These Pumpkin Cupcakes with Butterscotch Frosting are my favorite pumpkin anything, ever, and they have been for the past 13 years.
This Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes Recipe is award winning delicious! They are wonderfully fluffy and moist infused with hints of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla and SO EASY starting with a spice cake mix!! And the easy Butterscotch Frosting is to live for!
Easy Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes Recipe
That might change one day, but for now, this is it for me. It all started with my college days when my roommate introduced these Pumpkin Cupcakes to me and would bake them every Fall for all of our neighbors – and all of our neighbors would swoon over their deliciousness and then demand the recipe. So a couple years ago when my work was having a blind “pumpkin eating recipe contest,” I knew just what to make.
These easy Pumpkin Cupcakes with cake mix won. And that was even pre-butterscotch frosting (I used a plain frosting at the time of the contest).
With the weight of representing to you how knockout crave worthy these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes are, I was really worried my frosting job would ruin it, because we eat first with our eyes – it’s a fact – and I’ve never frosted a cupcake with a decorative piping tip before in my life.
I had the photoshoot all set up on our living room table as Patrick and I each took turns frosting the Pumpkin Cupcakes with the piping bag, each attempting different techniques, bemoaning how awful our skills were….but somehow, in the end, we ended up with beautiful cupcakes. Even after Patrick saw the pictures, he said, “How did you pull that off?!”
Only with the help of an artistic husband. I’m pretty sure all the “best” Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes used in these shots are his. The man has skillz. And yes, he is super sweet to help me, but I think he really just wanted me to be done faster so he could sink his teeth into the soft cupcakes sooner. And I don’t blame him. Not one bit…
These winning Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Buttercotch Frosting are pillowy soft and super moist with a hint of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. I could eat the cupcakes plain all day and all night (and that would be why I sent them all with Patrick to take to work – I’d like to say I’m really that nice, but I really just have no self control when it comes to these enticing morsels).
And that can be a bad thing, especially considering how easy they are to make. All you do is beat spice cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, eggs, oil, and water together and somehow magic happens. Fluffy, golden magic…
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes Ingredients
I used a few shortcuts when making these easy pumpkin cupcakes, but these babies taste 100% homemade. Here’s what you’ll need to make the pumpkin spice cupcakes and butterscotch frosting:
- Duncan Hines Signature Spice Cake Mix: I’ve tested this recipe with other cake mix brands, and Duncan Hines is the best I’ve tried.
- Pumpkin puree: Not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling. Two totally different things!
- Vegetable oil: You can use another neutral oil, if desired.
- Vanilla instant pudding mix: Needs to be instant pudding, NOT cook and serve!
- Eggs: Make sure your eggs are room temperature before you add them to the batter.
- Cinnamon: Because extra cinnamon is always a win in my book.
- Butter: Needs to be at room temperature, otherwise the frosting won’t whip up properly.
- Brown sugar: I love the caramel-y flavor that brown sugar adds to the frosting.
- Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Heavy cream: Must be heavy cream, whole milk or another alternative won’t work as well.
- Salt: Helps balance out the sweetness of the frosting.
- Powdered sugar: Be sure to sift the powdered sugar before adding it to the frosting, otherwise you’ll end up with lumpy frosting.
- Milk: Just a a few splashes is all you’ll need to create the perfect creamy frosting!
How to Make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- Add the Spice Cake Mix, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, cinnamon and water to the bowl of your electric mixer and beat on low speed until just moistened (to prevent air bubbles) then increase speed to medium and beat for two minutes, scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed.
- Divide batter evenly among 24 greased muffin cups (about two-thirds full) and bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
How easy is that?! Now it’s time for the best Pumpkin Cupcake Frosting.
How to Make Butterscotch Frosting
This Butterscotch Frosting is every bit as deadly delicious as it sounds – but easier to make than it sounds. Simply melt butter and brown sugar in a pan, bring to a boil, and stir in milk, vanilla and cinnamon. After the butterscotch cools for 20 minutes, beat in the powdered sugar and you have fluffy, sweet, butterscothy frosting. Here are the details:
- While your Pumpkin Cupcakes are baking, prepare frosting by melting butter over medium low heat. Stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Stir in heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and return to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly then remove pan from heat and cool until lukewarm, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer butterscotch to the bowl of your electric mixer and add 1 tablespoon milk and powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add 1 more tablespoon milk and beat until smooth, adding additional milk a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency (additional milk will depend on how much your butterscotch has thickened as its cooled – I use 2 tablespoons milk total). Note this frosting is smooth and silky, not light and fluffy.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with sea salt.
