Pumpkin Crunch Cake (with Yellow Cake Mix)

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This Pumpkin Crunch Dessert is easy and absolutely delicious! The amazing and decadent cream cheese and whipped cream frosting take this recipe over the top of delicious and everyone will devour it! Even the people in your life that proclaim to not like pumpkin will love this dessert! (Oh, and spoiler alert… This Pumpkin Crunch Cake is made with a yellow cake mix!!)

Slice of pumpkin crunch with pecans on top on a plate

‘Tis the season for pumpkin-flavored everything! And what a glorious season it is!! I make this dessert every Fall, usually around Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect Fall dessert! Not only is it a scrumptious pumpkin dessert, but believe it or not, people that don’t even like pumpkin love this dessert! It’s refreshing and light with its layers and fluffy frosting. It’s the perfect dessert after a big Fall meal! And the best part? It’s incredibly easy to make but so very impressive at the same time! This recipe is essentially like a pumpkin dump cake recipe met a pumpkin cheesecake!

Recipe Source

This is my version of an old, old, old Paula Deen recipe that you can find HERE. Over the years I’ve tweaked it some and made it my own, but this is the original if you want to see where it started. (Mine is yummier! It’s all about the candied pecans!!!!)

Ingredients:

Ingredients for pumpkin crunch including eggs, butter, cream cheese, evaporated milk, cake mix, heavy cream, canned pumpkin, cinnamon, sugar, powdered sugar and pecans

Cake Base:

  • 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree – For the pumpkin puree, make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling. The pumpkin filling is already sweetened and we don’t want that. We just want a can of plain pumpkin puree.
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk – You can find this in a can in the baking goods aisle. Don’t confuse this with condensed milk. It’s not the same thing, nor is it interchangeable. You want evaporated milk.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon – Ground cinnamon is perfect here! You could use pumpkin pie spice or pumpkin spice if you wanted to amp up the pumpkin flavor. That would bring in more of the ground clove flavor if you like that.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – Also known as white sugar. This is what makes the cake sweet and delicious!
  • 3 eggs, beaten – large size eggs are perfect here. Extra large can be a little too much, so stick with large size.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix – just your regular old box of yellow cake mix. Any brand will do!
  • 1 cup chopped pecans – Give them a rough chop, but don’t make them too small. Personally, I love bigger chunks of pecans in my desserts.
  • 2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces – together, that’s one cup of butter. And it is a triumph!

Frosting:

  • 1 8-oz package of cream cheese – let this soften to room temperature for easy mixing.
  • 1 cup heavy cream – Don’t substitute here — you need the heavy cream to “whip up” the frosting and make it fluffy.
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar – Also called confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – This goes beautifully with the cinnamon that’s already in the cake layers.

Brown Sugar Pecans (OPTIONAL TOPPING)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cup chopped pecan halves

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Baking Instructions:

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350*.

Step 2

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with either butter or cooking spray.

Step 3

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, whisk the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, ground cinnamon, and sugar until well combined.

Step 4

Add in the eggs and mix well.

Pumpkin crunch pumpkin layer mix with eggs on top ready to be mixed in

Step 5

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared 9×13 pan and spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan.

the bottom unbaked layer of a pumpkin crunch recipe poured into a baking dish

Step 6

Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin-sugar-butter mixture.

Pumpkin crunch recipe process picture with cake mix layer

Step 7

Sprinkle pecans over the top of the cake mix.

Pumpkin crunch recipe process picture with pecan layer

Step 8

Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pecans.

Step 9

Place dish in oven and bake at 350* for 50-60 minutes until golden and cake is set. Let cake cool completely before icing. I just sit the entire dish on a wire rack so that the bottom of the dish gets some air too. It will cool faster this way.

baked pumpkin crunch out of the oven in a baking dish cooling off

Step 10

When you are ready to make the cream cheese frosting, using your electric mixer, in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy.

a block of cream cheese in a mixing bowl for the icing for pumpkin crunch

Step 11

Add in the heavy whipping cream and whip on low speed until well combined and thick and fluffy.

cream cheese and heavy cream with an electric mixer for the icing for pumpkin crunch

Step 12

Add in powdered sugar and cinnamon and whip together until smooth.

Step 13

Spread the icing evenly over the cake. You can serve now if you’d like. Go to the next step if you want to add on the brown sugar pecans:

Pumpkin crunch in dish with white cream cheese icing spread over the top

Instructions (cont…) for Brown Sugar Pecans for Topping:

Step 14

In a large non-stick skillet, combine all ingredients except for pecans and bring to a boiling/bubble for 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves.

Step 15

Add in the pecans to the mixture, coat them evenly, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to cover the pecans in the glaze.

Step 16

Spread the pecans on a sheet of parchment paper OR a non-stick silicone mat and let them cool completely.

Step 17

Break apart and sprinkle over the pumpkin cake! (You will have leftovers, you won’t want to use them all on the cake. And to be honest, I have usually snacked on half of them before they are even cooled. Cause they are that good!)

Leftovers and Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you don’t have a lid for your dish, a layer of plastic wrap will work fine.

Speaking of leftovers… Do you need a little help with what to do with all those other Thanksgiving leftovers? Check out my post on Thanksgiving Leftover Lovin’ HERE.

Additions and Substitutions:

Sauces:

This dessert doesn’t need one thing extra. BUT… if you wanted to really go for the gold, drizzle caramel sauce on top of the finished icing. It would be AMAZING.

