Filled with the warm fall pumpkin spice flavour you know and love, these moist, homemade, vegan gluten-free pumpkin cupcakes are frosted with a creamy pumpkin spice buttercream everyone will love. Serve them as a gf Thanksgiving dessert (or an ANY night dessert!).
Quick and easy fluffy vegan pumpkin cupcakes that are perfectly spiced, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free! Sound good? Then keep reading!
Cupcakes are a favourite here, and I'll be sharing all my recipes for them in the near future, the next on the list happens to be this recipe for my pumpkin cupcakes.
They're exactly what you need when you're trying to decide on a dessert to make any time during the fall, for a potluck, or just because, and they're especially wonderful to serve as a holiday dessert if you want something instead of pumpkin pie (nothing wrong with pumpkin pie, though!)
I adapted my pumpkin muffin and pumpkin bread recipes to make them and like those recipes, this one is so simple to make, you may just find yourself making them over and over again!
I've included everything you need to know in this post, so dig in and get ready for the most delicious gluten free pumpkin cupcakes!
And if pumpkin isn't your thing but you still need a cupcake fix, check out my chocolate cupcakes and my chocolate peppermint cupcakes (more to come!).
Ingredients You’ll Need
The ingredients aren't complicated or unusual, see below for some specific details about them.
Ingredient and Substitution Notes
As always, I recommend making this recipe exactly as it's written for the best and intended results, but you’ll find some ingredient notes below so you know what can and can't be changed.
Gluten-Free Flour Blend – This recipe calls for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, the one in the RED bag without xanthan gum.
I did test this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten-free flour (blue bag) and I wasn't happy with the results. The blend in the red bag produced a much better result in all of my tests.
That’s not to say the 1 to 1 flour blend wouldn't work to make pumpkin cupcakes, you CAN make perfectly delicious pumpkin cupcakes with it, just not with THIS particular recipe. Modifications would need to be made for them to be perfect. So for the best and intended results, use the blend in the red bag.
I have not tested with any other gluten-free flours other than what is mentioned above, so I'm not sure how others would work. With gluten-free baking, it’s always important to use the same flour the recipe calls for to get the expected results.
Make sure to measure your flour correctly or your cupcakes will not have the correct texture.
Pumpkin Purée – I made the cupcakes in the pictures with canned pumpkin. Either canned or homemade pumpkin purée can be used (click to learn how to make your own pumpkin puree). Make sure you are using plain, unsweetened pumpkin, and NOT pumpkin pie filling. If your homemade purée is on the runny side, line a colander with cheesecloth and put your finished puree in. Place the colander over a large bowl and let it sit for 30-60 minutes so some of the extra moisture drains out.
Coconut Sugar – Brown sugar can be used instead of coconut sugar if needed and if you don't have either of those, white sugar will also work (but for the best flavour, stick to coconut or brown sugar). If you do use brown or white sugar, make sure you're using a brand that is vegan (organic will always be vegan). I have not made this recipe with liquid or alternative sweeteners.
Oil - I usually use melted coconut oil when making this recipe, but any neutral flavoured oil, like safflower, or avocado can be used instead. If you use coconut oil, make sure that your other ingredients are at room temperature so it does not solidify when added to the recipe. I have not tried to make this recipe oil-free, the combination of the oil and pumpkin helps to give the cupcakes an extra moist texture.
Flax Eggs – Since this recipe is made without eggs, flax eggs are used as a replacement. Chia eggs will work as well if you cannot have flax.
Pumpkin Pie Spice – Pumpkin spice is the main flavour in these cupcakes, so don't leave it out. If you don't have a pre-made blend, I've included info on how to make your own homemade pumpkin spice in the recipe notes below.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda - Make sure these ingredients are both fresh, they’re both very important for the cupcakes to have the ideal rise and texture.
How About Add-In Ingredients?
I typically don't use add-ins when making cupcakes, but I think that ½ cup mini chocolate chips would work really well here if you want to take your cupcakes to another level!