Tips for the Best Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Use Pumpkin Puree. Take care you are using pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling because they are not the same thing. Pumpkin puree is cooked and pureed pumpkin without any added sugar or spices. Pumpkin Pie filling, however, is sweetened and seasoned with Fall spices.
- Add ins. Feel free to add chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, pecans or dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, etc. to your Pumpkin Cupcakes although I think thy are perfect in their simplicity.
- Duncan Hines. *I have tried other Signature Spice Mixes and the cupcakes are not the same! I strongly recommend the Duncan Hines brand.
- Pudding Mix. Take care you purchase the INSTANT pudding mix and not the cook and serve. Also take care to purchase the correct size.
- Frosting. I love these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Butterscotch Frosting but you can also use your favorite cream cheese frosting or even store bought.
Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Variations to TRy
- Chocolate chips: I always add chocolate chips to my pumpkin muffins because chocolate and pumpkin belong together. I bet chocolate chips would also be divine in this pumpkin cupcakes with cake mix recipe.
- Walnuts or Pecans: Nuts add a delectable crunch.
- Seeds: You can add seeds such as pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds directly to the batter.
- Dried fruit: Raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots – whatever your favorite dried fruit is, would be delicious!
- Coconut: Sweetened, toasted coconut flakes would be delish folded into the batter.
HOW TO STORE PUMPKIN Spice CUPCAKES
Leftover cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving or I like to microwave mine for 10 seconds or so for warm pillowy goodness – like SO good!
HOW TO FREEZE PUMPKIN Cupcakes
- Cool cupcakes completely.
- Freeze Pumpkin Cupcakes in the muffin tin until solid, approximately 1-2 hours.
- Wrap cupcakes individually in plastic wrap then place all cupcakes in a freezer safe container or freezer bag, taking care to remove excess air.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
HOW TO THAW PUMPKIN cupcakes
- Thaw on Counter (best for cupcakes with frosting): Place Pumpkin Cupcakes on the counter and thaw overnight. I then like to microwave my muffins for 10 seconds or so.
- Microwave from frozen (best for non-frosted cupcakes): Place a frozen Pumpkin Cupcake in the microwave and heat at 30 second intervals until warmed.
- Bake from frozen (this will only work with non-frosted cupcakes): Unwrap Cupcakes and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Frost per directions.
Award winning Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Butterscotch Frosting Recipe. Mouthwatering delicious no matter how you frost them.
Looking for More Pumpkin Desserts?
- Pumpkin Bars with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
- Easy Pumpkin Dip
- Pumpkin Praline Pie
- Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Bread
- Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookie with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pound Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze
- Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Pumpkin Bundt Cake
LOOKING FOR MORE FALL DESSERT RECIPES?
- Mini S’mores Molten Lava Pies
- Mini Caramel Apple Pies with Sugar Cookie Crust
- Apple Pie Pancake Bowls
- German Chocolate Cake Cupcakes
- Toffee Pecan Caramel Pound Cake
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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Butterscotch Frosting
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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- 1 Standard Duncan Hines Signature Spice Cake Mix*
- 1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup Vegetable oil
- 1 5.1 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- Add all of the Cupcake ingredients to the bowl of your electric mixer and beat on low speed until just moistened (to prevent air bubbles) then increase speed to medium and beat for two minutes, scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed.
- Divide batter evenly among 24 greased muffin cups (about two-thirds full) and bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare frosting by melting butter over medium low heat. Stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and return to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly then remove pan from heat and cool until lukewarm, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer butterscotch to the bowl of your electric mixer and add 1 tablespoon milk and powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add 1 more tablespoon milk and beat until smooth, adding additional milk a little at a time if needed to reach desired consistency (additional milk will depend on how much your butterscotch has thickened as its cooled - I use 2 tablespoons milk total). Note this frosting is smooth and silky, not light and fluffy.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with sea salt.
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Cupcake recipe from roommate April, frosting Carlsbad Cravings Original