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If you like pumpkin spice everything, you’ll love these lusciously moist and deliciously spiced pumpkin cupcakes. In fact, I even had people at Amycakes Bakery tell me they loved these cupcakes despite not liking pumpkin! This made-from-scratch bakery recipe makes incredibly moist pumpkin spice cupcakes that are soft and fluffy. They are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves and topped with a creamy and fluffy cinnamon cream cheese buttercream frosting! Even better, they are easy to make!
About this Pumpkin Spice Cupcake Recipe
All it takes is two bowls to make the pumpkin spice cupcake batter from scratch! Using my favorite easy two-bowl method to make the cupcakes, we’ll be whisking the dry ingredients together, then whisking the wet ingredients together. Simply combine the wet and dry, add melted salted butter, and your cupcake batter is complete! The brown sugar, Instant Clearjel (a type of cornstarch and my favorite bakery ingredient), buttermilk, and vegetable oil keep the cupcakes incredibly moist for days.
The cinnamon buttercream has just enough cream cheese to give the frosting an extra smooth texture. It also contains plenty of salted butter, a little shortening for fluffiness, powdered sugar, and more Instant Clearjel (which thickens the frosting without making it too sweet).
The Secret Bakery Ingredient in this Recipe
This bakery recipe uses Instant ClearJel, a type of cornstarch that serves as both a thickener and a binder. It’s tasteless and has no artificial ingredients. It’s often used by professional bakers because it produces a smoother and glossier consistency than cornstarch, tapioca, or other starches. Even better, it enhances moisture and texture in cakes and thickens and stabilizes frostings.
Although it’s not often available in grocery stores, it’s sold in a variety of online stores. I use Hoosier Hill Farm Instant Clearjel. When using Instant Clearjel in baking, please make sure it is labeled as “INSTANT,” and always thoroughly whisk it with dry ingredients as described within the recipe.
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes Recipe FAQ
These cupcakes are best at room temperature! When the cupcakes are cold they will have a firm and different texture due to all the yummy butter in the cake and buttercream. I want to make sure you enjoy the soft and moist cupcake texture that is intended by eating the cupcakes at room temperature. If you frost the cupcakes but aren’t serving them for several hours, or if the temperature is warm, you can refrigerate the frosted cupcakes, but allow them to come back to room temperature 2-4 hours before serving. (Keep in mind the buttercream can melt in warm conditions). I keep my leftover cupcakes out of the fridge for up to 24 hours, but I’ll refrigerate or freeze anything that won’t get eaten within that time. I always leave unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature, wrapped in the baking tins, to keep them moist for days.
Absolutely! One of the best things about cupcakes made with buttermilk, vegetable oil, and Instant Clearjel is they stay very moist when frozen. I recommend freezing the unfrosted cupcakes in their baking tin to keep them the moistest–just wrap the baking tin tightly in plastic wrap (I double wrap the baking tin all the way around from every angle).
You can also freeze the frosted cupcakes by placing them in airtight tupperware, but they may not stay quite as moist as cupcakes wrapped within their cupcake tin, as more cake will be exposed. Most articles say cupcakes can be frozen for up to three months, but I’m hesitant to try it longer than a month.
The cinnamon buttercream on these pumpkin spice cupcakes contains some cream cheese for a creamy smooth texture. And according to many articles it can be left out overnight, although I recommend refrigerating your finished cupcakes until 2-4 hours before serving so the frosting doesn’t get too soft. Just be sure to remove your cupcakes from the fridge those 2-4 hours before so they can come back to room temperature.
The buttercream can stay in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it for even longer! Just thaw it in the fridge overnight, and allow it to get to room temperature before using.
I have not yet tested this exact recipe without the Instant Clearjel. If you’d like to try it without it, I’d recommend using 1/4 cup Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix (in a 1x batch) in place of the Instant Clearjel in the cake (not the frosting). Before I discovered Instant Clearjel, I used Instant Pudding Mix in my recipes– Instant Pudding Mix has Instant Clearjel (aka modified cornstarch) as the second ingredient. In the frosting, just leave the Instant Clearjel out ( as it can affect the texture). The Instant Clearjel thickens the frosting, so you’ll need to add more powdered sugar as needed to get a thicker frosting. If you have success with one of these substitutes, let me know!
You can find it at a variety of online stores! I get my Hoosier Hill Farm Instant Clearjel on Amazon. As it is more often used in commercial kitchens, I have yet to find Instant Clearjel locally in my hometown of Springfield, MO. If you find it locally, let me know! Just always be sure your Instant Clearjel is labeled as “Instant“!
