Pumpkin Cobbler with Caramel and Pecans

Prep 20 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins
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Pumpkin Cobbler with Pecans and Caramel is easy to make and features a trio of luxurious flavors and textures. Smooth, silky pumpkin, a sticky caramel sauce, and crunchy nuts make it a crowd-pleasing dessert that’s perfect for the holidays, or anytime.

An Ultra-Easy Layered Dessert with Caramel, Pumpkin, and Nuts

If you like magic cakes, lava cakes, or anything with pumpkin spice, you’ve got to try this recipe! Pumpkin cobbler is a sort of combination of all three, and it is fantastic. Plus, it’s practically a dump-and-go dessert. Even though it’s got three distinctive layers, you won’t be dirtying up a lot of dishes, rolling and kneading dough, or baking in a hot water bath (although, if you’re into that sorta thing, check out this Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Dream Cake, or my Pumpkin Cheesecake!).

Instead, all you need to do is make a simple pumpkin batter with a few pantry staples, top it with brown sugar and nuts, and then add the secret ingredient: hot water. You read that right! During the baking process, the hot water will make its way to the bottom of the baking dish, along with the brown sugar and a small amount of the batter, to create a scrumptious hot caramel sauce with no extra work. Served with ice cream, this warm, soft pumpkin cobbler with crunchy pecans and caramel sauce is a true fall favorite.

(For a similar vibe but a more cakey result, this Pumpkin Dump Cake is another easy favorite. Or try this amazing Pumpkin Earthquake Cake!)

From top left: Pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, evaporated milk, white sugar, baking powder, vanilla, melted butter, salt, flour, chopped pecans, water, brown sugar.

What You’ll Need

The only ingredients you need here are things that are probably already in your kitchen – perfect, right? Here’s the simple, wholesome list of ingredients for pumpkin cobbler with pecans and caramel.

  • Flour: Plain, all-purpose flour is what you need here. Avoid self-rising flour, or the cake will not rise correctly.
  • Baking Powder: As always, I recommend checking the dates on your baking powder (and baking soda, and yeast) to make sure it’s not old. Old rising agents just don’t work as well, which can really wreck a good dessert!
  • Salt
  • Sugar: You’ll need granulated sugar for the cake, and brown sugar for the topping.
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice: You can use store-bought pumpkin spice, or make your own with cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
  • Pumpkin Puree: Make sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling contains added sweeteners, dairy, and other ingredients, and it won’t work in this recipe.
  • Evaporated Milk: This is sold in small cans, often on the baking aisle but not always. If you don’t have evaporated milk, whole milk will work as well.
  • Melted Butter: If you use salted butter, you may want to lower the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract is my go-to for the best flavor.
  • Pecans: Chop up the pecans, or substitute chopped walnuts if you prefer.
  • Hot Water: The hot water helps create the caramel sauce. It should be very hot, not just warm.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream and Additional Pecans: Optional, for serving.
Close-up shot of a serving of pumpkin dessert, to show the texture.

Is Pumpkin Puree the Same as Canned Pumpkin?

Pumpkin puree can be homemade or canned. Both are basically the same – as long as the can only lists one ingredient: pumpkin. Watch out for similar-looking cans that are actually pumpkin pie filling, with lots of other added ingredients.

Caramel sauce being drizzled over a square of pumpkin dessert.

How to Make Pumpkin Cobbler

Now for the process. It’s seriously so easy, with very minimal prep needed. The oven does the rest!

  • Prepare the Oven and Baking Dish. For starters, make sure you preheat your oven. You want to set it to 350°F. Next, grease a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray, oil, or butter, and set aside.
  • Combine the Dry Cake Ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl and whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Combine the Wet Ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir well until these ingredients are nice and smooth.
  • Mix the Dry and Wet Ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir just until combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter, or the pumpkin layer will be tough. This is a thick batter.
  • Assemble the Cobbler. Spread the pumpkin batter into the bottom of your baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar and pecans together, and then sprinkle that evenly over the pumpkin batter. Finally, pour hot water over the entire top of the cobbler. Yes, it will look kind of strange, but go with it – it’s going to be delicious!
  • Bake the Pumpkin Cobbler. Place the baking dish on a rimmed jelly roll pan or cookie sheet, in case it bubbles over while baking. Slide it right into the preheated oven, and let it bake for about 50 minutes or until it’s set in the middle. 
  • Enjoy! Cool your pumpkin cobbler for about 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream and additional pecans (if desired).
A baked pumpkin dessert with a cakey, pecan-studded top.

Recipe Notes

Since this pumpkin cobbler is a little bit different than most cobbler recipes, I’m including a few additional tips on the ingredients and baking process. Happy baking!

