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These easy pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are the perfect Fall treat! They are made with pumpkin pie spice, lots of pumpkin puree, and are quick to throw together. I’m using oil in the recipe which will not only keep these wonderfully moist but it also means we don’t need an electric mixer to make these so they come together easily!
When someone asks me what’s my favorite thing to bake, for some reason they always think the answer is going to be cupcakes. But I hate to break the news to you – definitely not! A lot of the times I find cupcakes can be on the fussy side.
Not the case with these easy pumpkin spice cupcakes. These pumpkin cupcakes were the definition of easy. And I couldn’t be happier with how light and fluffy they were in the end with lots of pumpkin flavor going on.
And of course is there a happier marriage than pumpkin cupcakes and cream cheese frosting? I don’t think so either. The frosting is simple to make and is made with just 4 ingredients (confectioners sugar, cream cheese, butter and some vanilla) making for the perfect pairing.
Heck yes, let’s go for pumpkin spice season!
Pumpkin Muffins Vs. Pumpkin Cupcakes
Although I used to use this pumpkin muffin recipe and simply frost with cream cheese frosting in the past, I decided I wanted a true pumpkin cupcake recipe on this blog. Both are wonderfully easy, but pumpkin muffins, like any good muffin is a bit denser than a pumpkin cupcakes.
You will find that these pumpkin cupcakes vs. the pumpkin muffins result in a more tender, lighter baked good – exactly what you would want in a cupcake!
Why These Are The Best Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- No Stand Mixer Needed – Many cupcakes recipes call for using your stand mixer, because they involve creaming together the butter and sugar, but these are made with oil so that means you just need a mixing bowl and a whisk! yes of course, don’t get me wrong you would need for the cream cheese frosting, but the for actual pumpkin batter there’s no need.
- Quick Prep – Because they are made with oil, and no mixer is needed, you can easily mix up this pumpkin batter in minutes and get them in the oven to bake.
- Great Make Ahead Dessert – You can make the pumpkin cupcakes, and cream cheese frosting the day before and then frost them the next day making these an easy fuss-free make ahead dessert to serve.
- All-Purpose Flour – I made these pumpkin spice cupcakes with just regular all-purpose flour, no need for cake flour, and I found them to be perfectly tender. Be sure to spoon the flour into your cup and level it off so you don’t end up with too much flour.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – Pumpkin pie spice is going to give these cupcakes tons of flavor. Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground allspice. I’ll include in the recipe below how much of each spice to include if you don’t have any pumpkin pie spice on hand.
- Salt – I prefer sea salt for baking as it’s fine in texture with a pure salt taste.
- Baking Powder And Baking Soda – These will help lift up our pumpkin cupcakes and cause them to rise. Make sure your baking powder, and baking soda are fresh and haven’t expired. You can read more here about baking powder vs baking soda.
- Oil – Oil is going to make a really moist cupcake as opposed to unsalted butter, which can create a drier mouth feel since oil stays liquid at room temperature. I use either canola oil or vegetable oil when baking but any other neutral oil will work. You can also lighten the cupcakes up with using 1/2 vegetable oil, and 1/2 applesauce.
- Sugars – I used both granulated sugar and light brown sugar (although dark brown sugar would also work). I don’t recommend altering the amount of sugar, as the sugars not only provide sweetness but also makes them tender, and helps keep them moist.
- Eggs – You want to use two large eggs that are at room temperature. Room temperature eggs are going to create a lighter, fluffier cupcake then colder ones. Place your eggs in a bowl of warm water 10 minutes before using to bring to room temperature quickly.
- Milk – I used regular full-fat dairy milk. Full-fat milk will always create a more tender cupcake because of the added fat, but low-fat or plant-based milk would also work like almond milk.
- Canned Pumpkin – You are going to use a whole can of pumpkin puree in these pumpkin cupcakes. Be sure to grab canned pumpkin puree that is 100% pumpkin, and NOT pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling has added ingredients in it that could affect how the cupcakes turn out.
- Vanilla – You can use either pure vanilla extract (my preference for best flavor) or imitation vanilla extract to flavor these cupcakes.
How To Make This Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. (177 C). Line two 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and baking soda together until combined. Set aside.
Heather’s Baking Tip
For cupcakes that come out fluffy and not dense, crumbly or dry be sure to measure your flour correctly. You want to spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off. Do not pack it down or it could result in 25% more flour. For best results, use a kitchen scale and weigh your flour instead.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together until combined.
Add canned pumpkin puree, oil, milk, and vanilla extract into the bowl, beat to combine.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir, until just combined. Do NOT overmix the batter.
Heather’s Baking Tip
At this point you do not want to NOT overmix. The more you mix the more gluten will form. Gluten is the protein in the flour that provides structure and forms when the flour becomes hydrated. But too much mixing = too much gluten = too much structure (aka tough and chewy!). So stop mixing once the last of the flour has been mixed in.
Spoon the cupcake batter evenly into your muffin pan, filling each of the muffin cups about 3/4 full. For even portioning, I love using this medium cookie scoop. It makes a perfect amount of batter in each cupcake liner.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. I let the cupcakes cool in the muffin pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Make The Cream Cheese Frosting
I’ve used this cream cheese frosting many times here on the blog and it’s my absolute favorite! I love slathering it on some banana cake or some easy red velvet cupcakes.
