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!

Print
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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

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°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.

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 (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

192 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Can I substitute the flour for gluten free flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lia, We haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour but let us know if you do!

      1. I did. I used King Arthur Measure for Measure and they came out beautifully!! Happy Baking!!

      2. I tried with Cup 4 Cup and was a huge hit with my friends, who couldn’t believe it was gluten free!

  2. I have a question. Can anyone compare this frosting to the taste of Italian buttercream in terms of sweetness. I usually make my own version of this type of cream cheese and combine it with Italian BC and it is perfect. However, I was wanting to try this frosting also. So any help with this question would be greatly appreciated.

    1. talia l dardis says:

      combining with italian bc is such a cool idea!!! i bet that would be great, and probably less sweet tasting. also, have you tried browned butter cream cheese frosting?? so good!!!

  3. These cupcakes are so delicious! I ended up making two batches! But was wondering if I could use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and if so, would the measurements change? Thank you for this oh so yummy recipe!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Faith, I’m so happy you enjoy these cupcakes! You can definitely use melted (and slightly cooled) coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. Same amount, no other changes needed!

  4. When I google for any recipe I always choose the one that comes up from Sally’s Baking Addiction, every single one has been perfect and this one is no different!

  5. I love this recipe but the frosting is too sweet , and theres no other taste other than the tooth hurting sweetness. Is there any changes i can make to improve the frosting

    1. Just dial back on the powdered sugar. I did and we enjoyed it fine. I’m not into achingly sweet frosting either.

  6. I love this recipe so much, but I was wondering if anyone had used it in a loaf pan for pumpkin bread? Ive seen the pumpkin bread recipe on the site but I love the lightness of the cupcakes and wanted to see if it would translate to a loaf?

    1. I doubled the recipe today and did 12 cupcakes and one loaf. It worked beautifully; only thing I did different from the recipe as stated was used a whole can of pumpkin the the doubled recipe (it’s a tiny bit less than 2 cups) and folded in some chopped candied pecans that were sitting around. Great recipe!

  7. Sushan Sharma says:

    Hi sally- I’m making these cupcakes since it’s around that fall time! Only problem is that I bought a cupcake tray with ghosts shapes and pumpkin shapes, I don’t know if the time/temp would differ? Theres only room for 6 cupcakes but i’m willing to do as many batches as it needs. Could you let me know if the temp or time of baking differs!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sushan, Without knowing how much batter each shape holds it’s difficult to recommend a bake time – the temperature should stay the same though. Keep an eye on them and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

      1. Sushan Sharma says:

        Thank you so much!! I love your recipes so much, thank you so much for the feedback 🙂

  8. Hi! I tried this recipe, but my cupcakes came out slightly dry. Do you have any recommendations to make them more moist?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mariah, Did you make any ingredient substitutions? The oil and the pumpkin should keep these very moist! Be sure you are measuring the flour correctly (spoon and level) as too much flour can soak up too much liquid. Also, every oven is different so check yours before the suggested bake time to be sure they weren’t simply overbaked.

  9. I loooove this recipe! The cupcakes were moist and perfect. The cupcakes are not too sweet so the frosting compliments it well.

  10. Hello! Can I turn this recipe in a cake instead of muffins? And for how long and which temperature should I bake it? Also, can I use juice instead of the oil? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Isabella, For a pumpkin cake, I recommend using this pumpkin cake recipe. It’s written for a 9×13 inch cake pan and also includes directions for other size pans in the recipe notes.

  11. This recipe was phenomenal!! I’ve shared it with all of my friends already. The PERFECT fluffy and moist cupcakes.

  12. How long would jumbo cupcakes need to be baked?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chris, We are unsure of the exact time for jumbo cupcakes. Bake at the same oven temperature until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

  13. HEY!

    ANY chance this recipe can be used for cake pops?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrea, I don’t see why not! Enjoy 🙂

  14. These are the BEST pumpkin cupcakes! Even my husband who claims to not love pumpkin enjoyed them. They are so moist and flavorful, and the flavors are not overpowering or too sweet. I used a different frosting recipe as I prefer more of a whipped cream cheese frosting. You have to make these!!!

  15. This recipe with miraculous delicious and the cream cheese was perfect on my God give this a 10.

  16. This is an amazing recipe! I absolutely love these cupcakes, they’re the best pumpkin cupcakes I’ve ever made! Thank you!!
    I do have one question. I just made 4 dozen for a birthday on Saturday. As the last batch was coming out of the oven I got a call the party is being moved to Tuesday. How would you recommend going about freezing these? I have not frosted them yet, but plan to do that Monday. I want to make sure to keep them as moist as possible, but I’ve never frozen cupcakes before! Any help is much appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ashley, We are so happy you enjoy these cupcakes! They do freeze well in an airtight container. I usually use large tupperware containers to freeze them, but if you are short on room a freezer friendly zip top bag also works. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

  17. This is the best recipe ever! Easy to make and delicious. The cupcakes rose perfectly in the oven, and the frosting came together in seconds. Love it! ❤️ Thank you, Sally!

