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!

a bite taken out of a pumpkin cupcake topped 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! 🙂

pumpkin cupcake batter in a glass bowl

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!)

2 images of pumpkin cupcake batter in a cupcake pan before baking and pumpkin cupcakes in a cupcake pan after baking

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 with stand mixer

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?! 😉 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 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 with cream cheese frosting

pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on a wood slice cake stand

Find cute pumpkin decorating toppers here. (Link to adorable decor is an affiliate link.) You can also decorate these cupcakes with festive fall sprinkles or mellowcreme pumpkins!

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pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

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


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


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). 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 – 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. 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.


  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 (affiliate links): 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


  1. Yay Sally!!!!! These are PERFECTION!!!! 

  2. I made these this weekend with your ‘my favorite pumpkin cake ‘ recipe. I got 22 cupcakes out of the batter. They were SO good! I am thinking of making them again for more fall events. Only thing I changed was using more spice than in your recipe (I always go heavy on spices) and I added cinnamon to the cream cheese frosting. So good!

    1. Perfect! I really love these cupcakes with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I want to add maple extract to a batch and see how that tastes next time 🙂

  3. Sarah DeJesus says:

    Can I use avocado oil instead of canola?

    1. Definitely!

  4. Thanks so much Danny!

    And about these cupcakes– you can definitely use mini Bundt pans, I’m just unsure of the exact bake time.

  5. Hi there! I was wondering if you thought I could replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and get good results?

    1. The results will be different. The cupcake’s texture will be heavier and they may not be as moist.

  6. Do you think this recipe would work well with sweet potato instead of pumpkin?

    1. Definitely!

  7. I made these and they really are “The Best”!!! Wow! Thanks for sharing this recipe! ❤️ 

  8. Made these for a friend’s birthday…ended up keeping two for myself 😉 They were INCREDIBLE! I have never really been a big fan of cream cheese frosting, but I made your version and lo and behold, thought it was delicious – homemade (self-made?) is definitely the way to go when it comes to that!

    Next time I’ll try it with the apple sauce instead of the canola oil! Thank you for the amazing recipe!

    1. I agree, homemade frosting is the way to go! It’s not as cloyingly sweet at store bought!

  9. I just made those yesterday – wonderful! Plus, those really do have a “cake” texture – I’ve tried other recipes in the past and ended up with “heavy” cupcakes nobody liked. And I just loved how my kitchen smelled afterwards. 

    1. Yes! The texture here is definitely more cupcake than muffin 😉

  10. I made these for my office’s Halloween festivities and they were a huge hit! Loved how simple the recipe was, and the cream cheese frosting as usual is to die for! I have seen frosting-haters do a complete 180 after trying your cream cheese frosting, Sally! It truly does wonders!

  11. I made mini bundt cakes with these and they worked perfectly! I made a cream cheese glaze which paired perfectly!

  12. Just made these tonight and oh..my..gosh are they amazing! Hat cream cheese frosting is just perfect. I need to stock up on pumpkin purée because I will be making these cupcakes many more times! 

  13. Hi Sally! Every one of your recipes that I have tried has been a hit! Whenever I am in search of a new recipe I turn to your page first to see if you have a recipe for said thing. I made your pumpkin chocolate chip bread last week and brought it to work yesterday and it was a hit. I want to make these next weekend and was wondering where you got those little pumpkins that you put on top of them. They don’t look like the candy corn pumpkins. 

  14. I LOVE your cream cheese frosting (especially when I make your banana cake. And the lemon blueberry cake. And red velvet cake. And carrot cake. Oh my gosh, just let me put cream cheese frosting on everything), but would this lighter batter hold up to streusel topping, like from your pumpkin streusel muffin recipe? I’ve already made these cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting, which were fantastically delicious. But now I’m craving some streusel topping. I love your crumb cake recipes, and your last apple crumb cake HIT THE SPOT. So good. Clearly I have a Sally Baking Addiction addiction

    1. Haha! Sounds like we have similar tastebuds. I might love cream cheese frosting and crumble toppings as much as you do 🙂 You can add streusel topping to these cupcakes before baking– no problem!

