Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting

I’ve made my fair share of amazing cupcakes. As we all know, frosting is the best part of a cupcake*, and I have fallen in love with several over the years. (Nutella buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and vanilla bean buttercream to name just a few.) However, this frosting may trump them all. It’s a buttercream that looks all innocent and unassuming in plain white. Before you take a bite, you would probably assume it’s vanilla or maybe a cream cheese frosting…

But no! It’s creamy, rich and filled with the nutty, flavorful tones of browned butter. I seriously couldn’t believe how good this frosting was. It is going into my regular repertoire. Plus, it compliments the pumpkin spice cupcakes really well and adds another layer of fall flavor to them.

By the way, these cupcakes are wonderful on their own – they are incredibly moist and full of pumpkin spice. If you want more pumpkin and less spice, I would actually reduce the pumpkin pie spice to 1 tablespoon. And don’t forget – if you find yourself out of pumpkin pie spice, make your own out of spices you probably already have in your pantry.

If you want to dress these up a little more, add a candy corn pumpkin. I also used them to model my DIY Halloween cupcake wrappers, which are the perfect way to dress up cupcakes for your Halloween celebration.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting

Yield: 24 cupcakes

I cut the recipe in half with great success, so if you only need a dozen just reduce the ingredients by half.


  • Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • Frosting:
  • Brown Butter Buttercream:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided in half
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-6 tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners.
  2. Combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and pumpkin.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the wet ingredients. Mix until everything is well combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pans, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.
  7. To make the frosting, heat 1/2 cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low until lightly browned (around 8-10 minutes). Let cool (I poured it into my stand mixer bowl to speed the cooling process).
  8. Add the remaining 1/2 cup butter to the bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency.
  9. Spread or pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.


Adapted from The Food Network


*Wait, you don’t think that frosting is the best part? Maybe you’re in the wrong place… 😉

10 Comments on Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting

    • Stephanie
      October 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm (10 years ago)

      Thanks Laura & Jen! This is my new favorite frosting I think.

    • Stephanie
      October 29, 2012 at 3:06 pm (10 years ago)

      Anna, you will love this frosting! I’m no longer sending out a new email for each post, but instead a bi-monthly newsletter with all the most recent posts. Look out for an email later this week!

  1. SunnyCakez
    November 9, 2012 at 7:17 am (10 years ago)

    Nice blog my friend! You should check out mine, its about cakes and cake recipes..just started it. Bye

  2. Whitney
    October 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm (9 years ago)

    These cupcakes are delicious! I cut the recipie in half but still added two tblsp of pumpkin pie spice just because I like the flavor. They came out moist and they taste great! The only thing that didn’t come out so well was the frosting- I made it too thin, next time I probably won’t add the milk. But this is a great recipie and one I will definitely make again!

  3. Brianna
    November 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm (6 years ago)

    I made these and they were really good. The only hiccup was the icing. I made it exactly as specified and it was gross. My mom and I both thought it was weird tasting. It reminded me of butter rum or toffee and I don’t like either of those. I had to go buy a package of cream cheese to add it and then it was good. I also very lightly browned the butter but it still came out tasting overly buttery. I’ll just not brown the butter next time and see how it tastes. Cupcake part was delicious though! Thanks for the recipe.


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