PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES

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These fluffy pumpkin spice cupcakes boast a luscious, vanilla-espresso frosting. The aroma and fall flavor is irresistible! Served at trendy coffee houses during autumn, they’re known as pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.

PIN PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES

Five pumpkin Spice Cupcakes on a dessert table with a glass bottle of milk.

Here in the USA, once tree leaves turn colors and the weather gets brisk, we’re all about pumpkin pie spice everything, and espresso-flavored desserts. Just look at Instagram. We share these festive images like crazy!

We love heading to coffee houses or trendy bakeries to meet up with friends. We order seasonal treats like pumpkin spice latte cupcakes. We pair them with warm cozy beverages like espresso or pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

But now that we’re staying home more, going out less, we’re rediscovering the joy of baking. This recipe for pumpkin spice cupcakes rivals those from established neighborhood bakeries or your favorite corner coffee shop.

When I make these special bakery desserts I’ll usually double the recipe. I freeze half for a rainy day, and share the rest with family and friends.

A pumpkin spice latte cupcake unwrapped on a plate with a bite taken out.

INGREDIENTS

It’s easy to make a dozen pumpkin spice latte cupcakes with basic refrigerator and pantry staples. You might already have all the ingredients you need just sitting in the cupboard!

CUPCAKE BATTER

  • All-purpose flour
  • Light-brown sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Instant espresso powder
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Sea salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Whole milk
  • Strong coffee or espresso
  • Large eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for making pumpkin spice cupcakes from scratch.

VANILLA ESPRESSO FROSTING

  • Butter
  • Instant espresso powder
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • Sea salt
  • OPTIONAL GARNISH: Ground cinnamon

easy ingredient substitutions

Missing an ingredient for these pumpkin spice cupcakes? Don’t put on your shoes and head to the market. Instead, head to your fridge or pantry. Check for these easy ingredient swaps.

It’s convenient and money-saving to use ingredients you already have on hand!

  • ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: Either pastry flour or cake flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute for this cupcake recipe.
  • LIGHT-BROWN SUGAR: Use dark brown sugar or granulated sugar.
  • VEGETABLE OIL: This ingredient adds moisture, richness and makes them lofty. The best 1:1 subs are safflower oil and canola oil. They won’t change the flavor of the tiramisu cupcakes.
  • PUMPKIN PIE SPICE: This classic fall spice adds warmth and aroma. Use ground cinnamon plus a pinch of nutmeg and tinier pinches of ground ginger and ground cloves.
  • WHOLE MILK: This ingredient helps keep the cupcakes moist. If needed, use 2% milk instead of whole. If you have heavy cream on hand, use 60% cream to 40% water. Or try dairy-free vanilla milk.
  • PURE VANILLA EXTRACT: This ingredient enhances the espresso flavor. Sub with bourbon, brandy or amber rum.
  • BUTTER: This ingredient gives frosting structure. The best substitutes are vegetable shortening or margarine.
  • POWDER SUGAR: Make your own powdered sugar from granulated sugar. Process sugar in a blender or food processor until fine and fluffy. One cup granulated sugar yields about 2 cups powdered sugar.

BEST BAKEWARE FOR THIS RECIPE

For bakery-style cupcakes, I pull out my 12-well cupcake pan by USA Pan. This heavy-duty piece has ridged surfaces which increase air flow for even baking and browning. It’s what I count on for picture-perfect desserts.

Grab a set of 2 through the Amazon affiliate link below.

To cool cupcakes quickly, I use a handy cooling rack set. It allows good air flow around the desserts while providing easy handling. I slip the tray of cupcakes into the fridge to cool for 30 minutes before icing.

Grab a cooling rack set through the Amazon affiliate link below.

RECIPE STEPS

ASSEMBLE CUPCAKE BATTER

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-well cupcake pan with parchment-paper cupcake wrappers.