  15. Hello sally quick question. can i make this recipe into a mini cupcake instead?

    1. Sure can! See step 3.

  16. Will using coconut oil or avocado oil for these Pumpkin cupcakes and the super moist chocolate cupcakes have a negetive effect on the texture of the cupcakes, will the texture become more dense once thier refrigerated? thank you

    1. Not at all– I’ve made both with melted (and slightly cooled) coconut oil before. Both still great!

  17. Hi Sally,I baked these cupcakes and they were very good.Thanks

  18. I made these for my son’s class party. The cupcakes were delicious, and I was asked by several people for the recipe. I served them with a dairy-free chocolate frosting, as there was a dairy allergy in the class, and I think it went over very well!

  19. I made these cupcakes on thanksgiving for a cupcake bake-off (I come from a family of competitive bakers) and they did not disappoint! I have made a bunch of your other recipes and they always come out so delicious! This is by far my favorite baking website and recommend it to all of my friends. I definitely plan on using one of your cookie recipes for a holiday cookie swap in December!

    1. Thank you so much, Veronica! Makes me so happy that you enjoy this site!! Let me know which cookie recipe you decide on 🙂

  20. Heather M. Whippy says:

    This recipe would be a great sprinkled episode .
    Also your moist chocolate cupcakes would be
    another really great sprinkled episode as well.

    1. Hi Heather! The first season of Sprinkled is already filmed, but I’ll definitely add your recipe suggestions if we do another season!

  21. Hi Sally! Can I use pumpkin pie filling for this? Thanks!

    1. Hi Diana! No, this recipe requires the pure pumpkin. I use Libby’s brand from a can.

  22. Hi Sally! I’m going to make these for a friend’s baby shower this weekend. I’m going to double the recipe for 24 cupcakes. Would you recommend any special adjustments for doubling the recipe? If not, I’ll just multiply everything by two!

    1. Hi Heather! My recommendation, for BEST results, is to make the batter twice instead of doubling. So sweet they’ll be a dessert at a baby shower!

  23. Hi Sally!

    Does it matter for the timing for mini cupcakes if I have a 48 mini cupcake pan? Would there be any adjustments in timing for this?

    1. Hi Fasabrun! The bake time for mini cupcakes shouldn’t change in a 48 count mini cupcake pan. If anything, it may be a minute or 2 longer.

  24. I made these today for a get together at our house. They were so delicious Sally! Pumpkin and cream cheese are such a great combo! This is my official start to fall baking!!!

  25. Sally,

    Thank you for the pumpkin cupcake recipe. I just made them and they are the best pumpkin cupcakes I ever had. Super moist and fluffy!

    Thanks again,


  26. Hi Sally, the cupcakes were perfect!
    Another great recipe 🙂 My frosting was a little melty/oily looking. Could that be if the butter had gotten to warm? I’m not sure what else would cause that or what I did wrong. After frosting them should I keep them in the fridge to keep the icing set? Thanks!

    1. Hey Kelly! Yep, the butter was too warm. No problem there, after some time in the fridge, the butter (and frosting) will set up.

  27. Oh my word, I made these this morning and they are AMAZING! I made them for my own birthday (we all make our own cakes, right?!). I added some cinnamon to the frosting just for funs and they are just fabulous. Thank you Sally!

  28. It seems like a lot of frosting. Could I double the cupcake recipe without doubling the frosting?

    1. Absolutely!

  29. Hi, Sally!

    Do you think the chai buttercream from your chai latte cupcakes would go well with these? A friend requested pumpkin chai cupcakes for her birthday 🙂


    1. Hi Kim! Yes, definitely! Pumpkin pairs very well with chai spices. Here is my recipe for chai spice buttercream for easy access: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/09/25/chai-latte-cupcakes/

  30. I made the cake version last week, and since I have left over frosting, I’m making your cupcake version tomorrow. The cake was a real hit with everyone one who tried it. I don’t like ABC, so I made smbc with orange flavoring and a touch of cloves. Goes so well with the pumpkin taste. Thank you for sharing such wonderful recipes. I come to your site often!

    1. Oh yum! Your frosting with orange + cloves sounds PERFECT. Happy baking!

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