  18. These are absolutely delicious. The cupcake is moist and tender and pumpkiny. The frosting is excellent, just as good if not better than the cupcake. A big hit at our house!

  19. Hello Sally
    A quick question, can I use pumpkin spice extract for this recipe ? If yes, is it still 1 and 1/2 teaspoons?
    Thanks

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Syuhada, We have never tested it so I’m unsure of the amount you should use. Most flavored extracts are very strong so perhaps try using half of the vanilla and half your pumpkin extract. Let us know what you try!

      1. I used a teaspoon of the pumpkin spice extract. So I added it in the wet ingredients. It turns out heavenly. Super moist and the cream cheese frosting was perfect with the cupcakes. Sally’s recipes always been a hit. Thanks heaps!

  20. These cupcakes were great and I look forward to making them again. They stuck to the liners though so I need to do something different. My liners are old and I believe I may have put a tad too much oil in the recipe. I used a vegetable oil and applesauce combination. Would too much oil cause them to stick?

    Thank you for this recipe!!!

  21. Great recipe, easy and absolutely delicious. Except for the pumpkin puree, all the ingredients are common to my pantry. I love that. I followed the directions faithfully and the end result was perfection. Light, fluffy, and a wonderful full pumpkin spice taste.
    As a relatively new baker, I love the videos, the tips, and the visuals of each recipe. This website is beautifully laid out, easy to use and follow. I am so grateful to have found Sally.

    Thank you.
    Anne

  22. did the applesauce substitution as mentioned in your notes, added 1 tbsp of apple butter (which contained some cinnamon, nutmeg and clove), cut the brown sugar to 1/2 cup (this resulted in a good sweetness level), omitted the allspice and clove, used coconut oil (the one that doesn’t solidify, dunno what the proper term is), and the cake turned out wonderfully spiced and moist!!

  23. I love Sally’s recipes. They are usually very straightforward. This one needs a little adjustment:
    1) One batch of frosting is double what is needed for 12 cupcakes.
    2) 3.25 cups powdered sugar would have been too sweet. I used 3 scant cups of powdered sugar (spooned in and leveled).
    3) The spice level is so high it’s hard to taste pumpkin flavor. I will dial it back in future.

    With adjustment, a great recipe!

  24. This recipe is amazing !! I followed it as is, and I used the note regarding the homemade pumpkin pie spice !! These cupcakes were moist and delicious !!!! It took me less than 15 minutes to prepare them and get them into the oven, and I got a perfect 12 which is also awesome !!! I filled them with cannoli filling (per family member request) and added my own homemade vanilla buttercream that I use for all my cupcakes!!!! This pumpkin cupcake recipe is a KEEPER!! I have made so many cupcakes and this is my first time doing pumpkin cupcakes,…. I knew I could rely on Sally!! Thank you so much !!

  25. Just baked my 5th or 6th batch of these and had to come leave a review. My co-workers are obsessed, they mention them daily and are now offering to pay me to make them. I have yet to try one myself because they disappear so quickly!

  26. These were the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. Very moist and tons a flavor! I piped in some pumpkin butter since I had some. Yum

  27. Hellllllooo Fall! Sally, these are exceptional! We devoured half the batch in one go. Fluffy, perfectly spiced. We had enough frosting left over that we are planning on topping our pumpkin pancakes with it for breakfast tomorrow. Thank you again Sally!!

  28. Hi, Sally! I would love to make these for Thanksgiving, but I have the Russian ball piping tips do you think it would hold? It worked with your peanut butter frosting on the snicker cupcakes!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, Cream cheese frosting isn’t thick enough for Russian piping tips. You can pipe it with a simple round tip as shown in the pictures above – if you don’t have one you can simply cut off the end of your piping bag and use that without a tip. You can certainly try to add more sugar to thicken it up and also fill your piping bag and then place the entire thing in the refrigerator before piping, but again buttercream works better for intricate piping!

  29. Can I sub white sugar for brown?

    1. Hi Romy, yes you can.

  30. Hi! I was wondering — can I substitute applesauce for the eggs? I wanted to try this recipe for my boyfriend, who is vegan. I normally substitute 1/4 cup applesauce per egg, so I would use 1/2 cup for this recipe.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lizzie, We haven’t tested this recipe with any egg substitutes but let us know if you try it!

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