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Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

Soft and irresistibly fluffy pumpkin cupcakes, complete with homemade cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin pie has met its match, with these simple pumpkin cupcakes perfect for any occasion.

Light, fluffy, and ultra soft… Once you see how easy they are to make, and how absolutely delicious they taste, you’ll never want to buy a boxed cake mix again.

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Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes

What Makes These The Best Pumpkin Cupcakes?

The trick to making the best pumpkin cupcake recipe is all about the spices; or more importantly, the amount you use.

In my years of baking, I’ve discovered so many recipes will underutilize spices because people are afraid to use them, and the recipes instead include extra sugar to mask a lack of flavor.

Chances are you’ve probably encountered some of these baked goods in your life. Their taste will be sweet but nondescript, and if someone asked you to pick out any distinct flavor notes, it would be very difficult to do so.

This pumpkin cupcake recipe calls for a full 2 teaspoons of cinnamon plus a 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice for just a cup of flour, which is about double what many pumpkin desserts of similar size will tell you to use.

It’s certainly more than you’d find in a boxed mix. And the difference in flavor is striking. So many people have told me these are the best cupcakes they’ve ever tried, and now you know the reason why!

I’ve always argued that anyone can make food taste good if they use enough sugar, oil, or butter. The real challenge is making food taste good without relying on these ingredients as a crutch.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake Frosting Options:

Almond Butter

Coconut Butter

Coconut Whipped Cream

Vegan Marshmallow Fluff

Powdered Sugar

Coconut Caramel

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Or you can totally eat the healthy pumpkin cupcakes unfrosted and call them pumpkin muffins instead, perhaps with some mini chocolate chips or raisins thrown into the batter if your heart so desires.

Leftover Canned Pumpkin? Make Pumpkin Oatmeal

Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

There are thousands of recipes for basic cream cheese frosting out there. Below is how I like to make mine, and just use vegan brands of cream cheese and butter (available in many regular grocery stores nowadays) for vegan cream cheese frosting.

8 oz cream cheese

4 oz salted butter

2 cups powdered sugar (or sugar free powdered sugar)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

optional sprinkle of cinnamon or a few drops maple extract

Let cream cheese and butter come to room temperature. Beat all ingredients with either an electric mixer or stand mixer (or by hand, which won’t be as whipped and fluffy but still works). If too thick, very slowly add a little milk of choice; if too thin, add additional powdered sugar.

Spread on the cupcakes with either a knife or piped through an icing bag (I used a 1M icing tip). Cover and refrigerate leftover frosting for up to a week. The recipe makes about 2 cups of frosting.

The Easy Secret Best Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe
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Pumpkin Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

A soft and fluffy homemade pumpkin cupcake recipe, complete with cream cheese frosting.
5/5 (14)
Total Time 18 minutes
Yield 9 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tsp white or cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp oil or additional pumpkin
  • 1 cup spelt, white, or bob’s gf flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, unrefined if desired
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or additional cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each: baking soda and baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, just over level

Instructions

  • *While I prefer both the taste and texture of the oil version, many readers have written in to say they love subbing out the oil for additional pumpkin instead. So you can definitely try this substitution at your own risk and might still love the results.
    Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with liners. In a large bowl, whisk first 5 ingredients. Don’t forget the vinegar. Let sit at least 10 minutes, and sift remaining ingredients in a separate bowl while you wait. Pour dry into wet, stir just until evenly mixed, and smooth into the liners. Only fill up 2/3 of the way, because they will rise and you don’t want them to burst and then sink (although if that happens, just hide with frosting!). Bake 18-19 minutes on the center rack. Let cool. These taste even better the next day, and the liners peel off easily after a day as well. If desired, frost with the cream cheese frosting recipe listed earlier in this post. Or top with coconut butter or your favorite frosting of choice.
    View Nutrition Facts

Notes

The recipe was adapted from my Healthy Carrot Cake Cupcakes and these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes.
 

Have you made this recipe?

