Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Looking for a pumpkin cupcake recipe? Delicious pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are a tasty autumn treat.
Are you ready for an irresistible autumn treat? Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are perfect for cozy day baking, school parties, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
This is a classic pumpkin spice cupcake recipe topped. If you’re looking for a “healthy” version, head to our Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffin recipe.
Why this Recipe Works
These Pumpkin Cupcakes are lightly spiced with everyone’s favorite fall flavor. They are incredibly moist thanks to the canned pumpkin and boast a soft and tender crumb. The cream cheese frosting is an irresistible, not-too-sweet partner to the delicious cupcakes. This combination is hard to beat!
Notes on Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Ingredients
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: If you don’t have pumpkin spice on hand you can easily make it by combining 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg with 1/4 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of ground cloves. This combination together with the ground cinnamon in the recipe is a wonderful spice blend that can be used any time a recipe calls for pumpkin spice.
- Vegetable Oil: The vegetable oil contributes moistness to the cupcakes, use this or another neutral oil such as sunflower or canola oil.
- Pumpkin puree: Instead of canned pumpkin puree, you could substitute with homemade pumpkin for the same amount however on testing we found the cupcakes made with pumpkin puree tasted better. Canned pumpkin from brands such as Libby’s or Trader Joe’s creates more consistent results.
- Brown sugar: The addition of brown sugar creates a richer flavor than white sugar alone.
- White sugar: We also tested this recipe using Swerve sugar replacement for baking and didn’t notice a difference.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Pumpkin Cupcakes
What is the best frosting for pumpkin cupcakes? It’s definitely cream cheese frosting. The mild tanginess of cream cheese complements the warm and slightly spicy flavors of pumpkin, creating a harmonious and well-balanced bite.
Making cream cheese frosting is easy. Start by beating softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla extract, then beat until creamy and well combined. The result is a luscious and tangy frosting perfect for pumpkin cupcakes. For sturdier frosting that holds its shape well, you’ll need to add more powdered sugar.
How to Decorate Pumpkin Cupcakes
We opted for cinnamon sugar and fondant pumpkins. Here are more ideas for decorating your autumn cupcakes.
- Cinnamon sugar creates the most delightful texture and adds a touch of sweet spice, as well as a beautiful glittery finish.
- Fondant pumpkin cupcake toppers are so cute. You can make your own fondant pumpkins using homemade or store-bought fondant, or get them premade on Etsy.
- Walnuts or pecans create a crunchy contrast in texture. Chop the nuts then sprinkle over the cream cheese frosting.
- Sugared cranberries add a festive pop of color and flavor to November and December pumpkin spice cupcakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Best Cupcake Liners?
We love to use unbleached parchment cupcake liners for baking muffins and cupcakes. These liners never stick to the cakes and the natural color looks nice with pumpkin cupcakes.
Can I make these vegan?
We have not tested this recipe with vegan substitutes, but here is what we would recommend if you’d like to.
- Eggs: The best egg substitute we have found for baked goods is Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer.
- Frosting: Use vegan cream cheese and butter.
Can I make these gluten-free?
We have not tested this recipe with any gluten-free flour. We recommend using a cup-for-cup gluten-free all-purpose flour if needed.
How to store pumpkin cupcakes.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge where they will stay fresh for 3-4 days. Freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to one month in an airtight container.
Can you make the frosting in advance?
Yes, cream cheese frosting can be made in advance. Prepare the frosting as usual, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s recommended to consume or use the frosting within a few days for optimal freshness and flavor. Before using the frosting, allow it to come to room temperature and give it a good stir to ensure a smooth consistency. If the frosting appears too stiff after refrigeration, you can gently re-whip it to restore its creamy texture.
For the cupcakes
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup soft light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 3 1/2-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- cinnamon sugar (1 tbsp granulated sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
- fondant pumpkins or seasonal sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
- In a separate bowl add the vegetable oil, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin puree, and vanilla and whisk together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until you can longer see streaks of flour.
- Divide the cupcake batter between the cupcake liners and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen over the edges of the liners and spring back when touched with your finger. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- To make the cream cheese frosting: In a large mixing bowl add the soft butter and cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until smooth and creamy. The frosting should be thick enough that it holds its shape when piped. You can add extra powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time if needed.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a round open nozzle.
- Pipe the cream cheese frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes, sprinkle over some cinnamon sugar, and decorate with a fondant pumpkin or seasonal sprinkles.
- Serve and enjoy!
The cream cheese frosting will hold its shape if you pipe it with a large open nozzle. However, when we tried using a Wilton 1M (star nozzle) we found it did not hold up as well. You could also add the frosting to the top of each cupcake using a knife and swirl action.