  • STEP 1: In a large batter bowl, combine dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, light brown sugar, baking powder, sea salt, instant espresso powder, and pumpkin pie spice.
  • STEP 2: In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients: vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of coffee (espresso), eggs and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
  • STEP 3: Mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix or the cupcakes will be flat instead of light and fluffy.
  • STEP 4: Divide the batter between the 12 wells of prepared cupcake pan. Fill each 3/4 full. If you have one, use a cookie scoop. Bake pumpkin spice cupcakes for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of 2 cupcakes comes out clean. Remove pan from oven.
How to make pumpkin spice cupcakes in 4 easy steps.

POKE, DRIZZLE AND COOL CUPCAKES

  • STEP 1: Transfer cupcakes to a metal rack positioned over a baking tray.
  • STEP 2: With a fork, poke a few holes in the top of each cupcake.
  • STEP 3: Using the remaining 1/4 cup espresso, drizzle 1 teaspoon coffee over the top of each cupcake.
  • STEP 4: Cool cupcakes on the counter 1 hour before frosting. Or speed up the process: cool them in the fridge for 30 minutes.

MAKE VANILLA ESPRESSO FROSTING

  • STEP 1: Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • STEP 2: Turn speed to low. Add vanilla, espresso powder and pumpkin pie spice. Blend to combine. Add powdered sugar slowly.
  • STEP 3: Once sugar is fully incorporated, increase speed to high. Beat a full 2 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy. Do a taste test. If frosting is too sweet add a tiny pinch of salt. For my taste: 1/16 teaspoon is perfect.
  • STEP 4: Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a metal tip. Here I used a Wilton 2A. Pipe on icing in beautiful swirls. If desired, garnish with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

KITCHEN TIP: When adding powdered sugar to the bowl of the stand mixer, prevent an explosion of sugar everywhere by using a plastic pouring shield or a clean dishcloth draped over the mixer and bowl.

Freshly frosted pumpkin spice cupcakes on a metal rack.

recipe faq

These are the most commonly-asked questions when making pumpkin spice latte cupcakes. Included are the most helpful answers for recipe success with this coffee-house-style dessert.

WHERE TO FIND ESPRESSO POWDER?

At the market, look for a small jar of instant espresso powder by the instant coffee. You may also find it in the baked goods aisle as it’s used for enhancing the flavor of chocolate in dessert recipes like tiramisu.

HOW TO BRING EGGS TO ROOM TEMPERATURE?

Fill a bowl (a stainless steel bowl retains heat better) with warm (not hot) water. Submerge eggs in the water 10 to 15 minutes until no longer chilled. Another option: let eggs sit out on the countertop for 30 minutes, but not longer than 1 hour. Room temperature eggs will mix more evenly in the cupcake batter.

HOW TO MEASURE FLOUR FOR FLUFFY CUPCAKES?

Too much flour results in dense cupcakes. For fluffy desserts, use this easy method. With a spoon, FLUFF up the flour inside the container. SPRINKLE flour into the measuring cup by the spoonful. LEVEL off flour in the measuring cup with a knife.

HOW TO FROST CUPCAKES WITHOUT A PIPING BAG OR METAL TIP?

Scoop frosting into a thick zip-top kitchen bag. With scissors, snip off a tiny piece of one corner. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.

MORE IDEAS FOR GARNISHING PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES?

Mix turbinado sugar with ground cinnamon and finely-minced candied ginger. Or try topping the cupcakes with a drizzle of caramel. But for this option, use more powdered sugar in the frosting to make it stiffer. We want it to support the weight of the caramel without slumping.

HOW LONG DO CUPCAKES LAST?

For the best flavor and texture, the general rule is to enjoy them fresh on the day they’re baked, or within 24 hours. But at room temperature, cupcakes (frosted or unfrosted) can last up to 2 days.

HOW TO STORE CUPCAKES?

Store completely-cooled cupcakes (steam can make them soggy) in an airtight container. It’ll keep the cupcakes from drying out and protect them from contamination. On hot sunny days, store them in the fridge. Bring them back to room temperature just before serving.

CAN THESE DESSERTS BE FROZEN?

Yes, these cupcakes can be frozen without frosting. Freeze for up to 1 month. When ready to enjoy, defrost on the countertop overnight. Assemble the frosting and pipe it on.

