cupcakes with pumpkin spice buttercream frosting

Spatula Lickin’ Good Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting

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While I am a sun chaser, I can appreciate a good pumpkin spiced dessert. This pumpkin spice buttercream frosting is one of those treats that gets me excited about the fall season. Smooth, creamy, and just the right amount of spice-to-sweet ratio, this frosting is spatula-lickin’ good.

Seriously, you might want to wait until after you’ve spread it on your cake/cupcakes/brownies/cookies to taste or else you might not have any left to spread.

This pumpkin spice frosting recipe uses the perfect amount of canned pumpkin. Too much and the frosting won’t form a crust, a component that cookie decorators need for buttercream frosting.

Too little, and the pumpkin flavor isn’t even there.

Of course, if you want to amp up the pumpkin spice flavor, make a pumpkin spice cake, cupcake, or cookie to frost with pumpkin spice buttercream.

Needless to say, I find this to be the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor even if you use a non pumpkin flavored cake or cookie.

Follow along for the pumpkin spice buttercream frosting recipe that everyone will be begging you for the recipe. You are welcome to share it, of course. If you want to pretend it’s a long lost family recipe, I suppose I won’t mind either.

pumpkin spice buttercream frosting

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How to Make Spatula Lickin’ Good Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting

pumpkin spice buttercream frosting ingredients

Start with Two Types of Butter

The first step is pulling a half cup of unsalted butter (4oz) and a half cup of salted butter (4oz) out of the refrigerator. You will want the butter to come to room temperature before proceeding.

The reason I use both salted and unsalted is that I’ve found this to be the perfect amount of salt in the recipe. Sometimes, when a buttercream is made with all salted butter, the salt becomes a flavor. The purpose of the salt is to balance the sweet, not overpower it.

Once your butter has come to room temperature, cream the butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Do not use the whisk attachment, as you would with many other types of frosting. The whisk introduces too much air for buttercream.

You can tell that the butter is at room temperature by pressing into the butter with your finger. If it makes an indentation easily, it is ready to go.

Cream the butter for 3-5 minutes. This will produce a whiter butter but also a fluffier butter.

Use the Right Type of Pumpkin

Once the butter has been creamed, you will add in 1/3 of a cup of canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is different than pumpkin pie filling. Canned pumpkin should only have 100% pumpkin purée as it’s listed ingredient.

Mix the canned pumpkin into the creamed butter using the paddle attachment until it is well incorporated.

You can use the leftover pumpkin in soups, smoothies, muffins, or in my case, chia seed pudding.

Add in the Correct Amount of Powdered Sugar for a Crusting Buttercream

Turn off the stand mixer and add in four cups of powdered confectioner’s sugar. Four cups is a lot, yes. However, I promise the flavors will all balance out.

We use four cups of powdered sugar in order for the frosting to form a slight crust. All that means is that the outer layer of frosting will dry to the touch. This helps keep fingers cleaned when picking up cookies & cupcakes.

Add in the Remaining Ingredients

With the powdered sugar, add in a 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice mix. Cover the stand mixer with a clean towel or a paper towel and mix on low/stir. Once the frosting is coming together, remove the towel.

Do not turn the mixer higher than low. If needed, use a rubber spatula to stir the frosting. Overmixing buttercream can cause air bubbles. If you do overmix, here’s a post on how to fix it. I promise it’s not terribly hard to fix, but, as always, prevention is better.

Use the pumpkin spice buttercream frosting right away for best results or store it in an airtight container on the counter for up to 24 hours. If you won’t be using the buttercream within a day of making it, store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

pumpkin spice buttercream frosting

How to Pipe Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting onto Cookies & Cupcakes

If you wish to pipe this pumpkin spice buttercream onto cookies or cupcakes, use any decorating tip you prefer. That being said, I would avoid a tip #1.5 or smaller, as the spices could potentially clog the piping tip.

Add the prepared buttercream frosting into a piping bag, only about a cup of frosting at a time. If the piping bag is too full, the bag may burst, or worse, your hand will hate you for making this frosting. Store the leftover frosting in the mixing bowl with a piece of plastic wrap over it.

If you don’t want to worry about tips, simply cut the bottom of the icing bag off after you’ve added the frosting to it.

You can have fun with an angled flat spatula if you want to smooth the frosting. These come in different sizes depending on if you are decorating cookies & cupcakes or cakes.

I decided to make cute little pumpkin spice latte cookies with this buttercream. I used a Wilton tip #5 to pipe the frosting onto the cookie and didn’t have any problems with clogging.

pumpkin spice latte cookies with pumpkin spice buttercream frosting

To create these pumpkin spice latte cookies, use Wilton tip #4 for each color of icing except for the brown, in which you will use a star tip such as the #16 or #18. To make perfectly straight lines, use a cake comb.

The buttercream also crusted perfectly within a few hours, allowing for the cookies to be packaged up as fun fall goodies.

Have fun and enjoy!

pumpkin spice buttercream frosting

Spatula Lickin' Good Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting

Smooth & creamy, this pumpkin spice buttercream frosting will be the perfect topping for your cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and more this fall season. Word of warning, this frosting is spatula-lickin' good, so prepare to control yourself in order to share some with your loved ones.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: All American Buttercream Frosting, Crusting Buttercream, Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Mixing Time: 5 minutes
Author: Leah Buehler


  • Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Towel to cover mixer optional


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (4 ounces or one stick)
  • 1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature (4 ounces or one stick)
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


  • With the paddle attachment, cream the salted & unsalted butter together for a few minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • Add the canned pumpkin to the creamed butter and mix until well combined.
  • To the butter and pumpkin mixture, add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together a bit before turning on the stand mixer to low to combine. You can also cover the mixer with a towel to prevent a powdery mess. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.


This pumpkin spice buttercream frosting yields about two & a half cups of frosting.
If the buttercream frosting is too thin, add up to a half cup of powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add in a tablespoon or two of whole milk.
Use the buttercream frosting immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for up to three months.
This buttercream frosting is stable at room temperature for a few days once frosted on your cake, cupcakes, cookies, or brownies.

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Crusting Pumpkin Spice Buttercream Frosting for Fall Desserts

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