Fall isn’t complete without these pumpkin spice cupcakes! I hope you enjoy the recipe–be sure to let me know what you think either in the comment section below or on social media @amycakesbakes. 🙂
Thanks for Reading. ❤️
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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
- 1 ¾ cups All-Purpose Flour (I use Gold Medal)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
- ¾ teaspoon(s) Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Instant Clearjel (A bakery ingredient you can use at home–see Note #1. Please make sure your clearjel is labeled as "Instant")
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground Ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground Cloves
- 1 cup(s) packed Brown Sugar
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 cup (9 ounces) Canned Pumpkin (make sure it's 100% pumpkin)
- ¾ cup(s) Buttermilk
- ¼ cup Water
- ½ cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Other Cake Ingredients
- 1 stick(s) (4 oz) Salted Butter
Cinnamon Buttercream *see Note #3
- 8 ounces Cream Cheese
- 3 sticks (12 ounces) Salted Butter
- ½ cup Shortening
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract
- ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoon(s) Instant Clearjel (A bakery ingredient you can use at home–see Note #1. Please make sure your clearjel is labeled as "Instant")
- 1 Tablespoon(s) Cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
Drizzle and Decorations (optional)
- 14 Caramel Squares or ⅔ cup(s) Caramel Bits
- 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
- Candy Pumpkins
Make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Fill cupcake tins with 24 cupcake liners.
- Using a sifter or fine mesh strainer, sift the Dry Ingredients minus the brown sugar into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar to the sifted ingredients and whisk until well blended. If you see any brown sugar clumps, break them up and blend them in with your fingers.
- Combine Wet Ingredients in a separate large bowl and whisk until smooth and well-blended.
- Melt salted butter in the microwave (or over the stove) until just melted. Avoid overcooking.
- Pour Wet Ingredients into Dry Ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Pour Melted Salted Butter over batter and whisk in until smooth and shiny.
- Using a 2-oz scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into prepared cupcake tins. Allow tins to set for 5 minutes before putting them in the oven. This will give time for the instant clearjel to thicken the cake batter before it bakes, allowing for a better rise.
- Bake on the middle or top rack (avoid bottom rack) of the preheated 325-degree oven for 8 minutes. Without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and bake for another 6-8 minutes. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick or small paring knife comes out mostly clean when quickly stuck in the cupcakes. These cupcakes are often done before looking done, as the cupcake tops will be shiny, but they will bounce back when lightly touched with your finger. Because these cupcakes are so moist, it is okay to see a couple of moist crumbs on your knife when you check the finished product for doneness. But any wet-looking crumbs mean they need more time in the oven.
- If you are frosting and serving them the next day, wrap the cupcakes in the cupcake tin and leave at room temperature overnight. You may also freeze the unfrosted cupcakes wrapped tightly in the cupcake tin and they will stay very moist.
Make Cinnamon Buttercream
- Whisk the powdered sugar, Instant Clearjel, and Cinnamon together until well-blended. Set aside. (Instant Clearjel must always be whisked with dry ingredients before adding to liquid to avoid clumping).
- Using a stand mixer (preferred) or handheld mixer and a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until broken up and softened. Add the room temperature salted butter and continue to beat, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed until there are no lumps. Add shortening and continue to beat until there are no lumps.
- Turn the mixer on low, and slowly add in the Powdered Sugar mixture until incorporated. Add the Pure Vanilla and Corn Syrup while the mixer is on low, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat the buttercream on high for two-three minutes. This will add air into the buttercream and make it light and fluffy. The Instant Clearjel will cause the buttercream to thicken slightly during the next 10 minutes as it sits
Make the Easy Caramel Drizzle
- Combine the Caramel Squares (or Caramel Bits) and Heavy Cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at 20-30 second increments until the caramel is melted, stirring frequently until it reaches a drizzling consistency. It will thicken as it cools, so reheat before drizzling if needed.
Decorate and Serve
- I like to use 18" disposable pastry bags and a Round Cupcake Tip to pipe a generous swirl of cinnamon buttercream on top of each cupcake. Drizzle the easy caramel drizzle on top of each cupcake (I use a squeeze bottle for this), then add a candy pumpkin.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate, but remove from fridge 2-4 hours before serving as they have the best texture at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Read my article Instant Clearjel: a Magical Bakery Ingredient to see why I think this ingredient is worth having in your pantry. Instant Clearjel must always be whisked thoroughly with other dry ingredients before being added to wet ingredients to avoid clumping. I have tested this recipe with the following Instant Clearjel brands: Hoosier Hill Farm, Prepared Pantry, and Ingredion (Make sure what you purchase is labeled as “Instant.” Cooktyle Clearjel is a different product that does not work the same in cakes).
- Read my Recipe FAQ for more details.
- The frosting makes enough for a generous swirl on each cupcake. If you prefer less frosting, you may halve the frosting recipe.