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A pumpkin cupcake, with the wrapper unwrapped, on a white plate.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Moist and fluffy pumpkin spice cupcakes, with sweet cream cheese buttercream.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 38 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cupcakes


  • Muffin Pan
  • Stand Mixer



  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg


  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 ½ - 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp meringue powder
  • tsp coarse Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or cream, only if needed



  • Preheat the oven to 350, and line two standard muffin pans with 24 paper liners.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the water has evaporated, and the butter is forming nutty, fragrant golden brown solids at the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk in the browned butter.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk for about 30 seconds until smooth.
  • Use a level cupcake scoop / ice cream scoop to portion the batter into the pans, being careful not to overfill them. You should have enough batter for 24 cupcakes, and may have enough batter for 1-2 extra cupcakes. It's better to bake 2 more cupcakes, or just throw out the extra batter, than to overfill the cups. (Overfilling cupcakes will lead to edges that spill over and create muffin tops, which aren't desirable on cupcakes.)
  • Set the pans on a wire cooling rack, and cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan, and set on the cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter for one minute.
  • With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder, salt and vanilla. Increase speed to medium, and whip for 3-4 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy. Only add the milk or cream if needed for desired consistency, but you don't want to add much liquid to cream cheese buttercream, or it will become too soft to hold its shape when piped onto cupcakes.
  • Fit a piping bag with tip 1M, and fill with the buttercream. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, and sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.


Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Bring to room temperature for serving.
Keyword Cream Cheese Frosting, Cupcakes, High Altitude, Pumpkin