Nuts would also work great, try adding ½ cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter or you can just use ¼ cup and sprinkle them on top of the frosting.
Are you new to vegan gluten-free baking? If so, be sure to read all of my vegan gluten-free baking tips!
How to Make Them
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions at the end of this post.)
While reading the simplified steps, follow along with the numbered images below!
Start by making your flax eggs and preparing your cupcake pan.
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together
2. Mix all the wet ingredients together.
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
4. Mix into a batter.
5. Divide the batter into the cupcake pan.
How to Know When They're Ready
Follow the time stated in the recipe and you can also do the toothpick test by simply sticking a toothpick into the center of the largest cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, they're done.
After they have baked, remove them from the oven and let them sit in the pan for a few minutes before carefully removing (they'll still be hot!) and placing them on a cooling rack.
Allow them to cool completely before frosting them.
When it comes to icing for pumpkin cupcakes, I like to frost them with buttercream flavoured with pumpkin spice. I just use my vegan buttercream frosting recipe and I mix pumpkin spice into it. Simple as that!
If you prefer something other than a pumpkin spice buttercream, you can top them with a vegan cream cheese frosting (recipe coming soon!) or a cinnamon buttercream frosting (just replace the pumpkin spice with ground cinnamon).
If you want something a little different, you can frost them with vegan chocolate buttercream, chocolate and pumpkin go very well together!
(You can also make a little extra frosting to use as a filling if you'd like!)
TIP: If you're new to cupcake decorating, I highly recommend this inexpensive cupcake decorating kit (Amazon Link) that comes with four of the most popular decorating tips as well as eight disposable decorating bags. I also recommend adding a 12" reusable piping bag to your collection.
I used a Wilton 4B tip (it comes with the kit I linked to above) to decorate the cupcakes in the pictures on this page, and I used a small sieve / sifter to lightly sprinkle the tops with cinnamon.
You can also top with sprinkles. Find a list of vegan sprinkles to look for in this article: "Are Sprinkles Vegan?"
These cupcakes are at their very best the day they are made, so it's a good idea to enjoy them as soon as possible.
Store leftovers in an airtight container where they will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days.
After that, place the container in the refrigerator for another 3-4 days. Serve cold or bring to room temperature before serving.
I don't recommend freezing them.
IMPORTANT: If you frost them with cream cheese frosting, leftovers will need to be refrigerated right away; they will not keep at room temperature.
What’s the Texture Like?
Moist, soft, and fluffy! Have a look at the following image to see.
But in order to get this texture, you must follow the recipe exactly as it’s written. Any substitutions or changes and you run the risk of your cupcakes not turning out as expected.
Tips for Success
- Use the same flour I use. Baking vegan gluten-free can be tricky because different flours produce different results. I know this particular flour works perfectly for this recipe, so to duplicate that perfection, use Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (in the RED bag!). See the “Ingredient and Substitution Notes” section above for more info about the flour needed for this recipe.
- Measure and have all your ingredients ready to go before starting. This will make the process run smooth, quick, and easy. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature.
- Measure your ingredients correctly. Too much flour in this recipe will result in dry, crumbly, and / or dense cupcakes. I highly recommend using a scale (this is one I have (Amazon Link) and my weight measurements when baking. If you don’t have a scale, lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cup until it is overflowing and then drag the flat edge of a butter knife across the top to level it off. (NEVER dunk the measuring cup into the flour to fill your measuring cup because this will guarantee an incorrect measurement of up to 1.5x more flour and a recipe fail.) Learn more about how to measure flour correctly.
- Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh, these are two of the ingredients that help the cupcakes to rise and become fluffy.
- Don’t over-bake. If over-baked, you’ll end up with dry, crumbly cupcakes. See the section above called “How to Know When They're Done” for more details.
- FULLY cool the cupcakes before frosting. Frosting while warm will result in melted frosting melting and a mess.
- Read this post from top to bottom before you start. I’ve included a lot of tips and tricks so you get things right. Also read through the actual recipe before getting started.
- Follow the recipe exactly as it’s written for the very best results.
