to stay strong, you guys. But it’s the third week of October and it’s still in the mid-80’s here and our AC isn’t working and I am sweating like a wildebeest after a sprint across the savannah, and sometimes a girl just has to WILL autumn into existence, am I right? Especially if that girl has a closet full of painfully cute boots and no place to wear them.

A slice of Pumpkin Layer Cake on a small white plate.

But enough about my wildebeest sweat*, let’s get back to the pumpkin. I knew if I was going to cave and post a pumpkin cake recipe on the internet, in 2013, it needed to be a little different from the 324873 other pumpkin cake recipes on the internet. This tall pumpkin layer cake is filled with a delicious brown butter-cream cheese frosting, and is finished with my favorite super easy chocolate-sour cream frosting on the outside. It’s moist and spicy, with lots of different flavors and textures. Totally worth turning on the oven in this heat!

*Note to self: name new band Wildebeest Sweat**
**Note to self: first learn instrument and recruit bandmates

Pumpkin Layer Cake on a black cake plate.

Like most of my layer cake recipes, this one has a few components. (What can I say? Sleeping is overrated and long recipes are my jam.) Making cake batter and a few frostings can take a little time, but I do have a secret weapon that makes baking go a little faster – a stand mixer! You could use a hand mixer but I highly recommend stand mixers when making layer cakes!

Side view of a Pumpkin Layer Cake covered in sprinkles.

This Pumpkin Layer Cake makes a great presentation at the end of big party or quaint family gathering. And, it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold where you are–pumpkin, brown butter, and chocolate-sour cream frosting are ALWAYS in season. You will love this moist, spicy, tangy, brown buttery cake that tastes like fall on a plate!

A slice of Pumpkin Layer Cake on a small white plate.

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Close up of a slice of Pumpkin Layer Cake on a white plate.

Pumpkin Layer Cake

5 from 1 vote
This Pumpkin Layer Cake is filled with a delicious brown butter-cream cheese frosting, and is finished with my favorite super easy chocolate-sour cream frosting on the outside. It’s moist and spicy, with lots of different flavors and textures. 
Prep1 hour 30 minutes
Cook20 minutes
Total1 hour 50 minutes


For the Pumpkin Cake:

For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 lb powdered sugar, (4 cups)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting:

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To Make the Pumpkin Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray three 9” cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, and line them with parchment circles. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside for a moment.
  • In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugar and oil, and beat on medium speed until well-mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract, and mix well. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Stop when just a few streaks of flour remain, and finish mixing by hand with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cake tops spring back lightly when touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

To Make the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Filling:

  • Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook it, stirring frequently, until it is a medium brown color and has a nutty scent, about 7-8 minutes. Remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  • Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment until smooth and free of lumps. Add the browned butter and mix well. At this point, it might look a little separated or broken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and mix on low until the powdered sugar is moistened. Increase the speed of the mixer and beat until you have a very thick frosting. Add the milk and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If it seems too thick to easily spread, add a little more milk and beat until it is the consistency you want.

To Make the Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting:

  • Place the chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent scorching. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  • Add the sour cream and vanilla extract to the chocolate, and whisk well. The frosting will be on the thinner side at first, but as it cools, it will thicken nicely. Whisk occasionally as it cools to room temperature. If it becomes too thick to easily spread, reheat it in short bursts in the microwave until you have a workable consistency.

