Pumpkin Cupcakes bursting with warm Autumn spices, tangy cream cheese frosting adds just enough sweetness and creaminess to enhance the pumpkin spice flavor. These are a perfect classic Fall recipe for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. You’re sure to be the toast of the town if you show up to your next gathering with a tray full of these beauties.
Whenever candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins start to fill the candy aisle in preparation for Halloween, that’s my cue for making these super moist and soft pumpkin spice cupcakes. These cupcakes are made with real pumpkin puree and are full of cozy warm Autumn spices.
This pumpkin cupcake recipe is a classic Fall dessert and has been my go-to for many years. It is subtle, yet perfect for a Halloween party decorated with a mellowcreme pumpkin on top and also works well as an easy and delicious dessert for a Thanksgiving potluck.
How to make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
The batter for these easy pumpkin cupcakes can be whipped up quickly with just a mixing bowl, and a whisk. It is actually preferred to use a hand whisk rather than an electric mixer as gentle mixing is needed for a more tender cake.
- Add the wet ingredients to a medium mixing bowl.
- Beat with a whisk until smooth.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl and add to the wet ingredients.
- Gently mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Use a large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups.
A few notes for substitutions
Instead of using store bought pumpkin pie spice, you can mix your own using this pumpkin pie spice recipe. Or you can just use a mix of warm spices you have in your pantry such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves.
Since the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, plus 1 teaspoon total for the rest of the spices that you have (a mix of nutmeg, ginger allspice, cloves).
Oil vs. Butter
Any flavorless oil will work in this recipe such as vegetable oil and canola oil. Though in a pinch, you could use olive oil if that’s all you have, it will impart a stronger flavor but you may not even notice it underneath all the spices.
Butter can be substituted for oil, melt it down, let it cool and use per the recipe instructions. However, butter has less fat content than oil so substituting in the same ratio may yield slightly dryer cupcakes. I would use slightly more butter in this case, about 7 tablespoons.
Canned pumpkin vs. homemade
Using canned pumpkin puree is the quickest way to get these easy pumpkin cupcakes whipped up. Make sure to use pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. The pumpkin pie filling already has added sugar, spices, and other ingredients.
Homemade pumpkin puree will also work in this recipe if you are already roasting pumpkin for a pumpkin pie or making a large batch of pumpkin pancakes. However, since this recipe only calls for ½ cup of pumpkin puree, using store bought canned pumpkin will save you some extra work.
Can I make these into mini cupcakes?
Yes, this recipe will make 24 – 28 mini cupcakes. Bake them at the same oven temperature for 12-13 minutes.
What frosting to use for pumpkin cupcakes?
My preferred frosting is a tangy and not too sweet cream cheese frosting. You can even add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the frosting to spice it up a little further, though I prefer the classic version like in these Red Velvet Cupcakes.
You can also use a buttercream frosting if you prefer something not too tangy. I like this not too sweet Swiss Meringue buttercream frosting because it is super creamy and holds up really well at room temperature.
More pumpkin recipes you’ll love
- For more easy Halloween treats, try these Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies.
- For another Thanksgiving potluck appropriate dessert, try these Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies.
- If you want pumpkin for breakfast, make these Pumpkin Muffins. They’re just like pumpkin spice cupcakes without the cream cheese frosting.
- And don’t forget the pups, they deserve some Pumpkin Dog Treats to celebrate Fall with you.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (166 g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (153 g)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda (1 g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (4 g)
- 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (5 g)
- ½ cup pumpkin puree (120 g)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- ½ cup buttermilk (room temperature, 120 g)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (70 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (5 g)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 12 oz cream cheese (room temperature, 340 g)
- 6 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 170 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (5 g)
- 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar (125 g)
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a regular size muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- In a small mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. Mix with a whisk until evenly distributed and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add pumpkin puree, egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Beat with a whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredient mixture and mix with a whisk or spatula until incorporated.
- Use a large ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.
- Bake for 16 minutes until an inserted toothpick in the middle comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
- Remove pan from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool to the touch. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let them cool completely on the wire rack.
Make cream cheese frosting
- Add softened butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract to a stand mixer bowl and beat on medium speed with the whisk attachment until creamy.
- Add powdered sugar and stir until incorporated. Slowly increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy.
- Frost the cooled cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or simply add frosting with an offset spatula or butter knife.
- Decorate cupcakes with pumpkin candies if desired.
- Make sure to use pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling for this recipe since the pie filling has added ingredients that you don’t need. Homemade pumpkin puree should also work.
- You can use store bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice, or simply substitute 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, plus 1 teaspoon of a mix of nutmeg, ginger allspice, and/or cloves.
- Any flavorless oil or neutral flavor oil will work in this recipe.
- To substitute butter, use about 7 tablespoon melted and cooled unsalted butter.
- This recipe will make 24 - 28 mini cupcakes. Bake them at the same oven temperature for 12-13 minutes.
This post was originally published on 10/16/2014. The recipe has been updated and republished on 9/5/2019 with the latest improvements, extra tips, and process photos to help you in the kitchen.