One of my favourite parts of both Halloween and the autumn period in general is the proliferance of pumpkin in all kinds of food and drink. My favourite is definitely Pumpkin Pie but these Pumpkin Cupcakes come a close second! However, I've never met a pumpkin baked good I didn't like! These Pumpkin Cupcakes are so easy to make with tinned pumpkin puree, and they are so moist and flavoursome. They're topped with a divine cinnamon infused buttercream too!
Ingredient Tips & Equipment Information
- Make sure all your ingredients (particularly the eggs) are at room temperature before you start baking the cupcakes.
- I used unsalted butter for the cinnamon buttercream.
- If you live in a place where pumpkin pie spice mix is easily available, then you can use 2 tsp of that instead of the mix of spices I've listed in the recipe. I live in the UK so pumpkin spice mix is not something that's sold here.
- I really recommend using light brown soft sugar if you can for the cupcakes, but if you can't get hold of it, caster sugar will work well too.
- Although I provide cup measurements, I highly recommend weighing your ingredients out using digital kitchen scales*. It is the most accurate way to measure ingredients and will ensure the best results. Digital scales are very low cost and can be purchased for around £12 ($16.50) .
- For teaspoon (tsp) and tablespoon (tbsp) measurements, please use measuring spoons* and not the type of spoons you eat with. Again this will ensure accuracy and provide the best results.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make Pumpkin Cupcakes
To make the cupcakes, whisk together the light brown soft sugar, eggs and vegetable oil. Then whisk in the pumpkin puree.
In another bowl, stir together the self raising flour, baking powder, salt and all of the spices. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk them together.
Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases. Bake for 25 minutes until they are golden. Leave to cool fully. To make the buttercream, mix the butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract, milk and cinnamon together until smooth. Pipe or spread it onto the cupcakes.
Where can you buy pumpkin puree in the UK?
I've found tins of pumpkin puree in the American food section of large supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsburys (the two brands I know of are Libbys and Baking Buddy). I have also heard that Waitrose stock it. It's sometimes available all year round, or sometimes only from mid-August until December. It really does depend on the supermarket with this. Keep asking your local store, you may just bug them enough to get them to stock it! You can also buy it online, I have purchased it from Amazon before, and Sous Chef also sell it. It will be a little bit more pricey, but I've found good deals by buying several cans at once (and the best before dates are usually at least one year long).
Can you make pumpkin puree from scratch?
Yes! If you can’t get hold of the canned version, then you can make pumpkin puree from scratch. A 2kg pumpkin will give you roughly 675g pumpkin puree. The good news is, if you have too much you can freeze pumpkin puree. What you need to do is carefully slice up the pumpkin, deseed it and scoop out the stringy bits. Then you can either roast or steam chunks of the pumpkin until soft – it will take 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces, use a knife to check tenderness. Allow the pumpkin to cool fully. Remove the flesh from the skin using a spoon, and then use a blender to puree the flesh. You now have pumpkin puree! It’s also great stirred into risottos or curries if you have leftovers. If it's not the time of year for pumpkins but you really want to make these pumpkin cupcakes, then you can use butternut squash too!
Can you decorate the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting instead?
Yes! If you fancy using cream cheese frosting instead check out my Carrot Cake Cupcakes for a beautifully thick UK recipe for cream cheese frosting that pipes like a dream! If you do decorate the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, they will need to be stored in the fridge.
Do you need an electric mixer to make these cupcakes?
No, in fact I would suggest making these cupcakes by hand with a whisk if you're able to. There's not much mixing involved and everything combines really easily so you won't get a dead arm! If you need (or want) to use a stand mixer, keep it on a low speed to avoid over mixing. For the buttercream, an electric mixer will provide the best results but it can also be made by hand if needed - with a bit of elbow grease!
How long do the cupcakes last for and can they be frozen?
The cupcakes will last for 2-3 days in an airtight container in a cool place. You can freeze both the cupcakes and the buttercream. To freeze them separately, wrap the cupcakes well in cling film or put them in an airtight container. The buttercream can be frozen in a sealed tub. To freeze them decorated, freeze the cupcakes on a plate until frozen solid, then carefully wrap in cling film. (I do not recommend freezing the fondant pumpkin decorations if you make them.) Remove the clingfilm when you take the cupcakes out of the freezer to defrost, as if they defrost with it still on it could damage the buttercream.
Can you make the cupcakes with plain/all purpose flour?
Self raising flour, which is very commonly used in the UK where I am based, already contains a raising agent and a little salt too. Therefore if you want to swap it for plain or all purpose flour, you will need to add some additional baking powder and also a little salt if you like. Some people like to add salt to cake recipes and some don't, so I'll leave that up to you as it won't affect the bake. The general advice is to add 2 teaspoons baking powder (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with) per every 200g plain or all purpose flour. So for this recipe you'd need to add an adidtional 1 + ½ teaspoons baking powder. Please note, I have not tested this recipe using plain or all purpose flour.
Can the cupcakes be made gluten or dairy free?
Yes! For gluten free you can replace the self raising flour with a gluten free self raising flour blend. If you only have a gluten free plain flour blend, you will need to add baking powder. The general advice is to add 2 tsp baking powder per 200g flour, so for this recipe you'd need to add an additional 1 + ½ teaspoons baking powder. You may also like to add ¼ tsp Xantham Gum for better texture. For a dairy free version, use a dairy free baking spread for the buttercream. The cupcakes are already dairy free.
More tips for making the Pumpkin Cupcakes:
- I used a Wilton 2D piping nozzle to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes.
- To decorate the cupcakes, I made the little pumpkins from fondant. Depending on your location you could get some Brach's Pumpkin Candy decorations.
If you have any questions about this recipe, or if something went wrong and you need help, please use the comment form below and I will get back to you. You can also get in touch with me on my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- Cupcake tin
- Mixing bowls
- Cooling rack
- Kitchen scales
- Electric hand mixer
- Brown cupcake cases
- Piping bags
- Wilton 2D Piping nozzle
- Pumpkin puree
- Mixed spice
- Pumpkin spice
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More pumpkin recipes...
For the sponge
- 175 g Light brown soft sugar
- 100 ml Vegetable oil
- 2 Eggs large
- 200 g Pumpkin puree
- 200 g Self raising flour
- ½ tsp Baking powder
- A pinch of Salt
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Mixed spice
- ¼ tsp Ground ginger
- ¼ tsp Nutmeg
For the buttercream
- 200 g Butter softened, unsalted
- 400 g Icing sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 tbsp Milk
- Fondant pumpkins or sprinkles optional
- Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cases
- In a large bowl whisk together the light brown soft sugar, eggs and vegetable oil
- Add the pumpkin puree and whisk in
- In another bowl stir together the self raising flour, baking powder, salt and all of the spices - cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and mixed spice
- Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk them together
- Divide the mixture between the cupcakes cases, and bake them for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown and a thin skewer or cocktail stick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Put them on a cooling rack to cool completely
- To make the buttercream, mix together the butter, cinnamon, vanilla extract, milk and icing sugar with an electric whisk until smooth. If the buttercream is too stiff then you can add some more milk to it
- Pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake using a piping bag fitted with a nozzle (I used Wilton 2D). Or spread it on with a spoon
- Add fondant pumpkins or sprinkles if desired, then serve! Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for 3 days