Whip up this pumpkin cupcake recipe in a bowl, even without a mixer! Top with classic cream cheese frosting and a garnish. The combo is quintessential fall, and the soft, tender texture is perfect. You'll never need another pumpkin spiced cupcakes recipe!
This genius recipe for pumpkin cupcakes doesn't even need a mixer! It makes 2 dozen standard-sized, tender cupcakes, and you can top them with classic Cream Cheese Frosting, Caramel Icing, American Buttercream (with a dash of cinnamon!), or just dust them with confectioners' sugar!
This pumpkin cupcakes recipe is one of the most popular fall desserts on Tara Teaspoon, along with my some of my other pumpkin recipes:
- No Bake Pumpkin Cookies
- Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
- Sage and Pumpkin Hummus
- Pumpkin Cream Pie
- Pumpkin Cake Roll
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Ingredients for a pumpkin cupcake recipe
- How to make pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
- Tips for cupcakes
- Garnish options for pumpkin spice cupcakes
- Storing and make-ahead
- Pumpkin cupcake FAQs
- More fall dessert recipes to try
- Pumpkin Cupcakes (With Cream Cheese Frosting)
Why you'll love this recipe
Pumpkin spice cupcakes are always the first to go on my fall dessert table. The fact that you don't even need a mixer to make them is one of the reasons you'll love this recipe.
Some popular recipes online use oil, but using melted butter in these cupcakes creates a fine crumb, adds amazing flavor and tenderness that you just can't get otherwise in a cupcake with pumpkin puree.
The tang and richness of cream cheese frosting is perfect paired with spice cake or pumpkin cupcakes. It's a classic fall pairing.
The spices in these cupcakes are most likely in your pantry already. Pumpkin pie spice is an easy spice blend to use, and the flavor is intensified with a little extra cinnamon.
This recipe got rave reviews from my neighbors, and was in such demand when I created it, I knew it must be shared.
Ingredients for a pumpkin cupcake recipe
Use pantry baking ingredients plus eggs, butter, and a can of pumpkin puree for this simple treat.
Using melted butter instead of oil produces a fine crumb and great flavor, as compared to other recipes for spiced pumpkin cupcakes you will find.
- Light brown sugar: Adds a slight caramel flavor to the cupcakes. You can easily swap this for dark brown sugar if you want a more intense flavor.
- Granulated sugar: Helps balance the texture and sweetness.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter, or reduce the amount of salt in the recipe if using salted butter. You can use regular or higher fat butter like Plugra or Kerrygold in this recipe.
- Eggs: Always opt for large eggs in a baking recipe so the amount of liquid stays the same as the originally tested recipe.
- Pumpkin puree: Don't use spiced puree, just the regular solid pack will do. You can of course subsitute equal parts sweet potato puree or butternut squash puree.
- All-purpose flour: I use 128g per cup of flour, so the recipe will use 256g if you are weighing it.
- Baking soda: One of the standard leavening agents in the cupcakes.
- Baking powder: Helps with the initial spring of the cupcakes in the oven.
- Salt: I use fine salt like table salt, or a fine sea salt for even distribution.
- Ground cinnamon: This adds a little spice boost to the pumpkin spice flavor.
- Pumpkin pie spice: Find this standard spice blend at the store or make your own.
- Cream cheese frosting: My classic cream cheese frosting recipe is easy and delicious.
How to make pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
These simple steps will bring you the best fall cupcake results. You don't need expert baking experience to make them. Get all the detailed instruction in the recipe card below.
- Heat oven to 350ºF. Preheating the oven for at least 30 minutes ensures an even temperature for baking.
- Line a muffin tin. Use standard sized muffin papers of your choice to line two muffin tins. If you only have one tin, you can bake 12 then bake the remaining batter after those are done.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. To ensure all of the ingredients are combined well, and the leavening is distributed evenly, mix the sugars, melted butter, eggs and pumpkin puree separately from the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the two mixtures together and whisk until just combined well.
- Bake the cupcakes. Divide the batter between the 24 muffin cups using ¼ cup of the batter for each. I like to use a full #16 cookie scoop to get just the right amount.
- Cool the cupcakes. After the pumpkin cupcakes have baked 18 to 22 minutes, let them cool completely before frosting.
- Frost the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with cream cheese frosting, then sprinkle with pepitas if desired.
Tips for cupcakes
- Use room temperature ingredients: The butter in the recipe gets melted, so you don't want to add cold eggs to the melted butter or the distribution will not be even. The cold eggs will clump the melted butter. Bring eggs to room temperature by placing in warm water for about 10 minutes.
- Pumpkin puree versus pumpkin pie filling: Use pure pumpkin puree in this recipe because a can of pumpkin pie filling has added spice and sugar.
Garnish options for pumpkin spice cupcakes
You can get creative with the garnish for pumpkin cupcakes. Adding a little something to the top can make them festive and cute.
- Pipe frosting pumpkins. Tint about ¾ cup of the frosting orange with orange gel paste food coloring. Using a piping bag and a ½-inch piping tip, pipe small dots on top of each cupcake. Add a pepita for a stem.
- Sprinkle with pepitas or nuts. Garnish cupcakes with a little sprinkle of chopped pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or nuts like pecans or walnuts.
- Dust with confectioners' sugar. You can leave the cupcakes unfrosted and dust with confectioners' sugar for a finished look.
- Sprinkle with spice. Dust the tops of the frosted pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon or extra pumpkin pie spice.
Pepitas, pictured below, are hulless (or shell-less) pumpkin seeds from a specific kind of pumpkin. They can only be found in Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkins and because they don't have a shell, are green in color.
Since they are a type of pumpkin seed, they are often called "shell-less pumpkin seeds" and make a fun topical garnish for pumpkin recipes and desserts like these pumpkin cupcakes.
Storing and make-ahead
Store pumpkin cupcakes in a covered container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
For best results you can store them in the refrigerator. They will keep in the refrigerator, in a covered container, for up to 4 days and stay fresh.
You can also make the pumpkin cupcakes ahead and freeze them before topping with frosting: Freeze un-frosted cupcakes in a single layer until solid, then store in an airtight container or ziptop bag in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
When freezing, a single layer is ideal to hold their shape and quality.
Defrost in the fridge or at room temperature before frosting.
Pumpkin cupcake FAQs
Frosted pumpkin cupcakes can be stored in a cool, dry place in a covered container for up to 2 days at room temperature. They hold very best for several days in the refrigerator though.
Don't use pumpkin pie filling in this recipe because it has added spices and sugar. The recipe below does not account for this variation.
The cupcakes can be baked and cooled up to a day in advance. Or you can freeze the unfrosted cupcakes for up to 2 weeks. Frosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge longer.
More fall dessert recipes to try
- Apple Crisp with Oats
- Halloween Cupcakes
- Easy Pumpkin Bread Using Whole Wheat
- Pumpkin Cream Pie
- Apple Popovers
Let me know how it went!
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Pumpkin Cupcakes (With Cream Cheese Frosting)
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 4 large eggs
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup pepitas coarsely chopped
- Heat oven to 350ºF. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together both sugars, melted butter, eggs, and pumpkin puree. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Divide batter evenly among liners, putting ¼ cup (or a full #16 scoop) into each. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until tops spring back when lightly touched, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
- Prepare cream cheese frosting while cupcakes cool.
- Spread frosting on cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped pepitas for garnish. Serve or store in airtight container up to 2 days.
Cake recipes for any occasion
Recipe and photography by Tara Teaspoon. Published September 2023.