It's officially pumpkin season and this Vegan Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting is sure to be your new favorite Fall dessert. The only thing that can make this fluffy & eggless pumpkin cake even better is a large drizzle of vegan salted caramel on top!
*Recipe created November 2019 and updated October 2023*
This eggless & dairy-free pumpkin cake ends up incredibly moist because of the canned pumpkin and olive oil in the batter. Then, it gets topped with the most luscious and fluffy vegan caramel buttercream frosting. Can we say YUM!!
Seriously, if you are a pumpkin dessert lover like me, then you MUST bake this vegan pumpkin cake!
- Pumpkin Puree: It is VERY important to use a thick pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) to get the right texture for this cake.
- I strongly advise against using organic pumpkin puree as it tends to be too watery and light for baking- Libby's and Shaws Signature are my two favorites to bake with.
- Olive oil: I love using olive oil in this recipe as it compliments the flavor of pumpkin and leads to a really tender cake.
- It can be substituted for any neutral oil or even melted & unsalted vegan butter, but this will slightly change the end texture and flavor of the pumpkin cake.
- Oat milk: I prefer using oat milk because of its creamy texture, however, any non-dairy milk works in this recipe.
- Two other favorites to use are soy milk and almond milk.
- Apple cider vinegar: This helps to create the "vegan buttermilk" and acts as an acidic ingredient needed to interact with the baking soda (in addition to the brown sugar).
- It can be substituted 1:1 with fresh lemon juice.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: In case you didn't know, pumpkin pie spice actually has NO pumpkin in it. It is essentially a blend of warming spices that add so much flavor to this cake and is 100% necessary to get the best flavor.
- I use this store-bought pumpkin pie spice blend, but here is a recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice you can also use.
- Salted Caramel: I make my own vegan salted caramel that I highly recommend for this cake! However, you can use a store-bought caramel instead.
- Coconut cream: This is my *secret ingredient* to the fluffiest vegan frosting so don't skip it if you can. Coconut cream is the thick white part at the top of canned coconut milk and acts almost like a heavy cream in the frosting.
- If you can't find it, you can omit it, but you will have a more dense and thick caramel frosting.
Steps to make a vegan sheet cake
The best part of making this pumpkin sheet cake is that it only takes 30 minutes to bake into the perfect caramel pumpkin cake!
Make pumpkin cake batter
First, make the vegan buttermilk by whisking together the oat milk and apple cider vinegar and letting it sit to curdle for 2-3 minutes.
Then, add in the remaining ingredients including the pumpkin puree, olive oil, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.
Then, I sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding them to the wet ingredients. This helps to make sure the spices, baking powder, and baking soda are well dispersed!
Then, mix everything together into a thick pumpkin cake batter. I recommend starting with a whisk and then switching to a spatula to remove any remaining streaks of flour so the batter does not get over-mixed.
Bake the pumpkin cake
Once the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together, you'll pour the vegan pumpkin cake batter into a parchment-lined or well-greased 9*13 baking dish. Then, add to the oven and bake!
This vegan pumpkin cake recipe is so easy that the batter can be prepped in about 10 minutes and the cake takes just about 30 minutes to bake!
Make the vegan salted caramel frosting
Honestly, the part of this recipe that takes the most time is making the vegan salted caramel frosting.
The first step is to make the vegan salted caramel. However, you can use store-bought caramel to make this step easier.
I personally like to make my salted caramel the day before to spread out my time in the kitchen and to give it more time to set and thicken in the fridge.
After the caramel sets, it's just a matter of whipping it with vegan butter, coconut cream, and powdered sugar to form a fluffy caramel frosting. Then, use a cake spatula to spread it over the cooled pumpkin cake.
I will tell you- it is WORTH the extra time, but if you want a more simple frosting recipe you can follow the vegan vanilla buttercream recipe I used in my classic Vegan Vanilla Cake instead (just make sure to double it for this cake!)
