Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These super moist pumpkin cupcakes are easy to make, perfectly pumpkin spiced, and finished with tangy cream cheese frosting. I adapted this recipe from my very favorite pumpkin cake. They’re a must-try during the fall season!

pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Pumpkin cupcakes deserve their own spotlight, right?

I received some questions about turning my pumpkin cake into cupcakes, so I figure a completely separate post for pumpkin cupcakes would be helpful. Compared to cake, cupcakes cook faster and are easier to decorate, transport, and serve. LOVE THAT!

pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

These are the BEST Pumpkin Cupcakes

And I have a list to prove it!

  • Easy to prepare
  • Simple, basic ingredients
  • Moist and soft
  • Heightened pumpkin spice flavor
  • Sweetened with brown sugar
  • Topped with tangy cream cheese frosting
  • Fun to decorate! ūüôā

pumpkin cupcake batter

Let’s Compare

Let’s compare these pumpkin cupcakes to the pumpkin cupcake recipe I shared a few years ago. There’s definitely a few differences!

  • Ease: Both pumpkin cupcake recipes are super low maintenance. You don’t need a mixer to make either batter (though you could certainly use one!) and both batters come together in minutes.
  • Actual Recipes: The recipes themselves are pretty similar. Here I cut out the milk and reduced the flour to make up for less liquid. You only need 1 cup of flour, so you are basically guaranteed mega moist cupcakes. There’s also more brown sugar for extra flavor.
  • Flavor: The flavors are pretty identical, though there’s a little more spice flavor here.
  • Texture: But here’s the real difference– these pumpkin cupcakes are a little less dense. They’re incredibly moist and soft, but have more of a cake and cupcake texture and less of a muffin texture.

My tip: 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!)

pumpkin cupcake batter

Ingredients in Pumpkin Cupcakes

Because this homemade pumpkin cupcake recipe is based off of my pumpkin cake, you’ll notice the ingredients are almost exactly the same. In a nutshell, we halve the cake recipe to yield about 12 cupcakes. The spices and vanilla extract aren’t completely halved. Rather, I kept both on the higher side for plenty of FLAVOR!

Here’s what you need:

  1. Flour: All-purpose flour serves as the base. It’s sturdy enough to support the thick batter.
  2. Baking Powder & Baking Soda: These help the cupcakes rise.
  3. Cinnamon & Pumpkin Pie Spice: 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.
  4. Salt & Vanilla Extract: Both add flavor. Try making your own homemade vanilla extract sometime.
  5. Oil: Oil, as opposed to butter, guarantees a moist crumb.
  6. Eggs: Eggs provide structure and moisture.
  7. Sugar: I only use brown sugar to sweeten these cupcakes because it’s the best!
  8. Pumpkin: Use 1 cup of pumpkin puree in this recipe, then browse my pumpkin recipes to use up the rest of the can.

cream cheese frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a pumpkin cupcake’s BFF.

Here’s what I love most about this duo: 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?! ūüėČ We’d have a different story with, say, vanilla buttercream because it’s too sweet, too heavy, and too overpowering.

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 because it resembles a big puffy cloud on top!

If you really want to go wild, try my brown butter cream cheese frosting, cinnamon cream cheese frosting, or pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting!

pumpkin cupcakes

pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Aren’t these little pumpkin toppers adorable? Find cute pumpkin decorating toppers here and here. You can also decorate these cupcakes with festive fall sprinkles or mellowcreme pumpkins!

Print

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This is my favorite recipe for super moist and easy pumpkin spice cupcakes topped with delicious cream cheese frosting.


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350¬įF (177¬įC).¬†Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. 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.
  3. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners Рfill 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. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Hand Mixer, Glass Mixing Bowls, Cupcake Liners, Cupcake Pan, Frosting Bags, Ateco #808 Frosting Tip, and Tree Slice Cake Stand
  3. Spices: 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.
  4. Oil: 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.
  5. Pumpkin: 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.
  6. Mini Cupcakes: For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 12-13 minutes, same oven temperature.
  7. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: pumpkin cupcakes

Super moist and easy pumpkin spice cupcakes with delicious cream cheese frosting on top! Easy recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

140 Comments

  1. Hi! I am so ready for fall and I am in love with all things pumpkin spice! And when I saw these cupcakes I was drooling!!!! However I am not a fan of pumpkin itself (I know, it’s weird.) Is there any way to omit the pumpkin purée? Or replace it with something else?