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5/5 (14)

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Published on October 15, 2018

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54 Comments

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  1. Natasha says

    It’s pumpkin season, yay!! (already????) I am so, so happy to see this recipe, and I really want to try it.
    I agree STRONGLY with what you said about the lack of spices. I’m amazed that anyone can eat a ‘pumpkin treat’ of any kind that lacks actual pumpkin-spice flavor, and be forced to convince themselves that the sugar and unidentifiable orange color are pure pumpkin goodness.
    Also, if anyone reads this, fat doesn’t make you fat. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, exercise, eat healthy food and cut the crap, there’s no reason why you need to worry about every single calorie, unless your doctor has suggested you do so. Think about it as eating for health vs. eating to lose weight. You won’t be as properly nourished if you go with the latter option. That’s not to say that you should be adding tons of dressing to your salad or using oil with the solid goal of making these cupcakes high-fat, as that will obviously lead to weight gain in a lot of individuals, however.
    Anyways, this is just a message to some people who are struggling with their diets.
    I LOVE this recipe, I am so happy right now. There are no unnecessary ingredients whatsoever, and I’m so thankful you shared this. The icing is beautiful, too, although I will likely frost mine with a Greek yogurt frosting for a protein boost.
    I hope both of you are having a terrific Monday.

  2. Deb-do says

    You are SO right about the spices, they really do add a good kick when the right amount is put in! Btw, a tip: another replacement for the oil in the recipe can be applesauce! These look beautiful!

  3. Grandma May says

    These pumpkin cupcakes were scrumptious, thank you! I am new to healthy baking and was not expecting them to be so good! You would never know the secret. Three grandkids loved them too.

  4. jacquie says

    hi – the recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try it. I was curious though if you tried it w/ a small amount such as 1/3 or even 1/4. I’m also wondering about subbing the sugar out for maple syrup but that would likely change the moisture content too much and it would certainly change the taste a bit. Hummmmm. it might be time to be experimenting a bit 🙂

    • Natasha says

      Maple syrup is a liquid, whereas sugar is not, therefore they can’t be used as direct substitutes for each other. If you want to experiment, then use 1/2 cup maple syrup instead of the 1/2 cup milk, and omit the sugar altogether. It may not turn out as delicious as the original version, however, but it will likely turn out yummy anyway. Texture may be stickier than the original, too.
      Also, maple syrup still contains sugar, and if you’re on a low-sugar diet, then I highly suggest looking at erythritol or stevia as sweeteners instead. They are actually sweeter than sugar, come from plants, and are sugar-free.

  5. Cassie Thuvan Tran says

    Pumpkin desserts are some of my favorites! I always love a beautifully aromatic spiced cupcake–nothing beats pumpkin spice or gingerbread spice! The cream cheese frosting work is absolutely remarkable too. I definitely have to make these soon–they are just too easy!

  6. Nathalie says

    These are delicious, but my cream cheese frosting turned out runny even after adding more powdered sugar. Any suggestions for making the frosting fluffier? I used vegan butter and vegan cream cheese.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hmm, what brands did you use? I know Katie has used either Trader Joe vegan or Tofutti in the past, as well as Earth Balance or Melt buttery sticks. It’s just a basic cream cheese frosting recipe (some recipes call for more powdered sugar, some call for less) so doesn’t need anything else added to be fluffy normally!

  7. Shannon says

    I just made these and used the additional pumpkin instead of the oil. You CANNOT tell the difference. These are the best cupcakes ever. I did not put any frosting on whatsoever and they are just like a pumpkin muffin. The spices are perfect!! DO NOT scrimp on the measurements. I will make them again and add raisins.

  8. Jaclyn says

    Tried to sub almond flour and these were a fail 🙁 any tips? Used 1 cup almond flour. They never cooked through (even with adding 10 min total to the time after checking and adding 5 min 2x) they were a really yummy goopy mess. Would love to try again.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Unfortunately almond flour isn’t listed as an option in the recipe and is not something that can be subbed in a 1-to-1 ratio in baked goods without changing other ingredients, especially in vegan recipes that don’t have eggs. Edible experiments can be fun, but using a flour not listed in one of the recipes is always going to be a risk because it’s changing the recipe, so there’s no way to know how it will turn out beforehand.

