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!
Today’s frosting would also be great on carrot cake cupcakes, spice cake, or banana cake!
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
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened, (110g)
- 8 oz cream cheese softened, (226g)
- 4 Tablespoons light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar (375g)
- 1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream optional, this will make your frosting even thinner and silkier.
- 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.
Hey Sam!!! I want you to know I enjoy so many of your recipes. This one is one of my favorites! I didn’t have pumpkin spice but I made my own and it turned out great! This frosting is amazing and now my favorite of all time! Thank you for sharing all of your recipes!
I am so glad you enjoyed it so much, Scotti! 🙂
Great combination of flavors. The cupcakes reminded me more of a muffin. They paired perfectly with the icing. Had some leftover frosting so plan to make another batch soon.
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you for your 5-star review, Melissa! I am so glad that you enjoyed the pumpkin muffins. Happy Baking on your next batch! Thanks for commenting. 🙂
Love these! Great fall recipe and so easy to make. You are always my go to site for recipes! Never a letdown always fantastic…can’t say enough about the easy chocolate cupcake recipe too! I am always asked to make those for any event!
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much, Sue! I really appreciate your kind words. I am so glad that you have become such a fan of my recipes. The Chocolate Cupcakes are one of my favorites as well. I am happy that you enjoyed the Pumpkin Cupcakes too. Thanks again. Happy Baking. 🙂
Hi Sam- made the pumpkin cupcakes yesterday and we loved them! The cream cheese frosting is the best-it will be my new go to frosting! Baking a second batch right now to freeze for when we need a pumpkin fix!
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much, Barb! I am so glad that you enjoyed the Pumpkin Cupcakes and the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting. 🙂
I’ve been following and using your recipes especially the moist choco cake which my friends often asked me to bake whenever we have church activities.
Love all your recipes😘💕
I want to congratulate you for your coming angel🎉🎉🎉 Take care of yourself.
Praying for a healthy baby💐💐
Sugar Spun Run
Florenia, thank you so much for your well wishes and for being a fan of my recipes. I appreciate it! 🙂
Have you tried making this into 3- 6 inch cake rounds? I’ve done this with the cupcake recipes on Sally’s Baking Addiction and it was great. The smaller cakes seem to be very popular now.
Sugar Spun Run
Hello, Cheryl! I haven’t baked it in 6″ round cake pans, but it should work great. I hope that you enjoy the pumpkin cakes. 🙂
Hey Sam! Just wanted to tell you I made these and omgosh!! So delicious! The brown sugar in the frosting was so yummy. They were SO moist and a total HIT! Haven’t had a bad recipe yet on your blog. You rock! Funfetti cake in the oven now 🙂
I am so glad you enjoyed it! I know you’ll love that cake too! 😉
I am a huge fan of yours. As weird as this may sound, you’re just about the only blogger I trust when it comes to baking (every time I have tried your recipes, jaws have dropped with how delicious the treats are). So, I was wondering if you would be able to give a recipe with your favourite vanilla buttercream frosting that would go well with chocolate cupcakes. I tried searching for it on your page but couldnt find a vanilla buttercream!
Your comment truly just made my day, I’m so thrilled that you enjoy my recipes so much! Now, for the vanilla buttercream: I’m honestly not a huge fan of buttercream myself which is why I don’t yet have a recipe for it on my site, I’m sorry! I will let you know once I do publish one, though.
UPDATE: Here is my vanilla buttercream recipe!
I know this is a little late but I just wanted to say thanks for providing me with such a lovely recipe for frosting!!! Honestly, the chocolate cupcakes recipe you had up was AMAZING. I made them with your frosting suggestion and now I’m even more obsessed with your blog haha. I really think you’re gonna be the ONLY place I follow for recipes from this day forward!
Not once have you let me down!!! and that;s saying something because I really sucked at baking before I came across your blog!!!!!
Well thank you so much! It’s comments like this that make it worth it for me to keep on developing recipes! Thank you so much for the sweet words! <3
I know this comment was from years ago but I just wanted to echo the sentiment.
