Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

These Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes are ridiculously easy to throw together. Packed with favorite fall flavors and topped with sweet cinnamon buttercream, it’s hands down a favorite dessert for the season.

Pumpkin season is here and our Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail and Pumpkin Pancakes are some of the most popular pumpkin recipes on this site. Along with Pumpkin Fluff and Layered Walnut Pumpkin Pie that are my personal favorites. But if we’re being honest I love them all!

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pumpkin cupcakes on a cake stand

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Easy Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes 

Can you believe that fall is in full swing,? We’ve already started working on our Thanksgiving meal plan.

If you know me, you know my love affair with all things pumpkin! I’ve made this pumpkin cupcake recipe so many times it’s basically become a fall tradition. As soon as those first hints of autumn are in the air, I start getting requests for these tasty cupcakes! What I love is that they are made with cake mix and instant pudding mix. A little secret that makes life so much easier! I love doctoring cake mixes and this one is definitely a favorite.

Several years ago I noticed  JELL-O Instant Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix in the store and I just KNEW I had to make something with it!! – but not a pie.  That’s when these Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes were born. They are a soft moist vanilla cupcake with just a hint of pumpkin and a swirl of Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting! 

They turned out even better than I imagined and they’ve been making an appearance at our Thanksgiving table ever since……… right next to the pumpkin pie.

close up of cupcake with swirl of frosting

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How To Make The Best Pumpkin Cupcakes

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

These Vanilla Pumpkin cupcakes have soft moist vanilla cake with just a hint of pumpkin and topped it off with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting….. with a sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top!! If that sounds divine to you, then you have to try them because they taste even better.

What You’ll Need for Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • French Vanilla cake mix – this makes everything SO easy – most of your dry ingredients are all pre-measured when you use a cake mix!
  • JELL-O Instant Pumpkin Spice pudding mix – Pudding mix adds extra moisture and structure to the cupcakes, and this is where the hint of pumpkin flavor comes from.
  • sour cream – adds creamy moisture without thinning the batter
  • eggs
  • milk
  • vanilla extract
  • pumpkin pie spice

photo collage making cupcakes

Pumpkin Cupcake Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, mix all cupcake ingredients for one minute on low. Continue mixing batter for another minute on medium-high. Note, the batter will be very thick.
  3. Divide the batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling each two-thirds full.
  4. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack before frosting.

photo collage how to make buttercream

Best Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Ditch the store-bought frosting and whip up a batch of this easy and delicious Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting! It’s the perfect fluffy crowning on pumpkin cupcakes, cakes, and more.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer blend a cup of butter and a cup of shortening until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, vanilla, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Continue mixing until well blended. Gradually add four cups of powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Eventually, you will have a very thick mixture. On the highest speed of your mixer, slowly pour in heavy whipping cream until desired thickness. Continue beating on high speed until frosting is fluffy.

To Frost Pumpkin Cupcakes: Scoop the cinnamon buttercream into a large pastry bag fitted with an extra-large plain tip (I use a Wilton 1A tip), and pipe frosting on each cupcake. Garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.

hand holding a cupcake with bite

Why you’ll love this Cinnamon Buttercream 

  • It’s an easy homemade frosting. Made in just 5 minutes with six ingredients, so simple and easy!
  • It uses butter and shortening which makes the frosting more stable than all-butter buttercream frosting.
  • Homemade is better than store-bought, so easy and delicious, you may never buy packaged icing again.
  • Who doesn’t love a fluffy buttercream frosting?  It’s light, fluffy, and has the perfect level of creamy sweetness. 

looking down at cupcakes on a cake stand

How To Store Cupcakes

Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve. They can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature (buttercream-frosted cupcakes can be left at room temperature but cupcakes with cream cheese or whipped cream topping are best stored in the refrigerator).

Freezing: Unfrosted cupcakes freeze better than frosted cupcakes, and frozen cake and cupcakes are easier to frost. Cover each completely cooled unfrosted cupcakes in two layers of plastic wrap, then place cupcakes in a large freezer bag or container. Properly stored, unfrosted cupcakes can be kept in the freezer for two to three months.

Defrost and Decorate:  Remove the cupcakes from the freezer, unwrap (to prevent condensation) and allow them to defrost on the counter for an hour or two then frost as you normally would.  

Like This Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe? Pin It!pinterest-image cupcake photo collage

reader rave~

I made these tonight and they were awesome! I had to change the recipe a bit though. I don’t know if the pumpkin pudding mix is not available in Canada but I couldn’t find it. I bought a vanilla box instead (considered butterscotch but wanted to play it a bit safe!), combined it with everything else, cut back on the wet ingredients (only did 1/4 cup milk, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of sour cream), and upped the pumpkin spice from 1/4 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon. I then added 1.5 cups of pure pumpkin (from a can) and voila.. DELICIOUS! Super moist!  The buttercream icing recipe turned out great too.  I love this recipe and will be adding it to my favs! 

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cupcakes on a cake stand

Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

The perfect cupcakes for the season, a moist Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcake topped with Cinnamon Buttercream frosting.

Ingredients

Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 box French Vanilla cake mix (I prefer Betty Crocker Super Moist French Vanilla
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) JELL-O Instant Pumpkin Spice pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • cinnamon and sugar for topping

Instructions

To Make Vanilla Pumpkin Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line muffin pans with cupcakes liners.
  2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, mix all cupcake ingredients, for one minute on low. Continue mixing batter for another minute on medium-high. Note, the batter will be very thick. Do not overmix!
  3. Divide the batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling each two-thirds full.
  4. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool on wire rack before frosting.

To Make Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, blend butter and shortening until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Continue mixing until well blended. Gradually add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Eventually, you will have a very thick mixture.
  2. On the highest speed of your mixer, continue mixing while slowly pour in the heavy whipping cream.
  3. Continue beating on high speed until frosting is fluffy.

Frost cooled cupcakes with buttercream and garnish with cinnamon and sugar.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 454Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 378mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 1gSugar: 37gProtein: 3g

    Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

    Making this recipe? Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #TidyMom so we can see what you're creating in the kitchen!

    UPDATED October 2020. We spiffed up this post with more info and better pictures! No changes to the original recipe originally posted in Nov 2009.

    cupcakes on a stand and on the counter