Don't forget to save some salted caramel to drizzle on top! Not only does it make this vegan pumpkin sheet cake look gorgeous, but it tastes great too.
Once the pumpkin cake is frosted, just slice it into 12 evenly-sized squares and enjoy!
FAQ & Tips:
Can I make this pumpkin sheet cake gluten-free?
I haven't tried it, but using 1:1 gluten-free baking flour in place of all-purpose flour should work in this recipe. Please keep in mind, that subbing in coconut, almond, or any other flour alternatives will NOT work in this recipe.
Can I bake this vegan pumpkin cake in a different pan?
If you are following the recipe as written, I highly suggest sticking to a 9*13-inch ceramic or aluminum pan.
However, if you prefer to make a smaller cake, you can easily cut the recipe in half and bake it in either an 8*8 inch square pan or a circular 9-inch pan for similar results.
How do I store this pumpkin cake?
If unfrosted, this pumpkin cake can be stored at room temperature for 24-48 hours days when covered with tinfoil or plastic wrap or stored in a closed container.
If frosted, this cake can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days in a closed container or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
This cake is particularly moist, so it can handle the fridge better than some of my other cake recipes. However, I still strongly prefer storing the cake in the freezer as over time the fridge will dry it out.
I can't wait for you all to make this moist and delicious Vegan Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting! It makes the perfect vegan dessert for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any Fall gathering. Enjoy!
More vegan pumpkin desserts you will love:
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Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting
Vegan Salted Caramel:
Vegan Pumpkin Cake:
- 1 ⅓ cups oat milk or soy/almond milk
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Make the Vegan Salted Caramel
- Add the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla bean paste to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring consistently until the caramel is amber in color and thicker.
- Remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the salt, and let cool at room temperature. Once cooled, place in a closed container in the fridge to "set" for at least one hour. I prefer to make the caramel the day before baking the cake so it can set in the fridge overnight.
Make the pumpkin cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9*13 inch pan with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan.
- Add the oat milk and apple cider vinegar to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together and let sit to curdle for 2-3 minutes to create the "vegan buttermilk".
- Next, add the pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, olive oil, and vanilla to the bowl of vegan buttermilk and mix all the wet ingredients together.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Once sifted, gradually add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl of wet ingredients and whisk together until a smooth batter forms. I like to start with a whisk and switch to a spatula so I do not overmix the batter.
- Pour the batter into the 9*13 inch pan and bake for 28-32 minutes or until the cake is cooked through.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. If you used parchment paper you can transfer it to a wire rack to cool or let it cool in the baking dish. Once the cake has cooled, make the frosting.
Make the salted caramel frosting
- Add the vegan butter g to a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Then, add in the coconut cream and cream with the vegan butter for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup of the salted caramel and whip it into the butter and coconut cream. Once the caramel is incorporated, slowly add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time and whip it into the frosting until smooth. Once all the powdered sugar has been mixed in, I recommend whipping the frosting for a few minutes longer to make it extra fluffy!
- Once the cake has completed cooled, top with the vegan salted caramel frosting. As a final step, drizzle the remaining ¼ cup of salted caramel on top of the cake. Serve & enjoy!
- Oat milk can be subbed with any non-dairy milk like almond, soy, or rice.
- I prefer to make the vegan salted caramel the day before I cook the cake and make the frosting, but all of it can be made on the same day if you make the caramel in the morning.
- You can also bake the pumpkin cake the day before making the frosting to save prep time.
- Frosted cake can be stored in a closed container in the freezer for up to 1 month or in the fridge for 3-4 days. Storing in the fridge may dry out the cake, so I recommend storing it in the freezer. Unfrosted and completely cooled cake can also be stored at room temperature for 24-48 hours if covered with tinfoil/plastic wrap or stored in a closed container.
- *This cake recipe was adapted in October 2022 to lead to a more moist and fluffy cake!