Perfect Pumpkin Cupcakes

These ultra moist and fluffy Pumpkin Cupcakes are topped with a generous helping of melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese frosting! Garnished with pumpkin candies to complete the look, you’ve just found your new favorite fall dessert.

A frosted pumpkin cupcake on a serving platter with a big bite taken out of it

Fluffy Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

You can’t possibly taste these cupcakes and tell me they’re not perfection. Just look at how soft and fluffy they are with that moist cake and the super smooth dollop of frosting on top! These fall-spirited treats are flavored with pumpkin puree as well as a classic combination of warm pumpkin spices.

I brought out one of my very favorite toppings to go with these pumpkin delights – cream cheese frosting. With 4 simple ingredients, you get the smoothest and fluffiest frosting of your life! I like to tie off the decor with a couple of pumpkin candies, but these cupcakes are holiday-worthy with any garnishes of your choice… or even none at all! One bite is all you need to fall in love for life.

A white cake stand on a table holding seven homemade pumpkin cupcakes

What You’ll Need

Each ingredient in this recipe contributes to a flawless pumpkin cupcake. Let’s get into it!

For the Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • Light Brown Sugar: This deepens the flavor, bringing out the pumpkin and spices that we love so much.
  • Vegetable Oil: I prefer using oil as opposed to butter in these – it tends to keep the cupcakes moister for longer.
  • Vanilla Extract: This allows the other flavors to flourish.
  • Eggs: To bind everything together.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Don’t dip your measuring cup directly into the flour. Instead, spoon it in little by little, then level it off at the top with a butter knife. This prevents excess flour from getting packed in.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Using both ensures a beautiful rise and texture.
  • Pumpkin Spices: You’ll need equal parts nutmeg, ginger and cloves, plus a good amount of ground cinnamon.
  • Salt: To further enhance the other flavors.
  • Pumpkin Puree: Use canned pumpkin puree rather than going the homemade route. Homemade pumpkin puree contains a lot more moisture, which will mess with the cupcake batter.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream Cheese: Brought to room temperature.
  • Butter: Also at room temperature.
  • Powdered Sugar: This creates that frosting consistency and volume.
  • Vanilla Extract: For flavor. Use a high-quality extract for the best results.
A close-up shot of a pumpkin cupcake on a table with pumpkins and more cupcakes in the background

How to Make Pumpkin Cupcakes

You might expect such a gourmet cupcake to require a bunch of fancy steps and techniques – not these! You are simply combining wet and dry ingredients, then adding your pumpkin puree. For the frosting, you’re just mixing everything up in a specific order. Basic stuff!

Make the Cupcakes

  1. Heat Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients: Add the oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract and eggs to a mixer bowl and combine until smooth.
  3. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt.
  4. Combine Mixtures: Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add Pumpkin: Add the pumpkin puree and mix until well combined.
  6. Bake: Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Let Cool: Remove your cupcakes from the oven and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting & Assemble

  1. Mix Cream Cheese & Butter: Combine the cream cheese and the butter and mix until smooth.
  2. Start Adding Powdered Sugar: Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add Vanilla: Add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  4. Finish Adding Sugar: Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  5. Frost Cooled Cupcakes: Use a large round piping tip to pipe the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes. To learn how to pipe the dome frosting I used, check out my cupcake frosting tutorial.
  6. Garnish & Serve: Top your cupcakes with a candy pumpkin or two, if desired. You could also use crushed pecans or omit the garnish altogether. Serve the cupcakes immediately or store them in the fridge.
A white serving tray full of pumpkin cupcakes with one or two mellowcreme pumpkins on top

Can I Make These in Advance?

Want to prepare your cupcakes today and assemble them tomorrow? You can totally do so. Just store the two components in separate airtight containers, refrigerating the frosting and leaving the cupcakes at room temperature.

Tips for Success

I’ve got you covered with all the ins and outs of pumpkin cupcake making. Remember these recipe tips for the best results!

  • Don’t Over-Mix the Batter: Only mix the batter until it’s well combined and smooth. If you mix it too much beyond that, your cupcakes won’t come out as fluffy.
  • Use Good Cupcake Liners: I always recommend using high-quality cupcake liners with some sort of non-stick coating. This way, you’ll have no trouble when it comes time to remove them and dig in.
  • Don’t Overfill the Liners: Remember that these cupcakes rise a good bit in the oven! Don’t pour in the batter past the 3/4 mark.
  • Serve at Room Temperature: If you’ve stored your cupcakes in the fridge, bring them to room temperature before chowing down. This softens the frosting to the proper consistency.
Seven cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on a cake stand beside two pumpkins

Variation Ideas

If you’d like to put a spin on these pumpkin cupcakes, there are plenty of paths you can take. I have some mouthwatering suggestions!

