Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins — Easy recipe for copycat Starbucks pumpkin muffins that are even BETTER than the original! Super soft, moist, brimming with pumpkin spice flavor, and filled with tangy-sweet cream cheese filling! You are going to LOVE being able to replicate the coffee shop fall favorite at home in no time!
Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Muffin Recipe
It’s that pumpkin time of year where everything and anything is scented with pumpkin spice! For many people, I know they get very excited when Starbucks breaks out their cream cheese pumpkin muffins for the season.
If you’ve ever wanted to recreate the famous coffeehouse treat at home, I am sharing the best copycat recipe for Starbucks pumpkin cream cheese muffins.
I simply added cream cheese and topped them with pumpkin seeds, and some have coarse sugar.
The base recipe has been a favorite of mine over the years because the results always taste amazing!
These pumpkin muffins are packed with bold pumpkin flavor and plenty of warming spices. I like boldly spiced pumpkin goodies and these fit the bill.
They’re soft, tender, light, and springy. The tangy-sweet cream cheese filling adds another layer of soft and creamy texture and really keeps the mouthfeel of these muffins so incredibly moist as well as a bit decadent.
I particularly enjoy that the cream cheese stays nice and creamy in the center instead of setting up solid like a cheesecake.
Comparing Homemade vs Starbucks Pumpkin Muffins
How do these homemade pumpkin cheesecake muffins compare to the Starbucks version?
In a word, they’re better.
Yes, that’s right. I will happily proclaim that my recipe is better than Starbucks for many reasons:
- Not greasy in the least. Sometimes I find that Starbucks baked goods can have a greasy taste. Ever set something on one of their paper napkins and look at it after? Yeah.
- Not dry. Although sometimes their items are greasy, I find that they can also be dry and greasy, at the same time. Sounds impossible but I’ve eaten plenty of treats from them that are plagued by this problem.
- Robustly flavored. I am a big fan of big and bold fall-inspired flavors when it comes to my pumpkin desserts, muffins, breads, and pumpkin treats in general and these muffins deliver.
- No preservatives. And because you’re not trying to have these taste “fresh” after sitting in delivery truck and then a glass case, they actually taste fresh because they are homemade from scratch with common ingredients and nothing artificial!
- Healthier. I am surprised as just how light the nutritional stats came in using computer-generated info. Just over 200 calories per muffin! Bakery and coffee shop muffins never tend to be particularly waistline friendly.
- Cheaper. Provided that you have a decently stocked baking cupboard and have most of the spices on hand (or just use more pumpkin pie spice), muffin-for-muffin, homemade is far less expensive than at Starbucks or a bakery.
- Can easily be made vegan with one minimal change. Pretty amazing and see below!
What’s in Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins?
To make these easy pumpkin muffins with cream cheese, you’ll need:
Cream Cheese Filling
- Cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Spices (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, allspice, cloves)
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Pumpkin puree
- Vanilla extract
- Pumpkin seeds, optional
- Coarse sugar (such as decorator’s sugar or Sugar In The Raw), optional
How to Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Pumpkin muffins filled with cream cheese are actually so simple to prepare! Here’s an overview of the recipe:
- Preheat your oven to 350F and spray a 12-count muffin pan with cooking spray and set it aside.
- Beat together the ingredients for the cream cheese filling and set that aside.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients for the muffins in one bowl and the wet in another. Add the wet to dry and then stir to mix.
- Turn the batter into the prepared pan, filling each well about 2/3-full.
- Pipe the cream cheese mixture into the center of each of the uncooked muffins. Make sure just a little bit of the cream cheese is poking through on top.
- Optionally, sprinkle around the center of each muffin with pumpkin seeds or coarse sugar and bake for about 15 minutes and let them cool before serving.
How to Store Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Because of the cream cheese filling in the pumpkin muffins, it’s probably recommended that you store them in the refrigerator. They’ll keep airtight for up to 1 week in the fridge.
I suggest slightly warming them briefly in the microwave before serving because they’re better warmed or if you prefer them simply at room temp, take them out of the fridge about a half hour before serving.
However, I personally do not store items like pumpkin bread with cream cheese in the fridge and I am fine storing them for a few days at room temp.
Refrigeration dries out baked goods, plain and simple, and since I despite dry desserts and sweets, I do whatever is necessary to prevent that, including room temperature storage in a large ziptop bag.
Experts seems to have varying opinions about this so do what you’re comfortable with in terms of storing at room temp or refrigerating.
For example, “For items with a large amount of cream cheese, like cheesecake, it’s best to refrigerate after baking to prevent bacterial overgrowth and food poisoning. Other items, like brownies and cookies, that only have a small amount of cream cheese don’t need to be refrigerated, since the flour and sugar absorb excess moisture.” (source)
Do your own research and do what works best for you, of course.
Can I Freeze Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins?
Yes! The copycat Starbucks pumpkin muffins can be sealed inside a freezer bag and frozen for up to three months. When you’re ready to eat them, thaw them overnight in the fridge or on your countertop.
Do I Have to Use Pumpkin Seeds?
If you’re looking for a true copycat Starbucks pumpkin muffin, then yes, use pumpkin seeds.
However, you’ll notice that in the photos I made some muffins without pumpkin seeds because frankly, I can take it or leave it when it comes to seeds in baked goods so I left them off in some.
