Warning: it’s going to get all Halloween-y around here next week.  This is a little preview.  I am a total sucker for Halloween stuff.  Normally various holiday displays at stores don’t have quite such an effect on me, but make it orange, black and maybe purple, and I’m all over it.  Which is exactly how I ended up with one of those giant containers of various Halloween sprinkles and sugars.  Really, I could browse the Halloween aisles forever.

I first made these pumpkin cupcakes a few years back and they have been my staple recipe ever since.  The cake is light and tender, with the perfect balance of pumpkin and fall spices.  I have made them with white chocolate cream cheese frosting before but I think I prefer them this way, with just a thin spread of classic cream cheese frosting so the cake is really the star.  I most recently made these as a coworker birthday request and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to use up some of the fun sugars and sprinkles.  Just about 15 more Halloweens and then I’ll be ready to buy another enormous jar.


For the cupcakes:

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (I prefer clear)
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • 01

    To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

  • 02

    Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.

  • 03

    To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.


  • i might have to try this recipe- most of the other pumpkin cupcake recipes don’t have nearly enough pumpkin for my liking!

  • My 7 year-old just talked me into a giant variety bottle of sprinkels…this will be perfect for our church party next week.

    By the way, your blog makes me smile. The pictures are so great and since your blog is the first one I see in the morning, it really does, set my day off happy.


  • these are delightfully spooky! I think I could definitely attempt the cupcake batter without a mixer.

  • Kelsi

    Those up cakes are too cute. I want to go to that party.

  • I love the purple! I don’t remember purple being a Halloween color when I was younger, but now it is everywhere and I absolutely love it!

  • These are adorable! So festive! And we’re suckers for every holiday display!

  • HB

    Adorable! Loved them before! Love them now! Love Hallween too and using lots of purple with it this year:)

  • Cute cupcakes! I love the decorations!

  • Tara

    Hi Annie!
    I love your blog, and these cupcakes are too cute! Just wondering what you used for the black cobweb design?

    Thanks so much! :)

  • These are absolutely beautiful!

  • Annie

    It’s just black gel icing.

  • These look great! Good job on decorating them. They’re so creative and perfect for halloween.

  • these are awesome cupcakes! i love your decorations; they look great!

  • Those look adorable! Then again, I’m also a sucker for Halloween. I imagine this recipe makes two cake layers, right? I’m planning to make a pumpkin and chocolate layer cake with cream cheese frosting for my birthday, which is the day before Halloween. This recipe looks fairly simple to divide… or maybe make a layer plus cupcakes. Actually, I hadn’t considered that, and it always seems like such a hassle to store the other half of the canned pumpkin.

  • Annie

    Yes, it should make two 9-inch layers. I also have another pumpkin cake on the blog meant to be a layer cake, so you could check that out too.

  • Erin

    I just made these. They are yummy! I declared I needed to make pumpkin cupcakes 10 minutes before coming home and came home to find this recipe in my Google Reader. Nice timing! My problem is that I don’t have access to canned pumpkin and the pumpkin puree wasn’t so flavorful, so my cupcakes aren’t so pumpkiny. I added 2 teaspoons of ginger and am happy I did. They are still hot but I imagine they’ll be nice and moist tomorrow. And your cupcakes are super cute! Thanks for the recipe :)

  • These are a riot, Annie! Totally adorable and, I bet, very tasty with that spiced pumpkin flavor. Your frosting designs are so creative. I bet if Andrew could say so, he’d totally tell you what a “cool Mom” you are!

  • mmm those cuppies look adorable and the icing decoration is awesome!

  • Beautiful job!

  • These are absolutely gorgeous!! I love Halloween too!

  • i was set on making your pumpkin cream cheese muffins but after seeing this im so torn!! i don’t know if i can pass up on wither of these!

