Fluffy, moist and easy to make vegan pumpkin cupcakes are topped with the most amazing maple pecan frosting! A perfect fall treat.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
More fall recipes for your sweet tooth
- Vegan Apple Cider Donuts
- Vegan Pumpkin Cake Bars
- Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Perfect Vegan Apple Pie
- Vegan Pumpkin Scones
Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Pecan Frosting
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!
- Gluten free: Try using a gluten free flour mix. I haven't tested it, but it will probably work quite well.
- Nut free: Simply omit the pecans for a simple maple frosting.
- You may use another oil if desired, such as canola oil or melted vegan butter.
- May substitute the spices with pumpkin pie spice if you have it. Use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice mix.