Rum Cake — A double dose of rum in this EASY cake that’s supremely moist, buttery, and literally juicy from all the rum!! The perfect make-ahead holiday entertaining cake that everyone will LOVE!!
Easy Recipe for Rum Cake
One of the very first trips I took with my then fiancé was to Grand Cayman, where we stumbled into a gift shop that was sampling rum cake.
It tasted so amazing because it was moist and literally juicy because it was so loaded with rum. I had enough samples to likely equal a piece of cake, felt a little guilty, and bought a cake to take home before leaving the island.
I flew home with my cake, cut into it, only to be sorely disappointed because it was dry, not juicy, and there was hardly any rum flavor. That led me to believe they were literally pouring and dousing the cake samples at the shop with straight rum. It worked though because it got me to buy a cake.
I’ve always wanted to recreate that perfectly juicy rum cake I ate long ago. Fast forward nearly 20 years (boy, time flies) and in advance of the holidays this year I (finally) made a rum cake.
It’s everything you want in a rum cake!
Supremely moist yet surprising light, buttery, and loaded with bold rum flavor but in a balanced sense so that it doesn’t feel like you’re eating rum. Not that some people would complain about that, but I digress.
Rum Cake Ingredients
To make this rum-soaked cake recipe, you’ll need:
- Yellow cake mix
- Instant vanilla pudding mix
- Dark rum
- Vanilla extract (or coconut extract)
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Kosher salt
I’ve gone into more detail further down this post on which type of cake mix and rum I recommend when making this rum cake recipe.
How to Make Rum Cake
The cake is so ridiculously easy to make! If you’ve never made a cake recipe with rum in it, you’re in for a treat.
I’ve given detailed instructions in the recipe card below, but here’s an overview of how this rum-soaked cake is made:
- Dump all the ingredients in a bowl at once, then mix just until combined.
- Turn the batter into a grease 12-cup bundt pan.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- After baking, poke holes with a fork over the top (bottom after you invert it) of the cake while it’s still in the pan, add rum sauce, invert, and repeat with hole poking and sauce adding.
If the rum cake glaze crystallizes before you can drizzle it over the inverted cake, don’t panic! Just give it a good stir and drizzle away.
As far as I’m concerned, this recipe for rum cake is perfect as is. However, you could serve slices with one or more of the following if desired:
- Powdered sugar
- Fresh berries
- Whipped cream
- Vanilla ice cream
What Type of Cake Mix Should I Use?
I prefer using Duncan Hines yellow cake mix for this recipe. Otherwise, any yellow or golden cake mix should work.
Note that when I originally made this cake in November 2017, 18.25-ounce boxes of yellow cake mix were the standard.
Since then, boxes are more commonly found in the 15.25-ounce size range. Although I have not personally tested the cake using a 15.25-ounce box of cake mix, I am sure it will be fine.
What Type of Rum Should I Use?
I used Meyer’s Dark Rum (not sponsored by them in any way) because I wanted bolder, richer, and sweeter flavor than a white rum like Bacardi can deliver. You could also try a spiced rum like Captain Morgan or even a coconut rum like Malibu.
If you test the Malibu option, I would use half Malibu and half of another rum because I could envision an all-Malibu cake becoming cloyingly coconutty, sweet, and off-putting.
Tip: If you love rum desserts, be sure to make my easy no-bake rum balls as well!
Can I Make This Cake in Advance?
Yes! I find the cake tastes better as time passes and that it peaks about day three, which makes it an awesome make-ahead-of-the-party kind of cake.
Love recipes like this when you’re entertaining because you can make it in advance, set it aside, and forget about it until the event. It’s the quintessential buttery rum cake and perfect for the holiday season.
Can This Recipe Be Made Without a Bundt Pan?
I’m sure it can, but I prefer using a bundt pan because it makes for a taller cake that’s perfect for soaking up all the rum sauce.
But if you don’t have a 12-cup bundt pan, I recommend googling a baking pan conversion chart to see which of your other pan(s) will work instead.
The flavors marry in this cake with rum as time passes and I find this cake tastes better as time passes (about day 3 it peaks).
Store cake airtight at room temperature for up to 10 days; do not refrigerate. (The rum acts like a preservative, hence why the cake is good for so long!)
Tips for the Best Rum Cake Recipe
Baking shortcuts: The cake base uses yellow cake mix and instant vanilla pudding mix. If you don’t have them in your area, there are plenty of other recipes out there for truly scratch rum cakes. I actually love yellow cake mix and for me this is a blessing rather than a curse that this cake starts off with a shortcut.
