Starbucks pumpkin muffins have been my FAVORITE Starbucks muffins for as long as Starbucks had them. Moist, fluffy pumpkin spice cake is topped with a crunchy caramelized pumpkin topping and an easy cream cheese filling.
I have perfected this addictive muffin recipe over the years and (in my opinion) have exceeded Starbucks's version. AND my version uses HALF as much sugar and less sodium than the original! I used to travel 2 hours on the train for these muffins when I still lived in Germany and now I can make them at home (just better).
I give you both a German and American version for the cheesecake filling and both are so good!
How to make Starbucks pumpkin muffins
Over the years of trying to recreate this popular Starbucks bakery item, I finally figured out the best way to make these pumpkin muffins.
First, you caramelize the pumpkin seeds and put them off to the side. While Starbucks uses chopped seeds, I prefer the look of the whole seeds instead.
You then make the batter and fill your lined muffin tin with it. I use two large spoons to help me fill them.
Sprinkle with the caramelized pumpkin seeds first before adding the filling. I crumble them apart in my hands a little bit while doing so.
You then combine the ingredients for the filling and put them in a piping bag. The piping bag allows you to add the filling into the muffin, and then pull it out.
Bake, allow to cool for a bit, so the wrappers come off more easily and enjoy with a cup of coffee of course (anyone else a blonde roast lover?).
It only takes a few ingredients to make Starbucks pumpkin muffins at home.
- Pumpkin puree. I buy it canned or you can follow the easy steps to make it at home (see below or in the notes of the recipe card).
- Flour. I use all-purpose flour. I typically buy organic AP flour in bulk at Costco and use it for all of my baking. You could also use half whole wheat flour in this recipe. A gluten free all purpose flour works well in this recipe too.
- Eggs. You're using whole eggs in the batter and the cream cheese filling.
- Oil. I use a flavor-neutral oil like avocado oil.
- Sugar. While I do use cane sugar in this recipe, my recipe only uses HALF as much sugar as the Starbucks original! You could also use maple syrup or honey instead.
- Baking soda. To help the pumpkin muffins get fluffy.
- Baking powder. Ditto.
- Cinnamon. Instead of the ground cinnamon on the other spices below, use pumpkin spice.
- Nutmeg. I love to have whole nutmeg handy in my nutmeg mill whenever I need it (homemade Spätzle for example). And it looks so pretty on my countertop!
- Cloves. You'll use ground cloves in this recipe.
- Ginger. You'll use ground ginger in this recipe.
- Quark or cream cheese. They are interchangeable. The quark is a German dairy and you'll use it to make a more Käsekuchen-like filling (German cheesecake). That's what I used for this recipe. The cream cheese would be a more common substitute and make an American cheesecake filling.
- Vanilla extract. I use a little bit of vanilla in the cheesecake filling. Only use pure vanilla extract (I make my own by combining scraped vanilla beans and vodka in little glass bottles).
- Pumpkin seeds. You'll use them to create the crunchy caramelized pumpkin seed topping. So good!
You will likely already have all of the tools at home to make these Starbucks pumpkin muffins.
- Piping bag. A piping bag (like this reusable one) may be one thing you don't have at home that you have to get. It makes it SO MUCH EASIER to add the cheesecake filling to the middle of the muffins (no tip necessary). I love this reusable bag. I either don't use a tip with it or use the coupler without a tip for a more sturdy wide-hole opening.
- Muffin liners. I like these unbleached muffin liners and buy them in bulk here when I can. Great for when you're bringing them to a party.
- OR reusable silicon liners. I love these reusable silicone muffin liners and they are perfect for everyday baking.
- Muffin baking tin. You can either use a heavyweight baking tin like this one (they may bake quicker) or a more lightweight muffin tin like this one BUT I actually preferred the results with the silver grey muffin tin for this recipe! The muffins baked taller and the filling stayed more in the center.
Can I freeze pumpkin muffins?
Yes, you can freeze these copycat Starbucks pumpkin muffins! I simply add them to a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, simply let sit out at room temperature for 2 hours.
To warm them up (and to get the topping crunchy again) bake on a convection (Umluft) setting at 330 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) for 6ish minutes after thawing.
I just LOVE finding these pumpkin muffins in the freezer, so maybe commit to making some extra!
Can't find pumpkin puree?
Pumpkin puree is easily accessible in cans in the United States, which is a convenient time saver. But if you don't have easy access to pumpkin puree, and want to make these muffins, it's easy to make it at home.
Bake cut-up pumpkin or squash in the oven drizzled with a bit of flavor-neutral, high-heat oil (like avocado oil). Once the flesh is soft (poke it with a fork), remove from the oven and allow to cool down for a bit. Remove the skin and either mash up with a fork or use a food processor or blender.
To make it easier to blend your cooked pumpkin, you can add it to the wet muffin ingredients in this recipe before blending. Then combine with the dry ingredients to make the batter.
More pumpkin recipes
Watch this short video to help you understand how to make Starbucks pumpkin muffins.
Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 gray muffin tin although any kind of muffin baking tin will work, the preferred the results using this silver/gray muffin tin better. The muffin tops were nice and round the the cheesecake filling didn't spread as much.
Pumpkin Muffin Batter
- 425 grams pumpkin puree 1 can, or follow instructions in notes below to make pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs large
- 170 grams oil flavor neutral oil like avocado oil, but a mild olive oil will work too.
- 150 grams sugar
- 240 grams all-purpose flour
- 3 grams baking soda
- 3 grams baking powder
- 3 grams ground cinnamon
- 3 grams ground nutmeg
- 1 gram ground cloves
- 1 gram ground ginger
- 4 grams sea salt
- Preheat your oven (conventional setting, NOT convection) to 420℉ (215℃).
- Combine the pumpkin seeds in a small skillet with the sugar, cinnamon and salt and toast until the sugar is dissolved. Move to a plate and allow to cool while making the batter.30 grams pumpkin seeds, 1 pinch salt, 15 grams sugar, 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- In a large bowl, combine all wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.425 grams pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, 170 grams oil
- In a separate smaller bowl, sift together all dry ingredients, then add to the wet ingredients. Whisk together until just combined.150 grams sugar, 240 grams all-purpose flour, 3 grams baking soda, 3 grams baking powder, 3 grams ground cinnamon, 3 grams ground nutmeg, 1 gram ground cloves, 1 gram ground ginger, 4 grams sea salt
- Using two large spoons, add the muffin batter to the lined muffin tin (about two spoonfuls each).
- Sprinkle with the caramelized pumpkin seed topping.
- For the cheesecake filling, combine the room temperature cream cheese or quark with the egg, sugar and vanilla using a whisk or your stand mixer and the whisk attachment.220 grams cream cheese, 1 egg, 25 grams sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Fill into a piping bag, then cut off the tip. Insert the piping bag about 1 inch or 2 cm into the muffin batter, then press out about 2 Tablespoons per muffins (it may help you to watch my short video on this).
- Bake on the middle rack for 5 mins at 420℉ (215°C), then lower to 350°F (180°C) and bake for another 20 mins or until starting to turn golden on top.
- If testing with a thermometer, the muffin Internal temperature should be 205°F (96℃9 or a few crumbs on a toothpick.
- 5 minutes after removing the pan from the oven, remove the muffins from the baking tin and let cool on a cooling rack. The muffins will release from the wrappers more easily when they are cooled. See below for freezing and reheating instructions.