Not a fan of pie? Put a fun twist on Thanksgiving dessert with these Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes! Decorate your small batch cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or pipe with whipped cream to look like mini pies.

Pumpkin Cupcakes on a cake stand

Want to hear something funny about Thanksgiving? I’m not allowed to make dessert.

Me, the award-winning baker, cannot make nor suggest anything else other than pumpkin pie.

Dad always makes the pie. He gets so excited too. The week before, he’ll “test” his recipe (the one he’s been using for the past how many years now) by making two pies.

Then the night before Thanksgiving, he will make another two pies – one to eat Wednesday night and one to eat for Thanksgiving.

I always ask why he just doesn’t make a small pumpkin pie.

“But that’s what the recipe says.” “Cut it in half.” “Nah, we’ll eat both pies.”

Disappointed, I made Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes for my own satisfaction. Deliciously moist small batch pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

It’s based off of my small pumpkin cake recipe. Both recipes are the ideal size for your Thanksgiving For Two.

Now depending on how skilled you are, you can frost your pumpkin pie cupcake recipe normally with small batch cream cheese frosting OR you can go all out and decorate them like mini pies.

Either way, these pumpkin spice cupcakes will make you forget why you liked pie in the first place.

Close up of pumpkin cupcake

Ingredients For Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

To make your pumpkin pie cupcake recipe, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour: Since most people don’t have cake flour in their pantry, I used all-purpose flour. Make sure you’re spooning it into your cup and not packing it into your cup. Learn how to measure flour from My Baking Addiction.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: Leavening agents that helps the cupcakes rise. Yes, you will need both types.
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger: Spices commonly found in pumpkin desserts.
  • Salt: Enhances the other flavors so you’re not stuck with bland cupcakes
  • Canned pumpkin puree: Make sure the can says puree and not pumpkin pie filling. You want it as plain as possible.
  • Vegetable oil: Using vegetable oil not only makes the cupcakes moist, it won’t mask the other flavors.
  • Granulated sugar: Sweetens the cake batter
  • Brown sugar: Using brown sugar in addition with white helps make the batter more moist.
  • Egg: Use 1 large egg at room temperature
  • Vanilla: Brings out the flavors of the other ingredients

How To Make Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

The pumpkin cupcake batter is really easy to make because it uses vegetable oil instead of softened butter, meaning you don’t have to worry about waiting for the butter to come to room temperature.

For the best pumpkin cupcakes, beat together your pumpkin, oil, both sugars, egg, and vanilla. Then gradually add your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.

Once the batter is made, transfer it to 6 cupcake liners and bake at 350F for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

How much batter do you use per cupcake?

I’ve seen recipes saying to fill the liners 2/3 or 3/4 full. Truth is I can’t tell the difference between the two amounts when I fill them. It’s…more than half.

All I know is you want to not fill the liners completely full or they will rise too much and overflow.

Likewise you don’t want to not fill them enough. Otherwise, your cupcakes will be shorter than your liner.

Best way to fill the cupcakes is to put one scoop of batter in each of the 6 liners then divide the remaining batter into each of the cupcakes again.

This should also help evenly distribute the batter. I hate when the first cupcake is all nice and full but then you’re struggling to fill the last one.

Three pumpkin cupcakes on a plate

How do you make pumpkin pie cupcakes moist?

These pumpkin spice cupcakes stay incredibly moist thanks to the vegetable oil, brown sugar, and pumpkin.

The best oil to use in pumpkin cake is either vegetable or canola, which are both neutral oils. That means you won’t taste the flavor in your cake batter.

Olive oil has a distinct taste, which would affect how your cupcakes will taste.

Can I use butter instead of oil in pumpkin pie cupcakes?

Don’t have vegetable oil? Use an equal amount of melted butter.

Pumpkin Cupcake with paper liner peeled off

What frosting goes with pumpkin cupcakes?

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting is the most traditional pairing. I used my cream cheese frosting, which makes enough for your 6 cupcakes without leftovers.

Not a fan of cream cheese? Check out my other small batch frosting recipes.

You can also make homemade whipped cream to give these small batch pumpkin cupcakes more of a pie taste.

Pumpkin cupcake decorated to look like a pie

How To Decorate Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Want to get a little more creative with your decorating?

When I first made these pumpkin pie cupcakes, I decorated them with whipped cream to look like mini pumpkin pies.

It was definitely a learning curve.

First, the color. I had brown food coloring, so I kept adding a few drops. And a few drops. And a few more drops. Man it took a lot of drops to get the shade that I got.

Although it isn’t the perfect shade of pie crust, I think it got the point across.

Next was the actual piping. I experimented with so many tips, I lost track.

I finally settled on the basket weave tip (which is weird because it only pipes one way, so you have to physically turn the cupcake as you pipe).

I piped, realized how horrible they looked, scraped off the frosting, and kept trying until satisfied.

Three pumpkin cupcakes on a plate

How To Store Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Store unfrosted pumpkin cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.

Store cupcakes frosted with cream cheese in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let the cake sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before serving.

If using whipped cream, store decorated cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days as the whipped cream will weep (deflate) after that.

Can you freeze pumpkin cupcakes?

You can freeze unfrosted pumpkin cupcakes for up to 6 months. Wrap it in plastic wrap first then place in a freezer bag.

Collage of pumpkin pie cupcakes

What To Do With Leftover Canned Pumpkin

Because you won’t use a whole can of pumpkin, you’ll have extra pumpkin. Check out my other easy pumpkin recipes to use up your leftover canned pumpkin.

If you want more pumpkin desserts for two, I recommend my Mini Deep Dish Pumpkin Pies, Eggless Pumpkin Pie in ramekins, and Pumpkin Bread Mini Loaves.

Overhead shot of pumpkin pie cupcake

More Small Batch Cupcake Recipes

Looking for more cupcake recipes to bake? Check out these recipes for small batch cupcakes:

For a full list of recipes, check out my Small Batch Cupcake Recipes guide.

Don’t want to make cupcakes? Check out my full list of 6 Inch Cake Recipes.

Items You May Need (affiliate links):

Three pumpkin cupcakes on a plate

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Yield: 6 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Put a fun twist on Thanksgiving dessert with these Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes! Decorate with cream cheese frosting or with whipped cream to look like mini pies.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting (Choose One)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with 6 paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, beat together the pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, sugar, egg, and vanilla.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Mix together until incorporated.
  5. Transfer the batter to the cupcake liners, filling about halfway full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle is clean. Cool for about 15 minutes then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  6. Once cool, decorate with frosting of choice.

    If using cream cheese frosting, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let them sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before serving to get rid of the chill.

    If using whipped cream, store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days as the whipped cream will start to deflate.

    If using buttercream, store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Decorate Like Mini Pies

  1. After making the whipped cream, take a little bit of whipped cream and pipe a white star into the middle of each cupcake using a star tip.
  2. With the remaining whipped cream, beat in the food coloring, adding only a few drops at a time until the desired shade of brown is reached. Pipe a pie crust onto each cupcake using a basket weave tip.


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Originally published November 13, 2012