Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve noticed on more than one occasion I’ve stated that I’m not really fond of pumpkin desserts and yet I keep baking pumpkin desserts. I guess I’ll have to officially change my mind because I really do like pumpkin desserts! I’m definitely more of a fan of pumpkin scones and pumpkin bread, but this pumpkin cake with bourbon cream cheese frosting won me over.

I made pumpkin whoopie pies a while ago just to try something different and made the filling with bourbon. If you haven’t noticed by now, I no stranger to boozy desserts. While I thought the whoopie pie was good, it didn’t really blow me over (I’m not a whoopie pie person in general, although they were delicious), so I thought I would turn the concept of the boozy whoopie pie into a boozy cake.

After tasting this cake, I became a pumpkin believer! The cake was nice and moist and reminded me of carrot cake in the sense that it was a nice flavorful spice cake, and you can never go wrong with a little boozy frosting. I liked it so much, I actually kept a couple of slices for myself before sharing it with my coworkers. If you’re still looking for a last minute dessert, this would be a great recipe!


Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting


for the cake

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground clove
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter , softened
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil , divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups (15 oz) canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup milk (I used whole)

for the frosting

  • 12 oz . cream cheese , softened
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter , softened
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar , or more for desired consistency


Make the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with a round of parchment paper, butter parchment and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove for 20 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and 3 Tbsp of the vegetable oil until pale and fluffy (occasionally scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout mixing process). Mix in remaining ¼ + 1 Tbsp vegetable oil. Blend in eggs one at a time, adding in vanilla with last egg. In a bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together pumpkin with milk. Working in three separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture alternating with half of the pumpkin mixture and mixing just until combined after each addition.
  3. Divide batter among three prepared cake pans and spread batter into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 30 - 35 minutes. Cool in cake pans 15 minutes, then run a knife around edge of cake to loosen and invert onto wire racks to cool completely. Frost cake with cream cheese frosting.

make the frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla, bourbon and powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined, then increase to medium and whip until pale and fluffy (if frosting is runny, cover and refrigerate just until it no longer is runny before spreading on cake).

Recipe Notes

I used 6-in cake pans for my recipe

Adapted from cooking classy


  1. This cake looks absolutely divine! I’ve never thought of adding bourbon to cream cheese, but it sounds to die for. Love the flavor combination.

  2. This looks SO delicious – perfect for this time of year! I’ve never tried to make a pumpkin cake or a homemade icing….I’ll definately be making this one soon!!

  3. This sounds downright delicious and bourbon in the frosting makes it even better! I love adding bourbon to desserts – it cuts the sweetness slightly and rounds the whole thing out.

  4. Mmmm, what a perfect fall treat! The kick of the bourbon flavor with the pumpkin is just perfect for a crisp fall evening!

  5. Looks like a perfect looking cake for me! Haven’t tried bourbon cream cheese frosting though. And that sure sounds interesting for me. I am saving the recipe and trying my best to make this delicious looking cake.

  6. I’m going to have to try both this recipe and the one for the whoopie pies. I thought I would prefer the whoopie pies because I prefer a higher ration of frosting to cake, but the ratio of spices seems better in this cake. (I prefer just a hint of cloves which this cake offers.) I think I will have to make both of them, and have multiple comparative tastes before I can decide. I really love the addition of bourbon in the frosting. YUM!!

    • You could always play around with the spices in the cake 🙂 I was a bit lazy and went for a more rustic look. I love boozy desserts and playing around with the amount that I add to a recipe. In this case, I didn’t add too much and it gave the frosting a nice nutty and earthy flavor. Hope you enjoy them!

  7. You had me at cake, but I stayed for the bourbon cream cheese frosting. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to go get a handkerchief to wipe up all this drool!

  8. Oh woah, this cake is amazing, I want to try it! I am all for anything pumpkin related this time of year but have not tried this one before. And cream cheese frosting, so much yumminess happening.

  9. You had me at Bourbon frosting! This weekend I’m going camping and I think I might bring this cake with me. Everybody would love it.

  10. This cake looks gorgeous! Well done! I haven’t made a semi-naked cake like that before so I should really try this out. I feel the same way about the pumpkin flavor…it reminds me of carrot cake because of the spices. So obviously it’s going to taste amazing with the cream cheese frosting. Can’t wait to try it!