Also, if there’s an allergy consideration, or you don’t want to purchase pumpkin seeds just for this recipe, go ahead and omit them. No problem!
Both the pumpkin seeds or the sugar on top are optional, bottom line.
What Type of Molasses Should I Use?
You want to use a mild or medium molasses like the Grandma’s brand. Do NOT use blackstrap molasses as it’s too strong in flavor and will overpower the muffins.
Can I Use Lite Cream Cheese?
No, you need to use brick-style, full-fat cream cheese to make the filling for these copycat Starbucks pumpkin muffins. Otherwise the filling will be runny and your muffins won’t turn out right.
Can This Recipe Be Made Vegan?
It’s amazing that these pumpkin cream cheese-filled muffins are essentially accidentally vegan — there’s no butter and instead oil is used.
There are no eggs. Pumpkin, similar to banana but even more so, is an amazing “fluffing” type of ingredient and you don’t need eggs to help these muffins puff and fluff up so beautifully.
I have made these muffins with all types of milk including whole cow’s milk, almond milk, and cashew milk. They all work perfectly so don’t be afraid to use a dairy-free vegan milk if you’re so inclined.
The only wild card element is the cream cheese. However, there are so many vegan cream cheeses on the market today such as Violife or Tofutti that you can feel confident using one in these pumpkin cream cheese muffins.
Can I Make Mini Pumpkin Muffins Instead?
In theory, you can. However, in reality it sounds like a headache!
Mini muffin pans have wells that are so shallow and trying to navigate the batter, then adding just a teeny tiny amount of cream cheese, then seeds or sugar, sounds like a real pain.
Can I Make Jumbo Muffins Instead?
I’ve never made these as jumbo muffins, but I’m sure you could if you have a jumbo muffin pan, making sure to lengthen the baking time as needed.
Tips for the Best Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Muffins
Make sure you’re using pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling is pre-sweetened and spiced and will negatively alter the taste of these easy copycat pumpkin muffins.
Don’t overbake the muffins. They will set up as they cool and while the cream cheese may look a bit unset as you pull them from the oven, it will firm up.
Check to make sure a toothpick inserted adjacent to the ring of cream cheese comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, and with that said, they should be done.
Always bake until the pumpkin muffins are done in your oven, in your climate, with the muffin and ingredients you used, and use my guideline of 15 to 17 minutes a just that — a guideline.
If you made bigger or smaller muffins, the baking time will obviously change. Plus all ovens run differently.
Make sure not to overfill the cavities in your muffin pan because you don’t want these to overflow.
I filled the batter up a bit over 2/3 of the way full, then added the cream cheese mixture to each center, making the total volume about 3/4 of the way full.
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Cream Cheese Filling:
- 4 ounces cream cheese*, very well-softened to room temp
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon milk**
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice***
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ¾ cup pure pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, optional; divided
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar, optional; divided
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12-count muffin pan very well with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- Cream Cheese Filling: To a small bowl, add all the ingredients, and beat with a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary; set aside. Tip - Make sure the cream cheese is very well softened to room temp to make this much faster and easier.
- Pumpkin muffins: To a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice**, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and whisk together; set aside.
- To a separate large bowl add the sugars, pumpkin puree, oil, milk, molasses, vanilla, and whisk until combined.
- Pour the wet pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined; don’t overmix.
- Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, add enough batter to each prepared cavity of the muffin pan, in between 2/3 and 3/4-full. Don't exceed 3/4 full or muffins could overflow while baking. Divide batter evenly among the 12 cavities.
- Place the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag or into a plastic bag and snip the very end tip off.
- Pipe the cream cheese mixture into the center of each of the uncooked muffins, making sure just a little bit of the cream cheese is poking through on top. You aren't adding too much, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons approximately per muffin.
- Optionally, evenly sprinkle around the center of each unbaked muffin with pumpkin seeds or coarse sugar like decorator’s sugar or Sugar In The Raw.
- Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until the tops are no longer wet looking and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin next to the cream cheese filling comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.****
- Allow the muffins to cool in pans for about 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
**Milk: If you want to keep the muffins vegan, use a nondairy milk such as almond or cashew. If not, use regular cow's milk, whole or 2% is my preference.
***Pumpkin pie spice: In place of using pumpkin pie spice PLUS all the other spices, if you don't have or keep them on hand, in lieu of buying them, I suggest using a total of 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (2 if you like things less bold) and omitting the other spices.
****Bake time: Bake until the centers are set and springy to the touch. All ovens, pans, and climates vary so use my suggested baking time guidelines as only an estimate or a guideline. Start checking early in case your oven runs hot or your pan makes smaller muffins, or your oven runs colder, or your climate is more humid, etc. Bake longer, if needed or as needed, until they are done in your particular oven.
Storage: Muffins will keep airtight for up to 1 week in the fridge or for up to 4 days at room temp. Read blog post for discussion on storing baked goods with cream cheese in the fridge vs. room temp. Do what you're comfortable with. I personally store them at room temp because the fridge tends to dry out baked goods and I don't like dry baked goods.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 171mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 3g
More Pumpkin Breakfast Recipes:
Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie is my second cookbook and was released October, 2014.. There’s over 50 pumpkin recipes including sweets, savory, drinks, and a photo for nearly every recipe. I’d be super grateful if you headed over to Amazon.
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