These light and tender pumpkin cupcakes are one of my new favorite fall treats! They’re moist, full of fall flavors, and topped with the most luscious, velvety smooth cream cheese frosting.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the fall! Pumpkin and pumpkin spice are two of my favorite ingredients to bake with, and these incredible pumpkin cupcakes have both – they are definitely one of my top favorite pumpkin dessert recipes! I can’t decide which fall cupcake recipe I love more – these or my chai cupcakes! Both are amazing, but for now, we’re talking all things pumpkin cupcakes.
Why I love this pumpkin cupcake recipe
This recipe produces light and tender pumpkin cupcakes that are so deliciously moist. I use a combination of both light and brown sugars to create the perfect balance of molasses flavor. You’ll also notice that this recipe contains both baking powder and baking soda. The reason for this is that pumpkin puree is quite heavy and creates a thicker batter, so using both leaveners helps the cupcakes rise and creates a light and airy crumb. I’ve also used oil instead of butter for it’s ability to create incredibly moist baked goods.
How to make pumpkin cupcakes
The method for making these cupcakes is the same as many of my other quickbreads, like Nutella banana bread and my pumpkin bread. You don’t need a mixer for the batter, although you will need one to make the cream cheese frosting.
- Start by combining the dry ingredients in a bowl, including the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice mix. Mix together to evenly distribute.
- In a separate bowl, add the eggs and brown sugar. Whisk together, then add the rest of the ingredients and combine.
- Combine the dry ingredients with the wet, being careful not to overmix. This can create tougher cupcakes, and we’re going for light and fluffy here. I like to use a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together gently, aggravating the batter as little as possible.
- Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake them for 14-16 minutes at 350F/180C. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Keep in mind: This batter is pretty thick because of the pumpkin puree, so don’t be surprised that it’s not as thin as some other cake batters. Use a spoon to scoop the batter into the cupcake liners before baking.
Making the cream cheese frosting
Cream cheese frosting is the perfect complimentary frosting with these moist pumpkin cupcakes. I love the sweetness and slight tang of cream cheese frosting as well it’s velvety smooth texture. The flavor pairs perfectly with warm, autumn spices.
To make the frosting:
- Beat room temperature cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
- Add sifted powdered sugar and salt continue to mix. Add vanilla extract and combine.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a piping tip, frost the tops of the cupcakes in a swirl pattern. My personal preference is the Wilton 1M star tip (this is also the tip I used for the cupcakes in the photos), but you can use any tip you’d like. If you don’t have piping bags, you can also use a large Ziploc-style bag as a piping bag by cutting a hole in the corner and placing a tip through it.
- Optional: sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top of each cupcake to garnish.
If you like cream cheese frosting as much as I do, I highly recommend trying my carrot cake cupcakes, too – these are another simple, crowd pleasing dessert that’s perfect for the fall.
Frequently asked questions
I don’t have pumpkin spice mix and don’t feel like making my own. What can I use instead?
If you don’t want to make or purchase a premade pumpkin spice mix, use the following as a substitute in this recipe:
- 2/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground allspice
- Pinch of ground cloves
Do these pumpkin cupcakes need to be refrigerated?
Yes. Because they’re topped with cream cheese frosting, the cupcakes need to be kept refrigerated. However, I recommend pulling them from the fridge and allowing them to sit at room temperature 1-2 hours before serving.
Is it really necessary to use both light and dark brown sugars?
If all you have on hand is one or the other, feel free to use it. I personally love the balance of molasses flavor the cupcakes get from using a combination of light and dark brown sugars, but the recipe will still work if you use just one or the other (and the cupcakes will be delicious).
How long will the pumpkin cupcakes last in the refrigerator?
These cupcakes will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about four days if they are in an airtight container. After that, the quality starts to diminish as the cake will start to dry out.
Can I freeze these cupcakes?
The cupcakes can definitely be frozen. In fact, the cake stores great in the freezer for up to 2 months as long as you keep them covered and enclosed in a freezer-safe container. To defrost, simply put them in the refrigerator overnight, or leave them on the kitchen counter to thaw. However, I do highly recommend making the frosting fresh.
More of my favorite pumpkin recipes:
- Pumpkin Pie: Classic and elegant, this creamy pumpkin pie is the perfect holiday dessert.
- Soft Pumpkin Cookies: These pillowy soft pumpkin cookies are topped with an irresistible maple glaze.
- Pumpkin Scones: Delicate, crumbly scones that are perfect for fall! Topped with sticky, irresistable maple glaze.
- Pumpkin Cheesecake: Rich and velvety smooth cheesecake that’s perfect for fall.
- Pumpkin Bread: This dense, moist pumpkin bread is full of flavor and makes a perfect breakfast, snack, or accompaniment to a holiday meal.
- Pumpkin Banana Bread: A perfect combo of moist banana bread with delicious pumpkin.
Delicious cupcakes full of pumpkin flavor and pumpkin spice topped with velvety-smooth cream cheese frosting.
- 1 1/2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice mix
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) canola oil (or vegetable, safflower)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (228g) pumpkin puree
- Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice mix. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the brown sugar. Whisk together to combine. Add the pumpkin puree, canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently mix together with a whisk or rubber spatula.
Fill each liner ¾ full with batter. Bake for 14-16 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Once frosted, sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top of each cupcake as an optional garnish. Frosted cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Bring them to room temperature before serving.