Ice Cream

I don’t necessarily serve this dessert with anything else (except maybe a cup of coffee!), but I could see some vanilla ice cream on the side being a delicious addition!

Frequently Asked Questions

Could I use a different flavor cake mix?

I have never changed out the cake mix flavors for this dessert, however, I’d imagine a boxed spice cake mix would also work delightfully well. It would change the flavors considerably, but if you are a spice cake fan, I’d give it a try and see! Spice cake and pumpkin work well together.

What other toppings could you use?

I think this is perfect as it is. But you could totally top the cake with some caramel sauce, or toffee bits , or brown sugar glazed pecans on top!

I really don’t like pumpkin anything – will I like this?

Seriously, I don’t like pumpkin-flavored anything either! The great pumpkin takeover every Fall season is lost on me! But with that in mind, I love this cake. It’s so amazing and delicious. The butter and cake and pecans are really what you taste. The pumpkin is just the ingredient that holds it all together and keeps everything moist. It has a very slight pumpkin taste, and it totally works with everything in the dessert.

I don’t have a 9×13 dish, can I use a different size?

You totally can — though I wouldn’t recommend making the cake any thicker. So, if you are going to use a different pan, use 2 so that you still have the same amount of space covered, if that makes sense. Meaning, if you are going to use a 9-inch baking pan, use 2 and make 2 cakes. If you make the pumpkin cake mix part too thick it will just be gooey and not set up. A spring-form pan would work really well because the sides can be removed and it would make it easier to serve and it would be a beautiful presentation.

Can I substitute the pumpkin for another fruit?

I’ve never tried it, but you probably could if you are really set on no pumpkin. You could do cherry pie filling and it would probably be delicious. To do that, I’d eliminate using the electric mixer for the cake part so you don’t smash the cherries and eliminate the cinnamon from the cake and frosting. If you try that, let me know if it’s amazing!

I don’t like pecans. Could I use another kind of nut?

Absolutely! This would be amazing with some chopped walnuts or almonds!

Could you use a sugar-free cake mix?

I’ve honestly never tried it. You could give it a go! You’d probably want to also substitute out the sugar in the filling as well and leave off the sugared pecans on top.

Other Pumpkin Desserts for Non-Pumpkin Pie folks:

Hey — I get it. Pumpkin isn’t for everyone. I’m not a pumpkin person. BUT — these desserts are awesome, and really don’t taste a lot like pumpkins!

Wrap Up – Pumpkin Crunch Cake (with Yellow Cake Mix)

So, this definitely isn’t your traditional pumpkin pie, but this family favorite recipe is a simple pumpkin dessert that everyone will totally enjoy! Pumpkin Crunch Cake (with Yellow Cake Mix) was a game-changer to my pumpkin recipe collection!! I hope you try today’s recipe during this holiday season! This time of year calls for the sweet flavors of Fall and the cinnamon spice and boxed cake mix make an incredible flavor combination that I absolutely love.

Picture of pumpkin crunch dessert cut on a plate with brown sugar cinnamon pecans on top

Pumpkin Crunch Cake (with Yellow Cake Mix)

Print Recipe
This Pumpkin Crunch Dessert is easy and absolutely delicious! The amazing and decadent cream cheese and whipped cream frosting take this recipe over the top of delicious and everyone will devour it! Even the people in your life that proclaim to not like pumpkin will love this dessert! (Oh, and spoiler alert… This Pumpkin Crunch Cake is made with a yellow cake mix!!)
Prep Time:30 mins
Cook Time:1 hr
Cooling Time:2 hrs
Total Time:3 hrs 30 mins

Equipment

  • 1 electric hand mixer
  • 1 9×13 baking dish

Ingredients

Cake Base Layer:

  • 1 15 ounce canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar (Confectioner's Sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Brown Sugar Pecans Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cup chopped pecan halves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350*.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking dish with either butter or cooking spray.
  • evaporated milk, ground cinnamon and sugar until well combined.
  • Add in the eggs and mix well.
  • Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared 9×13 pan and spread mixture evenly across bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin-sugar-butter mixture.
  • Sprinkle pecans over the top of the cake mix.
  • Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pecans.
  • Place dish in oven and bake at 350* for 50-60 minutes until golden and cake is set. Let cake cool completely before icing.
  • When you are ready to make the cream cheese frosting, using your electric mixer, in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy.
  • Add in the heavy whipping cream and whip on low speed until well combined and thick and fluffy.
  • Add in powdered sugar and cinnamon and whip together until smooth.
  • Spread the icing evenly over the cake. You can serve now if you'd like, or go on to the next steps for the brown sugar pecan topping!
  • In a large non-stick skillet, combine all ingredients except for pecans and bring to a boiling/bubble for 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves.
  • Add in the pecans to the mixture, coat them evenly and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to cover the pecans in the glaze.
  • Spread the pecans on a sheet of parchment paper OR a non-stick silicone mat and let them cool completely.
  • Break apart and sprinkle over the pumpkin cake!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 466kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 849IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: canned pumpkin, Fall Desserts, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Desserts, pumpkin recipes, Thanksgiving Desserts, yellow cake mix recipes
Servings: 12
Calories: 466kcal
Cost: $15

Do you love this recipe? Try these other recipes from Supermom Shuffles Cooking:

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pumpkin crunch dessert close up with brown sugar pecans on top on a gray and white plate

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