Rich and tender cake soaked in a homemade rum syrup makes this decadent rum cake recipe the perfect addition to your next extra-special dinner or holiday gathering. Drenched in rum flavor without being overpowering, this moist rum cake recipe pairs perfectly with a warm cup of coffee, a dollop of fresh whipped cream, or an extra drizzle of rum syrup!

A sliced rum cake on a piece of parchment paper with a knife to the right.

Rum cake. A dessert that is nostalgic and old-school, and one for which just about everyone has a family recipe.

Rum cake was one of a small rotation of desserts that showed up at my grandma’s house on Sunday afternoons. You could usually count on one of the following: rum cake, icebox cake, angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream, or poor man’s cookies. There were some weeks that we made do with Klondike bars from the freezer, but for the most part, we got to indulge in one of those four desserts.

My great aunt made a killer rum cake that I could appreciate even as a kid. I remember it being so thick and moist, and of course, packed with rum. The problem I ran into is that my aunt always used a box cake mix, and all of the recipes I found online were the same, and I wanted a homemade cake. I finally found a recipe that I tweaked to rum-soaked perfection.

What is Rum Cake?

If you’ve never had the pleasure of sinking your fork into a fresh slice of rum cake, let me share with you a little bit more about this decadent dessert.

Typically served during the holidays, rum cake originated in the Caribbean as a dessert similar to fruit cake or steamed puddings. Dried fruit soaked for months in rum before being added to a cake batter and baked into this holiday dessert. While you can find many varieties of commercially made rum cakes traveling in the tropics, there is nothing better than a homemade rum Bundt cake drenched in rum syrup.

White plates with slices of rum cake on a white counter with a cup of coffee in the back and the rest of the rum cake in the back left corner.

Ingredients for the Rum Cake

This decadent cake can easily be broken down into two main parts, the rum bundt cake and the rum sauce that soaks and glazes the cake.

  • Walnuts: Optional, but highly encouraged, they are used as a topping for the rum cake.
  • Dry ingredients: All-purpose flour, cornstarch baking powder, and salt make the dry base of the rum cake.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter at room temperature gives the cake batter an ultra-buttery finish.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the rum cake.
  • Oil: I use canola oil to help keep the cake moist.
  • Vanilla Pudding Mix: You can use your own DIY vanilla pudding mix or a 3.4-ounce package of instant vanilla pudding.
  • Eggs: Gives structure and moisture to the cake.
  • Milk: Activates the instant vanilla pudding and keeps the cake moist and tender.
  • Rum: You can use a dark or white rum for this recipe.
  • Vanilla: Flavor, flavor, flavor.
  • Rum Syrup: Used to soak and glaze the cake. This homemade syrup is made from a mixture of butter, sugar, water, salt, and rum.

Let’s Make the Rum Bundt Cake!

  • Prepare for baking (#1): Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a standard Bundt pan (12-cup capacity). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts around the bottom and set aside.
  • Whisk dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar: Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Mix in dry ingredients: Add the flour mixture and 3 tablespoons of canola oil, and mix on medium-low for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the pudding mix and mix again on medium-low until combined.
A bundt pan on the left with the nut topping in the grooves and the number 1 with a bundt pan on the right filled with the rum cake batter and the number two in the corner.
  • Mix wet ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, ½ cup of canola oil, and vanilla extract.
  • Add wet ingredients: Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredinets and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. (Note- the batter will be quite thin- this is good! It will be nice and moist.)
  • Pour (#2) the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread to evenly distribute.
  • Bake (#3) for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

How to Make the Rum Syrup

When the cake has about 10 minutes left to bake, start making the rum syrup.

  • Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add sugar and water (#5): Once melted, stir in the sugar and the water. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the rum: Remove from heat and stir in the rum.
  • Heat for 30 seconds: Once the rum is mixed in, return the pan to medium heat for about 30 seconds.
  • Pour rum syrup onto cake: When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour about one-third of the rum syrup (about ⅔ cup) over the bottom of the cake. Pour slowly so it has time to seep into the cake and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
A saucepan on the left with the number 5 in the corner and a rum cake on a cake stand with rum syrup being drizzled on top with the number six in the top left corner.
  • Invert the cake onto a serving platter.
  • Poke holes into the cake (#4): Use a fork or skewer, poke holes all over the cake- the top, sides, and around the inside.
  • Note: Don’t be shy! All of the holes allow the rum syrup to seep into the cake evenly.
  • Pour remaining syrup (#6): Sloooooooowly pour the remaining rum syrup over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. You want to do this step slowly (it took me almost 15 minutes) so that the syrup can seep into the cake and doesn’t just pool at the bottom of the serving dish.

