Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake

Gluten free pumpkin butter cake is a light, buttery, almost flaky vanilla cake that bakes all along the bottom of the pan and up the sides. And it’s filled with the nicest, lightest most lightly sweet pumpkin cheesecake you’ve ever had.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake

Other than apple pie and pumpkin pie, I wouldn’t say that it’s so obvious what to serve for dessert on Thanksgiving. I mean, everyone knows about turkey, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and definitely some lovely dinner rolls, but after that it’s not such a slam dunk. First of all, everyone is stuffed from the meal. Even when you have a family like mine that absolutely plans ahead that they’re going to overeat on Thanksgiving, there are limits. And of course there’s always the matter of what, exactly, to serve.

You definitely want something with pumpkin on the dessert table. It’s a must. But pumpkin pie isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite (what? it isn’t! Is it?). And since a proper apple pie isn’t overly sweet at all, it’s nice to have a pumpkin dessert option to match. All of this is to say that I believe I’ve found essentially the perfect pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving: gluten free pumpkin butter cake.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake

It’s the crust that’ll knock your socks off, really. Okay and the pumpkin cheesecake filling doesn’t hurt either. It slices nice and clean, but it’s still light and fluffy.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake—Step by Step

As you can see, to get that beautiful sugary crust all around your butter cake, a springform pan really works best. Generally I try to avoid springform pans, but for any sort of cheesecake, it really is best to use one. You could also try baking this in separate pans like our original California Pizza Kitchen-Style Gluten Free Butter Cake (just reduce the baking time), as it’s easier to get a small cake cleanly out of a baking ramekin than it would be to get a whole 9-inch cake out of a baking pan without inverting it.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Butter Cake

This cake also keeps really beautifully in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, so it’s a great make-ahead option for Thanksgiving. I haven’t tried freezing it, though, since cheesecake doesn’t generally freeze very well. But just look at that velvety pumpkin cheesecake inside the gorgeous butter cake with that amazing sugar crust. This will be the Thanksgiving to remember. I can feel it!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 9-inch cake


For prepping the pans
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (50 g) sugar

For the cake layer
1 cup (140 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used my mock Better Batter)

1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch (or another starch if you can’t have corn)

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs (120 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk, at room temperature

For the cheesecake layer
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

7 1/2 ounces (half of a 15-ounce can) pure pumpkin puree

2 eggs (120 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*

1 tablespoon (9 g) cornstarch (or another starch)

*To make your own pumpkin pie spice, combine 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Prepare a deep, 9-inch springform baking dish by greasing the bottom and sides generously with softened butter and sprinkling with an even layer of sugar. Tap the sugar around the pan to coat the entire buttered surface. Set the pans aside.

  • Make the cake layer. In a large bowl, place the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, eggs, vanilla and milk, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter should be thick but relatively fluffy. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Set the pan aside.

  • Make the pumpkin cheesecake layer. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, place the cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice, beating to combine well after each addition. add the cornstarch, and beat to combine. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Scrape the cheesecake layer on top of the cake batter in the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer.

  • Bake the cake. Place the pan on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cake is mostly set on top, with just a little bit of jiggle in the center when shaken lightly from side to side (about 45 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the pan. Unmold the cooled cake by removing the sides of the springform pan. Slice and serve.

  • Adapted from my recipe for California Pizza Kitchen-Style Gluten Free Butter Cake, itself inspired by Homemade Cravings.



P.S. If you don’t have your copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread yet, would you consider ordering one today? Your support means so much to me!

Comments are closed.

  • April
    November 25, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Hi Nicole, I am planning to make the regular butter cake for thanksgiving(I.e nonpumpkin variety). The past recipe you posted seems to be suited for several small cakes, however I want to make a single large. Can I use this recipe and just omit the pumpkin?

    • November 26, 2014 at 8:18 AM

      Hi, April, no, you can’t jus leave out the pumpkin! You can never just remove an ingredient from a recipe and get good results. I recommend that you use the CPK-Style Butter Cake recipe, and follow the baking directions from this one. Good luck!

  • Blogger recipe regrets
    November 23, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    Just hit the 45-minute mark and like a couple of other commenters, have a completely undercooked cake that also looks NOTHING like the photos. Just a brown cake top. No pumpkin visible, whatsover. Thanks for nothing!

    • November 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Hi, recipe regrets, I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience with this cake. I know it can be frustrating when a recipe doesn’t turn out as expected, but this is a very well-tested recipe, and is in fact just a version of another well-tested recipe on the site. If you made any substitutions, I’d always look there first, and I also can’t recommend baking by weight enough. If your flour blend isn’t one I recommend, that can have a significant effect on the end result as well.

  • Jessy
    November 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Hello again, Nicole! I’m excited to make this recipe with my virgin springform pan. I’m kind of nervous to lose the base of the pan because I will be travelling Would it be possible to line the base with parchment and then butter and sugar-coat the parchment so that I can transfer it to another dish for the trip? Or would this totally mess with the springform seal and how the cake sets up? Thanks again! :)

  • Moose Malibu
    November 20, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    This cake is delicious. I made it exactly as described last night. But I think my oven is not as warm as it should be. I undercooked it. Next time I’d cook it for at least an additional 10 minutes if not longer. This happens to me quite a bit. Even undercooked a bit it tastes phenomenal!

    • November 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      Sounds like you know exactly what happened, Moose Malibu. Thanks for your comment, and for keeping things so civil!

