Pumpkin Crunch Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

In Hawaii during fall and Thanksgiving, pumpkin crunch cake is the most-searched recipe on the Internet. As an alternative to pumpkin pie, this dessert holds up well in a tropical climate, can serve lots of local people, is relatively easy to prepare and complements the other ethnic dishes served at potlucks. We have made pumpkin crunch cake for autumn-themed parties and Thanksgiving get-togethers on the mainland and it is a crowd-pleaser. This favorite fall dessert is especially perfect for celebrating National Pumpkin Day!


(From Phyllis S.)


  • 1 can (15 ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and lightly cooled
  • whipped cream (optional frosting)


Line the bottom of a 9×13” pan with waxed paper. Mist the bottom and sides with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin and canned evaporated milk. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt.

Mix in the pumpkin pie spice. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the yellow cake mix evenly over the entire top of the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Pour the melted/cooled butter all over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (test the cake for doneness with a toothpick). Cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate to set. Invert the pumpkin crunch on a tray and cut into squares. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional).


  • Smother whipped cream on the cooled cake as a frosting before serving.
  • For potlucks, we omit the whipped cream, cut the cake into 48 pieces and place them in cupcake papers for easy self-serve.
  • Thanks to our friend, Phyllis S., a Hawaii expatriate now living in Texas, for sharing this recipe with us. She served pumpkin crunch cake when she and her husband Pat S. entertained us and other people at their home and it was nostalgic for the locals!
  • Search our blog for other fall favorite foods or pumpkin recipes.