Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes

Heather, Sprinkle Bakes

Elevate your fall baking with browned butter! These pumpkin cupcakes are the best example of how this simple ingredient adds nutty, toasted flavor to baked goods. Brown sugar buttercream is the perfect accompaniment and makes a nice alternative to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
20 min Prep Time
25 min Cook Time
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Servings: 2 dozen cupcakes

Servings: 2 dozen cupcakes


  • Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Brown Sugar Buttercream

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Milk or cream to thin
  • 2 Tbs. molasses
  • Pumpkin spice and freshly grated nutmeg for garnish, optional


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with papers.

Step 2

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Use a light-colored metal saucepan so you can easily see the color of the butter change. It’s much harder to judge the color change in a dark nonstick pan. Cook until the butter foams and steams. Swirl the pan occasionally as the foam subsides and watch closely as the butter turns golden brown and the milk solids drop to the bottom of the pan. Pour the browned butter and butter solids into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not solidified.

Step 3

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice. Set aside.

Step 4

In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and sour cream until well combined. Stir in the flour mixture and combine until only a few streaks of flour remain. Whisk in the browned butter until well blended.

Step 5

Divide batter between cupcake liners. Fill them about approximately 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until they spring back when pressed in the middle. Remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 6

For the buttercream, combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed until well combined, about 4 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat again until crumbly; reduce to medium speed. Add milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time with the mixer running until the frosting comes to piping consistency. Add the molasses and beat again until light and fluffy. Transfer the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large open star decorator piping tip.

Step 7

Pipe a tall swirl of buttercream on each cupcake. Garnish with a pinch of pumpkin spice and freshly grated nutmeg, if using.
Store the cupcakes in an air-tight container for up to one week.