These secretly healthy vegan pumpkin cupcakes are made using surprising ingredients to deliver a delicious, yet wholesome dessert. They’re lightly sweetened and perfectly moist, with a creamy, but firm enough to pipe, cream cheese frosting.
Pumpkin season is here and there’s no better time to try these healthy vegan pumpkin cupcakes.
These were inspired by my chocolate cupcakes, and just like the chocolate version, these are wholesome, with nutrient-dense ingredients that you can feel great about enjoying.
Why you’ll love these
- Wholesome! How many cupcakes can make that claim? 😉
- Loaded with pumpkin and perfect for fall! Spiced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves (or use your favourite pumpkin pie spice mix).
- Suitable for a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet, with no oil or butter (not even the frosting.) And there’s no refined flour or refined sugar.
- Our vegan pumpkin cupcakes are FAR lower in calories, fat and sugar when compared with classic cupcakes.
- Simple to prepare and freezer friendly for easy/quick snacks when that sweet tooth strikes. Plus, no hand mixer or stand mixer needed!
- They’re not only vegan and vegetarian friendly, but these fantastic pumpkin cupcakes are also gluten free.
- Perfect for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and great for birthdays, too.
Ingredients + Substitutions
For the vegan pumpkin cupcakes
Here’s everything you’ll need for the cupcakes.
- Pumpkin puree: Pure pumpkin puree is what you’ll need here. Make sure not to purchase pumpkin pie filling by mistake. They both come in cans and are normally found right beside one another in the grocery store.
- Almond flour: Use superfine blanched almond flour for the best texture. The almond flour adds tenderness and some necessary fat to these cupcakes, so don’t sub with another flour.
- Oat flour: Use a fine store-bought version, or you may also make your own if you have rolled oats and a strong blender. Choose certified gluten-free oat flour if needed.
- Maple syrup: Use pure maple syrup to sweeten the cupcakes using unrefined sugar. You may also use date syrup if you prefer.
- Milk: Use unsweetened cashew or almond milk, or soy milk. I didn’t try these with oat milk, but I suspect that’d work fine as well.
- Baking powder: Make sure your baking powder is active and fresh for a maximum rising power.
- Spices: For the pumpkin spice flavour, I’m using cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and ground cloves. If you already have a premixed pumpkin spice seasoning, you may use 3 teaspoons plus ⅛ of a teaspoon of your own mix instead.
For the cream cheese frosting
Here’s everything you’ll need to make the frosting.
- Extra firm tofu: Make sure to squeeze as much moisture as you can from your tofu, using a tofu press, or my quick press method. You don’t want excess liquid in the frosting or it will be too thin to pipe.
- Raw cashews: These are to thicken the frosting, or you may use powdered sugar and skip both the cashews and maple syrup, but that won’t be refined sugar free anymore.
- Maple syrup: Again, use pure maple syrup here. Start with 5 tablespoons, taste the frosting, and add another tablespoon if preferred.
- Vanilla: Make sure to use PURE vanilla extract, and not the artificially flavoured stuff. The vanilla mistakenly didn’t make the picture, whoops. 🤭
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Add all the wet ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. (photo 1)
Then add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. (photo 2)
Divide the batter into your muffin pan, and make sure to use muffin liners. (photo 3)
Then bake your vegan pumpkin cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean. (photo 4)
For the vegan cream cheese frosting
While your cupcakes cool, add the frosting ingredients to a high-speed blender. (photo 5)
Blend until completely smooth. You may need to scrape the sides a few times to get it smooth. (photo 6)
Once the pumpkin cupcakes have completely cooled to room temperature, use a piping bag to frost them with the tofu cream cheese frosting.
These vegan pumpkin cupcakes taste best on days 1-2, but you may keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store them in a sealed container so they don’t get dry.
You may also freeze the cupcakes in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
- Weigh your flour for the most accurate results. I highly recommend that you do not rely on cup measurements when baking. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you may spoon the flour into your measuring cup and use a knife to scrape off the excess, with similar results. Do not scoop from the bag!
- I recommend using superfine almond flour and fine oat flour for the best texture. I did try these with homemade oat flour as well, and while that works well, a finer oat flour will result in a lighter, more delicate crumb.
- Use fresh and active baking powder. Baking powder that is open in your pantry for 6+ months can start to lose its effectiveness.
- If you do not have a powerful blender, soak your cashews in hot water for 30 minutes before blending your frosting. This will help them swell and soften, making them easier to blend into a smooth frosting.
- Make sure to press your tofu very well to remove excess liquid to prevent your frosting from getting too thin.
- If the frosting gets warm as you’re blending (this can happen in strong blenders), transfer it to a bowl and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before piping the frosting onto your cupcakes.
- Let your cupcakes cool in the muffin pan for at least 20 minutes before handling them. Then transfer them to a cooling rack to completely cool BEFORE frosting them.
More healthy vegan dessert recipes
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- 175 grams superfine blanched almond flour approx. 1 ¾ cup
- 150 grams fine oat flour approx. 1 ¾ cup
- 2.5 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Then add all the dry ingredients and mix until no floury bits remain, without overmixing. (Don't worry about a few lumps.)
- Divide your cupcake batter between the 12 muffin tins and bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, add all the ingredients to your blender and process until completely smooth, starting with 5 tablespoons of maple syrup. Taste and add another tablespoon of syrup if you prefer it sweeter. Keep in mind not to go overboard, or the frosting will get too thin to pipe.
- If the frosting gets warm as you're blending (this can happen in strong blenders), transfer it to a bowl and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before piping your cupcakes.