These brown butter pumpkin cupcakes are easy to make and always perfectly moist. Brown butter pumpkin cupcakes fabulously combine fall flavors like caramel, pumpkin, and pecan into a winning combination. Great for holiday crowds and gatherings!
I love fall. Everything about fall excites me – cooler weather, cozy sweaters, apples for harvesting, pecans for pies, and pumpkins galore. In fact, Meg and I are team pumpkin all the way. Pumpkin Spice latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin dalgona?! Yes, please. So, it comes as no surprise that Meg and I are huge fans of these brown butter pumpkin cupcakes. Yes, the name of it is a mouthful and has several steps, but it’s one of my easiest and most fail-proof recipes to bake. It’s been a staple in my recipe arsenal for years, and though I can’t remember the original magazine that featured the recipe, it’s been adapted and tweaked so many times that it’s a well-loved favorite. Fun fact?! I baked several batches of these brown butter pumpkin cupcakes for my Halloween wedding and dinner party because they’re that good.
Brown butter pumpkin cupcakes are an absolute fall go-to for me. Whenever I make them, they always get rave reviews. There’s minimal drama associated with this recipe, and it always yields a rich, moist, and perfectly raised dome. And don’t let the amount of steps intimidate you. Though there are lots of steps, all the steps are pretty easy. You’ll need to make the cupcake, the frosting, the candied pecan topping, and the caramel drizzle. Meg and I buy store caramel because it’s easier. But, if you’re a perfectionist, you can totally make the caramel from scratch (we know, it’s more fun that way!).
Plus, the cupcakes themselves are pretty simple to put together. I have mostly everything already on hand, so it can be made in a pinch and (almost) last minute. The only item that needs prepping are the batches of burned butter, but I can typically plan in advance as long as I have an hour or so to chill the browned butter.
The Key Players in our Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes
I love this recipe because it is so, so easy to make and it has a high success rate. There is nothing I dislike more than baking drama – which is what I call unfortunate baking issues. I don’t believe I’ve ever had baking drama associated with this recipe. The only thing I don’t often have on hand is pumpkin puree, but that’s okay. Target often has it in stock. Since this is a several part recipe, you’ll need ingredients for the cupcakes, ingredients for the frosting, ingredients for the candied pecans, and if you choose to make your own, caramel. There are lots of players, but don’t let that overwhelm you.
Word of caution: in the grocery store, there are two cans of pumpkin that look very similar. One is a can of pumpkin puree, and the other is a can of pumpkin pie mix. Pumpkin puree is just pure pumpkin puree. Pumpkin pie puree has tons of spices mixed in with the pumpkin, and this is typically the main ingredient in pumpkin pies. You’ll want to grab the plain pumpkin can, since we’ll be adding our own spices here.
These browned butter pumpkin cupcakes are adapted from a cake recipe, so the results yield approximately 18 large cupcakes. Perfect for sharing!
For the cupcakes you’ll need:
- unsalted butter
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- pumpkin pie spice
- brown sugar
- white sugar
And for the frosting you’ll need:
- unsalted butter
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
- brown sugar
And for the candied pecans:
- unsalted pecans
- unsalted butter
- brown sugar
How-to’s for the Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes.
First, prep! Oven turned on 350 farenheit and line 24 cupcake rounds with liners. I typically get about 19 cupcakes out of this recipe, you might get slightly more or less depending on your scoopage.
Browning the Butter.
Next, you’ll need to brown your butter by burning it. Burned butter, also called beurre noisette, is made by cooking unsalted butter over high heat until the milk solids start to brown. There’s an entire science about it which The Science of Cooking delves into. If you’re interested, check out what they have to say about browned butter. But for me, I like my browned butter burned. So, though it might horrify culinary connoisseurs, burn the heck out of it.
Burning butter is easy. Put your butter in a stainless steel bowl over medium-high heat. As it’s cooking, the butter will gradually start to change colors, going from light yellow to golden brown, to dark brown. They amount you want to burn the butter is up to you – but I feel the best flavor is imparted when the butter has a dark, rich, black color. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, then I’d shoot for a dark golden color.
Also, you’ll want to listen to it. As it’s melting, you’ll hear the butter popping and splattering. Once it heats up to the correct temperature, the butter will stop splattering and it will start to burn. Watch it carefully at this point!
Put this to the side and let it cool.
Mixing and Baking.
You’ll need two bowls. One medium bowl and one larger bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together in the smaller bowl. In the larger bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Then, gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t over mix, just stir enough that the flour streaks disappear.
With a cupcake dispenser (I use a large one similar to the one in this set), fill each lined cupcake a little over halfway. Then, pop into the oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 21 minutes.
Take out and cool.
Brown your butter, then set in the freezer to chill. you’ll need to brown the butter with enough time for it to harden again. I usually pop it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up again.
In a mixer with the beater attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Also, check that all the butter has been integrated. Then slowly add the powdered sugar and brown sugar. Continue to beat for about 4 minutes.
This is a very soft frosting and doesn’t hold fancy piping well. Because of this, I like to use my round tip attachment for piping giant pillow blobs of frosting onto the cupcakes. Put this to the side in a cool location.
This is so easy. Over medium high heat, melt your butter and brown sugar. The mixture will separate for a few minutes before coming together. Once it comes together, mix vigorously and toss in the pecans. Quickly stir until you see the mixture boiling, and then immediately remove from the stove.
Pour mixture onto a prepared parchment paper and let cool.
Once cool, the pecans should harden up. Chop into fine crumbles and set aside.
Once your cupcakes have cooled, fit your piping bag with your piping tip. Fill bag with frosting, and quickly work to decorate each cupcake.
Once you’ve frosted each cupcake, sprinkle pecans on top. Next drizzle your caramel and you’ve got a perfectly pumpkin cupcake!
Put in the fridge and then bring to room temperature before eating. Fine on the counter for up to 3 days.
Looking for other Fall recipes? Try these out…
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Burnt Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Cupcake Tin
- Cupcake liners
- Piping bag and tip
- parchment paper
Ingredients for Cupcakes
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon 2
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 14 ounce can of pumpkin puree
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter
- 12 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Pre-purchased caramel sauce
- Turn the oven up to 350 and set a rack in the middle.
- Line tins with cupcake liners.
- Brown butter and set aside to cool.
- Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
- In a seperate bowl, mix all wet ingredients except for the butter.
- Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- With a spatula, gently fold in the cooled, brown butter mixture into the mixture.
- Using a cupcake scoop, fill each cavity up 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter.
- Put filled tin on the middle rack in the oven, and bake for 21 minutes.
- Take out and let cool.
- Burn butter and put into fridge or freezer to solidify it.
- Once butter is firm, beat butter and cream cheese on high until combined and light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Lower speed, and add brown sugar.
- Increase speed, and beat for an addtional minute.
- Lower speed, and gradually add all powedered sugar.
- Once all powdered sugar is incorperated, beat on high for an additional 3 minutes.
- Put in a cool spot until ready to frost.
- Melt butter and sugar over high heat, whisking constantly.
- The ingredients will seperate at first, but will come together as the temperature increases.
- Continue whisking, and once the mixture is starting to form small bubbles, quickly add the pecans.
- Whisk vigorously until everything is combined, about a minute or two.
- Pour pecans onto a waiting piece of parchemnt paper, and let cool.
- Once cool, chop into fine tiny pieces. Set aside.
- Heat in 10 second increments, until the caramel sauce has good drizzle consistency. Set to the side.