chocolate pumpkin cake on a cake stand with several slices taken out of it

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

This chocolate pumpkin cake features chocolate and pumpkin cake layers, chocolate buttercream, and lots of warming fall spices.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Cooling time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 5 minutes
Servings 10
Author Kelsie


Cake layers

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk

Chocolate frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • candy pumpkins for garnish if desired


Cake layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch round cakes pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray the parchment with cooking spray Lightly dust with flour and set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, sugars, pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer set to medium speed until smooth.
  4. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour half of the batter into one of the prepared pans and set aside.
  5. Sift the cocoa powder over the remaining pumpkin batter and add the whole milk. Fold the cocoa powder into the cake batter until incorporated and pour into the second pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before assembling your cake.

Chocolate frosting

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  2. With mixer on low, gradually beat in 5 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, 6 tablespoons milk, and the salt. Turn mixer to medium and beat until well combined, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  3. If frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar; it it’s too thick add additional milk.


  1. Use a long serrated knife to split each cake layer into two layers.
  2. Set one of the chocolate cake layers on a cardboard cake circle or a cake stand and spread an even layer of frosting over the top. Top with a pumpkin layer and more frosting. Continue like this until you’ve used all the cake layers.
  3. Use the remaining frosting to frost the cake. Decorate as desired and serve.

Recipe Notes

If you have trouble splitting your cake layers in half horizontally, try chilling them for a few hours.

To bring your butter to room temp for the frosting, leave it out on the counter for 30 minutes; that should be plenty of time.