Glaze: When making the glaze, use caution! Focus and take small children out of the kitchen because the mixture is insanely hot and flammable and you’re going to be whisking the entire time.
Resting time: Allow cake to rest for about 1 to 2 hours to absorb sauce before slicing and serving. The flavors marry as time passes and I find this cake tastes better as time passes.
Pin This Recipe
A double dose of rum in this EASY cake that's supremely moist, buttery, and literally juicy from all the rum!! The perfect make-ahead holiday entertaining cake that everyone will LOVE!!
- one box yellow cake mix (see note below)
- one 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup dark rum (I used Meyer's Dark Rum)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla or coconut extract (I used coconut)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup dark rum (I used Meyer's Dark Rum)
Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan very well with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil, rum, extract of your choice, and beat with a handheld electric mixer on high power until smooth and combined; about 2 minutes.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula. The batter is thin, looks a bit skimpy for the size of the pan, but the cake rises dramatically while baking.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack.
- When the cake has about 10 to 15 minutes left to bake, start making the rum sauce.
Make the Rum Sauce:
- Use caution, focus, and take small children out of the kitchen because the mixture is insanely hot and flammable and you're going to be whisking the entire time.
- To a medium high-sided medium saucepan, add the butter and heat over medium heat to melt.
- Add the sugar, water, and bring to a boil over medium-high/high heat. Allow mixture to boil rapidly for 4 to 5 minutes; whisk constantly so it doesn't burn (your shoulder should burn). The mixture should be white, frothy, and fluffy-looking.
- Remove pan from the heat and using extreme caution, add the rum while whisking because the sauce will bubble up vigorously when the rum is added.
- Return pan to the heat for 1 minute; whisk constantly. This helps cook off some of the 'raw' alcohol taste.
- Add the salt and stir to combine.
- Transfer the sauce to a 2-cup glass measuring cup; you will have about 2 cups of sauce.
- Poke holes with a fork all over the bottom surface of the cake (which becomes the top when you invert it and remove the cake from the pan). I 'stabbed' the cake in about 75 places with a fork.
- Slowly pour about 1 cup sauce over the surface, taking your time so that the sauce soaks in; set remaining 1 cup sauce aside. Allow cake to rest for about 1 hour to absorb the sauce.
- Invert the cake onto a cake stand or serving platter and 'stab' the cake with a fork again, in about 75 places over the top and some on the sides.
- Slowly and carefully pour the remaining sauce into the holes. If the sauce has crystallized, that's okay; just whisk it for a few seconds before adding it. I slowly add some sauce, and sort of 'press' it in with a spatula, and repeat. Some will pool down the sides onto the cake stand, it's unavoidable and okay.
- Allow cake to rest for about 1 to 2 hours to absorb sauce before slicing and serving.
- Note regarding cake mix: when I originally made this cake in November 2017, 18.25-ounce boxes of yellow cake mix were the standard. Since then, boxes are more commonly found in the 15.25-ounce size range. Although I have not personally tested the cake using a 15.25-ounce box of cake mix, I am sure it will be fine. I am partial to Duncan Hines cake mix.
- Storing this cake: The flavors marry as time passes and I find this cake tastes better as time passes (about day 3 it peaks). Store cake airtight at room temp for up to 10 days; do not refrigerate. Recipe is intended for those for whom alcohol is legal and appropriate.
- Cake adapted from AllRecipes, Rum Sauce adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 439Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 338mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 3g
Favorite Holiday Cake Recipes:
The Best Chocolate Peppermint Cake — Easy, one-bowl, no mixer cake! Decadently chocolaty, perfectly pepperminty! Your new favorite cake!!
Cabernet Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache – Now you don’t have to choose between dessert or wine since this is BOTH!
Easy Pound Cake with Powdered Sugar Glaze — Finally a homemade pound cake that isn’t dry!! This EASY, buttery, velvety pound cake will be the star of your next party or celebration!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake — An EASY, no mixer cake that’s perfect for the holidays!! Chocolate and ginger are amazing together!
Red Velvet Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you like red velvet, you’re going to LOVE this EASY red velvet cake recipe!
35 BEST Easy Cakes — Whether it’s a birthday cake, anniversary cake, or a just-because cake, you’ll find the perfect EASY cake here! Only the BEST recipes including chocolate, fruity, pumpkin, red velvet, and more!
Originally posted November 3, 2017 and reposted December 25, 2020 with updated text.
Absolutely brilliant! We used mini bunt cake pans instead to give out to friends. We baked them at 350° for 20-25 minutes and they came out perfectly.
