I figure many of you would want to try my favorite pumpkin cake recipe… as cupcakes!!
While you can bake the cake into about 24 cupcakes, a completely separate blog post dedicated to turning that recipe into cupcakes is definitely needed. Cupcakes cook faster. They’re share-able. And most importantly? Cupcakes are CUTER.
So pumpkin cupcakes deserve their own spotlight, no?
Here’s the plan. We’ll halve the cake recipe to yield about 12 cupcakes. The spices and vanilla extract aren’t completely cut in two– I kept both on the higher side for plenty of F-L-A-V-O-R. I also cut the white granulated sugar and only used brown. You already know how I feel about brown sugar. ♥
- Ease: Both pumpkin cupcake recipes are super low maintenance. You don’t need a mixer to make either batter (though you certainly could use one!). And both batters come together in a matter of minutes.
- Actual recipes: Very similar. Today I cut out the milk and reduced the flour to make up for less liquid. Only 1 cup of flour is needed, so these cupcakes are mega moist! There’s also a little more brown sugar for added flavor.
- Flavor: Pretty identical, though there’s a slightly heightened spice flavor in today’s version. LOVE that.
- Texture: This is the real difference. Today’s pumpkin cupcakes are a little less dense. They’re incredible moist and soft, but have more of a cake and cupcake texture– less of a muffin texture. Does that make sense?
As with most of my cupcake recipes, fill the liners only about 2/3 full. This is about 3 full Tablespoons of batter per cupcake. (See 9 more tips for baking the BEST cupcakes!)
Cream cheese frosting is a pumpkin cupcake’s BFF.
Here’s what I love most about the besties: cream cheese frosting doesn’t take away from the pumpkin flavor. Rather, it lets the pumpkin cupcakes shine. Cream cheese frosting is not selfish. That’s a true friend, is it not?! 😉 We’d have a different story with, say, vanilla buttercream. Too sweet, too heavy, too overpowering. We want something light ‘n’ creamy. A frosting that melts on the tongue, a buttery and rich topping that isn’t cloyingly sweet.
This cream cheese frosting will hold a little shape if you pipe it, though a simple swirl with a knife works too. I like to use a round tip for piping, like this Ateco 808 large round. Looks like a big puffy cloud on top!
And if you want adorable little pumpkin toppers: I can’t seem to find the same exact ones I used here, but you can get similar pumpkin toppers here and here. Or these super adorable pumpkin sprinkles. Or use those weirdly delicious mallowcreme pumpkins that come with candy corn!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
- 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil*
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup (225g) canned pumpkin puree*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners' sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 12-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add the extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar (I add it).
- Frost cooled cupcakes however you'd like. I used an Ateco 808 large round piping tip for these pictured cupcakes. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
*Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground allspice and ground ginger AND 1/4 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ground cloves.
*Instead of 1/2 cup of oil, try 1/4 cup (45g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/4 (60ml) cup oil. The cupcakes are just as moist.
*I strongly recommend using canned pumpkin puree over homemade in this recipe, though 1 cup of homemade would work just fine. I found the flavor better with canned. I prefer Libby's brand.
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SHOP THE RECIPE
Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.