Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
browned butter cake cream cheese frosting cupcake pumpkin

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Is Pumpkin Spice an official holiday yet? If it isn’t, it should be. Let’s celebrate with some pumpkin cupcakes with browned butter cream cheese frosting!

Yep. I said browned butter cream cheese frosting. Once I saw this was a thing, I just knew that I had to try it. And you guys, it totally didn’t disappoint!

Before we talk about the frosting though, let’s talk about these cupcakes.

First, these are the easiest cupcakes you could ever make. I swear! Like, hand-over-my-heart swear. Basically, you mix dry ingredients together, then mix wet ingredients together. Then you mix those both together. *magic* You don’t even need to use a mixer for this, a whisk and a couple of bowls is all you need! And the batter mixes together so easily. Then all you have to do is scoop it into the cupcake tins, bake, and let them cool!

How to brown butter

Now, let’s talk about this browned butter frosting. If you’ve never browned butter before, have no fear. It is one of the easiest things you can do (though it sounds technical). The first thing you need is some good butter. Oops, my inner Ina Garten slipped out again. You’ll need some unsalted butter, but the better quality, the better your frosting will be. It doesn’t have to be softened to room temp. Put it in a small saucepan and turn up the heat to medium. You’ll want to avoid using a dark-colored or nonstick pan for this, just because it makes it so difficult to tell the color of the butter. Lighter color saucepans are always best.

Let the butter melt, then it will start to bubble and crackle. Stir it with a spatula or swirl it around the saucepan a few times as it does this. After a few minutes have gone by, the butter will start to look clear and it will start crackling. This is just part of the process, so keep going!

Next, the butter with froth up and get foamy. This is the beginning of the browning process so start to monitor it closely. If you can’t see through the foam, stir the butter or swirl it around the pan. Once you can start smelling a nice nutty aroma and the butter is a light brown color, remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and allow it to cool.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Next comes the cream cheese

You’ll want to let the brown butter solidify before you move on with the frosting, so put it in the fridge until solid. I put mine in the fridge overnight, but I’m sure it doesn’t need to be in there that long. Once it’s solid, add it to the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it cream for a few minutes, then add in the cream cheese, vanilla, then salt. Next, add in powdered sugar and let it cream until nice and smooth. Now, it’s ready! *magic*

I used a Ateco 869 tip to pipe the swirls on my pumpkin cupcakes, but hey. No judgment here if you just smear it on with a butter knife. The most important thing is that it tastes good! We don’t want Paul Hollywood accusing us of style over substance now, do we?

I also decorated mine with mellowcreme pumpkins and sprinkles, but those are totally optional, too. What’s most important is that you love these pumpkin cupcakes, and share them around.

Happy Pumpkin Spice season! I hope you love these pumpkin cupcakes with browned butter cream cheese frosting as much as I do.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting


Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Celebrate pumpkin spice season with these delicious cupcakes. The browned butter in the frosting makes all the difference!

Servings 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

For the frosting:

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • mellowcreme pumpkins and sprinkles (optional)


For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line one cupcake tin with 12 liners and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves (you can also substitute the same amount of spices for 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice). 

  3. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined and lumps are gone. Evenly distribute batter in cupcake cups (about 1/4 cup per cupcake and about 2/3 of the way full). Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes, then remove onto a cooling rack and allow to completely cool.

For the frosting:

  1. Add 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the unsalted butter to a small, light-colored saucepan. Avoid using a dark saucepan, as it's hard to tell the color of the butter as it browns. Set aside the remaining 2 tablespoons of buttered allow to come to room temperature.

  2. Cook the butter over medium heat, swirling and stirring as it melts. The butter will become clear, then foamy. Watch the butter carefully once it gets foamy, because this is the browning process. Once the butter is a light brown and smells nutty, remove from heat and pour into a small bowl. Place in the fridge and allow to solidify.

  3. Once the butter is completely solid, remove from the fridge and place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the butter on medium speed for about two minutes, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and cream for another minute. Add cream cheese and mix together until smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Add vanilla extract and salt, and mix to incorporate. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and cream until completely smooth. Frost the cupcakes once they are cool and decorate, if desired. Enjoy! 




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8 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting”

    1. So sorry about that! I didn’t realize I left it out. It’s 3 cups, and the recipe has been updated accordingly. Thanks for pointing it out!

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