Autumn Spiced Cupcakes: In the Oven in Under 5 Minutes

by Heather

There are two kinds of people in the world:

1. Cake people


2. Icing people

I’m a cake person. {Ok, when it comes to dessert, cake isn’t really on my list of favorites, but this is about cupcakes, not all the desserts of the world.}

easy pumpkin cupcake recipe

Unless it’s a really good cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake, I’d be much happier with just the cake base. The only real reason I see for icing is this: to make the cake moist.

If you have a dry cake, you have to icing to make up for it. My solution? Make a moist cake!

And for the cupcake purists out there, I came up with a compromise- an icing that isn’t too sweet or sugary, but adds flavor to the overall result.

pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese icing

Now I’m usually one to make things from scratch. I’d rather take the extra 30 seconds to measure out some flour than to eat a plateful of added chemicals. But you know what? Sometimes a shortcut is just the way to go. We’re already talking cupcakes- it’s not like I’m ruining a bowl of vegetables. The best part about this shortcut? You can use it and still end up with a vegan cupcake.

This cupcake starts with a boxed cake mix. If you’re going the vegan route, just check the ingredients. You’d be surprised to learn that some brands are in fact vegan.

Now grab a can of pumpkin. I know you have it lying around somewhere; it’s fall after all.

Cake mix, meet pumpkin. The end.

{Wait- pour batter into pan. The end.}

Your work is done. The hard part is waiting for them to come out of the oven. Now like I said, these cupcakes are good enough sans icing, for you cake-only lovers like me.

healthy cupcakes

I  know “moist” might be the most hated word in the English language, but there real is no other word adequate enough to describe these cupcakes. “Not dry” doesn’t even come close to cutting it…

They’re especially good still warm from the oven- not something you can say with frosted cupcakes. Have you ever tried to ice a warm cupcake? That’s what I thought.

Autumn Spiced Cupcakes

Autumn Spiced Cupcakes


  • 1 box butter pecan cake mix
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree {minus 1/4 cup if making the icing too}
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Mix.
  2. Pour into lined muffin tray and bake according to package directions.
  3. Tester should come out clean when done.

Now if you insist, here’s an easy icing that even I think makes this cupcake phenomenal.

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 8 oz cream cheese {vegan or Neufchatel recommended}
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup almond milk {or other milk}
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Extra cinnamon to taste


  1. Beat cream cheese in electric mixer by itself.
  2. When it's smooth, add in remaining ingredients and beat until well mixed.
  3. If too thin, refrigerate before using.

pumpkin cupcake recipe

So we started with a cake mix, call it cheating if you must, but then we didn’t add any eggs or oil. Plus we bumped up the nutrient content with some pumpkin, so we’re still ahead if you’re keeping score.

Now of course you can use any flavor cake batter you want, and even another puree if you’re not a pumpkin fan, but fall is the most fleeting of all the seasons, and I’m embracing the flavors while I can.

pumpkin icing for easy cupcakes

More please.

pumpkin cupcakes with cake mixSo which are you, a cake person or an icing person?




{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Faith @ For the Health of It October 25, 2011 at 9:33 am
I'm actually not much of a cake person OR an icing person...unless its cream cheese icing. In that case, I'd practically swim in the stuff. It's the bomb - and I love the idea of putting it with the pumpkin cupcake!
Kristen @ The Concrete Runner October 25, 2011 at 9:44 am
I've had that recipe in my pocket now for a few years! Except I call them muffins and don't put icing on them - makes them sound healthier! ;) It is my go-to recipe in the fall when I need to bring something to a family function or get together with friends!
Lindsay @ Biking before bed October 25, 2011 at 10:23 am
I'm an icing person all the way. The corner pieces of cake are always my favorite. I can't wait to try this icing. I love the idea of adding pumpkin!
Caitlyn October 25, 2011 at 10:34 am
I'm an icing girl. But if it's a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, them I'm both! I am a sucker for a moist carrot cake.
Carolina John October 25, 2011 at 10:59 am
Those do look really good. I like it all, cake, icing, anything that I can shove into my mouth right now.
Jill V. / TerraSavvy October 25, 2011 at 11:45 am
OK, I am not a cake person (unless it's angel food and then I am an "entire cake in one seating" person. But I think these are the perfect solution to the issue I have, dry cake! I am trying this one tonight. Thanks!
Lisa October 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Ooooh! Saved this one. I definitely want to make it. YUM
Liz @ IHeartVegetables October 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm
I'm definitely a cake person... unless it's chocolate frosting... then give me the frosting ;)
Sophie @ LoveLiveAndLearn October 26, 2011 at 9:25 am
I'm a cake person usually - I'm really not a butter fan so buttercream isn't great for me! I love plain sugar icing or fondant icing though, I could eat it on it's own :-) Those cupcakes look so good, I love the idea of pumpkin flavoured cupcakes!
Kelsey October 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm
I am ALL about glorified cake mix recipes. Shortcuts welcome.
Shana D October 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm
I am a cake person & a frosting person. Heck if it has sugar I love it. I do not bake because of that but every once in a while I give in for something that looks tasty. And this recipe might just be my once a year baking.
Hillary October 27, 2011 at 2:43 am
Soooo making this weekend ;) do I still add the eggs & oil to the cake mix or JUST the pumpkin? Don't need them vegan
Vicki November 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm
i'm thinking about using this recipe to make mini pumpkin cupcakes to bring to a pre-thanksgiving dinner party. think these would still turn out ok being mini? obviously will need to cut down on the baking time... :)

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