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Pumpkin frosting is an easy twist on the classic buttercream icing that gives your autumn desserts all that pumpkin spice flavor you love! With only a few basic ingredients like butter, confectioners sugar, and real pumpkin puree, this recipe whips up in no time! Layer it on desserts like pumpkin pie spice loaf cake, pumpkin bread, vanilla cupcakes, or even on store-bought sugar cookies!
This post will teach you everything you know to make this scrumptious frosting perfectly! Be sure to see all the tips and tricks to make this super fluffy decadent dessert topper! Just a little know-how will make it a no-fail recipe that you'll use for years to come!
Ingredients needed for Pumpkin Spice Buttercream:
- salted butter
- pumpkin puree
- good quality vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
- milk or cream
- a stand mixer or handheld mixer
Tips and tricks to make easy pumpkin frosting:
Because the icing recipe has minimal ingredients one of the first things you should do is make sure each and every one of those ingredients is the highest quality at the price you are willing to pay. It's okay to use regular store-bought ingredients, but sometimes around the holiday you can kick things up a notch and use things like European style butter or high quality vanilla then you typically use.
Your butter should be at room temperature before whipping. This means it should be soft but doesn't collapse totally when pressed. If it's too soft you can place it back in the refrigerator for about 15 to 30 minutes.
A stand mixer is a wonderful kitchen accessory that is amazing when it comes to making homemade frostings. It's the key to making my sturdy whipped cream frosting or even our pizza dough every Friday night. We've had this one for over 12 years and it's still going strong!
If you don't have one, that is fine too! A handheld mixer works too! I wouldn't recommend doing it by hand with just a whisk though- I think your arm would fall off from exhaustion! You'll want to whip the butter at the beginning on its own to introduce air into it and give it a bit of lift to keep the buttercream from becoming thick and dense.
After you've whipped your butter for several minutes, you'll notice that the butter has lightened a bit in color-- that is a good sign! Now is the time to add in the vanilla, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and salt. You'll want to whip that for another minute or two.
**A KEY TIP YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS!**
You'll want to sift your powdered sugar which is sometimes called confectioner's sugar. Although it is super fine and not gritty like granulated sugar, it can clump up and will ruin the texture and fluffiness of your buttercream. Those little tiny balls of sugar stuck together can throw things off more than you would think!
Sifting is the key to making it light and airy. It is an extra step- but it's the one step you don't want to skip! It will only take a few minutes longer to place a sieve over your bowl when measuring the powdered sugar out. Some taps with your hand and it's raining snow-like sugar! Just want sieve is fine, but if my sugar has sat for a long time or is extra clumpy I will sometimes do a second pass.
The final tip is one that is universal with all icing recipes and it involves adding the liquid into the sugar mixture. You can always add more liquid, but if you put too much, you can't take it out. When adding the milk or cream to the buttercream, I add in ½ tablespoon amounts, and after beating it in I check the consistency to see if more is needed. For this frosting you want it to retain its shape and not collapse on itself.
This makes it a dream for piping. You can use an offset spatula and it will give the topped goodies a wonderful ripple pattern. When it comes to cookies and cupcakes, I'm a sucker for a pretty piping tip! Just remember that piping can use a lot of frosting quickly, so you will want to double the recipe so you don't run out!
What's the difference between using milk and cream? Not much actually. We are talking only 1.5 Tablespoons. I will add cream because I think that little bit of fat adds a bit of creaminess but I will not buy cream if this is the only recipe I'd be using it in. Using whole milk that is already on hand gets the job done just fine. During the holidays though, I do tend to always have cream on hand.
You also won't use a whole can of pumpkin puree, so you'll want to save the extra to use in other pumpkin recipes like this one for no bake pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie mini tarts with a gingerbread crust. The pumpkin is the key to giving it that real authentic flavor and additionally it gives it the orange color naturally. No fake pumpkin flavored fillers needed for this recipe!
This recipe will make just shy of 2 cups of frosting. It's perfect for a batch of sugar cookies, 24 cupcakes (unless using piping tips!) or a small loaf cake. If you are making a double layer cake or even a sheet cake I would recommend doubling the recipe. It's easy to do. You'll double the butter, pumpkin, and the few other ingredients at the beginning and then also double the powdered sugar. This way you don't have to make two separate batches. Easy peasy.
What to ice with pumpkin frosting!
- cupcakes (vanilla, chocolate or spice would be perfect!)
- sugar cookies
- gingersnap cookies
- spice bread
- pumpkin bread
- pumpkin muffins
- pumpkin pie spice loaf cake
- double the recipe and add to a double layer cake (chocolate, spice cake or vanilla!)
- vanilla cheesecake
- Do you have a favorite? Leave a comment and tell me what you would slather it on!
Don't forget to pin to your favorite Pinterest board!
Homemade Pumpkin Frosting
- 4 TBSP butter salted
- ¼ cup pumpkin puree
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 3.5 cups powdered sugar This is 1 pound.
- 1.5 tablespoon milk or cream add just a ½ tablespoon at a time
How to make homemade pumpkin buttercream icing:
- About one hour before making, pull out your butter so it can soften. The butter should be soft and malleable, but not super soft. If you've accidentally softened too much (we all get distracted!) you can place it back in the fridge for a bit to allow it to stiffen back up a bit.
- In a mixing bowl, sift your powdered sugar at least once to remove any clumps and to ensure it is light and airy.
- Cream your butter for several minutes (about 4-6) on a medium high speed until it is light and airy. It should lighten in color and add more in volume.
- Add in the pumpkin puree, the salt, cinnamon and vanilla and continue mixing on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes to make sure it is mixed in throughly.
- With the mixer on a slow speed, sprinkle in ½ the powdered sugar. Once it has mixed in, increase the mixer speed back to medium high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- Turning the mixer back down to a slow speed, sprinkle in the remaining ½ of the powdered sugar. Once it has mixed in, increase the mixer speed back to medium high speed and beat for 2-3 minutes.
- Again turning the mixer back down to a slow speed, slowly stir in ½ tablespoon of the milk or cream. Beat the icing again to make sure the milk is combined. If it is too thick or stiff, add in another ½ tablespoon of milk or cream. Do this until you get the consistency you are aiming for. Remember- you can always add more liquid to soften the icing, but you can't take the liquid away!
- Use the frosting to ice your favorite cupcakes, quick breads, or cookies! If piping or icing a double 9 inch layer cake, double the recipe to ensure you have enough icing. You can always refrigerate any extra!
- Enjoy! Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you are having a wonderful fall!