Are you new to vegan gluten-free baking? If so, be sure to read all of my vegan gluten-free baking tips!
No, it cannot be used. You must use pure pumpkin purée that is unsweetened and contains no spices. The only ingredient on the label should be pumpkin. Plain pumpkin needs to be used so you can build the sweetness and flavour yourself. Since pumpkin pie filling has sugar and spices added to it, the recipe will be off.
Yes, but the baking time will need to be reduced to 9-11 minutes.
It likely can, but since I have not tried it myself (yet) I cannot give specific instructions about pan size and baking time.
It's best to stick to making them the day you plan on serving them. Some vegan gluten-free baking has a shorter lifespan than their non-vegan gluten-free counterparts, this is one of those recipes.
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If You Make This Recipe…
Please let me know how things went by leaving a star rating and a comment below. You can also share a picture on Instagram and tag me (I’m @delightfuladventures) so I can see them!
And If You Like This Recipe…
You may also like these other easy vegan gluten-free pumpkin recipes:
- Vegan Pumpkin Pudding
- Baked Vegan Pumpkin Doughnuts
- Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes
- Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cupcakes
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 ¾ cups (245g) gluten free flour blend **see important note about flour below**
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ cup (120ml) oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (113g) coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 cup (240g) unsweetened pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
For the Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 recipe vegan buttercream frosting
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350° F (177° C).
- Add cupcake liners to your muffin pan and set aside.
- Prepare your flax eggs by whisking together ground flax seeds and water. Set aside to thicken.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
- In a small bowl, mix the oil, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, pumpkin puree, and flax eggs together until blended.
- Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined and the mixture becomes a smooth batter.
- Using a spoon or a large scoop, divide batter between the 12 cupcake liners.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the largest cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool in pan for a few minutes, remove them, and place them onto a cooling rack.
- Allow cupcakes to fully cool before frosting them with the buttercream recipe below.
For the Pumpkin Spice Buttercream:
- Prepare one batch of this vegan buttercream frosting.
- Add the pumpkin spice to the prepared buttercream and mix until the spice has fully blended into the buttercream.
- Please read all of the information and FAQ info above, as well as the notes below before making this recipe.
- It’s important to know that different gluten-free flour blends use different ingredients and ratios, so results will always vary if you substitute. I have never used any other brand of flour to make this recipe (other than Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour (Amazon link) with the red label, NOT the blue label), so please know that your results may not be the same as mine if you substitute with another gluten-free flour blend. The weight listed above is for this specific brand of flour. See the “Ingredient and Substitution Notes” section above for more info about the flour needed for this recipe.
- This recipe will NOT work with coconut flour or any other single gluten-free flour, you must use a gluten-free blend, the one mentioned above for the intended results.
- Make sure to measure your flour correctly.
- If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own by mixing 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1.5 teaspoon ground ginger, ¾ teaspoon ground cloves, and ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg together. Use what is needed for the cupcakes and the buttercream, and then store the rest in a small airtight container to use for other recipes.
- I usually use melted coconut oil for this recipe, but any type of neutral flavoured oil can be used instead, such as avocado or safflower. If you use coconut oil, make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature so it doesn’t harden when it’s added to the recipe.
- Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh before using, these are very important ingredients that contribute to the cupcakes rising properly.
- Coconut sugar is what I usually use for this recipe, but if you don't have it, brown sugar is the next best choice followed but organic cane sugar / granulated sugar. Don't reduce the amount of sugar called for or use a liquid sweetener. This recipe has not been tested with sugar substitutes.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days. After that, place the container in the refrigerator for another 3-4 days.
- If you choose to frost them with cream cheese frosting, leftovers will need to be refrigerated right away, they will not keep at room temperature.
- These cupcakes are their very best the day they are made, so it's best to enjoy them as soon as possible.
- Nutrition info is based on 1 cupcake with pumpkin spice buttercream and both recipes made as written. Nutrition info is only to be used as a rough guide. Click here to learn how nutrition info is calculated on this website.
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