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Chocolate Pumpkin Thanksgiving Cupcakes

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Celebrate the season with chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes. They’re crowned with gorgeous swirls of rich chocolate buttercream frosting. These decadent bakery-style treats are quick and easy to make.

PIN THANKSGIVING CUPCAKES

Chocolate pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting on a decorated Friendsgiving dessert table with milk.

Fluffy, tender and moist, these special Thanksgiving cupcakes are a joy to make and serve all season long. They bring happy smiles, and fill the heart with warm comforting feelings of love, friendship and gratitude.

Three chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and decorative pumpkin cupcake toppers.

Because they’re easy to transport, these hand-held desserts are ideal for Thanksgiving potlucks and gatherings. You can pack the frosted treats in a cupcake carrier, or bring unfrosted cupcakes with the icing ready to go in a piping bag with metal tip. Both are great easy options!

Two pumpkin chocolate cupcakes on a metal tray with a bottle of milk in the background.

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes are super easy to make with everyday ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need for the batter and frosting.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
  • Baking powder
  • Sea salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Whole milk
  • Canned pumpkin puree
  • Vegetable oil
  • Large eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for chocolate pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Sea salt

OPTIONAL DECORATIONS: Plastic pumpkin cupcake toppers. Find these in the fall decor section or baking section of your local craft store. A variety of beautiful cupcake toppers with wooden picks can also be found online.

Ingredients for chocolate buttercream frosting.

EASY INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS

Missing an ingredient for these chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving 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! Especially during stay-at-home times.

  • ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: Either pastry flour or cake flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute for this cupcake recipe. Just know, cake flour can make the surface of the cupcakes more tacky/sticky by the second day.
  • GRANULATED SUGAR: Just use light brown sugar for this recipe.
  • DUTCH PROCESS COCOA POWDER: Use unsweetened natural cocoa powder paired with baking soda instead of baking powder. Sub 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for 1 teaspoon baking powder.
  • GROUND CINNAMON: Sub with apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice.
  • WHOLE MILK: This ingredient helps keep 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.
  • VEGETABLE OIL: This ingredient adds moisture, richness and makes cupcakes lofty. The best 1:1 subs are safflower oil and canola oil. These neutral-tasting oils won’t affect the flavor of the recipe.
  • PURE VANILLA EXTRACT: Sub this delicious flavor enhancer with bourbon, brandy or amber rum. Or sub with vanilla bean paste 1:1.
  • BUTTER: This ingredient gives frosting structure. The best substitutes are vegetable shortening or margarine. For the filling, use 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.
  • SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Use your favorite high-quality chocolate baking bar. I prefer the Ghirardelli brand, but you can also use Baker’s premium baking bars.
A pumpkin chocolate Thanksgiving cupcake unwrapped with a bite taken out.

recipe steps

There’s no need for a stand-mixer for this Thanksgiving cupcakes recipe. All that’s needed: 2 mixing bowls, 1 whisk and 1 rubber spatula.

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners.

  • STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • STEP 2: In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix, or the cupcakes will be flat and dense rather than light and fluffy!
  • STEP 3: Evenly divide the batter between the wells of the pan, filling each 3/4 of the way full.
  • STEP 4: Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of 2 cupcakes comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. We don’t want to over-bake the cupcakes.
How to make chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes from scratch in 4 easy steps.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

EQUIPMENT: Although a stand mixer is helpful, you can easily make the frosting in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer.

  • STEP 1: Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  • STEP 2: With mixer on low, slowly add powdered sugar the bowl. Once it’s been fully incorporated, add melted chocolate that’s been fully cooled (so it won’t melt the butter) and vanilla. Mix until just combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as needed.
  • STEP 3: Turn the mixer to medium-high speed. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  • STEP 4: Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorating tip. Pipe on frosting in swirls. For these cupcakes I used a Wilton 1M metal tip. Find instructions below on how to pipe on frosting for a beautiful bakery-style look.

KITCHEN TIP: To keep your work area clean, drape a lint-free towel over the stand mixer before adding powdered sugar to the bowl. It will protect your countertop from a sugar dust cloud. Always start mixing on low speed.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in a stainless steel mixing bowl.

HOW TO PIPE FROSTING ON CUPCAKES

For beautiful bakery-style desserts, here’s how to pipe the chocolate buttercream frosting onto the surface of your Thanksgiving cupcakes.

