Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Last week, we planned a luncheon for a coworker at sort of the last minute, for Friday afternoon. Guess who volunteered to bring dessert? Yep, that’d be me. Only last week was cah-razy busy and I completely forgot about my sweet contribution until about 7pm on Thursday night. At that moment, I was in my pajamas with my rear end firmly planted on the couch, staring at the television while contemplating an 8 o’clock bedtime.

My gut reaction was to stop at a local bakery the following morning, but seriously – what kind of food blogger shows up with store-bought cupcakes? Not this one. One thing for certain though, this girl was not about to change out of her favorite, slightly worn (read holey – you know you totally have a pair) yoga pants to run to the market.

After a quick scan of the fridge and pantry, I came up with a spice cake mix and some pumpkin puree. I decided to wing a recipe adapted from my favorite doctored up cake mix recipe. Only this time, I gave the recipe a seasonal twist.

The result? Honestly, these cupcakes are insane. Moist, flavorful and so perfect Fall. The addition of pumpkin pie spice kicks the spices already in the cake mix into high gear. And although they’re quite incredible on their own, Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes were just begging for a swirl of cream cheese frosting. They’re sweet, simple and seasonal. What more you could ask for?

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Yield: about 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 18-20 minutes


For the Cupcakes

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) box Duncan Hines Signature Spice Cake (see note section)
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon homemade pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 pounds (about 5 3/4 cups) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, pumpkin pie spice, sour cream, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Add in the butter and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Turn the mixer down to low speed and gradually add in the confectioners' sugar until it is completely incorporated. Add in vanilla and mix until incorporated. Turn off the mixer and check the frosting for taste and texture. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the mixture for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  3. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and if desired, garnish with festive Fall sprinkles.


  • You are using the dry pudding mix. Do not prepare the pudding according to package directions before adding to the bowl.
  • Some cake mix companies have reduced their cake mix to 15.25 ounces. This recipe performs just fine with the reduced cake mix contents.
  • This recipe would be awesome with Pumpkin Spice Pudding; however, I did not have any on hand.
  • Store cupcakes in the refrigerator. Remove to room temperature about 1 hour before serving.
  • This recipe for cream cheese frosting will generously frost 24 cupcakes. If you aren't a frosting lover, I'd recommend cutting it in half to start with.
Recipe Source: My Baking Addiction

59 Responses to “Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes”

  1. cassie — October 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I love your doctored up cake mix and the pumpkin is a genius addition. Love these, great save!!


  2. Shaina — October 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Pumpkin perfection. I love when pumpkin is used as flavoring, plus it makes cakes so moist.


  3. Liv B — October 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I love these! This might sound like an odd question, but what kind of muffin pan do you use? I love the shape of these cupcakes with the straighter sides. I’ve only got the traditional pans & would love to add to my collection! :)


  4. Jackie in NC — October 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Yum! There seems to be a shortage of Spice Cake mixes around here, I wonder what’s up with that! I will stock up as soon as I can find some, I need to make these.


  5. Mary Ellen — October 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    These also work well frozen and then thawed at room temperature the next morning. You could also whip some 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/4 cup water and a room temperature egg together and dollop that on top of the cake batter to cream cheese muffins/cupcakes.


  6. marla — October 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Beautiful pumpkin cupcakes!


  7. luv what you do — October 4, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Your cupcakes look so beautiful and professional!
    I love that you used the cake mix and doctored it up!


  8. Tracy — October 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Gorgeous cupcakes! I’m pumpkin crazy right now, and I love how easy these are!


  9. Amanda — October 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I assume the recipe goes for a standard size muffin. Any suggestions/thoughts on baking time if these were made in mini-muffin size?


  10. Lisa Cornely — October 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Thanks for the recipe. It was so easy to put together, and turned out really nice. The delaying was amazing. Perfect weeknight cupcake recipe. The flavors were excellent and nobody would have thought it started with a mix.


    • Lisa Cornely — October 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Uggghhh auto correct. The frosting was amazing.

  11. Brian @ A Thought For Food — October 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I’m not even a big cupcake fan, but these look wonderful!


  12. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — October 5, 2012 at 1:04 am

    I love the use of pudding in this recipe! What a delicious moist factor :)


  13. Lynna — October 5, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Love you variations on your doctored up cupcake recipe! This sounds wonderful!


  14. ThisBakerGirlBlogs — October 5, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Just lovely! :)


  15. Cookbook Queen — October 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

    That swirl of frosting is absolutely gorgeous.

    I am always looking for yummy and easy recipes to bring to church on Sunday mornings…I usually leave a special treat in the volunteer room to say thank you to all the Sunday school teachers. These would be PERFECT!!


  16. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — October 5, 2012 at 9:40 am

    These are incredibly perfect!!


  17. Zach — October 5, 2012 at 11:27 am

    These cupcakes look simple, yet elegant and delicious. We cannot wait to try them . . . maybe with an an espresso cream frosting!?


  18. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — October 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    These are so pretty!!


  19. Casey@Good. Food. Stories. — October 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Good on you for not going to the bakery – I mean, I support local businesses, but girl, you have a reputation to uphold!


  20. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — October 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I’m currently obsessed with pumpkin – will have to add these to my “to bake” list!


  21. What a great last minute save, I’m sure they were a hit!


  22. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy — October 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    those look positively perfect!


  23. Jen @ Savory Simple — October 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    These are perfection!


  24. Amina Shah — October 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve had pumpkin pie filling in my pantry for a while… I was a little excited about bringing in some fall flavors.. but couldn’t find anything tempting enough to make. These cupcakes look amazing! Great idea!


  25. leslie — October 8, 2012 at 9:35 am

    You probably would have gotten fired if you showed up w/ store bought cupcakes!! :)
    These sound amazing!


