Rum Cake (Christmas Rum Cake)

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Buttery, moist, and rich, with a rum kick this Christmas Rum Cake recipe is easy to make and always a hit at the holiday dessert table. It’s also an excellent recipe to make for any gathering around Christmas.

My moist rum cake recipe is a simple one, making it an effortless dessert to throw together on the weekend or even a weekday and enjoy all season long!

a glazed Christmas Rum Cake on a cake stand on a table. with holiday decorations.

My dear aunt shared this incredible recipe with me, who always brought it to family reunions. The holidays are all about family, traditions, and sharing sweet moments with the ones we love and, in this case, sharing sensational recipes!

There are so many creative Christmas desserts out there circulating — why not try something new and exciting this year? I am loving this Filled Christmas Present Cookies idea and these lovely Ricotta Cookies. Then there is a No Bake Eggnog Pie recipe I am going to try too. 

ingredients for making rum cake on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for Christmas Rum Cake

Rum Cake

  • Nuts | Add some texture and extra flavor to the top of your rum cake by sprinkling chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans at the bottom of the pan before pouring in the batter. 
  • Yellow cake mix | For the base of this cake, I keep things simple by using a box of yellow cake mix. I used Duncan Hines’ “Perfectly Moist Classic Yellow” for this recipe. However, you may use whatever your favorite yellow cake mix brand.
  • Vanilla pudding mix | For a creamy and rich vanilla flavor, add a box of instant vanilla pudding and pie filling. I used the classic and reliable JELL-O brand. 
  • Eggs | Adding eggs to the cake will help bind the ingredients and produce a fluffy and airy texture. 
  • Water | Add some cold water to make the cake batter moist.
  • Canola oil | Canola oil has a mild flavor and creates a beautifully moist crumb.
  • Dark rum | Of course, you’ll need your favorite bottle of 80-proof dark rum. I like to use Bacardi Black for this rum cake recipe.


  • Water | Water makes the glaze runny and fluid, so it pours over the cake nicely.
  • Butter | Unsalted butter makes the glaze creamy.
  • Sugar | Use granulated sugar to bring sweetness to this delicious glaze.
  • Dark rum | Use some more rum to create a sweet rum-flavored glaze.

Equipment needed

  • Bundt Pan— A bundt pan makes this cake so beautiful. Try this one from Nordic Ware.

How to make the best Holiday Rum Cake 

Bacardi Rum cake is festive and full of holiday flavor! Even better, this recipe is easy to follow, and the prep is minimal.

STEP 1 | Preheat and prep

This stunning and delicious rum cake is so easy to make! Ready to get started? Begin by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F.

Next, spray the Bundt pan with cooking spray or grease it with oil or butter and add a little flour to the inside surface. I used this homemade cake release to coat all the nooks and crannies of my Bundt pan.

Whatever you choose, spray the pan well to keep the cake from sticking to the pan so it comes out whole and pristine. Then, chop the walnuts or pecans and sprinkle them evenly in the bottom of the pan.

process steps for making rum cake: pecans in bottom of bundt pan; mixing batter; adding rum to cake batter.

STEP 2 | Mix the cake batter

Now for the rum cake batter! Use an electric or stand mixer to blend the yellow cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, cool water, and canola oil.

Of course, if you do not have a stand or electric mixer, you may use a whisk, rubber spatula, or wooden spoon to mix the ingredients by hand. Then, add the rum and mix the cake batter until it’s velvety smooth.

pouring cake batter on top of pecans in a bundt pan; cake cooling in pan on a wire rack.

STEP 3 | Pour, bake, and cool

The recipe is almost complete—how much easier can it get? Just pour the rum cake batter evenly on top of the nuts in the Bundt pan.

Next, slip the pan into the oven and bake for 1 hour. Then, take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack before attempting to remove it.

STEP 4 | Invert the cake

Once the cake has cooled, carefully invert it onto a festive serving plate. Then, move on to making the sweet rum glaze.


  • The glaze will be thin. Take your time in drizzling it over the cake and allow it to soak in as you go for the most infused rum flavor. 
  • Avoid overmixing the rum cake batter. Mix the ingredients until they are just combined. Overmixing may result in a dense and tough texture. However, you want the Bundt cake to be fluffy and airy.

STEP 5 | Create the glaze

First, drop some butter into a saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to melt completely, then stir in the sugar and water.

Bring the glaze to a boil, stirring constantly. Then, continue boiling the glaze for about 5 minutes.

process steps for glazing a rum cake: prick holes in cake; add rum to glaze; spoon glaze over cake.

STEP 6 | Add the rum and drizzle the glaze on the cake

Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the rich and tasty rum. Once the cake is thoroughly cooled, prick a fork all over the top of the rum cake. 

And, last but certainly not least, drizzle the glaze all over the cake, covering the top and sides. The tiny pricks on the top of the Bundt cake will help the cake absorb the sweet rum glaze. 

Then slice and serve!

Rum cake on a wooden cake stand with slices of cake laying to the side.

