Fluffy, moist and easy to make vegan pumpkin cupcakes are topped with the most amazing maple pecan frosting! A perfect fall treat.

lots of pumpkin cupcakes with pecan pieces on top

These pumpkin cupcakes are such a fun dessert for the fall season, you won’t want to stop at just one! As a bonus, they’re really easy to make. The maple pecan frosting is to DIE FOR, and it makes these cupcakes extra special. You could also try using this amazing frosting on my pumpkin cake bars or spread a little on vegan pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin puree and the fall spices you know and love are mixed together to create a soft and fluffy cupcake. Finish them with a spiral of decadent maple pecan frosting on top for the best fall treat. 

Double or triple the batch to serve at your Halloween party, for your guests at Thanksgiving, or just freeze them for later! These are much less work than making an entire pumpkin cake or pumpkin pie.

Just like my pumpkin muffins, they’re a perfect treat to celebrate sweater weather and the changing leaves. Try them with this maple icing or layer on vegan cream cheese frosting instead!

bite taken out of a cupcake

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Pumpkin puree – NOT pumpkin pie mix. Both fresh and canned puree will work. This could also be replaced with mashed squash, but make sure to drain the water very well.
  • Unsweetened applesauce – This acts as an egg replacement while adding moisture to the cake. You can replace it with a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp water) or a store bought egg replacement if you wish.
  • Coconut oil – Or use olive oil or another neutral oil.
  • Granulated sugar – Coconut sugar will also work.
  • All purpose flour – Or use white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour or a gluten free mix if needed.
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves – Or use a pre-made pumpkin pie spice.
  • Salt
  • Pecans – Toasting the nuts will bring out their delicious flavors and oils. 
  • Vegan butter – I prefer to use pre-measured vegan butter sticks for frosting, but use any brand of vegan butter you like or make your own.
  • Powdered sugar – Necessary for the frosting!
  • Pure maple syrup – For that comforting maple flavor. 

How to make them

First, preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. Spray the liners lightly with oil.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, applesauce, coconut oil, and sugar until smooth. Next, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt into the bowl. Mix with a large spoon until just combined.
  2. Fill the muffin liners half full of batter and bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and leave the pan alone for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack.

collage of uncooked, then cooked cupcakes in pan and frosting in a bowl

Maple pecan frosting

The first step to making the frosting is roasting the pecans. They’re going to fill your home with all of the comforting smells of fall!

  1. Chop the pecans small, then place them on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Toast in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes or until they start to smell good. Watch them very carefully or else they could burn. Set them aside to cool or stick them in the fridge or freezer to speed up the process.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add the vegan butter and mix for a few minutes until it’s light and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and syrup, and mix again until combined. Taste to see if you need to add more sugar or syrup.
  3. Once the pecans have cooled, add them the frosting and beat until incorporated.

How to decorate cupcakes

Use a piping bag with a large tip to pipe the icing on top of the completely cooled cupcakes. Make sure you use a large piping tip or else the pecan pieces will get stuck! Top the frosting with some extra pecans, a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin spice, or caramel sauce.

You could also just spread a little frosting on each cupcake with a butter knife.

If you want to mix up the icing, I recommend trying my vegan vanilla frosting or cream cheese frosting.

close up of frosting on vegan pumpkin cupcake

Helpful tips

  • Don’t over mix the cupcake batter! Mix the dry and wet ingredients until they’ve just come together. Over mixing could make the cupcakes taste dense and gummy.
  • It helps if the vegan butter and maple syrup are at room temperature when making the frosting. This prevents the frosting from separating and the butter will be easier to mix.
  • Is the frosting too thin? Add a tablespoon of icing sugar at a time until it thickens up and you reach the desired consistency.
  • Is the frosting too thick? Just add a teaspoon of room temperature dairy free milk and mix, adding more as needed. It should thin out in no time. 
  • Remove the nuts for a nut-free maple icing.

Storing and freezing

Keep the finished cupcakes covered at room temperature. They’ll stay fresh for a few days or for up to a week when kept in the fridge. 

Freeze the cupcakes without the icing. Wrap them in plastic and place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag. They can stay frozen for up to 3 months.

