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
4.97 stars (30 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 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 18 cupcakes


Pumpkin cupcakes

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!


  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.


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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  1. Omg these turned out amazing, can’t even tell they’re vegan! I will 100% be making these again! My coworker will be stoked 

  2. Wow! Another amazing recipe! So excited to add these into our fall rotation! Thanks again for another fantastic recipe, Nora!

    1. You are welcome! I’m glad you love the cupcakes! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful review! I’m thrilled these are going onto your fall meal rotation!

  3. Hi Nora, I live in Australia and we cant buy the canned pumpkin. Can you substitute mashed pumpkin? If so how much would I use. Thankyou

    1. Hi Lorraine! You can probably substitute fresh cooked 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.

  4. These may have been the best cupcakes I have ever made, the frosting was incredible and the texture of the cake came out great. My husband (who is not vegan) couldn’t stop eating them haha. Great recipe for a Fall party or Thanksgiving!

    1. I’m thrilled the cupcakes were a hit! Thank you for sharing your great review and comments! I hope you enjoy fall and all the yummy fall foods!

  5. Nora, I have tried and loved many of your recipes without fail. Unfortunately, my frosting ended up being a soupy mess with this one. 🙁 I had ended up adding almost 4 cups of powdered sugar and it still wasn’t thickening up. Everything still tasted great, but I’m wondering what brand of butter you use for your frosting? I’m guessing that’s my problem with this one.

    Thanks for all your recipes! Your tikka masala is one of my favorites.

    1. Hi Maria! It sounds like your vegan butter was way too soft or possibly even melted to start with. That is the issue with soupy frosting. 🙂 How did you soften the butter? Was it melted? Start with vegan butter that is just barely softened to room temperature, it should not be melty in the slightest, or you will have issues. I use Country Crock, Earth Balance, Melt and sometimes even Miyokos brand for frosting, they all work well for me though I do prefer Country Crock sticks these days, they work so well. Hope that helps!

  6. I made these for my family bake off wars, and they loved them. They couldn’t even tell it was vegan, highly recommended. Also I won the competition with this cupcake! 

  7. I’ve made these 3 different times and about to make a 4th! Such a great recipe. The cupcakes are SO moist and STAY moist for as long as they last (which isn’t long). Thank you for this recipe, Nora!

  8. I haven’t tried one of your recipes that didn’t work yet! These are amazing, not to mention this icing has become a go to for anything sweet I make. 100% satisfied, and this is coming from someone who is TERRIBLE at anything related to the kitchen. 

  9. I halved the recipe and didnt have apple sauce so I used a flax egg, which I’m guessing had something to do with why my cupcakes were kind of dense? BUT the flavor was amazing, really amazing! The entire family loved them! All 12 were gone in a day. 🙂

    1. Flax eggs may have made them more dense, I’m not sure. Over mixing the batter is often the culprit of a dense cupcake though. But I’m so happy everyone enjoyed them anyhow!

  10. Hi Nora

    Is the applesauce replacement
    1/4 cup= 1 flax egg (1Tbsp flax seed +3 tbsp water)

    Thank you in advance

    Happy Thanksgiving

  11. My favorite dessert by far ! I was hoping you could tell me how to make this into a 6 inch cake, as in how would I change the cook time ? 

    Absolutely amazing !! Thank you for sharing 

    1. Thank you! That’s great to hear. I haven’t tried it so it’s hard to say exactly. I think the batter would probably make two 6 inch cakes, that will probably be quite tall. Maybe about 40 minutes to bake? But you’ll just have to check the middle with a toothpick until done.

  12. My daughter made these after I forwarded her your recipe and she LOVED them! She said to let you know that they are moist, delicious and perfect.

  13. Nora! These are the best cupcakes I ever made or tasted. Moist, fluffy, soft, flavorful. And the frosting tastes gourmet. I never cooked or baked before quarantine, and if
    I tried, nothing came out right. But since finding your recipes, I cook absolutely easy and delicious vegan food for my family every week. Thank you!!!

  14. I made these earlier today and they were absolutely DELICIOUS!! The cakes came out very moist and the frosting paired very well with it. The only thing was I left out the pecans because of my braces, but other than that it was perfect! ?

        1. Hi Meghan. I’m glad you love the cupcakes! Thank you for using my recipes, and for taking time to share your review!

  15. So excited for fall and all the treats included! Would I be able to use this recipe to make a layered cake? If so, should I double the batch and how long would it bake for?

    1. It would probably work, but I have only made them as cupcakes. I don’t know that you would need to double the recipe, maybe. You could also make my pumpkin cake, and make it as a layer cake. You would not need to double that recipe. Hope that helps!

  16. Can’t wait to make these!! Can I just ask the difference between flax eggs and applesauce on something like this? I usually love the texture of the flax eggs, but I see you usually use that for your cake. Any help would be great!!

    1. I’m sure flax eggs would work here as well. I really like using flax eggs in cookies (though not always), but in cakes/cupcakes they aren’t my favorite. Applesauce is lighter and is often my choice. Plus it’s easier because you don’t have to get out a separate bowl to make your flax eggs in. 🙂 But if you want to try subbing flax here, I would probably try 1 or 2 flax eggs. Thank you!

    1. Well, you could maybe sub all applesauce for the oil in the cupcakes, but I don’t know how to make the frosting oil free honestly. If you have an oil free frosting you like, you could use that instead.

    1. I’m not sure. I would not just reduce the oil, you could maybe sub some of it with applesauce though. You might be able to reduce the sugar somewhat without if affecting the recipe, but I haven’t tested it.

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