Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Icing

Spiked with ginger and a splash of orange juice, these gluten-free pumpkin spice cupcakes are sure to please a crowd.

Frosted Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes decorated with birthday candles

Serious Eats / Elizabeth Barbone

Why This Recipe Works

  • White rice flour and cornstarch make up the flour blend. The neutral flavors of the flour and starch allow the pumpkin spice to be the dominant flavor.
  • Vegetable oil makes for a moist-crumb and tender cupcake.

In my last column, I might have mentioned that no one needs another pumpkin recipe. What I meant was, the world needs more pumpkin recipes...yeah, that's it.

Let me explain.

When I asked a friend what type of birthday cake she wanted for her birthday, she said pumpkin spice. I really thought she was kidding. She wasn't. So I headed into the kitchen to make a batch of pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

Although I have a recipe for pumpkin bread that I love, I can't resist futzing with old recipes. Since my friend doesn't have a big sweet tooth, I reduced the amount of sugar and added a splash more orange juice. Then, inspired by that gingerbread pumpkin bread I'd just made, I boosted the ginger. It added a nice hot kick without turning it into a gingerbread.

As requested, I finished the cupcakes with a basic cream cheese icing. If you don't eat dairy, replace the cream cheese with a dairy-free cream cheese like Daiya. The cupcake recipe itself is dairy-free, so you don't need to adjust it at all.

The cupcakes were a hit, and lots of people asked for the recipe. My lesson? Apparently there aren't enough pumpkin recipes in the world. So I'm eating my words from last time. My pumpkin-spice flavored words.

October 2014

Recipe Details

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Icing

Active 20 mins
Total 60 mins
Makes 24 cupcakes

Spiked with ginger and a splash of orange juice, these gluten-free pumpkin spice cupcakes are sure to please a crowd.


  • For the Cupcakes:
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) white rice flour
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • For the Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. For the Cupcakes: Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 muffin pans (24 muffin cups total) with paper liners.

  2. Whisk together white rice flour, granulated sugar, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, salt, ginger, and xanthan gum in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, vegetable oil, eggs, and orange juice. Add pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

  3. Fill prepared muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake until cupcakes are golden brown and spring back to the touch, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Repeat with any remaining batter.

  4. For the Cream Cheese Icing: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or handheld electric beaters, beat together cream cheese and butter until softened and creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until light and smooth. Spread on cooled cupcakes (if you ice warm cupcakes, the icing will melt.) Store cupcakes, covered, on the counter for up to 3 days.

Special Equipment

Two (12-cup) muffin tins; cupcake liners; stand mixer or handheld electric beaters


This cupcake recipe is dairy-free but the icing isn't. If you follow a dairy-free diet, replace the butter and cream cheese in the icing with dairy-free alternatives. Daiya's dairy-free cream cheese works especially well.