This classic rum cake is made easy with the help of a box cake mix. The bundt cake is soaked with a delicious butter rum sauce and garnished with pecans. This pecan rum cake is a festive dessert you can enjoy the entire holiday season.
In life, it seems there are very few things that get better with age. So count yourself lucky that you have discovered a dessert that does just that. This rum cake is delicious the first day and only gets better the longer it sits out on your counter. I've made this bundt cake for many holiday gatherings, and it rarely fails to disappoint. However, if you're looking for an alcohol-free dessert for the holidays, might I suggest my almond cranberry cake as another festive dessert?
Why you'll love this recipe
Easy to make with the help of box cake mix. If you're looking for a rum cake made completely from scratch, this is not your recipe. However, if you're looking for a decadent holiday dessert that no one will know you made using a box cake mix, you're in the right place!
A great excuse to break out that bottle of rum. It's not often that you'll see me with a bottle of hard alcohol in hand. This dessert is the perfect occasion to break out that bottle of rum that's been hiding in your liquor cabinet Heck, it's an excuse to go and buy a new bottle!
The perfect holiday dessert: I have memories of my grandmother making a delicious rum cake for the holidays. There is simply something festive about rum cake that evokes memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Key ingredients and why we use them
Rum: I prefer to use dark rum on this cake. Specifically, I used Cruzan dark rum when I did my testing of this recipe. Dark rum has a bolder flavor, and that's perfect for this cake. However, if you find it too powerful, you should go ahead with a lighter rum.
Pecans: Pecans have high-fat content and a subtly sweet taste. They are great for baking. Their texture is almost buttery, and they are a complementary accent to this cake as a garnish.
Box Cake Mix + Instant Pudding: It's likely a classically trained chef might roll their eyes at anything that comes from a box. However, in this recipe, the combination of cake mix and pudding works. The cake is moist, and the flavor is certainly not compromised. My strawberry oreo crunch cake also uses pudding!
This recipe requires a bundt pan with approximately 12 cup-capacity. If you don't know the capacity of your pan, you will want to ensure the batter fills ⅔ to ¾ of the pan. This will allow enough room for the cake to rise during baking. If your pan's interior is black in color, then bake at an oven temperature that is 25 degrees Fahrenheit less than the temperature noted in this recipe.
Frequently asked questions
The rum in this cake acts as a preservative, and this cake can be left out at room temperature for 10 days. Ensure the cake is stored in an airtight container.
My first suggestion would be to use non-alcoholic rum as a replacement in this recipe. Cooks Illustrated also has an excellent recipe for alcohol-free rum. This cake even stands on its own perfectly well if you don't want to mess with any substitutions.
HEATHER'S HELPFUL HINT
If you have trouble releasing the cake, place it in a 325-degree oven for 5-10 minutes. This should warm things up enough for the cake to release.
You can print this entire recipe below and save it for later. But, before you get there, let's walk through it step-by-step, so you understand what you're doing beforehand.
Start by spraying your bunt pan generously with baking spray. This will make it easier for you to remove the cake from the bundt pan. Sprinkle pecans in the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and pudding mix with a whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rum, eggs, water, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.
Do not overmix the batter at this point. A few lumps may remain.
Bake the cake for approximately 60 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
To make the glaze, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and ½ cup sugar. Bring everything to a boil and then simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove the pan from the heat, and pour in the ¼ cup of rum.
Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake (it should still be in the pan). Then, very slowly, pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 3 hours (up to overnight).
Make ahead and storage tips
Advance Preparation: This cake actually tastes better on the second day after baking. This is why I recommend letting the cake sit in the pan overnight. You can easily make this cake and serve it 2 days later without compromising any taste.
Storage Instructions: You can store this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. The rum acts as a preservative, so it's not necessary to refrigerate this cake.
Freezing Instructions: This bundt cake can be made in advance and freezes beautifully. Make sure you wrap it fully in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I also like to place it in an airtight container or a freezer bag. Also, don't forget to label your cake with the date and recipe name. You can store your cake in the freezer for up to three months. When you're ready to serve it, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
There are several different ways to switch up this recipe according to your taste!
- Feel free to get creative with the pudding mix. I think caramel or butterscotch would be delicious in this cake.
- Pecan can be substituted with walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds in this recipe. It's more about personal preference.
- Another festive alcohol-soaked cake is a traditional fruit cake. I like this fruit cake recipe from The Foodies Eats.
Pecan Rum Cake
- fluted bunt pan (12 cup capacity)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 package yellow cake mix 15.25 ounce
- 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix 3.5 ounce
- ½ cup rum
- 4 eggs large, room temperature
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup rum
- Place a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit 20 minutes before baking your cake. Spray your bunt pan with baking spray and sprinkle the pecans in the bottom of the pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and pudding mix with a whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rum, eggs, water, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix the batter. Spoon the batter over the nuts into the pan.
- Bake the cake for approximately 60 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave the cake in the pan to cool while you make the glaze.
- First, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of water and ½ cup sugar. Bring everything to a boil and then simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour in the ¼ cup of rum.
- Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the cake (it should still be in the pan). Very slowly, pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 3 hours (up to overnight).
- When ready to serve, invert the cake onto your serving platter.
Notes and Tips
- Rum: I prefer dark rum in this recipe. However, you should add whatever your favorite rum is since that will be a predominant flavor in the cake. If you are abstaining from alcohol, simply use non-alcoholic rum instead.
- Pecans: you can substitute pecans with walnut or any other nut in this recipe.
- Box Cake Mix: I've always used Duncan Hines yellow cake mix in this recipe. You'd likely be fine with whatever you can find. This is just my favorite! If your cake mix has lumps, run it through a sifter before mixing with the wet ingredients.
- Pudding Mix: Feel free to get creative with the pudding mix. I think caramel or butterscotch would be delicious in this cake.
- Releasing the Cake: If you are having trouble releasing the cake, place it in a 325-degree oven for 5-10 minutes. This should warm things up enough for the cake to release.
Try these other cake recipes
Did you make this recipe? First, let me say THANK YOU for giving it a try! Please leave us a rating and leave any feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what went OK — and what didn't — with a recipe! Also, be sure to check out some of our other recipes linked below!