The Marvelous Rum Cake Recipe That Will Make Every Occasion Fabulous

This rum cake recipe is made from scratch, has the most tender, moist crumb, and is drenched in rum flavor without being overpowering. A fantastic dessert that’s equally suitable for weekly family dinners, fancy dinner parties, or holiday celebrations. 

Sliced rum cake with a serving knife and cup of coffee.

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.

A Bundt-style rum cake shot overhead.

A couple of years ago, my husband requested rum cake for his birthday dinner dessert. He had talked before about the rum cake that his grandma used to make and how amazing it was, but it had been so long since I made this recipe that he had never tried it! I was hoping that it would live up to his expectations, and he LOVED it.

He said that sometimes the rum flavor can be way too much, but that this was absolutely perfect. Tons of flavor but not overpowering, and the cake itself is so incredibly moist and flavorful.

Side by side photos of a Bundt pan with chopped walnuts and rum cake batter.

The key to the cake is twofold. First, make sure that you aren’t shy when it comes to poking holes all over the cake when it’s time for the rum syrup. The more holes the better, as the rum syrup will have more places to hide in the cake, which means that it will soak into the cake more evenly, and won’t pool on the bottom of the serving plate.

Secondly, when you drizzle the rum syrup over the top of the cake, you want to go verrrrry slowly so it has a chance to seep into all of those wonderful holes. In this instance, you want to be the tortoise, and not the hare.

Side by side photos of a rum cake with holes poked all over and a rum syrup being poured over top.

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. Then behold all of the 100% homemade, no box mix, rum-soaked cake goodness!

Some Quick Notes!

A few suggestions and recommendations for making this cake the best rum cake ever:

  • You can use whatever rum you like the most for this cake; I typically use Myers dark rum.
  • You can omit the nuts if you don’t care for them or need to make a nut-free dessert.
  • This cake utilizes pudding mix to make it ultra-moist; use store-bought or make your own!
  • 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.

Half a bundt-style rum cake on a serving platter.

Two years ago: Chewy, Chunky Blondies
Three years ago: Nectarine and Honey Slab Pie
Six years ago: Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet
Seven years ago: Blackberry Gin Fizz Float

Watch How to Make This Phenomenal Rum Cake Recipe

Rum Cake Recipe

Servings 12 servings
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 20 minutes
Course:Dessert
Cuisine:American
Author: Michelle

This rum cake recipe is made completely from scratch, has the most tender, moist crumb, and is drenched in rum flavor without being overpowering. Perfection!

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

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

For the Rum Syrup:

  • ¾
    cup
    unsalted butter
  • cups
    granulated sugar
  • ¼
    cup
    water
  • Pinch
    of salt
  • ½
    cup
    dark rum

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. Leftovers can be kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can use whatever rum you like the most for this cake; I typically use Myers dark rum.
  • You can omit the nuts if you don't care for them or need to make a nut-free dessert.
  • This cake utilizes pudding mix to make it ultra-moist; use store-bought or make your own!
  • 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

Nutrition:

Calories: 567kcal
Fat: 24g
Saturated fat: 13g
Cholesterol: 106mg
Sodium: 236mg
Potassium: 197mg
Carbohydrates: 69g
Sugar: 51g
Protein: 4g
Vitamin A: 695%
Calcium: 92%
Iron: 1.2%

Did you make this recipe?

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

This recipe was originally published in April 2012, updated in February 2017 with new photos, then refreshed in August 2019 with improved photos, a video, and better recipe instructions.

[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]