Thanks for the 5 star review and how cute that sounds! I bet your friends loved them!
I adapted this recipe adding drained crushed pineapple to the cake batter and substituting the pineapple juice for the rum. It was delicious!! I’ve also had the rum cake and loved it as well.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this was great with the pineapple tweaks as well as with rum when you made it that way!
I also had the rum cake in Grand Caymen years ago. I made your cake yesterday. It is so moist, delicious, rich in rum but not overpowering. I came home from shopping today there are two pieces left. I will definitely make it again but this time for a party!
I’m glad to hear this was a winner! I took have had rum cake in the Caymens years ago. Hopefully this brought back some nice memories for you!
I didn’t have vanilla pudding. So I used Banana cream which was bought by mistake. Then I didn’t have pecans which I love. This actually turned out fantastic and more Caribbean. It’s very nice actually.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this turned out fantastic with what you had!
This is the best rum cake ever! Thank you so much for sharing!!
I’m glad it’s the best ever for you!
This was awesome ! I personally love the rum cakes from the Caribbean and this was better. I added extra rum to glaze after I cooked the initial rum for a minute. I wanted to have it a little buzzy which it was but very mild. I def will make this again. Thank you!
Thanks for the 5 star review and great to hear that this was better than rum cakes from the Caribbean (I think so too and love them like you do)!
OH MY GOSH!!! I have never had a rum cake before. INCREDIBLE. I might eat the whole thing myself!And I don’t know what those box cakes do to be so airy light either. Thank youSherri
Thanks for the five star review and I am glad you’re loving this!
We do not have flour mix here. What is the substitute with flour?
This cake is made starting with cake mix. I have never made a from-scratch rum cake but you could Google it. I am sure others have done so.
Can someone help me? I’m trying to make this recipe and can only find “Golden” cake mix. Is this the same as yellow?
I made this for me and my friends with golden rum, we didn’t have dark rum, but still was a huge success! Recipe followed almost exactly, except I added a pinch more salt to the glaze. Couldn’t reccommend more! I also whipped up a batch of fresh whipped cream to eat with the cake. Great addition.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was a huge success!
I’ve made this 4 times. I just made it again this past Sunday and ran out of Myers dark rum and substituted 1/4 c. of Kahlua for the batter part. I also did 1/4 tsp. of coconut abstract and 1/2 of vanilla, and this is by far the best!
I made this rum cake the day before my event and it was delicious! Very well received by my sugar addicts. I followed the recipe exactly but still ended up with almost 3 cups of rum sauce, which I thought would be awesome, but I didn’t have a large enough cake plate, so the sauce was running all over the counter. No problem, my counter was clean enough for me to scoop it with my finger and lick it up. I don’t know why I had so much more sauce than expected. Next time I will have a larger plate or container so extra sauce can stay on or near the cake. Yummy!
Based on what you wrote, I would guess that you mismeasured, it happens from time to time to all of us.
Or if you knew you had extra sauce before you added it to the cake, you could have stopped at 2 cups and saved the rest to drizzle over when serving the cake, or just discarded it to save the mess!
But glad you the cake still turned out delicious though!
So delish! I added a smidgen of allspice, cinnamon and cloves in the cake mix! I also added cinnamon and a tbsp of orange juice to the rum before adding it to the glaze…this is an all time hit…thank goodness it’s all gone, I must have gained 5 lbs…thanks for the recipe!
I meant to do 5 stars! Not sure how to fix it 😩 THISIs DEFINITELY a 5 STAR!!!!!!
Thanks and I was able to fix it on the back end! Glad it’s definitely a 5 star recipe for you!
I know this is a recipe you posted some time ago, but this is what I call and “oldie, but goodie.” I come back to it time and again because it is ALWAYS a hit! I cook the glaze long enough to cook out the alcohol since we have kiddos at our family gatherings and because I don’t drink alcohol, but that’s the only change I make! Delightful! And I agree with the comment above that it’s DEFINITELY better than the commercially mass produced rum cakes in the Caribbean! 😁
I agree that this is an oldie but a goodie :) Glad you agree it’s better than the mass-produced rum cakes they sell in the Caribbean!
Love this recipe and just made it (can’t wait to taste it!) but one thing that was left out of the instructions was when to add the salt? I had all the ingredients set out and ended up with leftover salt, so I just added it to the hot rum sauce mix. It was wayyy tooo hot to taste though, so I’m hoping I put the correct amount! When should it be added?
Sorry an oversight on my part but I just added it into the directions. It really doesn’t matter, but I add it in step 10.
