Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

Light and moist, these perfectly spiced pumpkin cupcakes have a delicately sweetened whipped center to make them particularly addicting. If you take everything that is wonderful about pumpkin pie and turn it into a cupcake, this would be it.


Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes


Making cupcakes healthier is a tricky business. Oftentimes, whenever you replace the higher fat/sugar/calorie ingredient with a healthier option, you run the risk of your cupcake becoming heavier and denser… More muffin like really. Now, I do love a good pumpkin muffin (see my Whole Grain Pumpkin Muffins recipe here) but not today. Today, I needed cupcakes in all their glorious sweet and airy cupcake form, and so I was quite careful when selecting ingredients.


Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

For example, although I usually try to make my baked goods with a minimum of 50% whole wheat flour, this time I kept it down to only a 1/2 cup and used all purpose flour for the rest. Thankfully, with an entire can of pure pumpkin in this recipe, these cupcakes are still packed full of vitamins, minerals, and that extra bit of fiber that pumpkin naturally has. Also, because pumpkin is so moist, I was able to keep the oil down to only 2 tablespoons, which was a huge bonus in the fat saving department.
 Another thing to take note of is the sugar. Although I love the extra flavor that brown sugar brings to the party, in order to keep these cupcakes as light as possible, I would highly suggest only using white granulated sugar. Oh and as always, do NOT over stir or overbake. That is the #1 mistake to getting flat, dense, chewy cupcakes. 

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

 Now onto that glorious whip. So delicate, so light, so…… Perfect! Yes, it does add an extra 60 calories and yes, you could leave it out if you are super watching calories but please don’t. This whip absolutely completes this glorious pumpkin desert in the best of ways. This is a dessert after all, not breakfast. Although if needed, I could make quite a case as to why pumpkin cupcakes are the perfect breakfast choice;) 

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

 A quick note about filling the center with that all important whip. I simply took a knife and made a cut about halfway down in the center of the cupcake and then used my finger to gently press the cupcake aside. I didn’t “core” the cupcake and remove any. Using my finger was the easiest and best way to not destroy the cupcake in the process. See….

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

 Super easy. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • Yield: 15 cupcakes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon maple extract
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar


  1. Pumpkin Cupcakes
    Preheat oven 350

  2. In a small bowl, combine flours, spices, baking powder, and baking soda.

  3. In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, oil, egg, sugar, extracts, and milk until smooth.

  4. Gently stir in flour mixture, being careful not to over mix.

  5. Using a standard sized muffin pan, fill lined baking cups 3/4 full. (I got 15 cupcakes)

  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick removes cleanly.

  7. As cupcakes cool, begin frosting.

  8. Whipped Frosting
    Pour cold heavy whipping cream into a cold glass bowl.

  9. Beat on high until cream thickens. This may take a few minutes.

  10. Once cream has developed into a soft whip, beat powdered sugar in until whip thickens even further. Set aside.

  11. Using a butter knife, make a cut about halfway down in the center of the cupcake and then use your finger to gently press the cupcake aside. See photo above for example.

  12. Scoop whip into a large, gallon sized zip bag, or into a tipped frosting bag.

  13. Fill the hole in the cupcake with whip and continue to gently swirl atop cupcake as well.

  14. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

  15. Enjoy immediately. Refrigerate if not serving promptly.


Plain Pumpkin Cupcakes
Nutrition Facts Servings 15 Amount Per Serving Calories 137 Total Fat 3g Saturated Fat 1g Monounsaturated Fat 1g Polyunsaturated Fat 0g Trans Fat 0g Cholesterol 13mg Sodium 64mg Potassium 24mg Total Carbohydrate 25g Dietary Fiber 2g Sugars 12g Protein 3g
Whipped Frosting
Nutrition Facts Servings 15 Amount Per Serving Calories 57 Total Fat 5g Saturated Fat 3g Monounsaturated Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 2g Trans Fat 0g Cholesterol 20mg Sodium 5mg Potassium 0mg Total Carbohydrate 2g Dietary Fiber 0g Sugars 2g Protein 0g

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