Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting
These apple cupcakes are subtly spiced, full of fresh, shredded apple and topped with a cinnamon-cream cheese frosting.
It may be 90 degrees outside, but Labor Day is behind us, which means that I have officially shifted to fall mode. Two of my favorite fall flavors are apples and cinnamon, so the combination was a no-brainer when I was trying to decide what to make for dessert this weekend. There is no subtlety here – the cupcakes are packed with fresh shredded apple and the cream cheese frosting is full of warm, fragrant cinnamon.
The apple cupcakes are incredibly moist and slightly dense – very similar to the texture of a muffin, which I love.
I chose to do a cinnamon-cream cheese frosting because there is a chain of family restaurants in the Pittsburgh area (King’s) that serves their apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. It’s my husband’s favorite dessert there, and the first time he ordered it, I couldn’t believe that the cinnamon ice cream was PINK. Crazy! That aside, it is a fantastic combination and it was the first thing I thought of when deciding what type of frosting I wanted to use for these cupcakes. Cinnamon-cream cheese frosting was a solid choice.
The combination really makes these taste like apple pie with a huge dollop of spiced whipped cream. Which, of course, is fantastic.
I don’t care what the temperature is outside, I’m jumping on the fall train and riding it the whole way to Thanksgiving!
Five years ago: Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits
Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cupcakes:
- 1¼ cups (156.25 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) ground ginger
- ¼ cup (56.75 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60 ml) + 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1½ cups (187.5 g) shredded Gala apples, about 2 medium apples, peeled
For the Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2½ teaspoons (2.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 4 cups (480 g) powdered sugar
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
- Standard 12-cup muffin pan
- Decorating bags, I use Wilton disposable bags
- Decorating tip, I used Ateco #827
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined, about 1 minute.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in half of the flour mixture until mostly combined, then pour in the buttermilk (the mixture may begin to look curdled - that's okay), then add the remaining flour mixture, mixing until just barely combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the shredded apple, as well as any accumulated juices.
- Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Make the Frosting: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese, vanilla and salt and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar gradually and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the ground cinnamon, mix until it is incorporated, then increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Using a decorating bag and tip (I used the Ateco #827 tip) or an offset spatula, frost the tops of the cupcakes. The cupcakes can stay at room temperature for a few hours, but should be refrigerated in an airtight container for longer-term storage up to 4 days. Bring the cupcakes to room temperature before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe! We had three small apples that were getting a bit too old to eat. I did a quick search and found your recipe. We made the cupcakes as is, but I didn’t have time to make the frosting. Instead of frosting, I made a fast glaze of confectioners sugar, maple syrup, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Let the cupcakes cool on the rack for about 15 minutes and then dunked each cupcake into the glaze, and we were on our way out the door. The cupcakes were moist, had a nice, soft cake texture, deliciously sweet apple flavor. We printed your recipe to add to our favorites book. Thank you again! Absolutely delicious!
This recipe is wrong. Need to use 1 TABLESPOON of baking powder. NOT 1 TEASPOON!
I’m already salivating, can’t wait to try this cupcake recipe. Thanks for sharing, Michelle
I baked these cupcakes last night, but when I took them out of the oven at 25 minutes, they were still white/not browned at all and just didn’t look baked. It was weird. I put them in the oven for 5 or maybe 10 minutes more, and when I took them out again, they still didn’t look brown or well-baked. It was weird. They also had barely risen; they were unappetizingly dense and not fluffy. Overly dense……….and chewy (?). Also, the bottoms were wet. I saw that this stuff happened to others in the comments. I didn’t bother to make the frosting because the cupcakes were a slight fail. All my ingredients were new though, and my oven is working fine (it is at the right temperature). I’m not writing this to slander your recipe — just hoping no one else has to go through this wasting of ingredients!!!
Definitely halve the icing recipe, I followed one persons suggestion and added about 2oz of cream cheese to batter, and used 1 apple instead of 2- PERFECTION!!! My favorite cupcake recipe possibly of all time. Moist and soft, spiced but not in-your-face. You’ll probably have to bake for 28 mins (they’ll look extra browned on top but it’s PERFECT)
dense, sticky, added extra cinnamon and still taste like flour
Made these last night. The cupcakes tasted great, but because the bottoms were still wet, I had to bake longer. And there is way too much frosting, enough to frost more than 2 batches. I’ll half it next time. But will be making these again!
I love this recipe very simple but taste really good and moist. I also added Apple Pie Spice to kick it up a notch. I only used 3 cups of powdered sugar so the frosting wouldnt be overly sweet.
How long is the frosting good for because I have extra?
The frosting will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.
Friend at work made these. Best cup cake I ever put in my mouth!!! YUMMY
Sad to say, this recipe didn’t work for me. The cupcakes smelled fantastic as they baked but they were heavy as lead.
Wow wow wow!! Made these for the second time. The flavor is outstanding. The first time I made it as described in the recipe and it was fantastic. The second time I decided to add a bit of cream cheese extract with the vanilla extract when mixing the batter. Holy cow! Seriously amazing either way you make it. Highly recommend! Thank you for sharing.
Just what I was looking for! I made them as my birthday cupcakes and they tasted great! I only used half of the frosting though.
If you want the icing to have the right consistency you might have to use the suggested amount of sugar. I used 3 cups for mine. not as sweet but the icing wasnt as firm.
Just made it with my daughter and we absolutely loved it. I am a horrible baker, but for some reason we got this one down. I used 2% milk instead of the buttermilk and added an extra table spoon of butter. It worked out just fine.
I made a double batch and I think the apples being shredded caused me to add too much apple. The cupcakes were dense and not as light and fluffy as I would have liked. Still had great flavor and no one complained.
Glad I only made one batch of the icing. I still had extra after piping mounds on 26 cupcakes!
I personally try this recipe yesterday, and It’s insanely good! Super soft and super moist.
2 thumbs up and 5 stars for you! :) – Jessica, Philippines.
These were some of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. Per another comment I added pumpkin pie spice and the pumpkin flavor was perfect. And the icing is my new go to cream cheese icing. Everyone couldn’t give enough compliments!!!
Tastes AMAZING !!! Followed recipe exactly (except adding ginger) and they are so good. This recipe does make A LOT of frosting though. I coated each cupcake in about 1 centimeter of frosting and I used less than half of all the frosting I made. So unless you like tons of frosting, I would say you can cut the frosting in half!
Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!! I LOVE apple-cinnamon cupcake and can’t wait to make these. I have made tons of your recipes and enjoyed them all. You’re great!!! Thanks again.
IS THER any Way to lighten them up a bit to make them more like cupcakes
Yes, you can add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the batter.
Most excellent! I used pear instead of apple and it worked beautifully. Both the cake and the frosting were light and delicious. One of the other guests at my roommate’s going away party told me I could sell these to a restaurant, and then she said they could win a blue ribbon at a county fair haha!
Ohh!! Forgot to mention that I doubled the cake recipe but not the frosting (decided to double the cake after buying just 1 brick of cream cheese) and all was well. I swirled a quick and low layer of frosting on each cupcake instead of a high pile like Michelle, and I have some frosting leftover. :)
These were delicious! I went light on both the apple in the batter, and cinnamon in the frosting and the cupcakes still had plenty of flavor. I would absolutely make these again. My only comment is that I had so much frosting left over. I spread a generous amount on top of my first batch of cupcakes, still had so much left that I made a second batch of cupcakes, and even still have enough frosting left for another dozen. Not a bad problem to have in the grand scheme of things ;)
Baked these for my church last weekend and they got rave reviews. I doubled the recipe and used shredded Fuji and Honeycrisp apples instead of Gala. I also added an extra 1/2 cup of flour plus 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and boiled down a couple tablespoons of apple cider until concentrated and syrupy for a flavor boost. They were lovely.
What are the sizes of the cupcakes? Love the recipe idea btw~ :D
Hi Ade, They are standard size cupcakes, as you would get using a regular size muffin tin.
I think the next time I make this frosting, I’ll stop at 3 cups of powdered sugar instead of 4. As is, the sugar really overpowers the butter and cream cheese.
Cupcakes were great, I would say if you are going to make the frosting you can get away with making half the recipe, way too much for a dozen cupcakes. Also the frosting in my opinion was way too sweet.
For the pinch of salt part how much would that pinch have to be ?
Hi Marlene, You just need to literally, pinch some salt between your fingers. If you want a definite measurement, they do sell little measuring spoon sets with pinch, dash and smidge.
I love your cupcake recipes, they are awesome . I would like to know what I can do about the cupcake liner separating from separating from the cupcakes. I do not seem to have a problem with this except for this apple cupcakes with cinnamon. Just wondering if anyone else has this problem and if so does anyone know what causes it or how to fix it.
my daughter uses this recipe alot but she makes apples into very small chunks instead of shredding they turn out awesome ! she has also took out center and made a caramelized apple filling and topped with caramel buttercream icing they are a big hit ! i am going to try as a cake this afternoon will let you know how it goes :)
Hi! Planning my son’s first birthday party, and it is an “apple of our eye” theme. Wanted to do as much ahead of time as possible and was wondering if these cupcakes freeze well (obviously without frosting, and just frost once thawed ). If so, up to how long, and how should they be thawed? Thanks in advance!
Hi Meredith, While I haven’t frozen them myself, I think that they should do fine freezing for up to 1 month. I would thaw at room temperature.
Hi there Michelle! A question about those shredded apples: how shredded were they? Was it basically like applesauce or a little coarser (something like grated cheddar)? Thanks!
