These moist Pumpkin Cupcakes are made extra easy by doctoring up a box of cake mix. Top them with homemade salted caramel cream cheese frosting and watch how fast they disappear!
Why You’ll Adore These Cute and Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes
Trust me, this recipe is a keeper! Once you try these perfectly sweet, scrumptious cupcakes, you’ll want to make them all year long.
- Sweet and Salty: The combination of soft, spiced pumpkin cupcakes with just the right amount of pumpkin spice and the sweet, salted caramel frosting swirled on top is an amazing combination!
- Moist and Rich: Real pumpkin purée gives these cupcakes the perfect seasonal flavor and a rich, moist texture. No dry cupcakes here!
- Easy Cake Mix Recipe: Although I love a genuine from-scratch recipe (like my homemade pumpkin cupcakes) as much as the next baker, cake mix recipes are so easy and budget friendly! I like to stock up on cake mixes when they are BOGO for easy desserts in a pinch. Just whisk them together and add them to the pan.
- Great For A Crowd: Cupcakes are so great because they’re already portioned, can be made a day in advance and are easily portable. Making them a great dessert to bring to a party or event. Don’t have a cupcake travel tray or bakery style disposable cupcake trays for transporting? Try making a grid of 2 inch by 2 inch squares with masking tape on a large cookie sheet and set a cupcake in each square!
The Ingredients You’ll Need
To make these decadent little cupcakes, you’ll need cake mix, cream cheese, and a few other odds and ends. For full ingredient amounts and directions, scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cake Mix: I like classic yellow cake mix for this recipe, but a spiced cake mix will also work! Just skip the added pumpkin spices if using a spiced cake mix.
- Pumpkin Spice: Store-bought pumpkin pie spice or homemade. For a homemade pumpkin spice blend, whisk together 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger and ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves.
- Pumpkin: Make sure to use 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Oil: Vegetable oil, canola oil, or whatever light, neutral-tasting oil you prefer.
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
I took my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe and added a little salted caramel sauce to it! It’s pure perfection. If you want, you can also add a pinch of cinnamon to it!
- Cream Cheese and Unsalted Butter: Both at room temperature.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste if you like!
- Powdered Sugar: This sweetens the frosting, and helps make it light and fluffy.
- Salted Caramel Sauce: You can make homemade salted caramel sauce, or store-bought.
- Candy Pumpkins: For a cute optional garnish. A slight sprinkle of cinnamon is another great easy decoration.
How to Make Pumpkin Cupcakes with a Boxed Cake Mix
Let’s talk about the baking method here, because it is so incredibly easy. Here’s all you need to do:
- Combine the Cupcake Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together your cake mix and pumpkin pie spice. Add the eggs, pumpkin puree and vegetable oil, stirring until well combined.
- Bake: Divide the batter into your cupcake liners, and bake for about 13-15 minutes, until baked through.
- Cool: Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely. (You can speed up this process by placing the cupcakes in the fridge if needed.)
- Make the Frosting: In a stand mixer, or bowl with a hand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in the vanilla, and the powdered sugar in batches. Finally, beat in the caramel.
- Frost and Decorate: Spread the frosting onto your cooled cupcakes, or pipe it on. Add a candy pumpkin to each, if you’re using those. Enjoy!
So there you have it – the perfect pumpkin cupcakes, easy to make with boxed cake mix. These helpful tips make them easier, too!
- More Spice: You can swap the box of yellow cake mix for spiced cake mix and skip the added pumpkin pie spice if you want a more pronounced pumpkin spice flavor. The cupcakes will be darker in color than if you used yellow cake mix.
- Plain Caramel: You can also use regular caramel sauce in place of salted caramel sauce. If you do this, I recommend adding a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your frosting. It won’t taste “salted,” but it will make the flavors pop more. All frostings have a pinch of salt in them to help round out the sweetness!
- Cooling: it’s crucial to cool the cupcakes completely before you frost them. There’s nothing more disappointing than frosting a cupcake, only to have the frosting melt right off!
Want to change things up? Go for it! These are just a few easy variations on the basic recipe:
- Pecan Pumpkin Cupcakes: Add crunchy pecans for an irresistible texture. Stir in some chopped pecans into the pumpkin cupcake batter. Garnish with whole pecans for a pretty presentation.
- Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes: Combine the richness of chocolate with the warmth of pumpkin! Just mix a half cup (or more) of mini chocolate chips tossed with a teaspoon of flour into the pumpkin cupcake batter. Or frost them with a chocolate buttercream frosting. Decorate with extra chocolate chips for even more flavor.
- Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Whipped Cream: For a lighter-tasting version of this recipe, top the completely-cooled cupcakes with sweetened whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce, instead of the cream cheese frosting.
How to Store Pumpkin Cupcakes
To store these cupcakes and keep them fresh, make sure they are completely cooled before storing in an airtight container. Leave space between each cupcake to avoid smudging the frosting, and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can I Freeze These?
Yes, you can! To freeze these pumpkin cupcakes, place them in airtight containers, and label them with the date. Store in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw frozen cupcakes in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
More Perfect Pumpkin Recipes
In the mood for more fall baking? Here are a few more pumpkin favorites:
- Pumpkin Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
- Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
- Pumpkin Flan
- Best Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Dump Cake
- Pumpkin Muffins
- Best Pumpkin Bread
- Chewy Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the cake mix and pumpkin pie spice. Add the eggs, pumpkin puree and vegetable oil, stirring until well combined.
- Divide batter into cupcake liners and bake for about 13-15 minutes, until baked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely. (You can speed up this process by placing the cupcakes in the fridge if needed.)
- While the cupcakes cool, prepare your frosting. In a stand mixer, or bowl with a hand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in the vanilla.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar into the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated, beating well after each addition. Pour in the caramel sauce and beat until well combined.
- Spread frosting onto cupcakes or pipe with a bag and frosting tip, if desired. Decorate the cupcakes by placing a pumpkin onto the center of each frosted cupcake. Serve and enjoy!
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