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Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes

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These homemade moist pumpkin cupcakes are light and fluffy, and packed with real pumpkin flavor and spice. This easy pumpkin cupcake is an all brown sugar cake recipe with maple syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin spice flavors. These cupcakes are topped with a silky cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting.

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A head on view of 4 pumpkin cupcakes on a white rimmed plate with a beautiful frosting

People often tell me that they don’t understand how I can resist the desserts that I make. I guess when you’re around at all the time it becomes less tempting, and thank goodness for that!

However, I’m human and I certainly have my weaknesses. One of these includes anything pumpkin- especially pumpkin cakes and bread!

Last week I started working on a recipe for a homemade pumpkin cupcake. I have a couple different versions that use cake mix but I really wanted one that was baked from scratch.

A pumpkin cupcake with the wrapper pulled away, topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting

When the first batch came out of the oven I was so pumped, it was delicious it was moist and it had plenty of pumpkin flavor. But I also thought I could do better.

I continued baking cupcakes making small adjustments along the way until I found my favorite recipe. The following day I bought three versions of the cupcake recipe to work and asked my coworkers to do a taste test to determine their favorite.

It was a tough decision between recipe number one and recipe four but alternately recipe four was voted on unanimously.

A cupcake sitting in a vintage cupcake pan topped with frosting

These homemade moist pumpkin cupcakes are light and fluffy, and packed with pumpkin flavor. These cupcakes are topped with a silky cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting. Does it get any better?

This recipe uses all brown sugar, which I found to really bring out the molasses under notes in these cupcakes. I also added a touch of maple syrup and equal parts pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. I wanted these cupcakes to have a real spice flavor.

Sometimes I think it can be difficult to find a moist pumpkin cake that is both flavorful and also light and fluffy, but I am pleased to say that I achieved this task. The oil in this recipe helps maintains a really tender crumb.

A pumpkin cupcake is piping a swirl of cream cheese frosting on top

Since choosing a winner, I’ve also baked this as a 9 x 13” cake and as a three layer 8-inch cake just to be certain that it works across multiple recipes. This means more pumpkin cake recipes are coming!

I even made this recipe for a baby shower this past weekend. I dropped these off at my friends house, and within less than 60 seconds of leaving I received a text message: “Welp already crushed one. They are stupid amazingly good.  Thank you so much!!”

I can say without a doubt these pumpkin cupcakes are a winner. Plus, this recipe is so easy to make, you can use a hand mixer or even mix it by hand if you so choose.

A close up shot of a pumpkin cupcake topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting

Once I had the cupcake recipe down, it was time to choose a frosting recipe.

Cream cheese frosting is certainly the most popular way to frost a pumpkin cupcake. I couldn’t settle for just any cream cheese frosting.

I added a little bit of maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon to the cream cheese frosting just to elevate the flavors and complement the cupcake recipe, which also has maple syrup.

A close up show of a pumpkin cupcake with a giant bite taken out of it.

I’m a bit obsessed with my cream cheese frosting, it’s silky smooth, not overt sweet and just melts in your mouth.

For this recipe I start with cold butter and cold cream cheese. This helps produce a more stable cream cheese frosting for piping.

Sometimes I like to put it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before piping to let it firm up a bit more.

You can also prepare the frosting in advance and then pipe it the next day, which I often do. Store it in an airtight container. Just take the frosting out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to frost your cupcakes.

An overhead view of several pumpkin cupcakes sitting in a vintage baking pan with cream cheese frosting

For 24 cupcakes, you’ll have more than enough frosting to go around and then some. I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to use up the rest! Cinnamon rolls anyone? Yeah, that’s that’s what I thought!

Can I make this as a layer cake?

Yes! You can make my recipe for Pumpkin Mascarpone Cake which is similar but made with a mascarpone whipped cream instead of a cream cheese frosting. Although you could still make it with this cream cheese frosting as well. 

Can I freeze these cupcakes?

I don’t recommend freezing the frosted cupcakes. You can however prepare the cupcakes in advance and freeze them. To freeze them, place the cooled cupcakes on a sheet pan and flash freeze, uncovered for 20 minutes or so. Transfer to an airtight container to store in the freezer. 

Slowly thaw to prevent additional condensation by first thawing in the fridge for several hours then transfer to the counter top and thaw until they reach room temperature. 

Frost the cupcakes once completely thawed. 

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A top down view of cupcakes on a white rimmed plate with a cream cheese swirled frosting

Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Description

These homemade moist pumpkin cupcakes are light and fluffy, and packed with real pumpkin flavor and spice. This easy pumpkin cupcake is an all brown sugar cake recipe with maple syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin spice flavors. These cupcakes are topped with a silky cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk (I use nonfat)

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 16 ounces full-fat cream cheese, cold
  • 67 cups powdered confectionary sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

Instructions

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Next mix in the pumpkin and beat until well combined.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all remaining dry ingredients. Then, add half the dry ingredients to the batter followed by half the milk, and beat until it starts to combine.
  5. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed while pouring in the milk and beating until all of the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.

For the frosting:

  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch blocks. Beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until it is slightly softened.
  2. Then add the cream cheese and cream together for 2-3 minutes until they are fluffy and free of lumps, scrape down the bowl occasionally.
  3. Slowly add the confectionary sugar 2 cups at a time, followed by the cinnamon vanilla extract and maple syrup, and beat until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream and beat until desired consistency, at least 2 minutes.
  5. In a large piping bag fitted with a large open star piping tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.

Notes

  • Store cupcakes in an airtight container, refrigerate as necessary, removing 1 hour before serving
  • Frosting can be made in advance and kept refrigerated. Remove 1 hour before piping
Nutrition Information:
1 cupcake
427
50.9g
221mg
19.7g
12.7g
61.1g
0.8g
3.5g
63.6mg
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pumpkin Cupcakes, Pumpkin Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Homemade Pumpkin Cupcakes

 

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101 Responses
  1. Anna

    The cupcakes turned out wonderful! However, I wish I could say the same for my icing. The poor thing was LUMPY and LOOSE. kinda like my grandma after a few glasses of wine. No matter what I did to get rid of the lumps, they stayed in my icing. A possible recommendation would be to alter the ingredients list to include that the cream cheese needs to be full fat. I used low fat and I did not see that I needed full fat until I read some reviews. It does taste great, thanks for sharing your recipe.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Anna, thanks for your note. Yes always full-fat cream cheese for frosting, will update this so it’s more clear. Regarding the lumps, these must be worked out before adding any powdered sugar. Sometimes because the consistency of the butter is so much thicker than cream cheese, you have to beat the butter for longer before adding the cream cheese.

  2. Karen

    What do you think would happen if you used this batter but treated it like black-bottom cupcakes, with a dollop of the same cream cheese batter but using cinnamon chips instead of mini chocolate chips? I haven’t tried this because failure in the UK would be expensive given that the canned pumpkin is hard to find and the cinnamon chips have to be ordered from an American importer (or shlepped in our luggage when we visit). Curious, though.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Karen, I have not tested it, so I do think it will work because the cupcake batter is thicker, but I would hate to tell you to go and do it knowing that the ingredients are expensive in the UK. If I test a version of that, I will follow up with you to let you know.

  3. Hannah

    I am planning on making these cupcakes in mini cupcake form for a fall open house at my family’s coffee shop & boutique. Would the icing be okay if it was not refrigerated throughout the day?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Hannah, that would depend on the temperature in the room and how long you plan to leave them out. I personally do not refrigerate them, but that’s my choice. You could also keep them refrigerated and replenish each hour. They are best served at room temperature.

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