  • Don’t Skimp on the Water: While it may seem weird to pour so much water on top of the pecans, sugar, and batter, it really does bake up perfectly to create an amazing dessert with an amazing caramel sauce on the bottom.
  • Eggs: Another surprise – this dessert is naturally egg-free, which is great for those with allergies. I didn’t skip them, you just don’t need them!
  • Make-Ahead: Can you make this ahead? Well, yes and no. It really is best served fresh out of the oven, but you can prep it ahead. I have made the batter and placed it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Then when I was ready to put it in the oven, I did the final steps of putting the brown sugar and nuts on top and pouring the hot water over it. If you do this, make sure to use double-acting baking powder, which rises when mixed and again a second time when baked.
Close-up shot of caramel pumpkin cobbler, with one square removed to show the caramel sauce at the bottom of the pan.

Pumpkin Cobbler Variations and Substitutions

Need to change things up? These are some easy ways to customize this pumpkin cobbler recipe to fit your needs. 

  • Topping: If you don’t want to use nuts, you could leave them out entirely or add crunch with pepitas, sunflower seeds, or other crunchy items like crushed pretzels (yum). If you use something that can get soggy, such as pretzels, sprinkle them on at the end of the bake, about 5 minutes before you take the cobbler out of the oven. 
  • Sugar: If you like, you can use brown sugar in both the pumpkin layer and the topping/caramel. You could also use a 1:1 sugar substitute, such as pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, or raw sugar in the pumpkin layer, although the texture might change a bit. Be very careful if you use a sugar substitute that’s not 1:1 – some of them are super strong and you only need a tiny bit. 
  • Ice Cream: I really think that ice cream helps make this dish the best it can be, but you don’t have to stick with vanilla. Salted caramel, butter pecan, or even coffee ice cream could be fantastic substitutes. Whipped cream would also be a scrumptious option.
Pumpkin dessert on a plate, with ice cream and a fork.

Does Pumpkin Cobbler Need to Be Refrigerated?

Yes, this dessert should be refrigerated for food safety and to keep it fresh as long as possible. Tightly covered, it will keep for around 5 days in the fridge, but it is really best served the day you make it.

When it’s time to serve, reheat briefly in the microwave, or pop it into a preheated (350°F) oven for 10 – 20 minutes.

Yield: 12 Servings

Caramel Pumpkin Cobbler

A square of pumpkin cobbler on a white plate, topped with vanilla ice cream.

Caramel Pumpkin Cobbler is easy to make, and features a trio of luxurious flavors and textures. Smooth, silky pumpkin, a sticky caramel sauce, and crunchy nuts make it a crowd-pleasing dessert that’s perfect for the holidays, or anytime.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup evaporated milk (or whole milk)
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3 cups very hot water

Optional Toppings

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Whip cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir to combine the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and stir until well combined, but be careful not to overmix. The batter will be thick.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir the brown sugar and pecans together. Spread this mixture evenly over the top of the batter.
  5. Pour hot water over the entire top of the cobbler, right on top of the brown sugar-pecan mixture. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills from the cobbler bubbling over during baking. Place in the oven, and bake for 50 minutes, or until the middle is set. 
  6. Cool the baked cobbler for 5 - 10 minutes before serving. Serve with additional pecans and vanilla ice cream.

Notes

  • It may seem weird to pour so much water over the top of the cobbler, but it bakes up perfectly to create an amazing caramel sauce at the bottom of the cobbler!
  • You can use walnuts in place of the pecans, or leave nuts out completely. But the crunch they add is very nice.
  • Don’t forget some vanilla ice cream to serve with it.
  • I know it’s surprising, but you do not need eggs for this cobbler. I didn’t skip them, you just don’t need them!
  • Can I make this ahead? Yes and no. It really is best served fresh out of the oven, but you can prep it ahead. I have made the batter and placed it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Then when I am ready to put it in the oven, I do the final steps of putting the brown sugar and nuts on top and pouring the hot water over it. It is important to use double-acting baking powder if you prep ahead. This will help it rise initially, and then again while baking.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 433Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 444mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 2gSugar: 57gProtein: 4g

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More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

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Comments

4 Responses
  1. Sharon

    Made this on Sunday for our family dinner and we didn’t have ANY leftover! It was so incredibly good. I was nervous pouring all that water on top, but it turned out amazing. I am going to make this for guests we have coming for dinner on Friday!

  2. Beverly O

    I am a big fan of sweets but this is too sweet even for ME. And the caramel sauce is not thick and saucy as I thought it would be. It’s a thin runny liquid and just makes it all wet. Won’t be making this again

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Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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