  9. Sally says

    Made them yesterday but doubled the recipe and did it 4 times. Lots of cupcakes for family, friends and neighbors. Turned out awesome! I tripled the frosting and had leftover. So deciding to try your carrot cake recipe next and use the left over cream cheese frosting for those.

  10. AndreaC says

    What an awesome recipe for me and my toddler! And we can’t wait for dad to try them tonight. I am in awe that these are vegan, they are so fluffy and moist. We did use cream cheese and butter for the frosting and my 20 month old keeps saying more, more! I made 6 regular size cupcakes and 5 mini ones. I think I’ll double the recipe to have enough to share next time 🙂 Thanks Katie!

  11. Kit says

    I made these and took them to the office–they were a hit! And the recipe was so easy. Definitely going to be making these again!

  12. Heidi says

    I made these using WW pastry flour, a plant-based milk (forget which one, unsweetened flax, probably) and substituting tahini for all the oil, to get healthy whole-food fat to carry the flavors of the spices. Reduced the salt a bit. They were perfect, no icing required! I’m keeping it!

  13. Ashley Radcliffe says

    Hello! I am 13 and have been baking for many years and recently have been venturing into healthy baking. For my birthday cake, naturally, since my bday is on National Pumpkin Day, I had to make a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting (DUH). I made two 8 inch layers and iced the middle, sides, and top. I doubled the recipe, used half AP flour, a quarter almond flour, and a quarter whole wheat. Nobody in my family knew it was vegan! The cake was gone in 3 days and we enjoyed it throughly. The spice level was on point and was very moist and fluffy, beautiful texture with an incredible pumpkin spice flavor. Almond flour was a win for me, and it would definitely work for the only flour you use if you sifted it. Thank you for the wonderful recipe that gave me the best birthday cake ever!
    -Ashley

  14. Sue says

    Just made these today. They didn’t rise all that much and they were very moist and dense inside, almost like a flourless cake. They pulled away from the muffin tins as well. I followed the recipe using Bobs Red Mill GF Flour.

  15. Stephnie says

    These are so delicious! We didn’t bother with frosting – we’re not huge into icings and frostings in my house. My 2 little boys (and I) devoured these. We will definitely be making these again… and again!

  16. Anna says

    Just dropping by to ask anyone reading whether stewed apples might work in the place of pumpkin in this recipe? I’ve got a load I need to use up in the next week! Thanks.

  17. MissM says

    For a more keto-friendly version, can I replace the flour in this recipe with almond flour, coconut flour or flaxseed meal??

  18. Matthew Di Clemente says

    The pumpkin muffins are delicious, and have a great texture. I used my own home-cooked pumpkin, which I find milder and more fragrant, NS used a light hand with the spices, and the results were great. I hate this frosting recipe with a passion though. It doesn’t work, it tastes wretched, and it is not healthy.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hmm, it’s just a basic cream cheese frosting recipe, pretty much the same recipe you can find on a lot of other cooking sites and cookbooks, so maybe your cream cheese had gone bad? There’s nothing in the recipe (powdered sugar and cream cheese lol) to make it taste bad otherwise!

  19. Fareeda says

    I followed the recipe, but substituted stevia for the sugar. The muffins did not rise, but they are very delicious. Thanks

  20. Marishannon says

    Yum! I made these with the extra pumpkin instead of oil and added 1/2 cup of raisins instead of the frosting. They are moist and perfectly spiced.

  21. Carrie Lapides says

    Cant wait to try these! Love pumpkin everything! Can I substitute coconut sugar instead of regular sugar/ stevia? Thank you

  22. Bethany says

    I doubled the recipe to make this a cake and it was a hit!! Everyone loved it and well, I would have eaten it all in one sitting if I was by myself, haha! I subbed oil for more pumpkin and baked it a tad longer. I also made the cream cheese frosting but used Greek yogurt instead of butter. I don’t have a picture on my phone, but I’ll find one later and post in the reply. The cake was themed “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and the pumpkin definitely added to the theme. Thank you!!!??

    • Jason Sanford says

      If you’re just waiting a day, either is fine really. I usually leave my cupcakes out overnight (for any cupcake recipe). Cover them if putting on the counter, but leave a space for some air to escape so it isn’t trapped which would cause the moisture to make them soggy.
      Jason

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