These easy pumpkin cupcakes get a burst of flavor from your favorite pumpkin ale! Topped with maple frosting for the perfect fall cupcake. This post was recently updated with new photos and a streamlined recipe.
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Hands up if you love pumpkin season (this girl! right here!)
I’ve never been one to jump on the whole Pumpkin Spice Latte thing, but pumpkin CUPCAKES? Pumpkin cupcakes are a whooooooole other story.
These pumpkin cupcakes are one of the first recipes I reach for every fall.
We’re keeping it suuuuper simple with some classic fall spices (cinnamon! cloves! ahhhhhh) and a big ol’ scoop of pumpkin puree. You can roast your own fresh pumpkin and puree it up yourself if you like, but canned pumpkin works just as well (just be sure to get plain pumpkin puree – NOT pumpkin pie mix!)
Fun (ok…random and useless) fact: I actually tried to grow a pumpkin patch once. It was the most beautiful pumpkin patch there ever was. And then our landlord forgot it existed and ran over it with a lawnmower (cue violins).
BUT WHATEVER. I’M TOTALLY OVER IT. AND DEFINITELY NOT STILL ANGRY FIVE YEARS LATER.
These pumpkin cupcakes are perfect for Halloween or Thanksgiving, and (BONUS POINTS!) they make the house smell amaaaaaaaaazing.
I’m also sharing my VERY FAVORITE maple fudge frosting. It’s the perfect pairing for these pumpkin cupcakes, and it has the best fudge-y, creamy texture.
This maple frosting starts with melted butter and maple extract (and some more pumpkin beer! If that’s how you’re rollin’), plenty of powdered sugar, and – drumrolllllllll – HOT WATER. The melted butter will start to thicken back up as the frosting cools, so the hot water keeps everything melty and spread-able as you frost the cupcakes.
Using water in this frosting also takes out some of the richness that would come with milk, cream, or extra butter, so you get a great consistency without feeling like a bunch of sugar is reaching up to punch you in the face. Once the maple frosting cools on the cupcakes, you’re left with a layer of thick, creamy maple fudge that really brings out the pumpkin in the cupcakes.
As far as toppings go, my favorite way to decorate these pumpkin cupcakes is just to crumble up some extra cupcake and throw it on top! Since I’m usually making these around the holidays (which, um, I don’t need to be doing some elaborate cupcake sugar sculpture because WE ARE BUSY ENOUGH THANK YOU VERY MUCH) it’s usually the fastest way to go – and it gives your cupcakes a little extra pizzazz! If you store your cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter, the cupcake topping will stay soft for 3-4 days before it starts to dry out.
Easy pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin ale and a maple fudge frosting.
FOR THE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES:
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup pumpkin ale
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (coconut oil in its liquid form – you can also use canola/vegetable oil or melted butter)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1.75 cups flour (measured correctly by scooping and leveling)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
FOR THE MAPLE FROSTING:
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons pumpkin ale (optional)
- 1 tsp. maple extract
- 3.5 cups powdered sugar (you may use a little more or a little less)
- Pinch of salt (I use kosher salt)
- 1/4 cup hot (nearly boiling!) water (you may not use it all)
FOR THE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES:
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F and line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine pumpkin puree, pumpkin ale, melted coconut oil, eggs, and sugar.
- Add the rest of your cupcake ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla. Mix until ingredients are just combined.
- Use a cookie scoop (I like this one) to scoop batter into cupcake liners. (If you don’t have a scoop, put 3-4 Tablespoons of batter into each liner, until they’re about 2/3 of the way full).
- Bake cupcakes at 375 for 15-17 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove cooked cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely (usually 30 minutes or so) then top with Maple Pumpkin Ale Frosting (recipe below!)
FOR THE MAPLE FROSTING (MAKE THIS ONCE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES HAVE COOLED):
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the melted butter, pumpkin ale (optional), and maple extract.
- Stir in the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. The sugar will quickly absorb the liquid and will begin to clump – this is what you want!
- Add hot water (I heat it in my electric tea kettle – the hot water will help keep the butter nice and melty so you can stir everything together) a Tablespoon at a time, stirring in between each addition, until frosting reaches a fudge-like consistency. If you add a little too much water, don’t worry – just add a bit more powdered sugar to even it out. The frosting will thicken as it cools, so it’s best to work quickly here.
- Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. To make the swirls like you see in these photos, spoon a dollop of frosting onto your cupcake and use the back of a spoon to gently swirl it into shape, applying more pressure at the center to create an indent. We also topped these cupcakes with some extra cupcake we crumbled up.
Use a pumpkin beer that you like drinking! We used a Southern Tier Pumking here. Something deep and rich will lend the most flavor to these cupcakes.
If you’d like to omit the beer, you can certainly leave it out and make some adjustments like increasing coconut oil and reducing flour, but the texture will vary and they may not taste as good – so if you’re looking for plain pumpkin cupcakes, I recommend checking out some of the great beer-free recipes available online!
If your frosting thickens too quickly, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds or stir in a splash more hot water to bring it back to a spreadable consistency. The frosting will thicken as it cools, resulting in a rich and fudgy topping.
These cupcakes are also great with cream cheese frosting or vanilla (or maple!) buttercream.
LINKS TO SPECIAL INGREDIENTS/EQUIPMENT:
- Calories: 266