I’ve also put a few fun twists on the frosting recipe and made this peanut butter cream cheese frosting version that I slathered on this super easy peanut butter cake. Basically I’m obsessed. Just give me a spoon.
For these pumpkin cupcakes, I made a double batch to frost all 24 cupcakes. If you don’t want to add as much cream cheese frosting to these cupcakes like I do and have more restraint (good for you, let me know how you do it), you could make a single batch of the frosting.
This cream cheese frosting is super simple to make. I make this frosting quickly in my stand mixer fitted with my paddle attachment but a hand mixer also works (I’m obsessed right now with this cordless hand mixer!). I cream together the softened cream cheese and softened unsalted butter until light and fluffy.
Then add the powdered sugar (or confectioners sugar), about a 1/2 cup at a time and mix on low speed until combined. I do this on low speed, so as not to have to powdered sugar end up everywhere around my kitchen! And last but no least, I flavor with some pure vanilla extract.
This cream cheese frosting can hold shape a little bit if you want to use a piping bag and pipe on the cream cheese frosting onto cooled cupcakes. I love using a big piping tip, like a large closed star pastry tip.
If the cream cheese frosting is too soft, try popping it in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up a bit. You can also just spread some on with an off-set spatula. Make sure you are frosting completely cooled cupcakes because any amount of heat will melt your frosting!
Yes you can make these the day before. Make the pumpkin cupcakes, allow to cool completely, and then store covered at room temperature in an airtight container. You can also make the cream cheese frosting the day before and keep in the fridge. Then the day of you can frost the cupcakes. Unless serving right away, store in the fridge because of the cream cheese in the frosting and allow the frosting to soften slightly again before serving.
Leftovers can be kept covered, stored in the fridge, for up to 3 days.
Yes you can freeze these pumpkin cupcakes, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
I haven’t tried, but if there is a gluten free baking flour you like using, it should work just fine. My favorite gluten free flour mixture is Cup4Cup.
I haven’t tried baking this pumpkin cupcake batter into a pumpkin spice cake but should be enough batter for a 9×13 pan, or a two layer 8″ or 9″ cake. You could also try my pumpkin spice cake recipe!
Yes you can, but you will want to make sure to thoroughly grease the inside and tops of the cupcake pan so there is not sticking. I personally like to use the liners, however, not only for easy clean-up and transport, but overtime the cooking spray can leave a residue on the pan that can be tough to remove.
More Recipes To Try
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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- 2 ¼ cups (270 g) all-purpose flour *spooned and leveled
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (200 g) white sugar
- ½ cup (107 g) packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup oil
- ¾ cup (180 ml) milk
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree *not pumpkin pie filling
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese softened
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 227 g) unsalted butter softened
- 6 cups (682 g) confectioners sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Prep oven and pan. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray two 12-count muffin pans with non-stick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients. In a large bowl, toss the flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and baking soda together until combined. Set aside.
- Combine sugar and eggs. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars. and eggs together until combined.
- Add remaining wet ingredients. Whisk in the pumpkin, oil, milk, and vanilla until combined.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do NOT overmix the batter.
- Bake cupcakes. Spoon the batter evenly into 12 cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated 350°F oven on the center rack for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Mix cream cheese and butter. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine the butter and cream cheese. Mix on low speed at first, then increase the speed to medium until smooth and combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add confectioners sugar. Add confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
- Add vanilla extract. Add vanilla extract and mix to combine. If not using immediately, store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use, mix again until light and fluffy.
- Frost cupcakes. When cupcakes are cooled, frost cupcakes. You can use a piping bag and piping tip or an off-set spatula to frost cupcakes with. Once frosted, I recommend storing in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Storage/Make Ahead: You can make these the day before. Make the pumpkin cupcakes, allow to cool completely, and then store covered at room temperature in an airtight container. You can also make the cream cheese frosting the day before and keep in the fridge. Then the day of you can frost the cupcakes. Unless serving right away, store in the fridge because of the frosting and allow the frosting to soften slightly again before serving. Leftovers can be kept covered, stored in the fridge, for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: Yes you can freeze these pumpkin cupcakes, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
- Different pans: I haven’t tried baking this pumpkin cupcake batter into a pumpkin spice cake but should be enough batter for a 9×13 pan, or a two layer 8″ or 9″ cake. You could also try my pumpkin spice cake recipe!
- Pumpkin Spice: If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice.
- Liners: I do recommend liners for keeping your cupcake pans clean as cooking spray can build up over time. But if you don’t have any you can grease the pans, but make sure to grease each well inside and tops well so there is no sticking.
- Oil: I use either canola oil or vegetable oil when baking but any other neutral oil will work. You can also lighten the cupcakes up with using 1/2 vegetable oil, and 1/2 applesauce.
- Milk: I used and recommend a full fat milk for richness to create a tender cupcake but a low-fat milk will work or a plant-based milk will also work.
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