The recipe that has been hurting my brain for 4 years is finally here. Our insanely delicious pumpkin lava cake is going to blow up Christmas desserts for the rest of eternity.

Aren’t you a little like me? You get to that big Christmas meal and go back and forth on which dessert you want to bring to the table, something chocolate, a little pie – oh but you ate pie for a week after Thanksgiving, so maybe not…

a photo of a serving of pumpkin lava cake in a small white saucer. the cake is sitting in a thick sauce that has seeping out of the cake and the cake is topped with whipped cream.

Pumpkin lava cake to the rescue!

I saw all of those chocolate lava cakes for years but never fully enjoyed one, so I decided that we need a pumpkin version. All the spice of a molasses or gingerbread feel but 100% pumpkin. I wanted to feel the Christmas spirit and for me that means smelling it and tasting it. You know I’m right, you walk into a place that smells of Christmas and you’re instantly all tingly like you are a little kid again. Chocolate is awesome, but Christmas needs spice!

a photo of a white ceramic baking dish full of a baked pumpkin lava cake.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Lava Cake

Prep all your warm Christmas spices and the typical cake ingredients and you’ll have what you need to get going on this cake. Here is what you will need:

  • Dry Ingredients: flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, baking soda, salt
  • Spices: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
  • Wet Ingredients: evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter, vanilla

And for the brown sugar cinnamon topping, you will need a couple of more ingredients:

  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Cinnamon
  • Heavy Cream
  • Butter
  • Boiling Water

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

a photo of a someone sprinkling a brown sugar topping on top of pumpkin lava cake batter in a white rectangular baking dish.

How to Make Pumpkin Lava Cake

Remember how this cake is going to blow up Christmas desserts for all time? Well, the best news about it is that it so easy! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Preheat oven and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and mix until just blended.
  4. Pour into the baking dish.
  5. In a separate small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the crumb topping.
  6. Sprinkle over the batter.
  7. Bring water to boil in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Whisk in the cream and butter.
  8. Pour over the top of the batter.
  9. Bake and cool for a few minutes before serving with ice cream or whipped cream.

All of these instructions can be found in more detail down in the recipe card.

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a photo of a serving being removed from a warm baked pumpkin lava cake.

Tips for Making Pumpkin Lava Cake

  • If you really want to step up your pumpkin dessert game, brown the butter before adding it to the cake batter. It adds so much richness.
  • When you add the wet ingredients to the dry, do not overmix it. Just stir it enough to moisten all the dry ingredients and then stop. It’s okay if there are a few streaks of dry ingredients.
  • Do not stir the batter after you have added the topping and hot water/cream mixture. This is what makes the lava. It’s pretty much magic.

a photo of a single serving of pumpkin lava cake on a small white saucer with a silver spoon sitting next to it and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

What is the Difference Between Light and Dark Brown Sugar?

The amount of molasses added to the sugar is the only difference. Dark brown sugar has almost twice the molasses added to it as light brown sugar. It has a deeper and richer caramel-y flavor.

What is Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk is cow’s milk that has been heated so that most of the water evaporates from the milk leaving it concentrated. It could also be called unsweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk is the same thing but with sugar added.

a photo of a whole baked pumpkin lava cake in a rounded rectangular white baking dish.

Storing, Reheating and Freezing Pumpkin Lava Cake

Lava is hot, so this cake is best served and eaten while it’s still warm and the lava is gooey. As the cake cools, the cake will absorb the lava and it won’t have that “lava” feel. It will still taste dang delicious though!

Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can reheat individual pieces in the microwave.

This cake will freeze fine, but like I just mentioned, that lava gooey-ness won’t be quite the same as when you first pull it out of the oven. Make sure the cake has cooled completely then wrap in plastic wrap and then foil. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

a photo of a single serving of pumpkin lava cake sitting on a small white saucer topped with a dollop of whipped cream. the cake is sitting in sauce that has seeped out of the cake.
Pumpkin lava cake is gooey and tender and so festive! The smell will take you right to your Christmas happy place, and once you take a bite topped with a little ice cream or whipped cream, you’ll never need another Christmas dessert again.

More Delicious Pumpkin Desserts:

Insanely Delicious Pumpkin Lava Cake

4.29 from 14 votes
Servings: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes


  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, regular is fine
  • 4 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 4 Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cardamom
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Cup Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, melted, see note
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla


  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, all light brown is fine
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water


  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add milk, pumpkin, butter and vanilla; mix until blended. Grease a casserole dish or 9x13" baking pan and pour in the batter, spreading it evenly.

Make the Topping

  • In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugars, cornstarch, and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
  • In a glass measuring cup, boil the water in the microwave. Whisk in the heavy cream and melted butter. Pour the hot mixture over the top but do not stir!!!
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and liquid is bubbling around the edges, about 30-40 minutes. The middle will still jiggle.
    Cool about 15 minutes in pan and then serve with ice cream or whipped cream!


Want to really up your pumpkin game? Try browning the butter in the cake!


Serving: 1pieceCalories: 347kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 4gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 440mgPotassium: 151mgFiber: 1gSugar: 35gVitamin A: 2863IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 500+ Best Dessert Recipes, Easy Cake Recipes For Beginners

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The best Pumpkin lava Cake you wil ever have in a dish with cream on top