This pumpkin cake starts out with melted butterscotch chips and just gets better from there. It is moist and chewy and almost brownie-like, except for the copious amounts of creamy vanilla frosting on top. This is pumpkin dessert at its finest, my friends.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake |

Originally published September 23, 2014

Did you guys know that on Talk Like a Pirate Day you can go to Krispy Kreme dressed up like a pirate and get a dozen donuts? A DOZEN!

My brother’s wife told him this in passing a few weeks ago, like a “wouldn’t that be fun” kind of comment. But Eric (my brother, not my husband) decided that this was happening, and proceeded to buy fake earrings, leather shirt straps, and fake parrots to legitimize their entire family’s pirate-ness. Don’t they look awesome?

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake - Pirates

I wish I had been there when they tried to put makeup on the boys. “You can put the stuff on the hairs of my eyes, but not the smudgy stuff” (eyeliner).

Pumpkin Cake

Right after Eric sent me this photo, he texted me about this cake.

“Have you posted your pumpkin square recipe yet? I was bragging about them to someone.”
“No, I will soon. I’m so sad that it looks just like every other pumpkin cake out there. No one will know.”
“Hahaha. You should use big red photoshop arrows to point out all its awesomeness.”
“Yes. HERE’S the frosting. HERE’S the cake. It’s so original it will blow your mind!!”

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

How to make delicious Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

Clearly you can see why this cake is awesome now? Really guys, I wish you could taste this one. The day I made it, I happened to have a lot of people pass through the house. My cousin Lani tried it and made me email her the recipe immediately because she couldn’t wait for it to be posted. Later, Eric and his wife Sandi came over. “What is this???” Pumpkin. “I hate pumpkin. This is amazing.”

It’s like cake, kinda, because it has frosting. But it’s like a brownie, because it’s thick and chewy. And then the base is melted butterscotch chips, so there’s this caramel-y crust on the edges.

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

And did I mention that it’s super easy? You don’t even need a mixer for the cake part, only for the frosting. Oh, and speaking of the frosting. Well. See above photo with the arrows. It should explain everything.

Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Cake

On the left is how your butterscotch and butter mixture should look after it’s combined. On the right is all the batter mixed together. Try to ignore my daughter’s pink bowl in the background :) Ooey gooey pumpkin cake!

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Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 27 minutes
Total: 37 minutes
Servings: 9 Servings
This pumpkin cake starts out with melted butterscotch chips and just gets better from there. It is moist and chewy and almost brownie-like, except for the copious amounts of creamy vanilla frosting on top. This is pumpkin dessert at its finest, my friends.


For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, 1 stick
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons plain pumpkin puree
  • 1 & 3/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, 1 stick
  • 1 & 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or regular vanilla
  • 5 teaspoons milk
  • dash salt, if you want


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch square pan with parchment paper, or grease well. Set aside.
  • In a large microwaveable mixing bowl, add butterscotch chips and butter. Melt in the microwave in 30 second increments until the mixture is smooth. (It may take a bit of stirring; see photos below. I used a whisk toward the end.)
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir in the sugar and pumpkin puree.
  • Add the flour to the bowl, but don't mix it in yet. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, and stir that into the flour with a dry spoon. Then stir the flour into the rest of the mixture. Don't overmix, just stir until it's combined.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 27-29 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter for about 1 minute until it is fluffy. (If you haven't softened it, make it 2-3 minutes.)
  • Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and combine. Add the vanilla and 3 teaspoons of milk.
  • Beat in the remaining powdered sugar. Add a little more milk if it is stiff. Add a dash of salt if it is too sweet for you.
  • Beat well, scraping down the sides, before spreading it on the top of the cooled cake.
  • Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.


This cake is really easy to double and bake in a 9x13 inch pan. Also, this is a generous amount of frosting; you may not need all of it. (I mean, I do, but that's me.) If you are doubling the cake, I would only make 1 1/2 the amount of frosting: 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) salted butter, 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or regular vanilla), about 2-3 tablespoons milk, and a pinch of salt, if you want.
Source: The Food Charlatan. Melted chip idea from these Lemon Lemonies by Averie Cooks.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 57g | Vitamin A: 2207IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 510
Keyword: Butterscotch, Cake, pumpkin, Pumpkin Cake
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

Other fall recipes…It’s time, guys!

