Soft, buttery Pumpkin Cupcakes with a brown sugar infused cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are perfectly spiced Fall desserts and can be prepped and in the oven in under 20 minutes!
Perfect Pumpkin Cupcakes
Just when you thought I was done bombarding you with pumpkin recipes, here I am again with these Pumpkin Cupcakes.
Maybe it’s because it’s Fall ,and I love Fall baking, and what’s more seasonally appropriate than pumpkin? Maybe it’s because I have a surplus of homemade pumpkin pie spice in my pantry. Maybe it’s because Zach is 10x the pumpkin spice addict I’ll ever be and is constantly sniffing around the kitchen for something sweet and pumpkin-infused. Constantly.
And maybe I still have another pumpkin recipe coming your way before the season is through but I promise to give you a little break before sharing that one. But for now, Pumpkin Cupcakes. Let’s talk about them.
What You Need
Let’s talk about that butter first.
Generally I prefer to use a blend of oil and butter when making cakes and cupcakes (like my vanilla cake and chocolate cake). This combo tends to yield a light, soft, and moist texture. However, when it comes to this pumpkin cupcake recipe I found that using just butter yields an incredibly soft, moist, and flavorful cupcake, no oil required.
In fact, by using just butter we get an even better flavor and lose nothing by way of moisture (and melting it helps really infuse the cupcakes with buttery flavor, too!).
How to Make It
These are easy pumpkin cupcakes. The batter comes together quickly and there is no mixer needed. Here’s how to make them:
- Melt your butter. Thanks to the melted butter, there’s no need to use a mixer and your cupcakes will have a rich, buttery flavor. Let the butter cool before adding any other ingredients to it. You do need to let it cool before going any further, so set it aside for the time being and let’s get to our dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Return to your butter (assuming it’s cooled enough to no longer be warm to the touch) and stir in egg, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and milk.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir ingredients together with a spatula. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Bake, then allow cupcakes to cool before covering with frosting.
We’ll talk more about that frosting in just a minute.
Now About that Frosting…
We’re topping off these pumpkin cupcake with a slight variation of my favorite cream cheese frosting. While I love that frosting as-is, we’re making some subtle tweaks:
- Brown sugar. The addition of a few tablespoons of brown sugar add a subtle depth of flavor (thanks to the molasses in brown sugar). Pairs perfectly with pumpkin (and Fall)!
- A bit less powdered sugar. Between the three cups of powdered sugar we’re using and the brown sugar our frosting will be plenty sweet enough. Also, this frosting is specifically meant to be silkier and thinner than my traditional cream cheese frosting, and reducing some of the powdered sugar helps give us this smooth texture.
- Heavy Cream. This is optional! Beating in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream will make your frosting even silkier and smoother. Whether or not I add it usually depends on how I want my frosting to look on top of my cupcake when I’m finished, if you leave out the cream it will be stiffer and easier to pipe prettily on top.
More Cupcake Recipes to Try:
Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
- ¾ cup unsalted butter cut into pieces, (165g)
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (150g)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (50g)
- ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten (room temperature preferred)
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (7.5 ml)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree¹ (225g)
- 2 Tablespoons milk (30ml)
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- Place your butter pieces in a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Set aside (you want the butter to cool down so it’s not too hot before you add the sugar — too hot butter could cook your eggs or melt your sugar and ruin your cupcakes)
- In a separate large bowl combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Whisk until well-combined. Set aside.
- Return to your bowl with the melted butter and ensure that it is not hot to the touch. Add eggs and vanilla, stir well.
- Add pumpkin puree and milk and stir until completely combined.
- Gradually stir your dry ingredients into your wet until completely combined, taking care to not over-mix the batter.
- Evenly divide cupcake batter into prepared muffin tins (filling each about ⅔-¾ full) and bake on 350 for 20 minutes (toothpick inserted in center should come out mostly clean with only few crumbs).
- Allow to cupcakes to cool completely before icing.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric mixer) beat together cream cheese and butter, until well-creamed.
- Add brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined (about 15-30 seconds). Pause mixer to scrape down sides of bowl, and then beat again to make sure all ingredients are combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually, about ½ cup at a time, add powdered sugar until combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl again.
- If using heavy cream, add now (1 Tablespoon at a time) and beat on high speed for 30 seconds — until frosting is smooth and silky. Scrape down sides of bowl once more and beat briefly.
- Spread or pipe frosting over cooled cupcakes.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
This easy recipe was originally published 09/07/2016. Additional information and a new video have been added to help make this post as helpful as possible.