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Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

These Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes are flavored with pumpkin puree and fall spices and are topped with pumpkin cream cheese frosting. Great for Halloween or Thanksgiving!

A chocolate pumpkin cupcake on a placemat.

Creating These Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes

They kids are always a little over-enthusiastic about baking cupcakes. I don’t know what it is about them that sends them into fits of giddiness.

For me, personally, I prefer cupcakes to layer cakes because I don’t have the patience to do a nice job (or if I’m being honest, even a decent job) at frosting all the layers without getting cake crumbs all over the thing, breaking one of the layers, or making the entire thing lopsided.

Cupcakes are just easier for me, especially now that I know how to properly frost one. It really is all in the tip.

These Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes are perfect for Halloween with the dark chocolate cake and the orange frosting, but they’d make a really good alternative Thanksgiving dessert as well.

I think my kids would much rather have a cupcake for Thanksgiving dessert than pie. I know Logan would for sure. All in all, these are great Thanksgiving or Halloween pumpkin cupcakes.

They don’t taste strongly of pumpkin, but there are those warming spices in the background, and the pumpkin certainly gives the cakes a nice moistness.

Ingredients in Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

This chocolate pumpkin spice cupcakes recipe has two parts: the cupcake base and the pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

To make the chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Spices
  • Buttermilk
  • Pure pumpkin puree
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs

To make the pumpkin cream cheese frosting, you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese
  • Unsalted butter
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Orange zest
  • Vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Orange food coloring (optional)

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

How to Make Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

These Halloween pumpkin cupcakes are so simple to make and require minimal prep work. Win!

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the buttermilk, remaining pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light.
  5. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.
  6. Divide the batter among 36 cupcake liners (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, top with pumpkin frosting.

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

Three chocolate pumpkin cupcakes on a cake stand, with one more cupcake resting before it on a place mat.

Storage and Freezing Instructions

Once frosted, the chocolate pumpkin cupcakes must be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll last up to 4 days, noting that they’ll dry out over time.

You can also freeze the cupcake bases and pumpkin frosting separately. When ready to enjoy, thaw the frosting overnight in the fridge and thaw the cupcake bases on the counter.

If freezing just the cupcake bases, seal them in a freezer bag up to 3 months. Check out my How to Freeze Muffins tutorial because you can use similar methods and some of the tips apply as well!

If storing after being frosted, seal them inside an airtight, freezer-safe container (make sure the lid doesn’t smash down the frosting!).

Can the Buttermilk Be Substituted?

If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, I recommend making your own buttermilk substitute. It takes just 5 minutes to make!

Tips for Making Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

  • If you really wanted to get creative you could decorate the tops to look like pumpkins. I am most definitely not that patient.
  • If you need to mix and match the spices, feel free to do so. I know not everyone has a pantry stocked with spices, so use what you have.
  • You must let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them, otherwise the frosting will melt off.

What Readers Are Saying

I’ve made these several times over the last two years and they are amazing, my whole family loves them!” — Michelle

Fabulous recipe….I’ve made these a couple of times and shared the recipe with friends. Everyone raved about them. Definite keeper!” — Kari

I love this recipe! Thanks for sharing this one. My nephews loved this one. I made this recipe a couple of days ago and my nieces and nephews enjoyed it! Thanks a lot!” — Rose Plated

I baked these cupcakes yesterday. They were amazing and there’s none left to be seen, smelled or eaten.” — Celia

More Easy Pumpkin Desserts:

This Pumpkin Pudding recipe is the perfect way to celebrate fall! It is easy to prepare, super creamy, and full of all your favorite fall spices. 

These Pumpkin No Bake Cheesecake Jars are so good and so easy! They feature yummy layers of gingersnap crust and no bake pumpkin cheesecake filling.

This Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Topping is our family’s tried and true pumpkin pie recipe that makes it onto the menu year after year.

Pumpkin Cookie Bars are easier to make than individual cookies, and they feed a crowd!

These Pumpkin Molasses Cookies are like little pumpkin pillows, with just a crunch of sugar on the outside. So good!

Be sure to check out these 25 Pumpkin Recipes to Try this Fall. So, if like me, you have a pumpkin hoarding problem you now have a very good excuse!

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Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Citrus Pumpkin Frosting

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Orange Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 36 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes

These Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes are perfect for Halloween with the dark chocolate cake and the orange frosting, but they’d make a really good alternative Thanksgiving dessert as well.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups good-quality cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 - 14.5 ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs

Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting

  • 1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree (reserved from the cake recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoons orange food coloring, optional

Instructions

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line the pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the batter: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom in a large bowl and set aside. Set 3 tablespoons of the pumpkin puree aside for the frosting. Combine the buttermilk, remaining pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.
  3. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean -- about 18-22 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 7 minutes. Remove cupcakes and cool.

For the Frosting:

  1. Blend the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin puree, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy -- about 3 more minutes.
  2. Add the food coloring and gently stir until the color is uniform. Chill the frosting until ready to ice the cupcakes. When cupcakes are cool, frost according to your preference. I used a Closed Star Giant Pastry Tip from Bake It Pretty in a disposable pastry bag.

Notes

Adapted from Country Living

I find that selecting a piping tip means cupcakes are super easy to frost beautifully compared to a layer cake!

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Nutrition Information
Yield 36 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 154Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 29mgSodium 126mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 1gSugar 21gProtein 3g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Michelle

Sunday 9th of November 2014

I've made these several times over the last two years and they are amazing, my whole family loves them! I'm making them again right now for my dads birthday :)

nicole

Wednesday 25th of January 2012

want to make half recipe...do you recommend 2 or 3 eggs?

Katie

Wednesday 25th of January 2012

I usually follow this tutorial in these situation: Kitchen Tip: How to Measure Partial Eggs.

laurie

Tuesday 25th of October 2011

Are these standard or mini cupcakes?

Katie

Tuesday 25th of October 2011

standard

Kari

Friday 31st of December 2010

Fabulous recipe....I've made these a couple of times and shared the recipe with friends. Everyone raved about them. Definite keeper!

Stephanie

Thursday 9th of December 2010

Katie! Its Stephanie- I just wanted to let you know that I ate sushi with some of my girlfriends and two of them had made these cupcakes and said they were DELISH! A bunch of my friends read your blog and jon and I spread the word all we can!

Katie

Thursday 9th of December 2010

Hi Stephanie! It is so great to hear from you. Thank you so much - it is always nice to hear things like this and I definitely appreciate all you and Jon do to spread the word. You guys are the best. I hope we can see you soon. Do you have Christmas plans? We would love if you two came our way sometime. :)

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