Whenever I’m thinking of a new flavor I want to try or I see a recipe on another website that looks good, I come here right away to see what my FAVORITE BLOG EVER has to say about the subject.
Thank you so much for sharing your talent with everyone! ❤️
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much, Barbi! I really appreciate your kind words and support. I’m glad you find my recipes enjoyable. 🙂
At what point do you mix in the 2 tablespoons of milk listed in the cupcake part of the recipe? I just added it with the eggs and vanillato the butter. And the recipe also says to stir in Nutmeg with the cinnamon but thsre’s no Nutmeg listed in the ingredients? I’mean sorry if I missed these things! But the cupcakes were great! Love the addition of brown sugar to the frosting. 🙂
Also, sorry for my typos. My phone hates me.
And I found the milk part. I’m so sorry! I should probably read before I comment. Forgive me!
Hi Roxanne! I’m glad you found the milk part! This is strange, though, it’s almost like you’re somehow seeing the very original draft of the recipe, which did mention nutmeg and omit the milk but which I fixed before publishing… the milk part and the pumpkin spice (not nutmeg) are showing correctly in the recipe for me, can you see them now? I did go into the post and “refresh/update” it in case it is somehow mistakenly showing the instructions incorrectly by showing the original draft. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cupcakes, though!
I am always in the mood for pumpkin spice, so this is great in my book. That brown sugar cream cheese frosting looks too good!
Wow Sam likes a little cupcake with her icing. The frosting on top is taller than the height of the cake. LOL 🙂
Just teasing you, but Joe and I both remove about 70% of the frosting before we eat the cake, and we don’t remove it to put it in our mouth.
Haha! You know me well, Pat 😉
Honestly if it’s not cream cheese frosting I can’t eat a lot of it (I can stand about a tablespoon of buttercream before it’s too much) but cream cheese is a whole different ball game for me!
Actually I make a homemade butter cream frosting that I can’t leave alone and my mom used to make a broiled caramel icing that was out of this world. What has turned me against icing is the lousy surgary artificially colored stuff on store bought cakes. I only like cream cheese with a cracker or chips. I don’t like cheesecake. I am a strange duck, just a little quacked.
Annie @ The Garlic Diaries
Ummmmm I’m basically crying over how delicious these look…I would have been okay with pumpkin recipes in July…I am obsessed with fall. This is making me so happy! So creative to add brown sugar to your frosting – you rock!
Have you ever used oil and added butter extract for flavor? I wonder how that would work! I own Wilton’s butter extract but I cannot remember what recipe I used it in. I have seen a Butter Nut Extract I have been wanted to try, too.
I have not tried that, Stephanie! It probably would not be bad, though I’ll admit I think I’d prefer the real thing 🙂
My local cake shop carries a ton of flavors and emulsions that I’m always dying to try out, they usually make it into my macarons, but haven’t made it into my cupcakes (yet!).
The “Recommended Tools” sections just reads “XX XX”, I think that might be a left over placeholder.
I’m personally not that big of a fan of pumpkin anything. It’s not like I won’t eat it if it is part of a dish, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for deliberately flavor anything with it. So I think I’ll pass on the pumpkin spice recipes. But that’s not too bad, might give me a chance to work away at my backlog of recipes I need to try out 😉
Hmm, there should be Amazon images up there, it seems to be working on my phone and on my computer so I’m not sure why they’re not showing up for you but I’ll look into it!
And I’m not much of a pumpkin fan myself (I actually used to avoid it at all costs) but I surprised myself with how much I LOVED these cupcakes (maybe my taste buds are finally just maturing, though). Thanks! 🙂
Found the problem: One of my privacy and anti-tracking plugins (Ghostery) was blocking the Amazon images.
Medha @ Whisk & Shout
These cupcakes look so delicious that I cannot even imagine protesting them! I love pumpkin flavors- it’s never really too early 🙂 And now I’m thinking about what would happen if you combined pumpkin AND cookie dough… deliciousness would ensue for sure!
Omg… Medha I love your creative mind right now! I’m going to have to propose a pumpkin/cookie dough mix to my sister!n Thanks!