These moist pumpkin cream cheese swirl muffins are the perfect breakfast treat for Autumn. With pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, and a sweet cream cheese topping, they taste like Fall in a bite. You can whip up a batch in just 30 minutes!
It's Fall, AKA pumpkin spice season, AKA my favorite time of the year. Now is the perfect time to make pumpkin cream cheese swirl muffins! With pumpkin puree, a combination of warm spices, and a sweet cream cheese topping, these are the best moist pumpkin muffins ever.
These are moist, tender, and have the perfect Fall flavor. The base is made with an entire cup of pumpkin puree! That and the oil makes them incredibly moist. The delicious thick swirls of cream cheese melt into the muffins while they bake.
The best part, though, is that you can whip up a batch in 30 minutes! They're perfect to make for a Fall brunch or as an on-the-go breakfast treat.
If you love pumpkin, try pumpkin chai snack cake, brown butter pumpkin cheesecake, and almond flour pumpkin muffins. And for more cream cheese recipes, make coffee cupcakes with coffee cream cheese frosting or strawberry cream cheese icebox cake!
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities and the full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Oil- I made the muffins with only oil, no butter. Oil is liquid at room temperature while butter is solid, which is why oil makes muffins extra moist! Use a flavorless oil like vegetable, avocado, or canola oil.
- Sugars- Granulated sugar sweetens the batter and holds on to moisture while brown sugar adds a warm, caramel-like flavor. You can use light or dark brown sugar, just make sure it's fresh and not dried out.
- Eggs- Use room temperature large eggs; take them out of the refrigerator an hour before baking. Eggs bind the ingredients together and help the muffins rise in the oven.
- Pumpkin puree- Use real pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix! We want canned steamed pumpkin with no spices or sweeteners. The only ingredient should be pumpkin. Use extra puree to make pumpkin energy bites or sour cream pumpkin bread!
- Buttermilk- I love buttermilk muffins! This ingredient tenderizes the gluten stands, creating extra soft muffins. Take it out of the refrigerator with the eggs.
- Flour- All purpose flour gives the muffins a hearty structure but keeps the crumb tender.
- Baking powder- This leavener reacts with heat and helps the muffins rise. Baking powder has a relatively short shelf life, so check the expiration date on yours before using!
- Spices- Ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice are all used to flavor the muffins with pumpkin spice goodness.
- Salt- Pumpkin muffins need a little salt or they'll be too sweet. Use finely ground table salt, kosher salt, or pink Himalayan salt.
- Cream cheese- Use full-fat softened cream cheese (in block form) for the swirl on top. Don't use cream cheese spread because it's too runny.
- Egg yolk- This helps the cream cheese swirl set as it bakes. Make sure it and the cream cheese are room temperature so they're easy to mix.
- Buttermilk: Plain kefir, sour cream, or Greek yogurt can be substituted for the buttermilk. Or you can make your own by mixing a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with a cup of milk.
- Flour: Make gluten free pumpkin cream cheese muffins by using gluten free flour. I recommend Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour.
- Spices: If you don't have the individual spices, use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice mix. It contains all the spices in the recipe and can be found at spice shops and most grocery stores.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
Step by Step Instructions
Before you start, preheat a conventional oven to 425°F/220°C. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.
STEP 1: First, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until smooth and well combined.
STEP 2: Next, add the pumpkin puree and buttermilk. Mix well.
STEP 3: Pour the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt into the bowl of wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the ingredients together just until the dry streaks of flour disappear.
STEP 4: Next, place your room temperature cream cheese, sugar, and egg yolk in a separate mixing bowl. Beat the ingredients together with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
STEP 5: Scoop the muffin batter into the lined muffin tin until each liner is ¾ full. Then, add a teaspoon of cream cheese mixture to each muffin liner and swirl it into the batter with a knife or toothpick.
STEP 6: Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of each muffin and bake for 5 minutes at 425°F/220°C. The initial high heat helps the muffins rise and get domed tops.
Turn the heat down to 350°F/180°C and continue baking for 10-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cream cheese looks set.
Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let the muffins cool completely or serve warm and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use room temperature ingredients. It's important for the eggs, buttermilk, and cream cheese to be room temperature so they're all easy to mix. We don't want a lumpy cream cheese swirl!
- Don't overmix. Mix just until the dry patches of flour are combined. Overmixing the wet and dry ingredients makes too much gluten form, resulting in gummy, tough muffins.
- Don't over bake your muffins. Preheat your oven and keep and eye on the time to make sure the muffins stay perfectly moist and tender. Also consider getting an oven thermometer to make sure your oven's at the right temperature.
Additions and Variations
I have not tested these ideas, so if you try one, let me know how it goes in the comments below!
- Nuts: Fold in chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans for added crunch and a nutty flavor.
- Dried fruit: Incorporate diced dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, or chopped apricots for a burst of sweetness and chewiness.
- Chocolate chips: Mix in ½ cup semi-sweet, dark, or white chocolate chips.
- Orange zest: Add freshly grated orange zest to the batter for a citrusy note that complements the pumpkin flavor.
- Coconut: Mix in ⅓ cup shredded coconut to add a tropical twist and extra texture.
- Pumpkin seeds: Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of the muffins as a garnish and for a little crunch.
Storage and Freezing
Store the pumpkin cream cheese swirl muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. I recommend placing some parchment paper between each muffin so they don't stick together. They last in the refrigerator for about a week too.
You can freeze the muffins in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Simply thaw them in the fridge or on the counter for a couple hours until soft.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Bake them at 350°F for 12-16 minutes. You'll have nearly 40 mini muffins.
The muffins are done when the cream cheese on top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean with a few moist crumbs.
I usually recommend refrigerating anything with cream cheese, but because there is such a small amount of baked filling on top, they're safe to store at room temperature. Refrigeration is an option to be extra safe!
More Muffin Recipes to Try
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins
- 110 grams neutral oil
- 230 grams granulated sugar
- 50 grams brown sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 245 grams pumpkin puree
- 120 grams buttermilk room temperature
- 320 grams all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Swirl
- 142 grams cream cheese softened
- 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk room temperature
- Vigorously whisk oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until well combined.110 grams neutral oil, 230 grams granulated sugar, 50 grams brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whisk in the pumpkin puree and buttermilk until smooth.245 grams pumpkin puree, 120 grams buttermilk
- Pour the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt into the wet ingredients. Gently fold together with a rubber spatula until the dry streaks of flour disappear.320 grams all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon salt
- In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and egg yolk together with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.142 grams cream cheese, 3 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 egg yolk
- Fill each muffin liner ¾ full of batter. Add a teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture to each liner and swirl into the batter with a knife or toothpick.
- Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of each muffin and bake for 5 minutes at 425°F/220°C. Turn the heat down to 350°F/180°C and bake for 10-15 more minutes. until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely and enjoy.