Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes topped with the most decadent cream cheese frosting. Loaded with fiber and other nutrients, this vegan cupcake recipe takes only 30 minutes to make.
Imagine the perfect cupcake. Sweet, moist, the perfect texture. The frosting, a bit tart, a bit sweet, melts in your mouth the minute you take a bite. All these things achieved with healthy, plant-based ingredients. Guess what? You have a great imagination! You’ve just described my very best Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes.
Why Make This Recipe?
I think you’ll love this recipe because it’s:
- nutrient-friendly – according to registered dietician Maggie Michalczyk, author of The Great Big Pumpkin Cookbook, pumpkin is a great addition to your food all year long. In fact, adding pumpkin purée to things like soup, chili, casseroles, breads and muffins increases their nutritional benefit. To learn more about the nutritional benefits of pumpkin, read 8 Health Benefits of Pumpkin filled with expert tips and advice.
- quick and easy – recipe takes only 30 minutes to prepare.
- dietary restriction-friendly – suitable for all diets, including vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free (when using gluten-free flour).
- ingredient-friendly – of the 16 ingredients that make up this recipe, many are probably already in your pantry.
- budget-friendly – recipe costs less than $15 to make.
- equipment-friendly – most of this equipment you’ll already have in your home, including two mixing bowls, one or two muffin tins, my favorite natural cupcake liners, a BPA-free, silicone spatula, a hand mixer and spoon like my favorite wooden one.
What You’ll Need for Cupcakes
What You’ll Need for Frosting
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- flour – use gluten-free if gluten-intolerant.
- pumpkin puree – be sure to choose 100% pumpkin puree, which you may have trouble finding in the store. Most importantly, DO NOT use pumpkin pie filling which contains added sugar.
- cream of tartar – this is used to thicken the frosting. On the other hand, xanthun gum is an even better thickener for this recipe, but it’s often difficult to find. If using cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon is not doing the job, add up to another teaspoon, a little at a time until the frosting firms up. TIP: for best results, refrigerate frosting for 3-4 hours before frosting cupcakes, otherwise, it won’t be firm enough and your frosting will wilt.
How to Make this Recipe
Step 1 – to a large bowl, add oil, sugars, pumpkin and vanilla.
Step 2 – using a hand mixer or spatula, mix until thoroughly blended.
Step 3 – add almond milk.
Step 4 – mix well with spatula.
Step 5 – in a separate bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and sea salt.
Step 6 – mix thoroughly.
Step 7 – add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture.
Step 8 – stir well with spatula.
Step 9 – using a ice cream scoop or ladle, scoop batter into lined muffin tin. Be sure to leave a little room at the top for the batter to expand during the baking process. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius) for 11-24 minutes, depending upon your oven, or until a toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean.
Step 10 – Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then gently remove each muffin, place on cooling rack, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
How to Make the Frosting
Step 1 – to a medium bowl, add butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and almond milk.
Step 2. Using your mixer, blend just until smooth.
Step 3. add powdered sugar, cream of tartar and sea salt to cream cheese mixture.
Step 4. stir just until smooth with spatula. DO NOT OVERMIX. For best results, chill frosting for 3-4 hours before frosting. After that, place back in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes before serving.
FAQ About this Recipe
Cream of tartar is used in this recipe to thicken the frosting. If one teaspoon is insufficient, try adding another, a little at a time until the desired consistency is obtained. Alternatively, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Xanthun Gum, which can be difficult to find, but works even better. In conclusion and for best results, chill 3-4 hours before frosting cupcakes.
It’s extremely important not to overmix frosting. Mix using spatula, not a hand mixer and only until the moment the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Over-mixing will cause frosting not to set properly.
If you have leftovers, you may store them in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
More Dessert Recipes You’ll Love
Still have a sweet tooth? Check out more of my favorite vegan desserts below. What’s more, some are also gluten-free:
- No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
- Raw Vegan Lemon Cheesecake
- Best Ever Vegan Carrot Cake
- Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Decadent Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 bowls
- Hand mixer
- wooden spoon
- muffin tin
- cupcake liners
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
- 1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 rounded tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup softened vegan butter
- 8 oz. vegan cream cheese
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 3-5 cups vegan powdered sugar
- 1-2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk optional, use only if needed to thin recipe
- pinch sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Add oil, sugars, pumpkin and vanilla extract to mixing bowl.
- Using hand mixer or spatula, mix until thoroughly blended.
- Add a small portion of almond milk.
- Mix well with spatula, adding more almond milk, only if needed.
- In a separate bowl, add dry ingredients, including flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and sea salt.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Slowly add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.
- Stir well with spatula until batter is smooth and creamy.
- Spoon batter into each muffin tin, leaving room at the top for batter to expand during the baking process. Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending upon your oven. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick, inserted into the middle, comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cook in muffin tin for 10 minutes. Then, gently remove cupcakes from pan and place on cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
- To a medium mixing bowl, add butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and the tiniest bit of almond milk (optional).
- Using a hand mixer or spatula, blend just until smooth. DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Add powdered sugar, cream of tartar and sea salt to mixture.
- Stir with spatula just until smooth. DO NOT OVERSTIR. Chill frosting in refrigerator for 3-4 hours (preferably, less if you don't have time) before adding to piping bag and frosting each cupcake. Once frosted, placed back in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Be careful to not overmix frosting. Doing so may cause it to set wrong. Just mix until all ingredients are blended together.
- any vegetable oil works in this recipe.
- use gluten-free flour if gluten-intolerant.
- be sure your brown sugar is firmly packed. You may substitute with coconut sugar.
- be sure to choose 100% pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling which contains added sugar.
- you may substitute almond milk with the plant milk of your choice.
- any plant-based cream cheese will work here.
- cream of tartar is used to thicken vegan frosting because it doesn't thicken like traditional frosting. Xanthun gum is an even better thickener, but it's sometimes difficult to find. If using cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon is not doing the job, add up to another teaspoon, a little at a time until the frosting firms up.
- for best results, refrigerate frosting for 3-4 hours before frosting cupcakes.
- for best results, chill cupcakes for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- leftovers may be stored in an airtight container for up to 7 days.