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears:

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted PearsPumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Pumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip CookiesPumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting: (from back in the day!)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting

Other pumpkin recipes from around the blogosphere:

Pumpkin French Toast from Cooking Classy
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting from Love from the Oven
Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake from Something Swanky
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting from The Salty Side

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    1. So happy to hear the recipe was a success Beth! Thanks for sending your friends here, and thanks for the review! :)

  1. Though I over-cooked, approx. 20 minutes beyond specifications cause I doubled the recipe, it was fabulous. The sides became super chewy and that is not a bad thing, well I did lose a part of a filling. The flavor was amazing, the texture was more brownie-ish. I may add pecans on the bottom before I pour the batter in. I feel like they didn’t need the frosting but it certainly did not hurt them in any way.

    1. The super chewy sides are the best part, right?? I’m obsessed! LOVE the idea of pecans on the bottom. And you are right, the frosting should probably be optional, but I can never say no to frosting! Thanks for commenting Beth!

  2. I want to be sure that there are no eggs in this recipe? Also, my batter didn’t look thin like yours. I put 1 3/4 cups of flour and my batter was more dough-like.

    1. Hi Tia! Yep, no eggs! The pumpkin acts as the egg in this recipe. It doesn’t rise much, honestly, that’s what makes it so dense and fudge-like. The batter is definitely dough-like. See the photo on the right just below the recipe. Hope it turns out well Tia!

      1. Thank you for the quick response. I made it this morning and actually it was a dough. I had to mold it in my pan. I will try again tonight and just scoop the flour into the measuring cups. I packed it like I would for other recipes. It still taste great though! =)

        1. Oh good I’m glad it turned out! When I say “spooned and leveled” after flour on the ingredient list, that’s what I mean, scoop flour into the measuring cups. Thanks for the review Tia!

  3. I bought everything to make your pumpkin cake. It sounds so yummy and looks like it will hand a very. moist texture witch I love. But I the only one in the that loves pumpkin. Do you think. I could freeze the cake. ??? Thanks. Carrie

    1. Hi Carrie! Looks like you will have the cake to yourself! Sounds perfect to me! :) Yes the cake is totally freezable, as are most cakes. After you have baked the cake and frosted it, cut it into squares. Place the squares on a baking sheet (separated) and put it in the freezer for about an hour (set a timer!) Then place each frozen square into a ziplock bag and return to the freezer. To thaw, let sit on the counter until defrosted. My friend Dorothy just posted a great article on how to freeze desserts, check it out here. Hope you love the cake Carrie!

  4. I just made two pans of this cake for a my church’s Fall Festival. If my quality check is any indication, I think I will be bringing home empty pans. I didn’t use your frosting recipe. I didn’t have enough butter. I made a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with some chopped pecans. I am already looking for an excuse to make this again.

    1. Cinnamon cream cheese!! That sounds awesome! And with the pecans. YUM. I’m going to have to try that out! Thanks for the review Gretchen, I’m so glad you liked it! Happy fall!

  5. A typical brother comment…I love it! But really, pumpkin and butterscotch?! This sounds like the perfect combination!

  6. You are the most awesome family in the history of the planet. I can’t believe your brother bought costumes AND put on eyeliner and mascara all for free donuts!! Does he know about tin foil and Chipotle for Halloween? Because I could totally see him going all out for that too. ;) And you are way too cute with your red arrows!! I’m totally pinning this twice — the second time just so I can use that image and hope that it goes as viral as your red nail polish and cucumber! (Don’t you just love food blogger friends… ;) ) Totally wish I could’ve taste tested this one for you!!

  7. WOW! I am in love with this cake Karen! I’m just jealous I wasn’t there the day you made it :) Pinned and sharing on Facebook!

  8. Oh man, this looks so good. I love pumpkin and butterscotch. And the texture of brownies too? Too good to be true.

  9. Pumpkin and butterscotch sound amazing together and the cake looks so moist. I think this is a must try recipe!

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