Swirls of vanilla espresso frosting on freshly-iced pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.

more fall DESSERT recipes

If you enjoy pumpkin spice cupcakes, you’ll also love these beautiful bakery-style desserts. They’re a wonderful way to celebrate fall, and embrace the aromas and flavors of the season. Add them to your recipe collection.

Five pumpkin spice cupcake with swirls of vanilla espresso frosting on a dessert table.

rate this recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Friends who’ve made and enjoyed these desserts have shared with me how much they adore these pumpkin spice cupcakes.

For many, they’ve become a much-anticipated fall tradition. As soon as autumn arrives, they bake these cupcakes to welcome the season.

If you too enjoyed these aromatic coffee-house desserts, give them a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero! Share it with a friend.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com
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Pumpkin spice latte cupcake with espresso frosting on a mini plate.

PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES


  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Total Time: 35 Minutes
  • Yield: 12 Servings 1x

Description

These pumpkin spice cupcakes are light and tender with the perfect crumb. They feature delicious swirls of fluffy vanilla-espresso frosting. These fall treats rival those from the best bakery in town.


Ingredients

Scale

CUPCAKE BATTER

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly-packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup espresso (or strong coffee), divided
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

VANILLA ESPRESSO FROSTING

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • Sea salt, to taste

GARNISH

  • Ground cinnamon, as desired

Instructions

CUPCAKE BATTER

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-well cupcake pan with parchment-paper cupcake wrappers. 

  1. In a large batter bowl, combine dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, light brown sugar, baking powder, sea salt, instant espresso powder, and pumpkin pie spice. 
  2. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients: vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of coffee (espresso), eggs and vanilla extract. 
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix or cupcakes will be flat instead of fluffy.
  4. Divide the batter between the 12 wells of prepared cupcake pan. Fill each 3/4 full. If you have one, use a cookie scoop. Bake cupcakes 14 to 16 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of 2 cupcakes comes out clean. 

POKE, DRIZZLE AND COOL

  1. Transfer cupcakes to a metal rack positioned over a baking tray. With a fork, poke a few holes in the top of each cupcake. With remaining 1/4 cup espresso, drizzle 1 teaspoon coffee over the top of each cupcake.
  2. Cool cupcakes on the counter 1 hour before frosting. Or speed up the process: cool them in the fridge for 30 minutes.

VANILLA ESPRESSO FROSTING

  1. Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Turn speed to low. Add vanilla, espresso powder and pumpkin pie spice. Blend to combine. Add powdered sugar slowly.
  2. Once sugar is fully incorporated, increase speed to high. Beat a full 2 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy. Do a taste test. If frosting is too sweet add a tiny pinch of salt. For my taste: 1/16 teaspoon is perfect.
  3. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a metal tip. I recommend a Wilton 2A. Pipe on icing in beautiful swirls. If desired, garnish with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Notes

MORE IDEAS FOR GARNISHING: Mix turbinado sugar with ground cinnamon and finely-minced candied ginger. Or try topping the cupcakes with a drizzle of caramel. But for this option, use more powdered sugar in the frosting to make it stiffer. We want it to support the weight of the caramel without slumping. 

HOW LONG DO CUPCAKES LAST? The general rule is to enjoy them fresh on the day they’re baked, or within 24 hours. But stored in an air-tight container at room temperature, cupcakes can last up to 2 days.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes, Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

pumpkin spice cupcakes > join the conversation

Do you enjoy baking and eating seasonal desserts? What do you think of this recipe for pumpkin spice latte cupcakes? Will you bake one dozen or two? Join the conversation! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

5 thoughts on “PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES”

  1. checked these off my list of recipes to bake! they were so delicious, I could have eaten them all by myself. but I didn’t. I shared!

    Reply
  2. Pumpkin spice cupcakes are some of my favourite things to eat, and yours don’t disappoint! I know this will be on my regular rotation this fall. Thank you so much for the recipe :)

    Reply
  3. These cupcakes sound very yummy and very delicious! Beyond excited to make these especially since we love pumpkin! My kids and husband are going to just love these cupcakes.

    Reply

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