  • Brenda

    I just made cupcakes for my niece’s bridal shower – 4 different types from your website (Spiced Pumpkin, Red Velvet, Kahlua, and Vanilla Bean). Everyone raved about them. They were awesome! My niece’s favorite: Spiced Pumpkin with the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Thanks

  • I processed my own pumpkin this summer and I’m eager to use some of it. I just may be trying this great sounding spiced pumpkin cupcake recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  • These cupcakes are gorg…I mean, um…spooky! I love them!

  • what a great idea to make spice pumpkin cupcakes. Usually I see halloween themed cupcakes but made with yellow cake. Pumpkins are so much better. so much better!

  • Adorable!

  • These cupcakes are gorgeous! Great job. :)

  • Beautiful. They have that easy decorating style I can conquer.

  • You did an awesome job! These look yummy:)

  • Anne, this are too cute, very similar looking to the class they just had at Sir La Table last weekend. I cannot wait to try the recipe. And I too have a few too many of those gigantic sprinkle containers for every holiday. I just love them.


  • Katie

    They sound yummy! Do they come out like actual cupcakes or are they more like muffins with frosting?

  • Annie

    To me, cupcakes = muffins with frosting. Some muffins are more dense I suppose, but most I make are cakey and light anyway.

  • These are my favorite cupcakes from about August to February ;)
    Yours look so beautiful!

  • im totally borrowing the spider web decorating idea. so easy and so clever! thank you!

  • Hillary S

    Made this into a two-layer cake tonight. Originally thought about making the cookies & cream cupcakes but decided to make this because it sounded so yummy. I was surprised how light the cake was, not heavy like a muffin.

  • Jen

    These are delicious, very light and fluffy and a nice change from a sugary yellow cake. (er, not that these don’t have 2 cups of sugar…) They are just muffin-y enough for me to convince myself that it was alright to have one after my morning run with a cup of coffee :) Taking the rest to work!

  • Yum! I love pumpkin spice stuff. These are so cute! I have a million little containers of Halloween sprinkles and one big one. How does this happen???

  • so cute! i love pumpkin so i’m a-ok with a fall series :)

  • Larna

    Made them today! Loved them!!

  • Anna

    Ohhh, these look good. I might just have to make them for my anniversary. (We love halloween so much we had a hallowedding:)

  • vanessa ruff

    i made these yesterday, SOOOOOO GOOD!

  • Katrina

    Oh my goodness. These look marvelous. I think I know what I’m going to make to my Chem Halloween Party next week! I’ll be sure to update on all the reactions!

  • I’m featuring these on my Fall Friday post. Thanks for sharing such fabulous looking treats! http://chicagocuisinecritique.blogspot.com/2010/10/fall-friday_22.html

  • these are gorgeous!! How do you get the spiderwebby effect??

  • Annie

    Concentric circles and a toothpick.

  • Sorry to sound a bit dumb here Annie – is it chocolate you’ve used for the circles? Thanks!!

  • Annie

    It helps to read all the comments. It’s black decorating gel.

  • Sorry – there are so many comments… anyway the cupcakes are gorgeous!

  • Wendy C

    We’ve made them twice in two weeks–yummy! I finally bought decorating gel in black and other colors and my five year old and I had fun making spiderwebs, too! They’re our “something pumpkin” for my daughter’s Halloween party!

  • Rosa

    I just made these tonight. These are so good! I’m taking them to work tomorrow for a pot luck. I know they’re going to be a hit. Thanks Annie :)

  • Wow, those look amazing! You should send in an entry for our Halloween cupcake contest while you still can!! http://www.partiesthatcook.com/pumpkin-spice-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-buttercream-frosting/

  • Izzy

    Hey all, do you think I can make this recipe with all purpose flour? I live in Spain and I cannot find cake flour! Thanks

  • Annie

    Sure, just Google for a substitution ratio.

  • Hi Annie, probably a dumb question but is a can of pumpkin puree the same as just canned pumpkin? Thanks for all your help, these sound so delicious!

