My soft, buttery Pumpkin Cupcakes are topped with an irresistible brown sugar cream cheese frosting. They come together without a mixer in under an hour for a fast and fun fall dessert! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Perfect Pumpkin Cupcakes
These soft pumpkin cupcakes will fulfill all of your fall dessert cravings. Are they packed with pumpkin? Check! Infused with cozy spices? Check! Fast and easy (more time for corn mazes and pumpkin patches!)? Check, check, check! Find me a more simple and satisfying fall dessert–I dare you!
This recipe is super quick, with just 20 minutes of prep and another 20 minutes to bake. Thanks to the melted butter, there’s no need to use a mixer and no time spent waiting for butter to soften. Plus, melted butter provides the best, butteriest flavor, so using it here is a no-brainer.
We’ll be topping off our pumpkin cupcakes with a brown sugar version of my classic cream cheese frosting, and it’s simply amazing. It’s a silker and thinner variation that pipes beautifully and pairs so well with the pumpkin flavor. You’ll love it!
What You Need
Here are the key ingredients you’ll need to make my pumpkin cupcakes:
- Canned pumpkin. Make sure you use 100% pumpkin and NOT pumpkin pie filling! Homemade pumpkin puree can be substituted, but I tend to prefer the canned version in this situation and you’re more likely to get consistent results using the canned stuff.
- Butter. Generally I prefer to use a blend of oil and butter when making cakes and cupcakes (like my vanilla cake and apple cake). This combo tends to yield a light, soft, and moist texture. However, when it comes to these pumpkin cupcakes, 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!). This is largely because the pumpkin puree itself adds so much moisture to the cupcakes.
- Pumpkin spice. This blend of spices adds the perfect flavor to our cupcakes. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make my homemade pumpkin spice!
- Cream cheese. Use the brick-style, full-fat version. I don’t recommend the spreadable kind that comes in a tub (frosting made with that cream cheese tends to be runny and no good for piping).
- Brown sugar. Adding a few tablespoons of brown sugar to the frosting adds a subtle depth of flavor (thanks to the molasses in brown sugar).
SAM’S TIP: 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 hold its shape when piped.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Melt your butter and let it cool (we’ll be adding eggs directly to it, butter that’s too hot can cook your eggs, which you don’t want!).
- In a separate bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients.
- Add egg, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and milk to the cooled melted butter.
- Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together with a spatula (don’t overdo it!), then portion into a lined muffin tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes and allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting.
SAM’S TIP: If you’re not a fan of cream cheese frosting, feel free to frost your pumpkin cupcakes with substitute my vanilla frosting, brown butter frosting (also uses cream cheese but it’s a whole different experience!), or my swiss meringue buttercream instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can, but I’d recommend you try my pumpkin cake instead!
I recommend refrigerating your pumpkin cupcakes if not enjoying within 1-2 days or if you’re in a particularly warm environment, but you can do what you feel is safest.
You could make the cupcakes and just skip the frosting, or you can just make my buttery, streusel-topped pumpkin muffins instead!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 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.
- 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 (should not feel very warm) Add eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture and stir or whisk well.
- Add pumpkin puree and milk to the pumpkin mixture 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.
¹Pumpkin pureeMake sure this is 100% pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling (which contains spices and other ingredients). The only ingredient on the back of the label should be pumpkin.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cupcakes may also be wrapped well and frozen.
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.