  • Top with Pumpkin Spice Frosting: Craving even more pumpkin spice flavor? Try topping your cupcakes with this velvety Pumpkin Spice Buttercream. Fall has never been more festive!
  • Add Chopped Nuts: Go ahead and add some crunch to your cupcakes by folding chopped and toasted nuts into the batter. I’d probably use pecans, but any nuts will do!
  • Make Mini Cupcakes: Everything’s better in bite-sized form! To make mini cupcakes, use a mini muffin pan lined with mini cupcake liners and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • Top with Vanilla Buttercream: Believe it or not, not everybody is a fan of cream cheese frosting. If you’d like to use another kind of vanilla-flavored frosting, I highly recommend my Easy Vanilla Buttercream!
A pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting and two candy pumpkins on top

How to Store Frosted Cupcakes

Since these cupcakes are made with cream cheese frosting, they should be kept in the fridge. Particularly, in an airtight container. Enjoy them within 3-4 days and bring them to room temperature before serving.

Can I Freeze These?

Yes you can! Frozen cupcakes stay good for 2-3 months, with or without the frosting. Just be sure to keep them in a freezer-safe container. Thaw them out in the fridge and bring them to room temperature before enjoying.

Print
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A frosted pumpkin cupcake on a serving platter with a big bite taken out of it
Recipe

Perfect Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These ultra moist and fluffy Pumpkin Cupcakes are topped with a generous helping of melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese frosting! Garnished with pumpkin candies to complete the look, you’ve just found your new favorite fall dessert.


Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (144g) light brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (163g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (233g) canned pumpkin puree

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz (226g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tbsp (86g) butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (460g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Add the oil, brown sugar, vanilla extract and eggs to a mixer bowl and mix until smooth.
  3. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until well combined.
  6. Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ full.
  7. Bake pumpkin cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Remove cupcakes from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.

Make the Frosting & Assemble

  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter and mix until smooth.
  2.  Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  5. Use a large round piping tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. To see how to pipe the dome frosting I used, see my cupcake frosting tutorial.
  6. Top the cupcakes with a candy pumpkin, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve and serve at room temperature. Cupcakes are best if eaten within 3-4 days.

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

More Easy Pumpkin Desserts

I practically put pumpkin into everything. Here are some of my favorite creations so far!

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Recipe rating

31 Comments
  1. Ashleigh Rizzo

    Delicious cupcake, but my tops were so domed, there was no way I could have frosted them. I ended up pushing them down with a dish towel, while still hot and that did the trick. Are these meant to have a big dome? If not, what could have went wrong. Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      It’s hard to say without seeing them if you got unusually high domes, but they do normally have domes on them. I personally prefer having a little dome, rather than flat.

  2. morgan

    Have you made this recipe for a layer cake, if so what would the alterations be?
    i have made a bunch of your recipes and they are all so yummy! thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, they can. You can either make the cupcakes and leave those at room temperature and then add frosting later, or make them completely and refrigerate them. I would serve them a little closer to room temperature though instead of being cold.

    1. Lindsay

      I would say that these are nice and moist without adding buttermilk. You could certainly try adding it, but sometimes adding too much liquid actually makes your cake more dense.

  3. Faith

    I have 2 questions!!!! My first question is what is the best substitute for vanilla extract? I am asking because I have a family member that is allergic to vanilla extract. And can I use fresh pumpkin from a pie pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure what the allergy is to, but would an imitation vanilla extract work? You could also just leave it out. And yes, fresh pumpkin should be fine.

  4. Renee

    I made these over the weekend and they came out delicious. It was a really simple recipe. I didn’t have nutmeg, cloves or ginger, so I subbed those 3 spices for 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and they definitely still had that pumpkin spice flavor. The next day I ate one straight from the refrigerator without letting it come to room temp and I actually really enjoyed it chilled to. It reminded me of pumpkin rolls my aunt used to make that were eaten chilled. Yum ????. Thanks for the recipe Lindsay!

  5. Lelia

    Made these for my friend birthday and they were the bomb!!! This was the first time I have ever made anything pumpkin and they turned out perfect. My friend asked how I got them so moist. I just smiled!!!lol

  6. Ellen @ Cookware Diary

    Hi LINDSAY,
    It looks delicious and something unique for me to try soon 🙂
    Thanks for the awesome recipe.

  7. Brian

    These are RIDICULOUSLY GOOD. The cupcakes were so moist and dense and perfect. I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting, but I beat this for an extra 2-3 minutes after smooth, and it was so light and airy and creamy, amazing! I’m going to have to make this at least three more times this fall.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12