I love this family recipe because it’s a simple holiday dessert that is sure to impress your family and friends. The taste is rich and festive, and the presentation is classic and stunning.

Plus, it’s wise to have a few easier recipes on your holiday bake list — too many complicated and detailed recipes can be overwhelming if you frequently bake for the holidays.

If you’re looking for more delicious and festive desserts for the holiday season, check out my sweet Apple Walnut Bundt Cake, bright Lemon Bundt Cake, or this decadent Biscoff Cake. If you like this classic Rum Cake, try my Easy Orange Cake Recipe, similar to today’s recipe but with citrusy notes.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to use nuts for this recipe?

Chopped nuts are certainly not required. If you or your guests are not nut fans or allergic to nuts, omit them. You may also use a mixture of both pecans and walnuts if you’d like. Or you can even swap the nuts for your favorites, like almonds or hazelnuts.
If you’re a chocolate lover, try white chocolate or butterscotch chips instead of nuts. 

Can you make this rum cake gluten-free?

You can make this holiday rum cake recipe for everyone to enjoy! There is one primary adjustment you need to make—use a box of yellow cake that is clearly labeled as gluten-free. 

Furthermore, it’s wise to double-check the rum you add to this recipe. Rum is naturally gluten-free, but some products may have gluten from flavoring or other additives. And it’s the same with the instant pudding—most brands use cornstarch to thicken it. 

However, a few brands may use something different, so it’s smart to ensure the product is gluten-free before serving the altered recipe to those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

How apparent is the rum taste in this cake?

You don’t have to be a massive rum fan to enjoy this festive dessert. Balanced with the sugar, pudding, and cake mix, the flavor of the rum isn’t overwhelming or overly dominant! In other words, it certainly doesn’t taste like you’re taking a shot of straight rum!

In fact, most of the rum for the cake batter and glaze is cooked off. You don’t need to worry about being intoxicated after having a slice or two. But it may be best to limit this boozy dessert to adults only because it still contains some alcohol.

a slice of rum cake on a Christmas plate.


If preferred, you can top the Bundt cake with sifted powdered sugar or a mix of powdered sugar and cinnamon in place of the rum glaze.

Serving suggestions

Why not plan for a whole day of festive meals and top it all off with this mouth-watering Christmas rum cake?

Start the day with this sweet and savory Sausage Apple Breakfast Casserole. Then, keep it light for lunch with my Holiday Cheese Board with Sage Honey Ricotta or Autumn Salad with Butternut Squash, Turkey, and Kale. You’ll want to leave room for a delicious dinner and, more importantly, dessert!

For dinner, serve perfectly seasoned and incredibly tender Citrus Herb Smoked Turkey Breast. Finally, end the evening with a decadent slice of Rum Cake with sugary rum glaze and wash it down with this Easy Hot Apple Cider Recipe — YUM!

a glazed Christmas Rum Cake on a cake stand on a table.

Behind the recipe: Christmas Rum Cake

The origins of Christmas rum cake are debatable. However, most agree that the recipe has been enjoyed for many centuries.

The Caribbean rum cake is a version called black rum cake. And in recent history, rum cake has been a British tradition around Christmas time. 

During colonial times, the recipe was brought to America and quickly spread. 

Today, rum cake is a popular holiday dessert in many European and American countries. It is a staple at the Christmas or thanksgiving dessert table for many families all over the globe.

Rum cake on a wooden cake stand with slices of cake laying to the side.

Christmas Rum Cake

Buttery, moist, sweet, and rich, with a rum kick this Christmas Rum Cake recipe is easy to make and always a hit at the holiday dessert table.
4.42 from 12 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings
Calories 256 kcal


  • 12-cup Bundt pan


  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts chopped
  • 1 18.5 oz. box yellow cake mix
  • 1 3 1/4 oz. pkg. vanilla instant pudding and pie filling
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup dark rum 80 proof


  • ¼ cup water
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup dark rum 80 proof


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle the nuts evenly in the. bottom of the pan.
  • Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, blend together the cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, water, and oil. Add the rum and mix until smooth.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly on top of the nuts. Bake for 1 hour, then let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  • Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate. Prick the top of the cake with a fork. Drizzle the glaze all over the cake, on the top and sides, allowing the cake to absorb the glaze as you go.


  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, boil for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the rum.


  • The glaze will be thin. Take your time in drizzling it over the cake and allow it to soak in as you go for the most infused rum flavor. 
  • Avoid overmixing the rum cake batter. Mix the ingredients until they are just combined. Overmixing may result in a dense and tough texture. However, you want the Bundt cake to be fluffy and airy.


Calories: 256kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 2gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 20mgPotassium: 45mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 246IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 0.4mg

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword baking from scratch, cake, Christmas, holiday baking, pecans, rum
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Oh me, oh my! I love that you took what can be a complicated recipe and made it so simple! I adore Bundt cakes and this one is definitely going on my baking list!

4.42 from 12 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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