  1. Hold piping bag fitted with a metal decorating tip straight up, 1/2 inch from surface of the cake. Squeeze bag to form the center of the swirl.
  2. Maintaining even pressure, lift the tip up a bit, and move it slightly to the side. Pipe the icing in a circular motion (like writing the letter “C”) until it connects with the center swirl.
  3. Move the tip slightly inward for the next level, and repeat the spiraling until the desired height is reached.
  4. End frosting spiral at the center. Stop squeezing the piping bag. Then pull the tip straight up and cleanly away.
One dozen Thanksgiving cupcakes on a metal cooling rack.

RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly asked questions when making chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

WHY ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS?

Refrigerated ingredients should be at room temperature before assembling the recipe so the cupcake batter will blend together easily. We don’t want it over-mixed. And when making the frosting, room temperature ingredients help the frosting whip up evenly.

WHY FILL CUPCAKE LINERS ONLY 3/4 FULL, NOT TO THE TOP?

If cupcake liners are filled to the top, as the batter rises in the oven it won’t have “guardrails” to support the rise and give it structure. The centers of the cupcakes will sink, and the edges will expand like a mushroom. For bakery-style cupcakes, fill the liners just 3/4 full.

HOW TO EVENLY PORTION CUPCAKE BATTER?

Use a metal scoop or a metal 1/4 measuring cup.

HOW TO MAKE MINI THANKSGIVING CUPCAKES?

Line a mini pan for muffins with parchment-paper liners. Fill the wells of the pan 1/2 full. Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350°F.

HOW TO STORE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES?

Store these cupcakes at room temperature inside an air-tight container. They’ll stay fresh up to 2 days.

CAN CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES BE FROZEN?

Yes. Freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge overnight. Bring the treats to room temperature before frosting.

CAN THANKSGIVING CUPCAKES BE MADE IN ADVANCE?

Yes. You can prep this dessert recipe 1 day in advance. Keep the cupcakes covered in a tall plastic container with snap-on lid. Store at room temperature. When ready to enjoy, pipe on the frosting 1 hour before serving so the icing can set.

HOW TO MAKE THIS A HALLOWEEN RECIPE?

It’s easy to do! Instead of mini pumpkins on the cupcakes, use spooky Halloween cupcake toppers. Look for ghosts, witches, bats and skulls.

Three chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting and pumpkin cupcake toppers.

MORE FALL CUPCAKE RECIPES

If you love these chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes, you’ll also enjoy these super-delicious fall cupcakes. Each is a family favorite and a real crowd pleaser. Print the recipes for later, or pin them to Pinterest.

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Most everyone loves chocolate! Paired with pumpkin puree and other tasty ingredients, these Thanksgiving cupcakes are a huge hit at the dessert table.

If you too enjoyed these fall-flavored cupcakes, 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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Chocolate pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting on a decorated Friendsgiving dessert table with milk.

Thanksgiving Cupcakes


Description

Chocolate-pumpkin Thanksgiving cupcakes are tender and delicious. They’re crowned with a decadent chocolate buttercream frosting. They deserve a place on your Thanksgiving dessert table!


Ingredients

Scale

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt, to taste

DECORATIONS: Find pumpkin cupcake toppers at your local craft store. Check the baking aisle and/or the fall decor aisle. 


Instructions

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Don’t over-mix, or the cupcakes will be flat and dense rather than light and fluffy!
  3. Evenly divide the batter between the wells of the pan, filling each 3/4 of the way full. 
  4. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of 2 cupcakes comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. We don’t want to over-bake the cupcakes. 

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

  1. Add softened butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  2. With mixer on low, slowly add powdered sugar the bowl. Once it’s been fully incorporated, add melted chocolate that’s been fully cooled, and vanilla. Mix until just combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as needed.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M metal tip. Pipe on frosting in swirls. Decorate with fall-themed cupcake toppers. 

Notes

HOW TO EVENLY PORTION CUPCAKE BATTER: Use a metal scoop or a metal 1/4 measuring cup.

HOW TO STORE CUPCAKES: Store at room temperature inside an air-tight container. They’ll stay fresh up to 2 days.

  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Thanksgiving Cupcakes, Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

THANKSGIVING CUPCAKES > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

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