Topped with a cream cheese frosting and drizzled with homemade caramel sauce, this pumpkin poke cake is the absolute BEST, most decadent fall homemade cake recipe. You’ll fall in love with the creamy frosting, sweet homemade caramel, and pumpkin cake.
This version is completely homemade including the homemade caramel and fluffy cream cheese frosting. But, check the recipe notes for shortcuts using purchased cake mix and jarred caramel, if you are short on time or don’t feel comfy making it from scratch. No shame in that game!
I just want to give you a quick reminder that 100% Pumpkin is NOT the same as Pumpkin Pie Mix.
Let me tell you, I grew up with my mom using pumpkin pie mix and throwing it into a pie shell to make pumpkin pie. Honestly, I think it’s a great way to get a pumpkin pie if you aren’t inclined to make the filling from scratch.
BUT…for the longest time I would make recipes that called for 100% pumpkin and use the pie mix version. I just never knew nor did I really look at the can’s ingredient list.
It wasn’t that many years ago when I was working on some dog treats that I read how important it was to make sure you were using 100% pumpkin and not the pie mix with ingredients in it harmful to dogs.
WHAT?!? There were 2 different things?
Sigh. I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t know this.
Just in case there are others, like me, that didn’t know…now you do :). Pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Mix are both in cans. They are not the same.
This cake is a dream. It is soooo rich, decadent, and full of flavor.
Shhh, I’m going to give you another tip with this cake…pour bourbon over it when you pour the caramel. Just a few ounces.
Caramel AND Bourbon.
I mean. Come-ON! Creamy cream cheese frosting on top of a pumpkin spice cake and drizzled with homemade caramel (maybe with a secret bourbon flavor?)…this is to die for!
And reminder, if making this whole thing from scratch scares the bejeesus out of you, check the recipe notes for how to use a spice cake mix and jar of caramel sauce.
Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Poke Cake
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 ounces cream cheese
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8- ounce container whipped topping
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
- Add remaining cake ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
- Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray, and then pour batter into the cake pan.
- Bake cake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove cake from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
- Add brown sugar, unsalted butter, and milk to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat to make the caramel sauce, frequently stirring until thickened. Remove the pan from the burner, and add vanilla.
- Let the caramel sauce cool.
- Poke holes in the cake with the end of a rounded wooden spoon.
- Pour caramel sauce over the cake and push into the holes, making sure to reserve some sauce for the top of the cake.
- Beat the cream cheese until smooth and then mix in the powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla. Fold in the whipped topping, and then spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cake.
- Decorate the top of the cake with drizzles of caramel and chopped pecans.