Serving Suggestions

My favorite way to enjoy a slice of this rum bundt cake is warm and with a cup of coffee. Some other ways to enjoy this cake include:

  • Dolloped with fresh whipped cream
  • Served with fresh fruit such as strawberry, pineapple, or cherries
  • Drizzled with extra rum syrup
  • Topped with a little salted caramel sauce
  • Sprinkled with additional nuts or shredded coconut

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions

As you’d imagine, this gets better the longer you let it sit and soak, so you can absolutely make this cake a day ahead of time. For keeping this cake longer than a day in advance here’s what I would recommend:

  • Storing: Best kept at room temperature, you will want to wrap this cake tightly in plastic wrap to maintain the moisture. It keeps for up to 5 days at room temperature.
  • Freezing: Rum cake can be frozen, wrapped twice in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and placed in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, or at room temperature. Do not unwrap until completely thawed.
  • Reheating: Whether heating from thawed or reheating a few days after baking, pop the rum cake in the oven at 300°F for about 5 minutes to warm or microwave individual slices for about 10 to 15 seconds.

Rum Cake FAQs

Which rum is best for rum cake?

You can use whatever rum you like the most for this cake; I typically use Myers dark rum.

Does rum cake get you drunk?

The rum in the cake base cooks out during the baking process but with the fresh rum soaking the cake might get you a little buzzed if you go for a few slices. That said, one moderate slice of this moist rum cake will not get you drunk.

What can I use instead of rum in this rum cake?

To replace the rum in the cake batter you can use rum extract. For replacing rum in the syrup try apple juice, orange juice, white grape juice, or apple cider. The flavor will be different but your cake will be alcohol-free.

Does rum cake have to be made in a Bundt pan?

Traditionally rum cake is made in a Bundt pan. If you do not have a Bundt cake pan you can try making the cake in a pan that has a 12-cup capacity such as a 10×2.5 inch springform pan or a 9-inch tube pan. I have not tested the bake time for these pans so you will want to start checking on the cake about 30 minutes in to make sure it’s not burning.

A white plate with a slice of rum cake and a rum cake in the back with a pink background.

Moist and tender slices of cake soaked in a homemade rum syrup make this rum cake recipe an absolute winner! Drenched in rum flavor without being overpowering, this made from scratch cake is perfect for your next holiday gathering!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A sliced rum cake on parchment paper with a knife to the right of the cake.

Homemade Rum Cake

This moist and tender rum cake recipe is made from scratch with a golden cake base topped with walnuts and drizzled with a homemade rum syrup.
4.26 (128 ratings)

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup (117 g) chopped walnuts (optional)
  • cups (218.75 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (32 g) cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons + ½ cup canola oil, divided
  • cup (14.67 g) DIY instant vanilla pudding mix, or one 3.4-ounce package of instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup (183 ml) whole milk
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Rum Syrup:

  • ¾ cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter
  • cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (62.5 ml) water
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) dark rum

Instructions 

  • Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a standard Bundt pan (12-cup capacity). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts around the bottom; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the 3 tablespoons of canola oil, and mix on medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes – the mixture should look like wet sand. Add the pudding mix and mix again on medium-low speed until combined.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, remaining ½ cup canola oil, and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. (The batter will be quite thin – this is good! It will be nice and moist!)
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Make the Rum Syrup: When the cake has about 10 minutes left to bake, start the rum syrup. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, stir in the sugar and the water. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the rum. Once it is mixed in, return the pan to medium heat for about 30 seconds.
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour about one-third of the rum syrup (approximately 2/3 cup) over the bottom of the cake. Pour slowly so it has time to seep into the cake. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Using a fork or a skewer, poke holes all over the cake – the top, sides, and around the inside. Don’t be shy – all of the holes ensure that the rum syrup seeps into the cake evenly. Sloooooowly pour the remaining rum syrup over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. You want to do this step very slowly (it took me almost 15 minutes) so that the syrup actually seeps into the cake and doesn’t just pool on the bottom of the serving dish.
  • Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. Leftovers can be kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • Equipment: Standard 12-cup Bundt pan (you may substitute a 9-inch tube pan)
  • Rum: Use your favorite! I typically use Myers dark rum.
  • Alcohol-Free Option: To make this cake alcohol-free, substitute rum extract in the cake and try apple juice, orange juice, white grape juice, or apple cider in the syrup. The flavor will be different, but your cake will be alcohol-free.
  • Walnuts: You can substitute something else (pecans would be great!) or omit them entirely.
  • Vanilla Pudding Mix: This cake utilizes pudding mix to make it ultra-moist; use store-bought or make your own!
  • Storage: The rum cake can be stored, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Rum cake can be frozen, wrapped twice in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and placed in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, or at room temperature. Do not unwrap until completely thawed.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 567kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 236mg, Potassium: 197mg, Sugar: 51g, Vitamin A: 695IU, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 1.2mg

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Ari Laing.