Hi Dylan, Like grated cheddar! I used the big holes on my box grater (which is what I use for my cheese, too!).
I love cinnamon and the recipe sounds delicious. I would really like to try it out. Unfortunately I am not that familiar with the measurement cup – only g or ml, as I am from Germany. Can anyone tell me how much g or ml one cup is? I have found different measurements online.
Hi Nill, It depends on the ingredient, as they all have different volumes. I would consult this guide: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/ingredient-weight-chart.html
Ok, I have tried them out now and I think the measruements werde fine. The cupcakes taste really good. Unfortunately the frosting was to soft. I think the cream cheese I used was softer than the American one. Still the frosting is really, really delicious:)
I highly recommend adding about 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, just to make them less dense if you’re looking forward to a fluffy cupcake. Otherwise they come out like dense muffins.
Hi!! These look amazing! What would you suggest to substitute buttermilk with as i cant get any here (Cyprus)?
Hi Demetra, You can make your own buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon lemon juice and adding enough regular milk to make 1 cup. Let sit for 5 minutes, then use as directed in the recipe. In some cases, plain yogurt will also work.
This is the second time I’ve made a Browneyedbaker cupcake recipe (my first was the Irish car bomb cupcakes, which turned out absolutely perfect) and I have to say, these recipes are always spot on. The exact amount of batter for the amount of cupcakes you say it will be. And the frostings are always a perfect consistency.
I also made the salted caramel sauce to top these apple cupcakes to make them into a caramel apple sort of thing. Love it!
Couldn’t be happier with how they turn out!
Do you think you could make these into mini cupcakes? If so, what would you suggest for baking time. I would like to make for a family gathering but we always overeat and only have a little room for dessert ?
Hi Jaclyn, Yes, definitely! I would start checking around 8 minutes to make sure they aren’t overdone :)
I’m interested in making this a cake instead of cupcakes — do you think that would work? If so, what size pan do you think I should use? Thanks!
Hi Katie, I have not tried that, but if you do, you will yield one cake layer (8″ or 9″).
I ended up making it as a cake last night. It made one nice 8 inch layer. It was in the oven for 32 mins and came out a little underdone, but still good. Next time I would bake for at least 35 mins. The frosting ended up being basically double what I actually needed, so if I did this again, I’d halve the frosting recipe. Overall, good cake, though!
all of your goodies look so but it would really help if the nutritional values were posted. Some of us kinda try to stick to Weight Watchers been a lifer since 1980 started at the St James church in Sewickley Pa. We cheat some but with your site I can cheat everyday…thanks LOL Keep up the great work
I made these cupcakes for work and everyone raved about them! I also put then frosting on some pumpkin cookies for my gram and she is in love with it. She told me I should put it on everything I make for her moving forward ! :)
I’ve made these twice and both times they were delicious! I love love love the cinnamon buttercream frosting. Next time, I think I’ll make them sans frosting and call them apple muffins for breakfast. :)
These were excellent! I love the dense texture and the subtle spice. I added cinnamon chips and walnuts, and left off the frosting so I don’t feel guilty calling them “muffins.” Thank you for a great recipe!
Should the apples be peeled prior to shredding?
Hi Denise, Yes! So sorry I didn’t mention that, will update the recipe now :)
I made these today and they are seriously GOOD! Really, tastes like apple pie a la mode. I will absolutely be making these again! Thanks for sharing!
These look amazing! I love the frosting. Thanks for sharing!
I wonder if that restaurant uses Red Hots in its cinnamon ice cream. That would certainly make it pink!
These cupcakes look like fall heaven. I can’t wait to try this recipe!
These look so amazing! I am obsessed with all things cinnamon, and my cravings are in high gear now that fall is around the corner. I neeed these!
Can I eat them for breakfast? I’m pretty sure I can.. and for lunches too, for that matter. The cupcakes look amazing, Michelle! My little ones will love them, I’m sure. And how can’t they? I’m drooling even to the pictures.
Greetings from UK!
– Emily –
I’m loving every last second of this 90-something degree weather, but I’m also so ready for apples and spices. These cupcakes are beautiful!
Cinnamon ice cream is one of my favorite foods. I’m sure cinnamon cre cheese frosting would be right up there too, especially on these cupcakes!
This looks delicious!
BUT, I prefer to call this a muffin. A muffin with icing. It is not a cupcake with frosting. It is a muffin with icing. Yup. That’s what it is. :-D
These look amazing and sound delish! Thanks for the recipe – too hot to turn on the oven here but will save for later
These cupcakes look amazing. I’d eat them 90 degrees or not!
I love your comment about jumping on the “fall train”!!!!! I couldn’t agree more:)
That last shot with the bite marks, the frosting, the soft cupcake texture…HEAVEN right there! These look totally amazing!
The frosting looks so tasty! I worked at a cupcake bakery as a summer job and had my fill of buttercream.
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