Halloween cupcakes are always a hit at any festive, spooky party. Pumpkin is the star ingredient for these chocolate cupcakes, which are topped with creamy, rich frosting.
If you've every wondered if you can make cupcakes with chocolate cake mix, then this is the recipe for you. Adding pumpkin purée to the dry ingredients creates moist, and delicious cup cakes.
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Pumpkin Cupcakes Using a Box Cake Mix
Homemade pumpkin cupcakes taste better than store-bought. These pumpkin cupcakes are always a fall favorite, and they’re super easy to make using a box of chocolate cake mix.
Cream cheese frosting with a few drops of orange food coloring complete the fall theme. Add a little spooky intrigue with chocolate or black sprinkles, and candy eyeballs.
Ingredients for Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Here's a quick list of what you'll need. The recipe card at the end of the post has all the details including quantities, nutritional information, and equipment needs.
For the Cupcakes
- box of chocolate cake mix
- pumpkin puré
For the Icing
- cream cheese
- powdered sugar
- vanilla extract
- orange food coloring
- chocolate or black sprinkles
- candy eyeballs
Ingredient Substitutions and Tips
If you prefer a pumpkin flavored cupcake without chocolate then you could substitute a vanilla cake mix for the chocolate cake mix. Pure pumpkin flavor will dominate rather than a chocolate flavor.
Add a teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for a more traditional pumpkin cupcake recipe.
A pinch of ground ginger, pumpkin spice, ground allspice, or nutmeg are other spice options you might wish to consider, if you use a vanilla cake mix for the basic pumpkin cupcake batter.
I don't add extra white sugar or brown sugar to the cake mix. I find that the cupcakes are plenty sweet without additional sugar. Feel free to add a few tablespoons of sugar to the batter if you have an extra sweet tooth.
Since cake mixes already have baking powder, baking soda or leavening agent incorporated, there's no need to add an extra raising agent. If you like light and airy cupcakes add a quarter teaspoon of baking powder to the dry cake mix before adding the wet ingredients. If you do this, however, the cupcakes may rise into a peak.
A pinch of salt added to the batter can help cut the sweetness of the cup cakes. You can use unsalted butter for the frosting if you wish.
Color the frosting in any shade you like. You can substitute blue, green, red or yellow food coloring for the orange color used in this example. I enjoy making green treats for Halloween, so why not try an Irish green frosting.
Instructions for Homemade Halloween Cupcakes
Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the cake box mix. The most common temperature required is 350 degrees Faherenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.
Prepare the Cupcake Batter
You can sift the chocolate cake mix if you wish. Or simply whisk it with a balloon whisk to remove any clumps of flour.
Add the eggs, water and pumpkin purée to the flour mixture. Use an electric mixer on low speed to fully combine the wet and dry ingredients to make a chocolate batter.
Place cupcake liners in two twelve space muffin trays.
You can grease the trays with vegetable oil or melted butter instead, but trust me, paper liners make clean up easier, and baking success is more certain using the liners.
Divide the batter between the twenty four spaces of the muffin trays. Just under a quarter cup of batter is needed in each one. A large ice cream scoop works well for dividing the batter between the cupcake liners.
Scrape all of the batter from the inside of the bowl to evenly fill the muffin spaces.
Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let the baked cupcakes cool completely before trying to decorate them. If the cupcakes are warm the frosting will melt and slide off the top of the chocolate pumpkin cakes.
Make the Frosting
Beat the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese on high speed with an electric mixer. Make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature before starting this process.
When the sugar is fully combined with the butter and cream cheese add the vanilla extract and orange food coloring. Beat until light and fluffy.
Decorate the Cupcakes
Next it's time to decorate the cupcakes.
Use a piping bag with a swirl nozzle to top the cupcakes with frosting.
Decorate with chocolate sprinkles and candy eyeballs.
If you like the look of spooky dripping eyeballs as shown in these photos, then keep the cupcakes in the fridge until serving. The moisture from the fridge will make the candy eyes bleed. If you don't want this look,simply place the candy eyeballs on the frosting before serving.
Recipe Card for Halloween Cupcakes
Here's the printable recipe card for your kitchen files.
Chocolate Pumpkin Halloween Cupcakes
For the Cupcakes
- 1 box chocolate cake mix 15 ounce size
- 3 medium eggs
- 15 ounces pumpkin purée 1 can
- 1¼ cups water
For the Icing
- 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 ounces butter 1 stick at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 drops orange food coloring
- 1 tablepsoons chocolate or black sprinkles
- 24 candy eyeballs optional
Make the Cupcakes
- In a large bowl combine the cake mix, eggs, pumpkin, and water.
- Beat for about 2 minutes until all is well combined.
- Spoon batter into lined cupcake pan and bake according to box instructions, usually at 350° F or 180° C for 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cup cakes cool and remove from the pan. Cool completely before decorating.
Decorate the Cupcakes
- In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar.
- Beat until frosting becomes creamy and the ingredients are combined. Add in the vanilla and food coloring. Continue to beat until light and fluffy and food coloring is mixed in well with a uniform shade of orange.
- Fill a piping bag or zip lock bag with the frosting.
- Pipe the frosting in swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
- Top with sprinkles and candy eyeballs.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
If you like fall themed baking recipes, here are a few others you might enjoy.
If you like to create Halloween inspired treats or to explore the Irish connection to Halloween, then check out these recipes and ramblings.
Do share this recipe with family and friends on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, if you think they might enjoy some easy Halloween baking.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade