Pumpkin Dump Cake Recipe (Make Ahead Instructions)

Pumpkin Dump Cake is the easiest, yet incredibly tasty, fall dessert of your dreams, made with pantry staples in minutes!

This Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe is a minimal prep, effortless, fall or Thanksgiving dessert that will disappear in a flash! It’s a delectable mashup between rich, silky smooth, spiced pumpkin pie and buttery cake all topped with crunchy pecans. Pumpkin Dump Cake gets its name by whisking then dumping the filling into a baking dish, dumping cake mix on top, then baking to golden, buttery, creamy, crunchy perfection.  Be the hero of Thanksgiving with this twist on the comforting classic!

More pumpkin treats not to miss include Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies, Pumpkin Bars, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pound Cake, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. You’ll also love my easy Apple Dump Cake!

How to Make Pumpkin Dump Cake Video

showing how to serve pumpkin dump cake by serving on a plate with ice cream and caramel
top view of pumpkin dump cake with a pumpkin pie filling and cake topping

Ingredients in Pumpkin Dump Cake 

In this Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe, the pie filling is made from scratch with canned pumpkin puree, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs and spices to deliver a far superior result than canned pie filling. But don’t worry, all you do is whisk, then dump the filling into the baking dish!  Here’s a closer look at the ingredients you’ll need (see full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

FOR THE FILLING

  • Pumpkin puree: Use unsweetened pumpkin puree, NOT canned pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin puree is simply cooked and pureed pumpkin. We’ll be loading it up with brown sugar and spices to ensure it’s flavored to the max. 
  • Evaporated milk: This is not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk, which is very sweet. Evaporated milk is similar to condensed milk in that 60% of its water is removed BUT it does not have any sugar added.  It makes the pumpkin pie filling luxurious and silky smooth instead of watery like milk can.
  • Eggs: Just like classic pumpkin pie, the eggs in the dump cake filling help bind the pumpkin mixture together.   They give the filling its rich, luxurious texture.
  • Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar so the molasses flavor isn’t too strong. 
  • Vanilla extract: This adds an extra oomph of flavor.  Use quality extract for the best flavor.
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves, and salt enhance the flavors and balances out the sweetness.

FOR THE TOPPING

  • Cake mix: Use a yellow cake mix because it boasts a butterier flavor than a white cake mix. You will pour the cake mix directly onto the filling – don’t add any of the ingredients on the cake box!  
  • Butter: This is used in the topping. Use salted butter to balance the sweetness of the cake mix.
  • Pecans: These are optional but definitely recommended otherwise the dump cake will simply be soft and tender without any contrasting crunch.
pumpkin dump cake recipe in a 9x13 pan made with pumpkin puree and cake mix

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Why do they call it dump cake?

The dessert gets its name because there is no mixer involved. All of the ingredients are dumped into a 9×13-inch baking dish and then baked together. The easiest form of a dump cake is pie filling (apple, fruit, etc.) poured into a 9×13-inch baking dish, topped evenly with cake mix, followed by pads of butter, then baked.  So easy! 

How do dump cakes work?

Dump cakes are similar to cobblers, in that the fruit filling is on the bottom topped with a cake-like topping – in this case, literally cake mix with butter!  The filling and the cake mix bake in the oven at the same time for an easy dessert.   

When Did Dump Cakes Become Popular? 

Dump cakes became popular in the late 1960s in the USA as various recipes began being printed in newspapers across the country. In 1969, a Florida newspaper reported that it seemed like everyone was talking about this “delicious” dessert. The article recalled how the newspaper was inundated with angry readers after it printed the recipe for the first time, demanding the recipe be printed correctly. The readers couldn’t believe the recipe called for just dumping the ingredients without any mixing. Word spread, however, that this magical dump cake was indeed easy and delicious! 

Can I use pumpkin pie filling instead of canned pumpkin?

Yes, you can, however, I do not suggest it.  Many people find pumpkin pie filling too sweet when combined with the sweet cake mix.   By using canned pumpkin puree, we are able to control the amount of sugar added so the overall dump cake isn’t too sweet.

Should I use fresh or Canned Pumpkin in Dump Cake?

I prefer Pumpkin Dump Cake made with canned pumpkin puree.  The filling is a little sturdier and smoother, whereas fresh tasted a bit grainy. 

What if I don’t have yellow cake mix?

If you don’t have yellow cake mix, you could use pumpkin spice cake mix instead and reduce the spices in the filling, or make your own yellow cake mix.  To make your own, whisk together 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to blend in 4 tablespoons butter (½ stick).  Viola!  Now you have homemade yellow cake mix.

What If the Top Browns Too Quickly?

Every oven bakes differently, so if you notice the cake topping is browning too much before the dessert is done cooking (check at 40 minutes to be sure), tent the dish with foil. 

Do you have to refrigerate Pumpkin Dump Cake?

Technically, no, you do not have to refrigerate Pumpkin Dump Cake.  It can be safely stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.  However, I suggest refrigerating the dump cake so it lasts longer.   Refrigerated dump can stay fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator

Can dump cakes be frozen?

Yes, dump cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Transfer to an airtight, freezer safe container or wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil before freezing. 

How to Make Pumpkin Dump Cake

Are you ready to see just how easy this Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe is to make in thee steps?! Let’s get to it! (Full measurements are found in the recipe card at the end of this post.) 

  • Step 1: Mix the pumpkin filling. In a large bowl (or directly in the baking dish!), combine the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, spices, vanilla, sugar, and eggs. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish.
a collage showing how to make pumpkin dump cake recipe by adding pumpkin puree, eggs, evaporated milk, sugar and spices to a bowl, mixing, then pouring into a 9x13 baking dish
  • Step 2: Add the topping. Evenly sprinkle the dry cake mix over the pumpkin filling, followed by the squares of butter. Top with pecans, if using (please use!). 
a collage showing how to make pumpkin dump cake by topping pie filling with cake mix, followed by pads of butter and pecans
  • Step 3: Bake. Bake uncovered in a preheated oven until the dump cake is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. I highly recommend topping your portion with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! 
showing how to make pumpkin dump cake recipe by baking until the top cake layer is golden

How to Serve the Dump Cake REcipe

The BEST Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe is served warm, fresh from the oven (after it’s had time to rest for 10 to 15 minutes). It becomes exponentially more delicious with a big, cold scoop of vanilla ice cream to cut through the richness. The cold, silky smooth ice cream mingled with the warm, sweet, pumpkin filling.  Homemade whipped cream is also fabulous.

  • Sprinkle the cake mix evenly. Make sure the cake mix is evenly spread over the pumpkin filling without any clumps (use a fork to break up any clumps) so that it bakes evenly.
  • Don’t prepare the cake mix as instructed on the box. The cake mix gets sprinkled over the pumpkin filling like a dry ingredient. If you prepare the mix so it’s a wet cake batter, you will not achieve the same results whatsoever. 
  • Use real butter.  If you want the best dump cake, you must use real butter; margarine won’t have the same effect.
  • Don’t use pumpkin pie filling. Canned pumpkin pie filling is too sweet when combined with the sweet cake mix. We need to make our own in order to control the sugar.
  • Thinly slice the pads of butter. We want the pads of butter to cover as much of the topping as possible so the cake mix is moistened evenly as it bakes.
  • Don’t burn the topping. I recommend checking the dump cake after it’s been baking for about 45 minutes to ensure the cake isn’t browning too quickly. If so, cover the top with foil. I love a deeply golden topping, so I’ve never had to add foil, but every oven bakes differently, so it’s best to check.
  • Let the dump cake stand for 15 minutes before serving. This will give the filling a chance to set a little more as it cools.
  • Serve warm. This Pumpkin Dump Cake recipe can be served cold, warm or at room temperature, but we are super fans of warm dump cake.
pumpkin dump cake recipe in a 9x13 pan showing the pumpkin filling and cake mix topping
  • Swap the nuts. Use chopped walnuts or almonds instead.
  • Nut free. The pecans add a nice crunch to the top of the cake so I highly recommend them. Only omit them if you must.
  • Additional topping ideas:  If you’re not a fan of pecans, try toffee bits, crushed Graham crackers or toasted coconut.
  • Coconut: If you’re a coconut fan, consider added some directly to the pie filling.
  • Use spice cake mix. Spice cake is essentially a yellow cake with lots of warm spices mixed into the batter.  To use spice cake mix, slightly reduce the seasonings in the filling or keep them the same for an extra dose of fall flavor.
  • Add caramel. Drizzle the dump cake all over with caramel sauce just before serving.
  • Make it gluten-free. Use your favorite gluten-free yellow cake mix. 
  • Make it vegan. Replace the butter with vegan butter in the topping.  Double check that the cake mix ingredients are vegan.
up closer of a slice missing of dump pumpkin cake showing how creamy the filling is
showing how to serve pumpkin dump cake by adding to a plate with whipped cream

WANT TO TRY THIS Pumpkin Dump Cake RECIPE?

PIN IT Dessert or Thanksgiving recipe BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

PUMPKIN FILLING

  • 1 29 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4 eggs
  • 12 oz can. evaporated milk
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground ginger, ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground cloves, salt

TOPPING

  • 1 15.25 oz. box yellow cake mix (do not prepare)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 12 TBS (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, sliced into thin pads (about 28 slices)
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish or spray with cooking spray.

  • Mix all of the Pumpkin Filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

  • Evenly sprinkle the dry cake mix over the Filling, breaking up any clumps with a fork. Top evenly with the pads of butter, followed by the pecans, if using.

  • Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and cooked through and the center is mostly set (it will set more as it cools slightly). Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve WARM with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Storage

  • To store: Pumpkin Dump Cake is the very best fresh from the oven but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze: Let the dump cake cool completely, wrap a few times in plastic wrap, followed by foil.  Freeze for 3 months.  Be aware that the topping will be softer once thawed. Thaw the frozen dump cake in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat per below methods.
  • To reheat:  Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave for 30 seconds, then at 10-second intervals until warmed through or baked at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until heated through.

Prep Ahead

  • Prepare the pumpkin filling according to recipe directions in a 9×13-inch pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for up to one day.
  • Slice the pads of butter and refrigerate. Chop the pecans and store in an airtight container. 
  • When ready to bake, sprinkle topping evenly over filling, add butter and pecans.
  • Bake according to directions, adding an extra 10 minutes due to the cold start.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Leave a Reply

Next Post

No-Bake Granola Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Sat Oct 22 , 2022
Upon flipping through Molly Yeh’s new book, Home is Where the Eggs Are, I found myself immediately drawn to the cookie dough oat bars, which Molly describes as “the new staple bar of your dessert-as-breakfast dreams.” My children love granola bars — Z-Bars, Clif Bars, Chewy Quaker Oat Bars — […]