Make the frosting ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Just give it a quick mix with a spoon or a handheld mixer before using. The frosting can also be frozen if needed.

an orange cupcake with frosting, more in background, pecan on top

More fall recipes for your sweet tooth

square image of close up cupcake from the side with pecans on top
4.96 stars (24 ratings)

Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Pecan Frosting

Fluffy, moist and easy to make vegan pumpkin cupcakes are topped with the most amazing maple pecan frosting! A perfect fall treat.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 18 cupcakes

Ingredients 
 

Pumpkin cupcakes

Maple pecan frosting

Instructions 

Make the cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Spray the liners lightly with oil.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, applesauce, coconut oil and sugar until smooth.
  • Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt to the wet ingredients and mix with a large spoon until just combined.
  • Fill cupcake liners half full and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or they spring back when pushed lightly.
  • Let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Make the frosting

  • For the frosting, first chop the pecans small, then place them on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350. Toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes until they start to smell good. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside to cool, or stick in the fridge or freezer to speed up cooling.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add the vegan butter and mix the for a few minutes until creamy, then add 2 cups of powdered sugar and the syrup. Mix again until combined. Add more powdered sugar if needed, to taste, and to make the frosting thicker. 
  • Once the pecans have cooled, add them in and beat to combine.

Frost the cupcakes

  • Pipe frosting onto cupcakes using a piping bag and large tip (so the pecan pieces don't get stuck), or simply spread on each cupcake with a butter knife. Top each cupcake with a pecan, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten free: Try using a gluten free flour mix. I haven't tested it, but it will probably work quite well.
  2. Nut free: Simply omit the pecans for a simple maple frosting.
  3. You may use another oil if desired, such as canola oil or melted vegan butter.
  4. May substitute the spices with pumpkin pie spice if you have it. Use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice mix.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 244mg | Potassium: 158mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 4156IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. This was another crowd pleaser. I made the frosting without the pecans, I used myokio’s vegan cultured butter, and Bob’s cup for cup GF flour. I was worried when I put them in the cupcake liners because the batter was kind of thick. But I smoothed It out with the back of a spoon and it was perfect. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. You are welcome! I’m glad the pumpkins turned out great and were a hit! Thanks for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  2. I thought I left this comment but I might have failed – I’m not good at leaving comments!

    Is it possible to make this recipe as a cake, like in a 9″ cake pan?

    1. Hmm I don’t see another comment, but I’ll answer it now. 🙂 I think there will be too much cake batter for just one 9 inch round cake, but it would likely make two for a double layer cake. I haven’t tested it so I’m not sure about times, but I would guess around 30 minutes or so. Hope that helps!

    1. Yes, I think that sounds delicious! There should be enough batter to make one round cake. Bake at 350ºF for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. I hope that helps!

  3. Oh, my!!! I only made the maple frosting for my carrot cake and it was to die for. Will definitely be making this again. Can’t wait to try to pumpkins muffins.

    1. Nice idea! That sounds so good together! You’ll love the pumpkin muffins! I appreciate you taking time to share your feedback and idea! Happy cooking!

  4. Making these for breakfast and already am drooling and know they will be awesome.
    I’m a tiktoker and did your apple cake in one of my videos giving you a shoutout/credit and told my viewers to visit you (I posted your info).
    I hope that was OK. LMK
    I have never been disappointed with anything I’ve tried from your site.

      1. Hi Emilia. You can probably substitute fresh steamed and mashed pumpkin. If you can weight out 15 ounces that would be correct. I haven’t tried it with fresh pumpkin, but it should work. Hope this helps!

  5. FANTASTIC. I doubled the first batch and they were STILL all gone before they even saw any frosting. Making more without telling anyone.
    Nora, I can always trust your recipes to be over the top 🙂

  6. Leaving this comment because I am BLOWN AWAY. I’ve definitely made some of your other recipes that are completely fantastic btw, but these cupcakes are next level!! I can’t believe how delicious these are and so dang moist! My nonvegan boyfriend could NOT stop saying how amazing these were last night! Thank you for this incredible recipe!! 

  7. NoraI I love your recipes! I made these cupcakes and my family went crazy over them! They gobbled them up! And want MORE! Thanks for sharing! These cupcakes are so moist and flavourful! And the icing is perfect! YUMMY!

    1. Hi Rhona. We love these cupcakes at our house as well! How wonderful that your family loved them! Thank you for your great feedback and review!

  8. I have made the pumpkin cupcake recipe a few times and each time it gets rave reviews! I add cardamom to the spices as it’s my favourite. Thank you for another great recipe!

  9. This recipe is absolutely perfect. I’ve made it four time now and these cupcakes are a hit every time… I always get the “I can’t believe these are vegan” comment. Another brilliant Nora Cooks recipe <3

  10. These cupcakes are perfect! Fluffy and tender without being gummy. I used vegan cream cheese frosting instead of the maple (Paula deen’s recipe except with vegan cream cheese/butter).

  11. These were delicious!  I used gluten free flour and they ended up quite heavy and moist so I may reduce the coconut oil a bit to see if I can calibrate that a bit.  I’m also in Denver so have the altitude. Either way my entire non vegan, gluten tolerant family thought they were outstanding and said to make again! 

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