pumpkin cranberry cake with brown butter frosting

This is a recipe I discovered in a food magazine in high school, and I've been making it every fall ever since. The cake batter is so easy to mix up (no mixing aid required). It uses one full can of pumpkin puree (no leftovers to deal with). The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering, adding a subtle earthiness and a delicious moistness to the cake. The cranberries add a bit of zing, and the Brown Butter Frosting takes this treat to the next level. 

This is an easy, no-fuss dessert and definitely a crowd-pleaser. A great holiday bake. 


pumpkin cranberry cake with brown butter frosting


[for the cake:]

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 cups of white sugar

  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 can (or 15 ounces) of pumpkin puree

  • 3/4 cup of butter, melted and cooled

  • 3/4 cup of dried cranberries, chopped

[for the brown butter frosting:]

  • 1/2 cup of butter

  • 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • 2-4 tablespoons of cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch pan.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger). In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (eggs, pumpkin, 3/4 cup of melted butter). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Stir in the dried chopped cranberries.

  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool.

  4. While the cake is cooking, place remaining 1/2 cup of butter into a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat, swirling the pan gently, until the butter takes on a nutty scent and turns a deep golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  5. When the browned butter is cool, whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Slowly dribble in the cream until it reaches a spreading consistency. Scrape the frosting out onto the cooled cake, and spread around with an offset spatula. Enjoy right away, or place in the fridge for thirty minutes to let the frosting set, making the bars easier to slice.

Adapted from Taste of Home's Frosted Pumpkin Cranberry Bars.