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A vegan pumpkin cupcake, topped with frosting.


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  • Author: angela liddon
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Diet: Vegan


These irresistible pumpkin spice cupcakes are amazing in the fall or winter months—but I certainly don’t hesitate to make them in the summer, too! The cupcakes are surprisingly light and fluffy, and if you’re anything like me you might scream with delight when you see how much they rise while they bake. I use white (or light) spelt flour to give these a wonderful, moist, and light texture. If you can’t find any, you can use whole spelt flour in the recipe, but be aware that the cupcakes will be denser (yet still tasty!).


for the cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups (550 mL/10 1/2 ounces/ 300 g) white/light spelt flour (see Tip)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) plus 2 tablespoons (30 mL) natural cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 mL) ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) grapeseed oil or refined coconut oil, melted (see Tip)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

for the spiced buttercream frosting

  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) vegan butter (see Tip)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons (5 to 15 mL) almond milk, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
  • Pinch of fine sea salt


for the cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin with oil or line it with nonstick paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, allspice, and cloves until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, milk, maple syrup, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. Stop mixing as soon as there are no dry patches of flour, on the bottom of the bowl; it’s important not to overmix spelt flour as it can result in a dense cupcake. The batter will be quite thick (like a muffin batter), but this is normal.
  5. Scoop the batter (I like to use a retractable ice cream scoop) into each well of the prepared muffin tin, filling them two-thirds to three-quarters full. Smooth out the tops a bit. Bake for 24 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean and the cake springs back very slowly—when touched. The cupcakes rise beautifully—you might actually scream with joy when you see the beautiful rounded tops!
  6. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Gently transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely. (Be sure the cupcakes are not warm when you frost them, or the frosting will melt.)

for the spiced buttercream frosting

  1. In a large bowl using electric beaters or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for about 30 seconds until fluffy and smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Beat again, starting on low speed and covering the bowl or stand mixer with a tea towel, until smooth and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. If your buttercream is still too thick, you can thin it with a touch more milk. If it becomes too thin, you can thicken it by beating in more sugar.

Tip: For the vegan butter, I use soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread. You can use whichever vegan butter you prefer, though.

Make it nut-free: Swap the almond milk for a nut-free milk of your choice, such as coconut milk.

Make it soy-free: Use soy-free vegan butter.

For Double Vanilla Buttercream: Add 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) pure vanilla bean powder or two seeded vanilla beans and omit the cinnamon and nutmeg.

to finish the cupcakes

  1. Frost the cooled cupcakes with Spiced Buttercream Frosting or Orange-Maple Coconut Whipped Cream. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the cupcakes: Place the frosted cupcakes on a plate and freeze, uncovered. Once the frosting has hardened, remove the cupcakes from the freezer and wrap them individually with plastic wrap. Transfer them to an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw, unwrap the cupcake and place it in the fridge or on the counter until thawed throughout.

Tip: I use grapeseed oil in this cake because it’s neutral, with virtually no flavor. I don’t recommend using a strong-tasting oil like extra-virgin olive oil. If you don’t have grapeseed oil or refined coconut oil (which is also flavorless), you can use melted virgin coconut oil. Just note that the cake will have a light coconut flavor. When using melted coconut oil, make sure the rest of your ingredients are at room temperature to prevent the coconut oil from solidifying.

Make it nut-free: Swap the almond milk for coconut milk or another nut-free milk of your choice.

Make it soy-free: Use soy-free vegan butter for the Spiced Buttercream.


The buttercream frosting yields 1 ¼ cups (300 ml)

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American