Filed Under: Cakes & Cupcakes | Fall

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes

Recipe By Tessa Arias
January 9th, 2010

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes are soft, moist, creamy yet nutty, and perfect to quench any fall-flavor craving!

Yield: 15 cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Comforting depth of fall flavors
Texture: Soft, moist
Ease: Clear instructions, no special equipment or hard to find ingredients. Browning the butter is probably the most difficult part.
Appearance: It’s a cupcake, so of course it’s going to be cute!
Expense: Little, the only thing I had to go out and buy was pumpkin puree and more butter
Pros: The cupcakes can be frozen so if you don’t feel like making 15, freeze half and half the icing recipe
Cons: The cupcakes don’t last long once iced, the icing turns hard
Would I make this again? Yes!

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes are soft, moist, creamy yet nutty, and perfect to quench any fall-flavor craving!

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes

Remember back around Halloween when I made healthy Pumpkin Pie Muffins? This recipe for Pumpkin-Brown Butter Cupcakes wins. I don’t care how much sugar or butter this recipe calls for, its worth it. There is something so wonderful about this combination of flavors and textures: the creamy yet nutty, almost smokiness of the icing and the soft, tender, warm sweetness of the cupcake itself. As I’m typing this I’m glad I saved some of these cupcakes in the freezer because I already want to make another batch!

How to make
Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes

Yield: 15 cupcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes are soft, moist, creamy yet nutty, and perfect to quench any fall-flavor craving!


For Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Brown Butter Icing

For Brown Butter Icing

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed


To Make Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Brush standard muffin tins with butter; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage, if desired, and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  4. To finish, dip top of each cupcake in icing, then turn over quickly and let set. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are glazed, keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

To Make Brown Butter Icing:

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until nut-brown in color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour butter into bowl, leaving behind any burned sediment.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to brown butter, stir until smooth. If necessary, add more milk (up to 2 tablespoons) a little at a time, just until icing is spreadable. Use immediately.

Recipe Notes

From Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

Recipe Rating

  1. #
    thenotsoskinnykitchen — January 10, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Oh, don't those sound amazing! I was afraid we might be leaving pumpkin season, but I'm happy to eat sweet and spicy treats any day 🙂

  2. #
    organic baby crib — January 11, 2010 at 7:22 am

    I am afraid I may not make some of these cupcakes since pumpkin season is almost over. I may have a hard time searching for nice pumpkins for this.

  3. #
    Jessica @ How Sweet — January 11, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    These look incredible!! That frosting sounds amazing. Great photography!!

  4. #
    Hannah — April 8, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I love Martha's cupcake book, I am slowly working my way through it. Pumpkin is good anytime of year!

  5. #
    Anonymous — November 4, 2010 at 5:22 am

    When you made these cupcakes did you use the sage in the recipe? If so, do you think it added to the flavor?

  6. #
    Tessa — November 4, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Anonymous – I did not use sage when I made these cupcakes simply because I didn't have any on hand. I think it would probably add some nice depth of flavor and freshness but I don't feel the recipe would fall short without the sage.

  7. #
    Kimmy11 — October 6, 2011 at 1:48 am

    My friend made these using the sage…OMG !!! It is subtle but it definitely adds a freshness and unique flavor that;s woonderful….so moist and tasty!!!

  8. #
    ナイキ サッカー — April 9, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Right now

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Cookie Customization Chart
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed