Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Hello fall!

Um, actually, that would have been more accurate about a month ago during the exactly two-day period that it was autumnal here.

Fall here leaves me wanting. One day the leaves are amber, gold, red; the next, they are brown, scattered, shredded on the ground. I want more time when there is only a slight nip in the air, when watery sunlight filters through the increasingly bare trees, when there is a crunch underfoot from those already fallen.

But, at least I can taste fall.

Lone cupcake

Pumpkin and squash and warm spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger. Roasting and baking, soups and stews and pots simmering on the stove.

I went a little crazy at the grocery store, inspired by a host of pumpkin recipes I wanted to try out: pumpkin cinnamon rolls, chicken enchiladas with pumpkin sauce, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pies. I walked out of there with six cans of pumpkin. Why do I always buy things like I am part of a family of six instead of a single girl in a tiny apartment with no discernable cupboard space?

(And, as an aside, why do all American recipes call for 15-ounce cans of pumpkin? They don’t appear to exist on this side of the border. I can only find 14 ounces or 28 ounces. Are we Canadians stingy with our pumpkin supplies?)

And which of all these recipes would have me cracking open the first can? It wasn’t much of a struggle to decide. I am increasingly drawn to cupcake recipes. I like individual desserts (perhaps I have sharing issues?) and cupcakes are so darn cute. So, when a friend invited me over for dinner, I shamelessly offered to make dessert. (One does not willingly make cupcakes when one lives alone. It is, literally, a recipe for disaster.)

So, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing it was.

These were lovely and moist, full of flavour and ridiculously easy. I give two thumbs up to any recipe that doesn’t require me to soften the butter first. Sometimes I just can’t quite plan that far ahead. Since this one calls for melted butter, you can impulse bake these puppies. A dangerous thought indeed. And the icing was a breeze, even if you do need to pull out the butter and cream cheese early to make it whippably soft.

When I arrived at my friend’s house, she put the cupcakes up on the counter, but not far enough out of reach from her young son, who managed to swipe a finger over the icing of one cupcake. I agree, Erik, the icing is irresistible!

Cupcake from the top

I used the same recipe from my Red Velvet Cake (hot pink velvet cake?) for the icing. It’s foolproof and ridiculously good.

The batter was a little too delicious, though. This recipe, according to Martha Stewart, will give you 18 cupcakes. (Find hers here.) I don’t know what size of pan Ms. Stewart is using, but this easily made two batches in my 12-cupcake pan. Or, more accurately, it made 23 cupcakes. It would have made 24 had I not eaten so much batter. Good lord.

Mmmm spices

Mixing it up

Pumpkin Cupcake Batter

Pumpkin Cupcake Batter

Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I doubled this because I love nutmeg.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (I used a 14-ounce can and it was still lovely and pumpkin-y)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the spices. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in pumpkin puree.

Line the cupcake pan with liners and fill each about halfway with batter. Bake until tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans if needed. (I have one pan, so did not bother with that step.) Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and sugar.

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    1. Mmmmm…. this looks awesome. Your blog is awesome, too! Off to root around in the pantry… Thanks very much for this recipe, and I know my hubby will thank you, too!

  1. The trick is also to be anxious to cook when the light is so great for photography! Wonerful shots. Oh, and don’t feel bad about buying 6 cans, I bought 8 and am looking for more. When the craving hits in February it is impossible to find pumpkin.

  2. Everytime I come here I love the photo of the legs and red shoes and bowl. I think cream cheese with pumpkin is my favorite. Too bad I can’t smear it on a slice of raw pumpkin. Your photos tell such a great story.

  3. I will have to make this with my son next week. You combined his two favorite things, pumpkin and cupcakes! :)

    I am still loving the brown butter plum cake recipe and this weekend I found a bag of cranberries in my freezer that I decided I needed to use before I start storing more next month. I put the cranberries down, put a few teaspoons of sugar over them, and then the cake. I would add about 1/4 cup of sugar over the berries next time, but it was amazing. The cranberries meld right into the cake in such a yummy way. I am planning to make it as a desert for Thanksgiving this year. :)

  4. Cheryl – you’re totally right! That *is* the trick. And I wish now I had bought even more pumpkin now that I’m almost out.

    Tara – what a great idea about using cranberries in the brown butter cake. I’m definitely going to give that a try.

  5. Thanks for the recipe! I googled pumpkin cupcakes and I’m so glad I found this. It was worth grating half a knuckle for fresh-grated nutmeg. I, too, added twice as much. Yum. PS: I buy cooking pumpkins every year. It’s easy to cook and puree. Of course, you end up with way too much to use at once. I put the extra in containers and freeze it, so I can make pumpkin recipes all year. Just kinda my weird thing, but I love pumpkin…

  6. Mmmm tasty. Made these last night with my last can of pumpkin puree (I’m in Ireland, but some nice Americans brought me back around six cans!) and I love the frosting. The texture and taste is very similar to carrot cake to me…but maybe that’s just because of the similar spices. =)

  7. Fantastic recipe! Thank you! We made these today – 30 degrees outside and waiting for my first baby to arrive. (she is a week late) So these will be going to the hospital for the nurses! (if we don’t eat them all first)

    1. Deb, congratulations on the impending arrival (or the newly arrived)! I hope everything went well and the cupcakes were enjoyed by all.

  8. i’m making these right now (literally, i printed out this post and went to the grocery story this afternoon). thank you for the inspiration and all the great instructions/photos!!! :) ps. i fully intend to eat tons of batter too. how can you not? :)

  9. I came here, hypnotized by cupcake photo on Joanna’s blog. Just returned from market (I thought I had everything but did not). Hordes of pumpkin cupcake-making bloggers — it will be your fault (or triumph:) !

    (Cute header….)

  10. Made this tonight and they are simply delicious! Very moist cake and the spices were perfect. I cut the recipe in half and got 12 healthy sized cupcakes.



  11. A friend made these and brought them to a party I had—they were so good I can’t wait to make them myself and not have to share them with guests! Great photos too, thanks!

  12. Thanks for the recipe! I googled pumpkin cupcakes and after sorting through a number of recipes I decided to make these (the pictures were a big help in the decision process). I’m glad I did, they are delicious! I love the coarse salt in the cupcakes and the frosting was easy and perfect (even though I had a sudden guilt attack and left out a cup of sugar). I’m going to have to make these again every year!

  13. I’ve been lusting after this recipe for a week. About to bake, but I think I will try it as a cake instead of cupcakes…wish me luck!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Thank you for posting this recipe! I baked up a batch a few days ago and was blown away by how good they were. I plan on making these for my friends and family, and I know they’ll love them just as much as I do!

  15. We made these last night for my daughter to take to a Girl Scout picnic. People were blown away. THANKS! I am passing your website along to some happy friends.

  16. I am making these for my two year old thanksgiving party at his pre-school! I love your banner and your blog! Thanks for sharing!

  17. So glad I came across your blog! I just made these cupcakes (in miniature form) to celebrate Thanksgiving, and they are fantastic!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. I decided to make these to bring to the family Thanksgiving (U.S.) dinner at my in-laws’. I’m going on faith that they turn out well because I didn’t do a practice run!! But the batter *is* quite tasty, so…so far, so good. They’re in the oven right now.
    You must have really gone to town on the batter, because I got 24 VERY full cupcakes after eating my fill of batter. Could one silly oz. of pumpkin puree really make that much of a difference? Of course, I’m pregnant, so the nausea curbed the batter-eating pretty quickly. Yeah, yeah, salmonella, blah blah blah… I eat sushi too.
    Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to try more of your stuff. (As well as the *cooked* cupcakes!)

  19. My local store was out of canned pumpkin, so I had a light bulb moment and substituted sweet potato puree. Long story short, your recipe works beautifully for sweet potato cupcakes, too! Mmmmm!! :)

  20. These cupcakes are amazing. I used organic canned pumpkin and they tasted so, so good. The organic pumpkin is so different than the regular canned pumpkin. For one thing, it really tastes like pumpkin and my kids LOVE it in the cupcakes. It’s a good way to sneak in the veggies.

  21. These are awesome! I made a batch last night to test out for Thanksgiving favors – brought them to work this morning and all were gone by 9am! I keep getting emails about how wonderful they are!! Thanks!

  22. Thanks for the pumpkin cupcake recipe. It just didn’t seem right to put cream cheese frosting on a pumpkin muffin. Sorry your fall was so short. Down here in Pittsburgh, PA, we are still waiting for fall colors to really set in. Hope the super hot summer didn’t ruin fall.

  23. PHENOMENAL recipe! Probably my favorite cupcakes of all time, and I’m a huge chocolate fan. Added a little cinnamon to the cream cheese, and they were perfect. Thank you!!

  24. I just wanted to thank you for this recipie. I wanted something delicious to make in honor of the fall and these cupcakes were perfect! At first I was afraid that the spices would be too overpowering, but they weren’t at all. Everyone else thought they were fantastic too–they ate half of them before I was even able to ice them. Thanks! :)

  25. Love the pics and excited to make these, pumpkin and cream cheese=yum! One question though, I don’t have all of the spices, but I do have pumpkin pie spice. Will this work? How much to use? Thanks!

  26. Kim, you can absolutely use pumpkin pie spice. All of my spices above equal 2 1/2 teaspoons, so you can probably do a straight substitution. You may want to try starting with 2 teaspoons, though, and seeing how that tastes.
    Good luck!

  27. The batter was amazing when my daughter and I tasted it so I can’t wait to taste a baked cupcake. My daughter will taking some of these to her small group and she only needs about 12 of them so I’ll get a couple and the rest will go back to college with her. I was able to get 28 cupcakes out of the recipe.

  28. I tried your recipe and the cupcakes were delicious! I took them to work and everyone loved them. Thanks for posting this!

  29. Great recipe! Thanks! My cupcakes weren’t very fluffy though and they didn’t rise very much. Is this because they need more baking soda? Or maybe because I mixed all the ingredients together at the same time?

    Love your site by the way!! Love it!!

  30. Great recipe! Thanks! My cupcakes weren’t very fluffy though and they didn’t rise very much. Is this because they need more baking soda? Or maybe because I mixed all the ingredients together at the same time?

    Love your site by the way!! Love it!! Thanks.

    1. When you say you mixed it all together, what do you mean exactly? You should mix the wet ingredients together first, then the dry, then add the dry to the wet. When those are just mixed together, then add the pumpkin.
      If you just dumped everything together that may have had an effect on the fluffiness, especially if there was a lot of stirring. Too much stirring with cakes or cupcakes develops gluten, which makes them less fluffy and more tough.
      Good luck!

      1. Thanks for writing back! Yes, I meant to convey that I had mixed all of the ingredients together at the same time. Thanks for your advice, I tried the recipe again and they were much better second time round.

        I added a few white chocolate sprinkles on top of the frosting too – wonderful! Thanks for the recipe, really great.

        I’m going to come back for more – I love your blog!!

  31. Thanks for the recipe. Made these tonight as mini’s, great flavor, moist texture and overall taste. We added cinnamon to the frosting to add more spice. Its always great to try a recipe and be delighted. thanks!

  32. I was looking on google for a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting recipe, and this came up first. They were so delicious and i am so glad I tried them. I will definitely be following this blog for more recipes. Thank you!

  33. tried these today and they ended up delicious. thank you for posting this recipe – not too hard for beginners like me, but tasty enough to impress my expert baker friend!

  34. is the frosting stable enough to withstand a few hours without refrigeration? i plan to give away cupcakes as Christmas gifts. also, i have access to fresh pumpkins, so would that do in place of canned puree?

  35. I just finished baking and icing these and while I haven’t tried one yet, both the batter and the icing were amazing. I’m taking these to a birthday party tomorrow and hopefully they’re as delicious baked as they were unbaked.

  36. I’ve been using this exact recipe for two years now. I have your website bookmarked and will never use another cupcake recipe. These are moist, delicious and just enough pumpkin so even pumpkin haters can enjoy. Thank you!

  37. These are my favourite cupcakes! My friend has been making them in the fall for years. I finally just put my very first batch in the oven! Thank you so much =).

  38. I made these today exactly as written. They are unbelievably good! It’s amazing how much better home made frosting is than store bought. It’s so smooth and creamy! Thanks for posting it!

  39. Thank you for sharing this – made these and they were yummy didn’t have time to make the cream cheese but they were still delishious!

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