    November 19, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Hello! Love this recipe! I made it today, but the top go very dark, very quickly. Any insight? It is still cooling so I haven’t tasted yet, but am perplexed at how dark the top is. Also, how do you incorporate the butter into the well in the step for the base, as the butter is still in solid form. Can I use a mixer for this step??

    • November 20, 2014 at 7:40 AM

      That sounds like a too-hot oven issue, which would cause the outside to bake faster, and even burn, gfinnh. You need an oven thermometer! You incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients by mixing because it is at room temperature, so it is soft. You can definitely use a mixer if you prefer, but be careful not to overwork the batter.

      • gfinnh
        November 21, 2014 at 7:26 AM

        thanks, Nicole, I will give it another try today! My oven thermometer fell over, so I will replace it in the center and give it another try! We devoured it yesterday, and when I cut into it ALL the cake was on the top and the pumpkin on the bottom. It was delicious despite the appearance.

        • gfinnh
          November 25, 2014 at 9:39 PM

          Hello, tried for a third time. I use my own flour blend, and it must be lighter than yours, so it climbs the sides and then covers the top completely! Any suggestions? Perhaps cut back on the corn starch?

        • November 26, 2014 at 8:18 AM

          I’m afraid all flour blends are definitely not created equal. I really recommend you use one of my flour blends if you’d like to try again!

  • Cc
    November 18, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    If you make it ahead of time, how do you store it?

    • Cc
      November 18, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Nevermind, I read above:) One other question, I ran out of gf flour. Can I use Betty Crocker yellow cake mix?

      • November 20, 2014 at 7:41 AM

        I’d wait until you have flour, Cc! This is not a recipe designed to be made with a cake mix, no.

      • Deb
        November 24, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        There is a similar non-GF recipe out there called Goey butter pumpkin cake. It uses a yellow cake mix for the bottom and it is my all time favorite, has spoiled me for never eating plain pumpkin pie again. I plan to try it with the betty Crocker GF yellow cake mix this year :)

  • Shineun Dehen
    November 18, 2014 at 5:53 AM

    Me too, I was wondering the same thing as Nancy Mclnerney. Just cake batter on bottom (not spreading the batter on to the sides of the spring form pan) and on top goes the pumpkin cheesecake batter as well. And while it is baking the cake layer will go up the sides of the pan? The silly goose that I am…. If so, how does that happen? (Baking Nerd~learning moment= scientifically-science baking

    • November 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      See below, Shineun!

      • Shineun Dehen
        November 19, 2014 at 7:24 PM


  • Nancy McInerney
    November 17, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    This looks wonderful! Am I reading the recipe correctly about assembling the cake layer? : The cake batter is just a layer on the bottom, the cheesecake is then on top, and somehow the cake layer rises up and makes the crust on the sides?

    • November 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Yes, Nancy. The cheesecake layer is heavier and the cake layer has more rise. Trust me. :)

      • Nancy McInerney
        November 18, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        Thank you! :)

      • Donia Robinson
        November 18, 2014 at 10:19 PM

        I trust you, Nicole, but how does it do it??? How does it know how to crawl up the sides?? It’s mind boggling to me! I’m good with the pudding cakes; makes total sense. But this is magic, I think.

  • Celia
    November 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    I am gf and dairy free. This looks so yummy. Do you think it could be made dairy free as well with maybe a dairy free cream cheese alternative? And would coconut milk or almond milk work? Thanks so much!

    • Donia Robinson
      November 18, 2014 at 10:17 PM

      I’d say take the plunge and go for it. Or, if you can have nuts, look on the web for pumpkin “cheesecakes” made with raw cashew cream. I have made a few different recipes, and they are delicious!

      • Celia
        November 18, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        Thanks, Donia. I like the cashew cream idea. :)

  • Diane Stemple Swearingen
    November 17, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Is canned pumpkin difference from pumpkin puree?

    • November 17, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Same thing, Diane. You just want to be sure it’s pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling (with added ingredients).

      • Diane Stemple Swearingen
        November 17, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        Thanks…I thought so, but wanted to be sure. This is definitely going on the dessert table this year! :)

  • Jennifer S.
    November 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    This looks freakin’ awesome and I love pumpkin in all shapes and forms. I always make pumpkin pie and pecan pie for thanksgiving. This year, my MIL has decided to do some wacky pumpkin thing in muffin cups (whatevs) but I’m doing a pecan pie to keep the masses happy and of course it will be with a GF crust. My kindergartener has a thanksgiving feast next week and they are serving pumpkin pie (why do they have to have so much food at school?) so I will whip us up a GF pumpkin pie so I can send a piece with him to school…. ONE PIECE and then I guess I’ll be eating the rest – good thing I like pumpkin pie! :)

    • November 17, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Oh all the food at school drives me crazy, Jennifer!! I know all about making a whole cake just to be able to send your kid with a piece. Wish we could have a co-op for that sort of thing. If only we lived closer to one another. ;)

      • Donia Robinson
        November 18, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        I’m in!

  • Hollie
    November 17, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    This looks amazing. And like even the non-GFers would enjoy it.
    Im going to attempt it with my larger springform for Thanksgiving. Hopefully it works!

  • Lucy
    November 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    This cake looks amazing! We are to bring a GF pie or dessert for Christmas dinner. I may have to bake a pie and a dessert :)

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