  • Annie

    Yes, those are cans of pumpkin puree. Enjoy!

  • Mary K.

    Love your blog!! For this recipe, is the cream cheese at room temp?

  • Annie

    No, still cold.

  • Katrina

    I’ve made this recipe so many times and it never fails to amaze me. The other day I could not find pumpkin puree, but my friend did have a can of organic pumpkin. I felt a bit adventurous so I used it. Before I added the dry ingredients, the batter was extremely soupy (which worried me to the extreme), but after I added the dry ingredients it seemed a bit better. But after I baked them they looked so marvelous and moist that I knew that they were going to be delicious (which they were!). The only thing I would say is that I should have doubled the spices because the pumpkin does not have spices like the puree does. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Annie

    Actually, cans of pumpkin puree have no spice. That is pumpkin pie filling, which is not normally used in baking things like cupcakes, muffins, etc. (at least not any of my recipes). The spices are correct as is :) Organic pumpkin puree should be no different in consistency than regular pumpkin puree. It’s what I use and it is the same, just made from organic pumpkins.

  • These are adorable! What a perfect treat for Halloween for my little ones! Yes, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling are two very different things. Can you imagine attempting to put pumpkin pie filling in a savory recipe? Yikes.

    This recipe is marvelous and the decorations are absolutely perfect!

  • Eva

    Hi Annie!

    Would you mind telling me the weight of the 2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour in oz./gr.? I just want to make a batch of these delicious cupcakes for Halloween and I want them to be really perfect.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Annie

    Try Google for a conversion. Enjoy!

  • Eva

    As you may know, depending on the way the flour is measured, the weight of the cup is different (from 120 grams to 140 grams). I just wanted to know the exact amount you put in the cupcakes or the way you measure it.

    Thanks you for your patience.

  • Annie

    I measured by volume, so I don’t know the exact amount other than 2 2/3 cups. If I use a weight measure, I will list it.

  • Eva

    So how do you measure it then? Dip & sweep or spoon & level?
    Thanks again.

  • Annie

    Either way. I honestly don’t think it matters that much.

  • Karen

    I’m making these right now, only with some frozen squash I had in the freezer. And probly not the cream cheese frosting, since they are traveling to Door County with me this weekend, but I did add chocolate chips!!!

  • Joy

    How did you make such perfect purple icing? I’m assuming you started out with white frosting and colored it yourself.

  • Annie

    It’s cream cheese frosting with purple gel color.

  • Mike

    I used a 125g/cup and they came out great, so I 335g total flour.

  • I made these cupcakes and they were absolutely perfect!
    Im making them again for christmas, they are my favorite now :)
    I also made a couple other of your cupcakes and wrote about the recipes on my blog:


  • Do the cupcakes need to be refridgerated since the frosting is Cream Cheese?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks.

  • Sara C.

    I made these but topped them with a cinnamon chocolate frosting, they were to die for. A perfect way to change up a favorite fall cupcake! I found the frosting recipe here: http://inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com/2010/11/roasted-pumpkin-cupcakes-with-mexican.html Thought I’d share!

  • Russ

    I made these cupcakes earlier today for my coworker’s birthday (she let me know earlier that pumpkin is her favorite) and they were a hit!!! I don’t even like pumpkin, but I’m a fan now. Thanks Annie :-)

  • Miraje_85

    I made these cupcakes last week for my manager’s birthday. She loves pumpkin everything :). They were gone by noon. Thank you very much Annie for posting all these wonderful recipes.

  • Amanda

    How did you make the purple frosting? Do you have a tutorial on decorating the cupcakes?

  • annieseats

    Just made regular frosting and tinted it purple. No tutorial for these cupcakes since just looking at them pretty much tells you all you need to know. Enjoy!

  • Rachel Brown

    Would decreasing the sugar amount change how well the cupcakes turn out, texture- and density-wise?


  • annieseats

    Yes, it would.