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Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes

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Light and fluffy, these Homemade Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes are packed with real pumpkin flavor and spice, with maple syrup, cinnamon, and pumpkin flavors. Then they’re topped with a silky cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting. Irresistible!

Pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting with the wrapper pulled off

The Best Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sometimes I think it can be difficult to find a Moist Pumpkin Cupcake that is both flavorful and also light and fluffy, but I am pleased to say that I achieved this task.

These cupcakes are light and fluffy and packed with pumpkin flavor. Then they’re are topped with a silky cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting. Does it get any better?

But not only are these pumpkin cupcakes super moist, but they also have an incredible flavor. 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.

If you have a weakness for pumpkin desserts, just as I do, definitely give these a try!

A pumpkin cupcake with a bite missing

Why Are These Cupcakes The Best?

Truth? I made FOUR different versions of these pumpkin cupcakes before I settled on the best one (with help from my taste testers of course). Here are a few reasons why these cupcakes with the cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting ended up being the winner.

  • It has a super tender, moist crumb – thanks to the use of all oil.
  • The brown sugar really brings out the molasses flavor.
  • They have a real pumpkin spice flavor.
  • The frosting is silky smooth, not overly sweet, and just melts in your mouth.
Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on a plate

Ingredients for Pumpkin Cupcakes and Frosting

Here are the main ingredients you’ll need for these pumpkin cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting.

  • Brown sugar – I used all brown sugar to really enhance the molasses flavor.
  • Vegetable oil – Helps create a tender, moist crumb.
  • Maple syrup – Gives the cupcakes a sweet, rich flavor that pairs well with the spices.
  • Pumpkin puree – Make sure to grab puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Pumpkin pie spice & cinnamon
  • All-purpose Flour, Baking powder & baking soda– Sifting all these together with the spices helps prevent a lumpy batter.
  • Milk – any milk will work
  • Unsalted butter – Make sure it’s cold, that is the secret to my frosting!
  • Cream cheese – Full-fat is a must, otherwise the consistency will not be thick enough. It should also be cold, not room temperature.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Heavy whipping cream– make the frosting light and fluffy
Ingredients for pumpkin cupcakes laid out in various bowls and measuring cups

How to Make Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

The hardest part of these pumpkin cupcakes is waiting for them to cool!

Step 1: Combine the wet ingredients. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla until well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color. Add in the pumpkin and beat to combine.

Step 2: Add the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Alternate adding half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk to the batter at a time, beat until it combines. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and the milk.

Be sure to stir the batter from the bottom to the top. This is especially important as there’s a lot of liquid in the batter, and if it’s not properly mixed, your cupcakes can sink or bake unevenly.

Step 3 Bake. Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake liners. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. To evenly fill the cupcake liners, I recommend using a large cookie scoop.

Step 4: Make the frosting. Cut the butter into blocks and beat until slightly softened. Add in the cream cheese. Beat until fluffy and free of lumps. Add in the powdered sugar 2 cups at a time, followed by the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Add the remaining powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream. I’ve included some additional frosting tips below.

Step 5: Decorate the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe the frosting onto the top. Enjoy!

Cream cheese frosting piped onto a pumpkin cupcake

Cream Cheese Frosting Troubleshooting Tips

Use cold ingredients for the frosting. For a stable cream cheese frosting that’s ideal for piping, you want to start with cold butter and cold cream cheese – not room temperature.

Use the correct cream cheese. Full-fat cream cheese, the kind that comes in a block is best.

Properly cream the butter first. Since the butter is cold, it should be whipped to a soft and spreadable consistency before adding the cream cheese. That way when the cream cheese is added, the consistency of the two will be similar.

a teal spatula of whipped butter hanging over a mixing bowl with

How to prevent a lumpy frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese together until it’s completely smooth when you run a knife through it. At first, it may have a cottage cheese consistency, but continue mixing until it’s smooth.

close up of creamed butter and cream cheese

Can the frosting be made ahead? You can 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. You may want to rewhip the frosting prior to using.

If the frosting is too thin: If you have not added the heavy cream, try skipping it. Otherwise adding additional powder sugar can help, but before doing so, try refrigerating for about 30 minutes to see if it holds up.

Recipe Tips for Success

Here are a few tips for making the best pumpkin cupcakes.

  • Don’t overmix the batter. Be sure that all the ingredients are well combined but once they are, don’t continue stirring.
  • Use a cookie scoop to measure batter. My secret to the mess-free transfer of cupcake batter to the liners is to use a large cookie scoop. This also ensures the liners get filled evenly!
  • How to tell when the cupcakes are done? You definitely don’t want to overbake these cupcakes (and bake out the moisture!). 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.
Two stacked unfrosted pumpkin cupcakes, the top one has a bite missing

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.

