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Simple and delicious recipes for Dinner and Dessert. Where salt and sweet meet.



Pumpkin cake with a creamy, dreamy cinnamon cream cheese frosting is a great autumn dessert. It is also a perfect way to finish your Thanksgiving meal. If you’re looking for a delicious but uncomplicated dessert for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving this is a perfect choice. Pumpkin pie is not the only dessert that should grace your Thanksgiving table. This cake is easy to make and the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is equally simple to put together.

Pumpkin cake

This cake is perfectly spiced with warm flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Fresh pumpkin puree and unsweetened apple sauce help make this cake very moist while cutting back on the amount of oil used. I was also mindful of making this cake without a ton of sugar. I like sweets as much as the next person but it is important to me to reduce the amount of sugar I use whenever possible without compromising the taste. This cake is absolutely delicious even with less sugar!

sugar and cream cheese

Mascarpone cheese?

Mascarpone cheese is Italian cream cheese. It has a naturally sweeter taste than standard American cream cheese. I like to use it with regular cream cheese because it lightens up the texture. It is quite delicious, works really well in cream cheese desserts, and is perfect for this pumpkin cake. If you cannot find mascarpone cheese use regular cream cheese. The cinnamon cream cheese frosting will still be good and your cake will not suffer a bit.

whipped frosting

Cinnamon frosting

The amount of cinnamon added to the cream cheese to create the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is small enough that it only gives a hint of cinnamon flavor and does not become overwhelming. Cinnamon can be assertive in flavor so I was sure not to use too much as it is also used in the cake. You can also leave it out if you wish but I advise using it 😋.

whole cake

pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Fluffy and moist pumpkin spiced cake with velvety cream cheese and mascarpone frosting.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Shana


  • Stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer



  • 2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour spooned and leveled, not packed
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 4 Eggs room temperature
  • 15 oz Pumpkin puree 1 can
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract


  • 2 1/2 cups Confectioners sugar
  • 4 oz Cream cheese softened
  • 4 oz Mascarpone cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract


Pumpkin cake

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut parchment paper to fit the inside bottom of your two 8" round baking pans. Spray a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan and place the parchment on top. The oil will help the parchment adhere to the baking pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt.
  • Sift the dry ingredients then whisk them together.
  • In a separate mixing bowl add the pumpkin puree, apple sauce, oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Whisk the wet ingredients together until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  • Using a hand mixer or stand mixer blend until just combined.
  • Pour half of the cake batter into one pan and the other half in the other pan and smooth the top.
  • Tap the bottom of the filled cake pans on a table or countertop to help get rid of any air bubbles that might exist.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake to ensure it is done. The toothpick should come out clean.
  • Place the cakes pans on a rack and allow them to cool completely before removing the cake from the pans.

Cinnamon cream cheese frosting

  • In a mixing bowl add the confectioners' sugar, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, butter, 2 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • Mix until well combined, smooth and creamy.
  • Frost the cake or cupcakes once they have completely cooled
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


-If you cannot find mascarpone cheese use 8 oz of cream cheese.

-Sifting the dry ingredients helps to ensure they are evenly combined and to remove any lumps.

-The eggs should be brought to room temperature because they will mix better in the cake batter and cold eggs straight from the fridge can affect baking time.

-I used low fat cream cheese but feel free to use standard full fat cream cheese.

-If you cannot find pumpkin pie spice you can make your own by combining cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cardamom or allspice. Here’s a quick recipe Pumpkin Pie Spice.

pumpkin cake slice

Final thoughts

This pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting is not only good for Thanksgiving Day. I will happily eat it on a random Tuesday afternoon or any other time. I hope you try it out and let me know your thoughts!

Also, check out one of my other favorite desserts for this time of year Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.

Happy cooking, happy eating 😊!

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