  2. Hi Sally. I’m looking for your marshmallow frosting that uses store bought marshmallow fluff that this recipe use to use but now I see that you’ve changed the frosting on this recipe to cream cheese. When I searched for the OG in the search engine a completely different type of marshmallow frosting came up. A few months ago my phone deleted many of your recipes I had bookmarked and wouldn’t you know it, that one happened to disappear. Can you please send me a link to the old recipe? I need it for today. I made your Strawberry cake last night and I have to cover it with both the cream cheese and marshmallow frosting. HELP, PLEASE….

  3. I made these for a get together with friends and now they are my new official favorite Sally cupcake recipe. I followed the cake and cream cheese frosting recipe exactly, they turned out super moist and flavorful. I liked how easy it was to use a whisk for the cake batter and not my mixer. Thanks Sally!!

  4. So simple and soooo good. Super moist. Wow! Doubled up the spices in the cupcake and added cinnamon to the frosting for a little kick. Everyone loves ‚Äėem.

  5. Thses pumpkin cupcakes are amazing! This is such an easy recipe too! I have a question though, can I double this recipe to make 24 or should I make 2 batches?

      1. Oh. My. Goodness. These are absolutely heavenly, thank you for sharing. As I don’t not pipe my frosting (just a me thing, I’m lazy), I didn’t put three cups of sugar in my frosting, but two. Still delicious. This is now my favorite baking website, thank you Sally!

  6. Hello, Sally! I’m from Brasil and I just wanted to say that these cupcakes are fantastic. My kids absolutely loved them! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

    1. Hi Jocelyn! Yes, you can use this pumpkin cupcake batter to make a 3 layer 6 inch cake. I recommend following the baking instructions for my 6 inch cake (while using this pumpkin batter).

  7. Sally,
    These were delicious and super easy to make. Thank you.

    Question, why do cupcake liners separate from the cupcake? It usually happens the next day. It is because the cupcakes are super moist, if so, what can I do to prevent it without compromising the texture of the cupcake?

    Thanks, again!

    1. Hi Teresa! This is a tough one because there’s really no guaranteed fix. These cupcakes are moist, so the wrappers can separate after a day or so. You can try using two wrappers per cupcake, playing around with the ingredients so the cupcakes aren’t as moist, or using high quality liners (if you aren’t already.) I love these.

  8. I made these cupcakes but instead of frosting served with whipped cream like pumpkin pie they were yummy! I froze some for later they were good too with my coffee for breakfast!

  9. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE these cupcakes!!! Make them every thanksgiving and they go right away! it’s the perfect combo of pumpkin, spices and the cool cream cheese frosting – yum!
    Sally I had a question, could I make these cupcakes into mini-cupcakes? How much batter would you put in each mini cupcake? Thanks xx

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoy these so much! This recipe makes around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 12-13 minutes, same oven temperature.

  10. These were a very popular (Canadian) Thanksgiving dessert this weekend! So simple and easy to make also. We had them with a squirt of canned whipping cream and a small scoop of ice cream, no icing. I accidentally used too much sugar (grabbed the 1/3 cup measure instead of the 1/4 cup measure) but they were fine with the extra, I guess I didn’t pack it down very hard though.

    Well, pumpkin in a can will be on sale this week so I will have to make them again soon!

  11. These cupcakes were fantastic! I was really pleased with the cupcake texture – no muffin resemblance here! They were also very easy to throw together. Will absolutely be making these again.

    Thanks Sally!!

  12. I did these over the weekend. First of all they smelled like heaven and secondly they tasted like heaven. Beautifully moist and were easy to make. I will definitely be doing this recipe again soon. Thank you for sharing!

  13. I love those little pumpkin on the top of them.
    I’m a spice person.
    I love spices I’ll put more spice in anything that uses spice.
    Because sometimes there isn’t enough spice.
    This is going to be AMAZING

  14. Question: I know that with traditional cupcake recipes, you don’t want to over-mix the batter, as it can affect the fluffiness of the final result. Does the same apply for THIS recipe? Or does this recipe need to be mixed more fully? Thanks in advance!

    1. No matter which cake or cupcake recipe you are baking, over-mixing can over-develop the gluten in the flour which can result in tough-textured or dense baked good. That unfavorable texture is also more prominent in recipes where creaming butter + sugar is involved, too. So, to answer your question, it’s best practice to only mix the batter until the ingredients are combined unless otherwise stated in the recipe. Hope this helps!

      1. IMMENSELY! I teach a high school cooking class and I always try to make sure I pass on correct & detailed info to my students. Thanks for the quick reply!

      2. (Oh, I forgot to mention: we will be making these – mini ones, with a spiderweb icing effect, just in time for halloween!)

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