Try this luscious pumpkin gooey butter cake recipe! It’s easy to make with pantry staples. No box mix required! So perfect for fall or for the holidays.

Pumpkin gooey butter cake bars stacked on a white plate on a wood board.

Hello again!

The countdown is on for the holidays! On all my social media feeds, and at every store I visit, everyone is skipping right ahead to Christmas, now that Halloween is over. It’s crazy!

But I do feel myself getting caught up in it, lol!

The good news is, today’s recipe is perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any fall or winter occasion. Pumpkin gooey butter cake!

Pumpkin gooey cake bars on a white plate with a blue checked napkin and a text overlay above that reads "Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake."

WHAT IS GOOEY BUTTER CAKE?

If you’ve never heard of gooey butter cake before, get ready for your whole life to change. It’s amazing!

It’s kind of a layered jobbie, with a buttery crust/cake on the bottom and a gooey, sweet filling that bakes right on top. There’s no need for frosting at all, you get everything you crave in one pan.

And the combination is what dreams are made of. The contrast of flavors and textures is killer, and that topping will totally make you swoon.

I’ve heard that this dish originated in St. Louis, but I live in Pennsylvania Dutch country and it’s been here as long as I can remember.

I made a real-deal St. Louis-style gooey butter cake way back in my early days of blogging, and a little more recently, I created a gooey butter pie that is to-die-for. I even have a maple gooey butter cake recipe. But none of these are all that similar to the gooey butter cake that I discovered back in the late 1990’s.

At that time, Paula Deen was at the peak of her fame, and she introduced a shortcut pumpkin version that was made with cake mix, half a pound of butter, a block of cream cheese, and a whole box of powdered sugar. It’s total trash food.

But so dang good! It’s like cake, cheesecake, and pumpkin pie had a 3-way and this is what was born.

This recipe is made in its image, but with a few easy tweaks to take down the junk food factor just a notch or two. It’s a little less cloyingly sweet, with a more pronounced pumpkin spice flavor, and you don’t need a box mix at all.

You can make this with simple, wholesome ingredients you probably already have in your pantry!

HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER CAKE FROM SCRATCH

This recipe has 2 main components:

  1. The dense, cake-y bottom layer.
  2. The gooey, rich, and slightly tangy filling on top.

Let’s start with the base.

THE CAKE LAYER

To make the bottom layer, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a big bowl.

Dry ingredients for pumpkin gooey butter cake in a glass bowl.

Give everything a quick whisk, just to get it all combined.

Dry ingredients for pumpkin gooey butter cake, with eggs and melted butter.

Then add in an egg and some melted butter. This dessert has a lot of butter! It is called gooey butter cake after all.

I love buttery desserts so that is not a problem for me.

Base cake layer for pumpkin gooey butter cake, in a large glass mixing bowl.

Stir everything together. You’ll notice this is quite a crumbly mixture. It almost has the consistency of graham cracker crust or streusel. I find it easiest to mix with my clean hands.

Pressing the bottom layer into a pan for pumpkin gooey butter cake.

Once it’s all combined, dump it into a greased and lined 9×13 pan. Then just pat it into an even layer.

Set it aside, while you get going on the filling.

THE PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER FILLING

For the filling, start by beating cream cheese and pumpkin puree together until smooth.

Beating pumpkin puree and cream cheese together for pumpkin gooey butter cake.

Then, add in the eggs, vanilla, and MORE BUTTER!

Adding eggs and vanilla to pumpkin cream cheese mixture for pumpkin gooey butter cake.

When everything is all combined, sweeten things up with powdered sugar and spice. Warm cinnamon brings that unmistakable holiday flavor, and freshly grated nutmeg is pumpkin’s number one bestie.

Adding powdered sugar and spices to pumpkin gooey butter cake.

Pour this mixture over the crust, and bake!

Pouring pumpkin gooey butter cake batter into a 9x13 pan.

You’ll know it’s done when the edges are set but the center still looks very moist and wobbles a little when you shake the pan.

Unbaked pumpkin gooey butter cake in a pan.

Allow it to cool completely before cutting it into bars and serving.

Overhead image of Paula Deen pumpkin gooey butter cake bars made from scratch.

GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER CAKE

If you want to make a gluten-free version of this recipe, just swap out the flour for a gluten-free blend. Look for one that subs 1:1 for regular flour. Here are a few good options:

HOW TO SERVE PUMPKIN GOOEY BUTTER CAKE

This recipe can be served at room temperature. It does not need to be chilled or kept warm, and it honestly does not need any adornment at all. It’s perfect just as is.

But if you want to get fancy, you can dress it up with a little dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, or a sprinkling of nuts or seeds. I think pepitas would be perfect, and so would chopped toasted pecans or walnuts.

CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?

This is a great dish to make ahead. You can make it several days before you plan to serve it.

Keep it covered tightly, and chill it in the fridge until an hour or so before you plan to serve it. Allow it to come to room temp and you’re good to go.

It’s perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If you’re hosting, you can cross this off your to-do list well in advance.

Or if you’re traveling somewhere and want to bring a dish, this one transports beautifully.

DO YOU HAVE TO REFRIGERATE IT?

This cake can sit out on your dessert table for a few hours, but any longer than that and you should probably stash it in the fridge.

CAN YOU FREEZE IT?

Pumpkin gooey butter cake freezes beautifully. Just wrap it up tightly so it doesn’t dry out or pick up any funny freezer odors.

Thaw it in the fridge or on the counter the day before you plan to serve it.

Pumpkin ooey gooey butter cake close up.

A few more of my favorite pumpkin treats:

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Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

Try this luscious pumpkin gooey butter cake recipe! It's easy to make with pantry staples. No box mix required! So perfect for fall or for the holidays.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: paula deen pumpkin gooey butter cake, pumpkin gooey butter cake, pumpkin gooey cake, pumpkin ooey gooey butter cake
Servings: 15
Calories: 391 kcal
Ingredients
For the cake layer:
For the pumpkin gooey butter filling:
Optional garnishes:
  • powdered sugar
  • sweetened whipped cream
  • pepitas or chopped pecans or walnuts
Instructions
To make the cake layer:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, mist a 9x13-inch pan with non-stick spray, and line it with parchment.

  2. Place the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Stir in the egg and melted butter until combined, and transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, pressing it into an even layer.

To make the pumpkin gooey butter filling:
  1. Place the cream cheese and pumpkin in a large bowl and beat together until smooth.

  2. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, mixing until well-combined.

  3. Stir in the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and mix well.

  4. Pour the filling over the cake layer and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are set but the center is still wobbly.

Recipe Notes

*If you've never tried freshly grating whole nutmeg, you should!  You only need a tiny bit and the flavor is off the charts.

This recipe was inspired by Paula Deen's world famous Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake.

Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 391 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 93mg31%
Sodium 244mg11%
Potassium 158mg5%
Carbohydrates 53g18%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 39g43%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 5057IU101%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 61mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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