Omg. Made this several months ago and have been searching for hours and finally found this recipe again as folks have been begging me to make another one. Won’t lose it again!!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was incredible and that you found the recipe again!
I’m allergic to egg what substitute would you suggest
An allergen free egg-replacer. https://amzn.to/3BgeHqk Just check “egg replacer” on Amazon. There are hundreds.
I first tried this recipe two years ago and it is fantastic and my go to for Rum cake. I had never made this before and was nervous but I didn’t need to be it’s delicious and most and is best 2 or 3 days in. I should have given this review sooner because this is an amazing cake and recipe, thanks!!!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you are a fan of this cake and have been making it for a couple years!
do use only regular yellow cake mix, or have you tried cake mix with pudding already in it?
I am very partial to Duncan Hines classic yellow and that’s always what I buy so haven’t tried this with another brand.
I’ve made another version of this cake for years but ( fortunately) lost the recipe. I followed this one and it was absolutely to die for. My only substitution was for vanilla as I couldn’t find any in the house sips i used a couple of teaspoons of a vanilla liqueur. (43 from Spain). It was delicious .
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad it was great! I know Liqueur 43 very well and I bet it was great here!
I don’t want to be disrespectful, but is there a typo in the ounces for the cake mix? I can’t find 18.25 ounce cake mix anywhere! I find 15.25 ounce cake mixes. Looking forward to making this cake!
Actually a few years ago when I made this cake, 18.25 was the standard size, or one of them. Now, it’s much harder to find it since the cake mix manufacturers started producing smaller sizes boxes. I updated the recipe to avoid confusion in the future.
This cake was amazing! I used 2 tsp coconut extract and 1 tsp vanilla. I can’t wait to make this again with pecans in the bottom of the pan. The flavor was amazing!
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you loved the cake and are going to make it again!
Can I split up this recipe in little loaf pans to give as gifts? Is so, how much would this recipe make in loaf pans?
I’m sure you can split it into pans but I haven’t done that personally so not sure how many it will make.
This was delicious! I made it for Christmas Eve and have to make it again for New Years! My new go to!
Glad it was delicious and your new go to!
Hi there! I just happened to land on this recipe when I googled rum cakes and made this for a work party. Everyone asked for the recipe and it was the only dessert eaten up. Thanks for making me the star of the party! I made this exactly as you wrote it.
Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad that everyone loved the cake and wanted the recipe!
How about. Banana instant pudding. I want to make one tonight but the banana is all I have
Have you ever tried using spiced rum (Captain Morgans for example)? Making this for my husband’s birthday tomorrow and he prefers drinking spiced rum over dark rum but I’m wondering how it would affect the taste.
I personally have not tried Captain’s in this cake. I would maybe do half Captain’s and half regular dark rum unless you REALLY love the taste of spiced rum – I just fear it could get overpowering but I also am not the hugest fan of spiced rum to begin with, that’s just me. LMK how it goes!
Hello — What brand of coconut extract did you use?
I know they aren’t all created equal, so I would rather get the one already tested. Thanks so much!
PS — Anxious to try some of your quick Asian dishes!
I used the Ralph’s store brand of coconut extract. You are right that not all extracts are created equal. However in this recipe, the coconut extract is definitely in the background and not terribly noticeable because of all the rum :)
Averie, most cake mixes now have ‘pudding mix’ included. Is there a special brand that you could recommend that doesn’t already have pudding mix in it.
I used Duncan Hines here and added Jell-O brand pudding mix.
I make this every Christmas and Thanksgiving.It is the most asked for dessert I make.Guarenteed smash hit.The only thing I add is chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan. It makes a crunchy top and really makes the cake perfect.
I know the pecans are pretty traditional with this cake especially around the holidays. Glad that you love it that way and make it every year!
OMG, Ken is going to love this!! He loves anything with rum!
It’s perfectly rum-forward. As in, you know you are eating RUM cake :)
I had rum cake only once and still remember how absolutely amazing it tastes! I can’t wait to make this for the holidays!
If you make it, LMK! You can’t go wrong with rum + cake :)
I was in Grand Caymen a couple of times in the early 90’s so I know the rum cake you are talking about! I think almost every gift shop gave out samples and I bought one too. Your version looks much better than any mass produced and packaged product (even if it is an island specialty). Great tips on choice of rum for this recipe and the sauce sounds amazing!
I think almost every gift shop WAS giving out the same samples back then on the island. Sounds like you and I must have visited the same shops :)
This is definitely a case of homemade being so much better than store bought! The rum sauce…I wanted to drink it :)