3-Ingredient Marshmallow Pumpkin Cake

Baking for the holidays shouldn't be a chore, but it can often feel that way — especially if you're hosting this year. Between cleaning the house to prepare for your guests and whipping up a gigantic dinner, we're often too exhausted to think about making dessert. So we head to the store to pick up a premade pumpkin pie. It's always fine, but it's nothing to write home about. While there are plenty of easy pumpkin pie recipes out there, we decided to develop an even easier dessert option: this dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe.

Thanksgiving might be well-known as a pie holiday, but you may change your mind about that when you dig into this unbelievable cake. Who could hate on a tender, sweet (but not too sweet), pumpkin-spiced cake slathered with a layer of gooey marshmallows? Not anyone at our dinner table! The best part about this recipe is it's made with three shelf-stable ingredients, and it only takes 30 minutes to bake.

Gather the ingredients to make this dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe

Our dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe doesn't require any refrigerated items. Everything you need comes straight out of the pantry. It all starts with a 16.25-ounce box of cake mix. We used white cake mix to let the pumpkin flavors shine through, but you can use any flavor you desire. If you don't have cake mix on hand, don't fret; you can make your own by combining 2-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

From there, all you'll need is a can of pumpkin pie mix and a jar of marshmallow creme. The seven-ounce jar of marshmallow creme we had in the pantry contained almost exactly the cup needed for this recipe. Opened marshmallow creme is good for two to four months in the pantry, so it's okay if you end up with leftovers.

Should you use pumpkin pie mix or pumpkin puree to make a 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe?

You'll find two types of canned pumpkin products available at the grocery store: pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie mix. We use the latter for our dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe to keep the ingredients list short and sweet.

The main difference between the two products is that pumpkin puree only contains one ingredient (pumpkin). Pumpkin pie mix, on the other hand, also contains sugar, salt, spices, dextrose, and natural flavors. The cans are also sometimes much larger — 30 ounces versus the standard 15-ounce pumpkin puree cans. We only need 15 ounces of pumpkin pie mix for this recipe, so you won't need the entire can unless you're doubling the recipe. You can use the leftovers for another pumpkin-spiced recipe. An opened can of pumpkin is good in the fridge for five to seven days, or you can freeze it for up to three months.

Of course, you can totally use pumpkin puree for this recipe if that's what you have on hand. Simply scoop out 2/3 cup of the pumpkin puree and reserve it for another recipe. Then, add 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to the remaining puree.

What size cake pan should you use when making this 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe?

According to the instructions on the back of our 16.25-ounce box of cake mix, the basic recipe makes two eight- or nine-inch cake rounds, one 13x9 sheet pan cake, one Bundt cake, or about 24 cupcakes. Those instructions don't apply to us here because we're not adding eggs to the cake, so our recipe won't make the same amount of batter. That means our version isn't ideal for sheet pan cake or Bundt cake. You would need to double our recipe below to make one of these larger cakes.

Instead, you'll only need a single 9-inch cake round. We tried splitting the batter between two cake pans to create a layered cake, but didn't create enough rise. Instead, the single pan just puffed up over the top, making it perfect for a stand-alone round cake. We used a nonstick cake pan so we wouldn't have to add baking spray. If you're worried about the cake sticking, feel free to grease the pan with butter, line the pan with a piece of parchment paper, or use nonstick baking spray.

Combine the ingredients to make this dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe

When you're ready to bake this dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, add the cake mix and pumpkin pie mix in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture until it's light and fluffy. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use an electric hand mixer or mix by hand using a standard whisk.

Once the oven is preheated, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes. We like to test the doneness using an instant-read thermometer, checking to make sure the center of the cake has reached 205 to 210 degrees. The temperature method is more accurate than knife test or wiggle tests, but you can also test for doneness by inserting a knife into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is finished.

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before running a butter knife along the outside edges to release the cake. Flip the cake out onto a plate and transfer it onto a cooling rack. It needs to cool completely before frosting.

Make the marshmallow icing for this dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe

The marshmallow cream frosting is best when it's made right before the cake is ready to frost, and the cake needs to be completely cooled before moving on to the next step. Otherwise, the frosting will melt and slide off the sides of the cake! To loosen up the marshmallow cream, whisk it with one tablespoon of warm water. This thins the marshmallow just enough to help it spread over the cake.

Using a silicone spatula, spread the frosting over the top of the cake, allowing some of it to drip down the sides. You'll have enough frosting if you wish to frost the sides completely, but we love the color contrast of keeping the sides unfrosted. From here, the cake is ready to serve. If you have a kitchen blowtorch, you can toast the fluff to give it burnt edges. You can also take things to the next level and drizzle the cake with chocolate sauce, turning this marshmallow pumpkin cake into a pumpkin s'mores cake.

How did our dangerously easy 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake recipe turn out?

This 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake was as delicious as it was easy. We were pretty surprised that we didn't need any eggs to pull off this recipe. The cake's crumb turned out light and fluffy, with the airy texture we look for in a good cake. We loved the way the simple white cake mix allowed the pumpkin flavor to shine, and we served the slices with a dusting of pumpkin pie spice to accentuate that pumpkin presence. The frosting was pretty perfect, too. It was made with pure marshmallow creme, so it tasted just like melted marshmallows.

The cake makes 16 servings, so we definitely ended up with leftovers. Since the cake doesn't contain any eggs or dairy, it's okay to store it on the counter for up to four days. Cover it with plastic wrap or a cake keeper to keep it from drying out. Southern Living also recommends frosting any sliced edges to prevent moisture loss, or you can firmly press a piece of plastic wrap to the cut side.

3-Ingredient Marshmallow Pumpkin Cake
4.5 from 145 ratings
Thanksgiving might be known as a pie holiday, but you may change your mind about that when you dig into this unbelievable cake. Who could hate on a tender, sweet, pumpkin-spiced cake slathered with a layer of gooey marshmallows? The best part about this recipe is it's made with only 3 ingredients.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
30
minutes
Servings
16
Slices
how to make 3-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake
Ready in 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 (16.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 15 ounces (about 1-½ cups) pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 cup marshmallow cream
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch cake round with butter or baking spray, or line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cake mix and pumpkin pie mix. Use the whisk attachment to whisk the batter until the mixture is light and fluffy. Alternatively, you can combine the mixture using an electric hand mixer, or mix by hand using a standard whisk.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with a silicone spatula.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack until the internal temperature reaches 205 to 210 degrees. If you don't have an instant-read thermometer, insert a knife into the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when the cake is finished.
  5. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a butter knife along the outside of the pan to release the edges. Flip the cake out onto a plate before transferring it to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely before frosting.
  6. Just before frosting, use a whisk to whip the marshmallow cream with 1 tablespoon of warm water to thin it to a spreadable consistency. Spread the marshmallow frosting over top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides. You'll have enough frosting to fully frost the sides, if you wish. If desired, toast the fluff with a kitchen blowtorch.
  7. Store the cake on the counter for up to four days, covering it with plastic wrap or a cake keeper.
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