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. I’m adding this to my Pinterest board for Thanksgiving. I love pumpkin pie devotedly, but this sounds amazing and I love making variations on classics. Definitely going to try this!

  2. I totally believe you. This cake looks absolutely amazing, Karen! Which means I just have to go ahead and whip it up for us… it’s a hard life being a food lover ;). Pinned, of course!

  3. Your brother is freaking awesome! He and his family better have gotten the free dozen donuts. Is this a regular thing at Krispy Kreme?! If it is, he better go every time to get his pirate costume money’s worth. I laughed when I saw the photo of the cake with the arrows. Girl, this is definitely not your ordinary cake. Look at how rich, moist ‘n fudgy it is! It’s like a pumpkin pie and a brownie/blondie made sweet love and this is their kick ass love child.

  4. Looks absolutely amazing, Karen! I’m going crazy for all the pumpkin recipes because that’s just what I do this time of the year. This is definitely one I’m going to try out! :)

  5. Totally blogworthy! And it doesn’t even look like every other pumpkin cake — it looks totally dense and rich and awesome. Pinned!

  6. The arrows is what got me. At first I was all like “meh, pumpkin cake” and then I saw those arrows. SOLD.

    Who am I kidding, I was giddy about this pumpkin cake from the get-go. I’m terrible at playing it cool.

  7. I love this post so much, Karen! The photos of your brothers family dressed as pirates, the red arrows, the cake! All so fantastic. And it had me giggling to myself!

  8. I just wrote today about my body’s craving for pumpkin and squash, despite not really liking those food items. But frosting, well that’s a game changer. I think I could eat pumpkin if there’s frosting involved.

  9. You’ve got me convinced that I need to make this! Your brother may be on to something with the arrow idea. haha! Looks and sounds amazing Karen.

  10. Definitely a must post recipe Karen! The world can always handle one more pumpkin recipe, don’t you worry!

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