Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
The ultimate fall dessert recipe coming right up! You guys are going to LOVE these dreamy Pumpkin Cupcakes! They are perfectly moist, pumpkin-y and the luscious cinnamon cream cheese frosting is absolutely incredible. Serve them at your next holiday celebration for a show stopping dessert that will disappear quick!
These cupcakes are perfect! I made them for a get-together at my house last week and they were a huge hit. The cinnamon frosting is to-die-for!— Joanie
In an effort to create the perfect pumpkin dessert, I have tried SO many different versions of this recipe. With several tweaks here and there, I am finally able to share with you the best pumpkin cupcakes! If you’re looking for a homemade pumpkin cupcake that’s soft and light with sweet, warm pumpkin-y flavor, look no further.
The combination of warm spices paired with fluffy cream cheese frosting will have you wanting to keep these treats all to yourself! However, you’ll want to resist that urge as these really make such a great addition to all of your fall gatherings and celebrations. Serve them for a special Halloween treat and add them to your Thanksgiving dessert menu as an alternative to pumpkin pie!
What to love about this recipe
- Easy to make! This cupcake recipe is definitely low maintenance. You don’t need an electric mixer to make the batter and it comes together in just a few minutes.
- Perfect texture. These cakes are incredibly moist and tender. They are similar to my pumpkin muffins, but less dense with more of a cake texture and less of a muffin texture.
- Delicious pumpkin flavor. These have a perfectly sweetened balance of pumpkin flavor from the full cup of pumpkin puree and our favorite warm fall spices.
- Versatile. You can easily make small changes to the recipe to customize it. See below for all of my favorite ideas.
These were a major hit with my family and I know your family will adore them too! Now let’s talk details and what makes these fall-inspired cupcakes so irresistible.
It took quite a few trials to get these perfect. The ingredients are basic, but baking can be tricky. It’s all about the right amounts and combination of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make this pumpkin cupcakes recipe:
- Flour. All-purpose flour will yield the best results.
- Baking powder & baking soda. These ingredients work together to make the cupcakes rise.
- Spices & salt. A combination of warm, cozy spices will give these the most wonderful fall flavor. A small amount of salt intensifies the pumpkin flavor.
- Pumpkin. There is 1 cup of pumpkin puree in this recipe. Pumpkin puree from a can will work best in this recipe and I prefer Libby’s brand.
- Oil. Baked goods, especially cakes, need a certain amount of fat to make them super moist.
- Sugar. This recipe can work with either brown or white sugar, but I’ve found that brown sugar joined with the pumpkin is the best.
- Eggs. Eggs are essential for a rich taste and lovely texture.
- Milk. To give the batter the perfect consistency. Use any variety of milk. I typically use whole milk for a richer batter.
Pro tip: Need a recipe for using up the rest of the can of pumpkin puree? I have tons of pumpkin recipes, but try my favorite pumpkin bread recipe first! You’ll be so glad that you did!
Customize this recipe
I’m pretty much obsessed with this pumpkin cupcakes recipe as-is, but there are lots of ways to add in different flavors. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cupcakes. Add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the batter, proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed. Instead of the cinnamon cream cheese frosting, try this delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting.
- Pumpkin Nut Cupcakes. Add 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter, proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.
- Decorated Pumpkin Cupcakes. For an extra fun flair, top each cake with a cute pumpkin topper (affiliate link). You could also decorate them with festive fall sprinkles or mellow-creme pumpkins!
How to make this recipe
Yes, it took me quite a few tries to get the ingredient amounts just right, but the cupcake recipe is really quite easy. For full, printable instructions, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the post. Here’s the simple process:
- Dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves) together.
- Wet ingredients. In a large bowl, stir the wet ingredients (canned pumpkin puree, vegetable oil or canola oil, brown sugar, eggs, milk) together.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Do this slowly, mixing gently and taking care not to over-mix batter.
- Transfer batter into muffin tin. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan lined with cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full (about 3 tablespoons batter per cupcake).
- Bake. Place muffin pan in the preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes and until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make frosting. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and cinnamon; continue to beat for another 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time. Mix until fully combined. Turn the mixer back to a higher speed and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Frost cupcakes. Once they have cooled completely, frost each one using a flat knife or piping bag, sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice over the top and serve.
Cinnamon cream cheese frosting
Cream cheese frosting is the most popular frosting to pair with pumpkin and for good reason. The flavor in this silky smooth cinnamon cream cheese frosting is not too sweet and is the perfect complement with the warm spices in the pumpkin cupcakes. This frosting recipe works well for piping your cupcakes, but simply spreading the frosting over the top with a knife works great too.
Pro tip: Be sure to use a block of cream cheese when making this frosting recipe and not cream cheese spread in a tub. Cream cheese spread contains ingredients to thin it out and will create a thin, runny frosting. I recommend full fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
Tips for recipe success
This recipe is pretty straightforward, but here are some tips to make sure these turn out perfect every time!
- Room temperature ingredients. Before starting this recipe, allow all ingredients to come to room temperature. It will be easier to mix them, they will more evenly disperse and the cupcakes will have the best texture.
- Spice substitute. You can substitute the ginger, nutmeg and cloves for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
- Canned pumpkin puree. Be sure to use ‘pure’ canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling for this recipe. Pumpkin pie filling contains added sugar and spices. The only ingredient listed on canned pumpkin puree is pumpkin.
- To measure the flour correctly, spoon it into the measuring cups and then level off with a knife. This will help you avoid adding too much or too little flour, which may not yield the best texture.
- Mixing wet and dry ingredients. When incorporating dry ingredients with wet, mix until they are just combined. Over-mixing ingredients makes the gluten in the flour become tough and dense, which will prevent you from achieving a desirable light and airy texture.
- Baking tip. For even baking, be sure your pan is in the center of the oven.
Frequently asked questions
Cupcakes that are not frosted, are fine to leave at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 to 2 days. However, if they’ve been frosted, they need to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Yes, you can bake these in advance and keep them stored in a sealed container, unfrosted, for up to about 2 days. You can prepare the frosting in advance and store it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days separately.
It would probably work, but I haven’t tried it. Unless you want to experiment, I would recommend Natasha’s easy, delicious pumpkin cake recipe.
Assembled cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for several hours, but for any longer than that, refrigerate in an airtight container. They can be served at room temperature or chilled. To serve at room temperature from a refrigerated state, sit out for 3 hours prior to serving. They will stay fresh in the fridge for up to about 4 days.
These freeze beautifully! However, I do not recommend freezing them after they have already been frosted. For best results, wrap each cupcake individually (in either foil or plastic wrap) and then place all cupcakes in an airtight container to store in the freezer. They will keep in the freezer for 4-6 months. Be sure to add a label to the storage container with the date. To thaw, place them in the fridge for several hours and then on the countertop at room temperature until they have completely thawed.
Serve these scrumptious pumpkin cupcakes for Thanksgiving dessert and impress your guests in a really big way! Do you really need pumpkin pie with these decadent treats on the dessert table?
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
For the cupcakes
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree from a can
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
For the cream cheese frosting
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 8 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 cups powdered sugar
For the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line muffin pan with 15 muffin liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves; set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together all wet ingredients (pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, eggs, milk). Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Do this gradually, incorporating until no flour streaks remain. Don't over-mix batter.
- Spoon the batter evenly in the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full (about 3 tablespoons of batter for each cupcake).
- Bake for about 20 minutes and until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before adding the frosting.
For the cream cheese frosting
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and cinnamon and continue to beat for another 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer down to a low speed and add in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time. Mix until fully combined. Turn mixer back up to a higher speed and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Frost the cooled cupcakes using a flat knife or piping bag.
- Cupcakes will keep well at room temperature for 4-6 hours. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
MAKE AHEAD: Cupcakes can be made the day before you plan to serve them. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Frosting can also be made the day before. Store frosting in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow frosting to come to room temperature before using. NUTRITIONAL INFO: Keep in mind that the nutritional info is calculated with the entire frosting recipe. There is a good chance you will not use all of the frosting, particularly if you are frosting with a knife, and in that case calories and fat would be lower.