This pumpkin crunch cake is rich and creamy at the bottom and crunchy and crumbly on top.
It also has an impeccably sweet and spiced pumpkin flavor!
If you can’t decide between pumpkin pie and cobbler, this dessert mash-up is for you.
This recipe combines the best things about these two desserts, creating the ultimate fall sweet.
So, if you’re looking for a new dessert with familiar fall flavors, this pumpkin crunch cake recipe is exactly what you’ll need.
Pumpkin Crunch Cake With Cake Mix
I just love the combination of flavors and textures here.
There are layers of rich pumpkin custard, buttery pecan streusel topping, and fluffy whipped cream.
This cake is far from being one-note. Plus, the balance between the pumpkin, sugar, and spices is truly incredible.
Thanks to the pumpkin pie spice, the sweetness of this cake won’t overwhelm your palate.
It also couldn’t be easier to make. Despite all its layers, this dessert only takes a few simple steps to pull off!
It’s because this is actually a dump cake. You just dump the main ingredients into a dish and pop it in the oven.
- Pumpkin Puree – Either canned or homemade works. Be sure to use canned pumpkin puree, though, not pumpkin pie filling. The latter is already flavored with sugar and spices.
- Evaporated Milk – It’s mixed with pumpkin puree and eggs to form the pumpkin custard. I like to use evaporated milk here because it has a fuller, richer flavor than any other milk.
- Sugar – To sweeten the cake.
- Eggs – To bind the ingredients together. Eggs also add richness to the cake.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – You can use either store-bought, homemade, or your choice of spices.
- Salt – Just a pinch to help balance out the sweetness.
- Yellow Cake Mix – Together with the butter, the yellow cake mix forms the crunchy crust on top of the dessert.
- Chopped Pecans – Their nuttiness pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the pumpkin. It’s also an additional crunchy element to the cake.
- Margarine – or butter – either will do. You have to melt it beforehand so you can easily drizzle it on top of the cake mix.
- Frozen Whipped Topping, Thawed – AKA Cool Whip, for garnish. You can also use homemade whipped cream.
How to Make Pumpkin Crunch Cake
1. Prep the tools.
Preheat your oven and grease the baking sheet with either non-stick spray or butter.
2. Make the batter.
Whisk together the pumpkin puree, milk, sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
3. Assemble the layers.
Pour the batter into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly on top.
Press it gently into the batter so that the batter absorbs it more quickly.
Top the cake mix with pecans, followed by melted margarine.
4. Bake, garnish, and enjoy.
Bake the cake for 60 to 80 minutes. Let it cool completely and serve it with whipped cream on top.
- Be sure to distribute the yellow cake mix and melted margarine evenly on top of the pumpkin batter. This is the key to creating that golden, crunchy crust on top.
- Want to make your own pumpkin pie spice? Just combine 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of ginger, and a pinch of cloves.
How to Store
In the Fridge:
Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Pumpkin crunch cake will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days, making it an ideal make-ahead dessert.
The cake tastes awesome either chilled, but you can also heat it up in the oven or microwave if you prefer it warm.
In the Freezer:
If you plan on keeping the cake around much longer, store it in the freezer.
You can freeze the entire cake, but it’s better to store it sliced.
This way, you get to take out a few slices at a time without having to thaw the whole thing.
Place the slices in freezer-safe bags, label them accordingly, and freeze them.
Frozen pumpkin crunch cake will keep well for up to 4 months.
Thaw the cake in the fridge overnight. Serve it either chilled or warmed.
Variations & Substitutions
- Cake mix. Experiment with flavors by using a different cake mix variety. I’ve tried this recipe with spice cake and butter pecan, and both turned out great.
- Spices. I use pumpkin pie spice here, but feel free to use your own blend of fall spices.
- Nuts. Pecans pair wonderfully with pumpkin, but so do walnuts and hazelnuts. Add as many nut combinations as you like!
- Chocolate or Caramel. This cake is already topped with whipped cream, so you might as well go all the way with chocolate or caramel sauce.
- Ice Cream. For a more decadent dessert, top the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream.
- Crushed cookies. Top the whipped cream with toffee bits, crushed gingersnaps, graham crackers, or Biscoff for added sweetness and crunch. It makes for a prettier presentation, too.
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