To Assemble:

  • Place a cake round on a cardboard circle. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip with chocolate sour cream frosting. (Alternately, you can use a large zip-top plastic bag with a hole snipped in the corner.) Pipe a ring of frosting around the outer edge of the pumpkin cake. Spread half of the brown butter cream cheese filling inside the ring of frosting—this helps prevent the filling from squirting out the sides of the finished cake.
  • Put a second cake layer on top, and repeat the process with the remaining brown butter filling. Top with the final pumpkin cake. Spread a very thin layer of frosting all around the outside of the cake, to catch any crumbs, and refrigerate until the frosting hardens, about 30 minutes.
  • Once the crumb coating is set, cover the cake with a thicker layer of frosting along the sides and top. To decorate the sides with sprinkles, pour the sprinkles into a shallow bowl. Hold the cake on a cardboard round over the bowl in one hand, and use the other to press sprinkles into the side, letting the extras fall back into the bowl. Finish by piping some rosettes on top and decorating them with colored Sixlets or other candy. Store Pumpkin Layer Cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Measuring Tips

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Want to learn more about baking measurements and conversion?


Calories: 609kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 309mg | Potassium: 391mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 63g | Vitamin A: 4955IU | Vitamin C: 1.4mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 3.4mg
Tried this recipe?Snap a pic and hashtag it #SugarHero. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @elabau.

Meet Elizabeth!

Hi, I’m Elizabeth — a trained pastry chef, cookbook author, video instructor, and your new Baking BFF! I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to be a sugar hero. ❤️

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  1. I love, love, love your website and everything you do! You make things sound so easy. You give an honest review and very clear instructions on how to make it. This beautiful Pumpkin Layer Cake is just one example. You and all your post are awesome. I’m your #1 fan. Thank you.

    1. Ela, thank you so much! I sometimes feel like my recipes are a little wordy, so I’m glad to hear that you appreciate the clear instructions! So happy that you found my site–thank you!

  2. Oh my. This cake. It’s so pretty with all those colours. And the sprinkles and the frosting. Man after a day of baking I just want to go back in the kitchen and make this.

    1. I admit I got pretty excited to use the sprinkles! Sometimes it’s the little things that can motivate us to fire up the mixer one more time. 🙂

  3. I had a good laugh while reading your post, sitting on my couch with my decaf coffee in my one hand and the other hand scrolling down on the keyboard.. Can´t believe you named your KitchenAid mixers..haha! Then I laughed even harder at the part where you said abou the memorial service (girl you´re going crazy!! haha!!)
    Seriously, this cake is amazing and looks really beautiful.. the inside looks perfect!!
    I love that you paired the pumpkin with chocolate frosting..
    I made a pumpkin layer cake a few weeks ago.. if you´d like to see it 😉

    1. Ha, it miiiight be possible that I sound a little crazy. In my defense, Doreenie came already named, and then I named Henrietta so she wouldn’t feel left out. But yes, perhaps I’m a little too attached. 🙂 I’m off to check out your pumpkin cake–now that I’ve cracked open the pumpkin, I can’t get enough!

  4. Give me your talent please, I want to be able to bake cakes this beautiful! You’re so talented it’s not fair, I tell you 😉 And what a funny post, I loved it haha! x

  5. I’m going to have to agree with Johlene.. I don’t think there’s any hope on you getting your sanity back ever again.. But look on the bright side: you and your mixer-friends make an amazing combo! 😛 I mean, this cake looks so deadly delicious! Oh, can I come live with you guys?

    1. Who needs sanity when you have kitchen mixers?! 🙂 And YES, come on over, we have way too much dessert for just the 2 of us!

  6. Looks amazingly delicious Elizabeth! Love that you have 2 mixers – I think I need two in my life as well. Do you think I could convince my husband?

    1. Tell him all the amazing things he can eat if you can make double the baked goods with 2 mixers! That should do it!

  7. Thanks to you lady, I am not terrified of making cakes likes this recipe. You spell it out perfectly.

  8. Is that a parks and rec band name reference? Eagle-eyed tiger!
    If it’s not please excuse the above nonsense, and pass me a slice of cake.

    1. Can you believe I’m not a big Parks and Rec watcher? I totally don’t mind it, but it’s never grabbed me enough to have me be a devoted viewer. Sorry, I’ll show myself out… and pass you a slice of cake on the way!

  9. Simpy beautiful! I love the way this cake looks! I’m going to think of this cake for the rest of fall! : )