  26. Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies — October 8, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I can’t believe how simple and gorgeous these look. And from a box mix?! Amazing!


  27. Carlas Confections — October 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Cant believe we both had Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes on our blogs at the same time… definitely great minds… ;) This version looks uber yummy, with the pudding and yogurt mixed in! Oh my! So beautiful too. Love the simple frosting piping.


    • Cindy — September 24, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      She used sour cream, not yogurt but actually wouldn’t greek yogurt work? Good idea! I have heard of the spice cake and pumpkin puree before but not with pudding and sour cream.

    • Jamie — September 25, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Thanks for visiting Cindy.


  28. Julia | JuliasAlbum.com — October 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Beautiful photo of cupcakes! Saw it on FoodGawker today.


    • Jamie — October 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Julia!

  29. Peggy — October 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Yeah, I don’t think I’d be changing out of my comfy pants if I were you, either! Way to think on the fly and come up with something incredible =)


  30. Heather — October 13, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    These cupcakes are incredible! I am taking them to a family gathering and needed to “test” one to make sure they were ok for human consumption (hee hee) and they were indeed. Better really, because I had to exhibit extreme willpower to not test another! Thanks for the keeper recipe


    • Jamie — October 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe – thanks so much for leaving your feedback! Have a great day!

  31. Pilar — October 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I have been a fan of your recipes for almost a year now. I made these for my daughter school and they were a hit!! Here in PR I could not find the Duncan Spice Cake mix so I used the yellow cake mix and added 2 spoons of the pumpkin pie spice mix and they turned out perfect. This recipe is going to be my favorite of the season. Thanks


    • Jamie — October 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe – thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback! Have a great day.

  32. Brooke Hickman — October 15, 2012 at 12:32 am

    I’m so glad that I’m not the only food blogger who has forgotten, until later in the evening, of a promise to bring goodies to work the next day. The last time it happened, I had the same thought as you–to stop at the local bakery on the way to work. And, just like you, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I ended up baking well past midnight. :)


  33. Therese (getpartychic.com) — October 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I’m drooling over this recipe! My birthday is in November, so I might just have to celebrate by making these!


  34. Seonaid — October 17, 2012 at 5:32 am

    These look brill! Can’t wait to have a go.


  35. Claire — October 20, 2012 at 5:07 am

    As a brit i wont be able to find Duncan Hines Signature Spice Cake :( Any help???


  36. Jessica — October 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I have seen the gluten free mixes at the grocery store. Have you or anyone else tried subbing in one for a regular mix. I love the idea of the making it work for everyone at work but haven’t used one of the mixes before.


    • Jessica — November 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Although they were muffin like then I would pick the substitution with a yellow gluten free mix worked with the addition of the extra spices that would be in spice cake. Everyone in the staff loved them including the gluten free but doesn’t love cream cheese frosting!

  37. jocelyne — October 31, 2012 at 12:34 am

    This looks delicious!! and I must confess I am making this right now! Just a quick question….is the batter suppose to be very dense?


  38. Jennifer — November 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Made these for a firm potluck…they were AMAZING. I got so many compliments on the cupcakes and frosting (although, I did make some edits to the frosting by adding some shortening, just to make it a bit thicker).

    On another note, I am in love with your blog. I am pinning a lot of your recipes for a future date. I was wondering if you had a “doctored” version of red velvet cupcakes starting from cake mix. I have leftover frosting from these, and a box of red velvet cake mix, and was planning on making them this weekend. Please let me know. Thank you again for this cupcake recipe, again, AMAZING!


    • MBA — December 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      No, I’m sorry, I do not have a recipe. If you do happen to find a good recipe, feel free to stop back and let us know how it turned out – have a great day!

  39. lala — November 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Made this as a bundt cake and used a cream cheese glaze instead for thanks a bunch for the great idea . I am glad I am not the only baker who uses Dr. Cake mix.


  40. frost — December 13, 2012 at 4:50 am

    beautiful shots=)


  41. Selina — July 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Loved these! Made them for my mans birthday bc he LOVES pumpkin! I made them in the mini muffin pans and cooked them about 14 min. they came out perfect. I halved the icing and it made the perfect amount for these little mini muffins :) Thanks!


    • Jamie — August 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm


      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for stopping back to share and have a wonderful day!


  42. Judy — October 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm


    I just made these cupcakes and they are delicious! I gave some to my neighbor and she said they were the best cupcakes she has ever tasted! My husband cannot get enough! Great job!


    • Jamie — October 3, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Yay! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for reporting back – have a delicious day!

  43. Emily — October 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    I made these for a bake sale last week and have already had requests for more! If fact, there are 2 dozen in the oven right now :-) Thanks for a fabulous recipe!


    • Jamie — October 16, 2013 at 11:18 am


      Wow, that’s great news! I’m so happy they are in such high demand :). Have a great day!


  44. Kayla — October 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve been using this recipe for the last two years and it’s always a hit! My coworkers ask for it every season! 


    • Jamie — October 29, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      So happy to hear that you enjoy the recipe, Kayla!

  45. Wade Lam — November 13, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Quick question for ya…I plan on using this recipe to bake some cupcakes for a 90th birthday tomorrow.  Of course, I’ll use an extender due to the smaller cake mix sizes these days.  But I’m wondering how a butterscotch pudding mix would taste, instead of vanilla…  Any idea if it would make the flavor too strong?  Maybe if I went with butterscotch pudding, I should scale back the spice?  Any recommendations or ideas would be MUCH appreciated.  Thanks – I’m a huge fan, BTW!!!  :)


  46. Ashli Smith — November 6, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Made these and added 1.5 cups of chocolate chips! Amazing!


    • Jamie — November 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Yum! I love pumpkin and chocolate, too, Ashli!

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