Storing Finished Cupcakes

I recommend refrigerating the cupcakes once they’ve been frosted. To prevent them from drying out, be sure to store them in an airtight container.

They’re best served at room temperature, so remove them from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

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 countertop and thaw until they reach room temperature.

Frost the cupcakes once completely thawed.

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
A pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting with the wrapper pulled off

Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes

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


Light and fluffy, these Homemade Moist Pumpkin Cupcakes are packed with real pumpkin flavor and spice, with maple syrup, cinnamon, and pumpkin flavors. Then they’re topped with a silky cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting. Irresistible!


For the cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups (330g) light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (118ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (6g) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (177ml) milk (I use nonfat)

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 12 ounces (339g) full-fat cream cheese, cold
  • 67 cups (780-911g) powdered confectionary sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (2,5g) cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) heavy whipping cream or milk


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 well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Next mix in the pumpkin and beat until well combined.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all remaining dry ingredients and sift together with a fine mesh sieve. Then, add half the dry ingredients to the batter followed by half the milk, and beat until it starts to combine.Then add remaining dry ingredients and milk and beat until well combined. 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.
  4. 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 several minutes until it is whipped and fluffy.
  2. Then add the cream cheese and cream together for several minutes until it’s 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. Add the remaining powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream and beat until desired consistency.
  4. In a large piping bag fitted with a large open star piping tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.


  • Storing: I recommend refrigerating the cupcakes once they’ve been frosted. To prevent them from drying out, be sure to store them in an airtight container. Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving. 
  • Frosting can be made in advance and kept refrigerated. Remove 30-60 minutes before piping. You may want to rewhip the frosting in a mixer prior to piping. There are lots of troubleshooting tips for the frosting included in this blog post. 
  • If you don’t like cream cheese frosting, try serving these with vanilla buttercream instead. 
Nutrition Information:
1 cupcake
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: best pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin spice cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

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Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

113 Responses
  1. Melinda Fekete

    I made these for my boyfriend’s birthday, and unfortunately they didn’t turn out great. I baked for 15 minutes and did a toothpick test, came out totally clear, yet the cupcakes ended up way too dense. Any idea what I could have done wrong? The batter for me was way runnier than other cupcake recipes I’ve made. Also didn’t have much luck with the icing, it also came out way too runny and didn’t hold shape at all, I tried adding more powdered sugar but it ended up being too sweet, and it didn’t help with the consistency. I would love to try this recipe again, because the flavours are incredible, I’m just not sure what to do differently.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Melinda- thanks for your message. It’s hard to know what went wrong without any additional information. The batter should not really have been runny. Did you make any ingredient substitutions? If they were too dense it’s possible the batter was over beaten or improperly measuring the dry ingredients.

  2. Beth

    These look delicious and I would like to try and make them mini size for a party. How long would you recommend the minis be baked?

  3. Cathy Cozzo

    I made these cupcakes and the frosting, they were fabulous, one of my daughters said this was the best cupcake she ever had and she’s 25. Great job Julianne

      1. Holly

        I have been searching for the perfect pumpkin cupcake that has a great flavor and moist texture, like a CUPCAKE not muffin. I tried this recipe the other day, and these are it!!! Hands down best pumpkin cupcake I ever made and the recipe I have been dreaming about!

  4. Rosie

    I made your recipe as written. It was a hit all around. I made as cupcakes, they came out a little more dense than expected but my oven is on the fritz. The icing was delicious! I was planning on filling the cupcakes but based on the comments (huge amount of extra icing) I did not double & had enough to stuff most. I read your comments on using regular cream cheese too late so added some meringue powder which helped. I can’t wait to try it again when I get my oven!
    Thanks again

  5. Melina

    I used this recipe for Glendale College cupcakes war before this thanksgiving and I won . I just want to say thank you for your amazing cupcake recipe. Easy and sooooooo delicious . It is my favorite cupcake.

  6. Jennifer

    I made these as cupcakes and they are amazing! Best pumpkin cupcakes I have ever had! I plan on making this recipe as a 9by 13 cake, do I still bake at 350? And how long for the cake?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Jennifer- It’s closer to 25 minutes, but I would set a timer for 20 minutes and keep an eye on it after that.

  7. Kay

    I just made these… absolutely amazing! I had so much mix I made a large round cake and 10 cupcakes.
    I used gluten free flour and since I didn’t have nut milk I swapped for coconut cream, which imparts another gorgeous flavour with the pumpkin and spice. I also added finely chopped crystallised ginger for some texture. A seriously good recipe… this is going in my favourites!

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