These apple pie cupcakes are moist, soft, and flavor-loaded cupcakes filled with everything we love about apple pie (and actual apple filling)!
Don’t let the decadence fool you, these kid-friendly cupcakes come together faster than you would imagine. The apple pie spice is found in every layer, from the cupcake, the sautéed apple filling, and the buttercream on top.
They’re a great addition to any holiday dessert table and with your extra apples be sure to make this Apple Rose Puff Pastry, another easy dessert with a stunning display!
Table of contents
The Best Fall Cupcake Recipe
I, (much like the rest of America), love the flavor of apple pie. So, when I find ways to use it in a dessert other than from having to bake an entire pie, I’m all in! These homemade apple cupcakes are extraordinary, so you’re going to want to get to know this recipe. They’re decadent but so easy to make from scratch and a treat for apple pie lovers! So, pretty much everyone, am I right?
These cupcakes are moist and fluffy which is everything the base of a good cupcake should be. The batter is made with delicious apple pie spice infusing it with warm spiced apple flavor. It’s then topped with a crunchy streusel and then filled with deliciously cooked down apple cinnamon filling (using fresh apples!) The finishing touch is piping of vanilla and apple spice buttercream frosting! Mind blown yet? Just wait until you take a bite!
Why we love this recipe
- These cupcakes have the flavors of apple pie but the quick and easy elements of apple cobblers, apple crisps, apple tarts…you get the idea!
- Moist and fluffy and incredibly delicious.
- Always a hit with crowds, especially throughout the fall and winter seasons.
- They can be made ahead of time which makes for easy entertaining.
- So easy to make, even with the different moving parts of this recipe. Each layer is super simple.
- Individual portions make serving them a breeze.
- Great for holiday gatherings, parties, or weekend indoor kitchen fun!
For the Cupcakes
- All-purpose flour – A great flour choice for cupcakes as it results in cupcakes that hold structure but are also nice and light.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar is a baking staple that adds a delicious sweetness to cupcakes.
- Baking powder – A leavening agent that will give rise and get them as fluffy as possible!
- Apple pie spice – A delicious blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice usually, but can also include ginger. It’s quite similar to pumpkin pie spice.
- Milk – Any milk will do. The higher the fat content the richer they’ll turn out. Needed as the liquid component that blends the dry ingredients.
- Oil – A fat that’s needed, along with the milk, to maintain moisture.
- Eggs – A couple of large eggs is all you’ll need for this recipe to bind everything together.
- Vanilla extract – Another baking staple that adds delicious warmth and a wonderful flavor to the entire recipe.
For the Streusel Topping
- All-purpose flour – A common ingredient in streusel toppings. The flour used in streusel is a little more flexible than the flour used in the cupcake batter. Your choice!
- Unsalted butter – Is there anything better than a sweet buttery streusel? The butter is the fat that is needed to combine the flour and sugar into crumbles.
- Sugar – Streusel topping is that crunchy sweet stuff that you usually want to pick off and eat first! Sugar is what gives it that delicious sweet flavor.
For the Apple Filling
- Apples – I like to use Granny Smith apples for most types of apple fillings because they’re not too sweet, have a pleasant tartness to them, and hold together nicely when cooked down.
- Brown sugar – Apples and brown sugar are a match made in heaven, especially when cooked down.
- Butter – Used to cook down the apples, and incorporate the brown sugar, and apple pie spice into a cohesive syrupy sweet apple pie filling. So good.
- Apple pie spice – A touch of apple pie spice to take the apple pie flavors over the top!
For the Buttercream Frosting
- Butter – An essential ingredient in buttercream! I use unsalted butter for the most buttery flavor.
- Vanilla – Adds amazing flavor to any buttercream, similar to chocolate buttercream, and almost all other buttercreams. Especially a vanilla buttercream 🙂
- Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioner’s sugar, it creates sweetness and smooth and creamy consistency that you wouldn’t get from grainier granulated sugar.
- Apple pie spice – I’m sensing a theme here!
How to Make this Recipe
This recipe will come together much faster and easier than you might think. Just make sure to get all your ingredients to room temperature for even baking, especially your softened butter. It’s well worth a couple of extra steps!
Step 1: To make these cupcakes, whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then add in the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
Step 2: Line muffin tins with cupcake liners or spray each hole with cooking spray. Then spoon batter into muffin tins to about 2/3 of the way full and set aside.
Step 3: Combine streusel topping ingredients in a medium bowl and use a fork or your fingers to combine them into a crumble. Sprinkle some over each cupcake and bake for 15-16 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Step 4: To make the apple filling, add the ingredients into a small pan and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Stir often until apples are tender and the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool.
Step 5: Make the buttercream by adding butter and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer (or mixing bowl). Mix on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar and spice and increase the speed again for a couple of minutes. Should be nice and fluffy.
Step 6: Time to assemble! Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, scoop out about the center of the cupcake, about 1” wide and 2 Tbsp deep, of each cupcake. Fill the centers with apple filling and then top with the icing.
- Use a box of white cake mix, yellow cake mix or even a spice cake mix instead of the cupcake ingredients listed above. Follow the package directions using the ingredients listed.
- Substitute light brown sugar for white sugar in cupcakes if desired.
- For a lower calorie version, substitute an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce for the oil.
- Substitute low-fat or fat-free milk or any non-dairy milk like almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, etc.
- Use gluten-free one-to-one flour like Bob’s Red Mill if desired.
- Use other tart apples like Macintosh or Cortland apples instead of granny smith apples, if preferred.
- Remember to soften your butter before you begin. Allowing the rest of your ingredients (eggs, milk) to come to room temperature before beginning will allow for even baking.
- Make sure to measure your flour using the spoon and level technique. This means do not scoop out the flour directly from the container using your measuring cup. Adding too much flour can result in dense cupcakes.
- Use a hand mixer with regular beaters if necessary.
- Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the frosting when mixing to create a simple cinnamon buttercream.
- Use regular cinnamon instead of apple pie spice.
- Use canned apple pie filling for a speedier preparation but you may need to drain any excess cause to prevent cupcakes from getting too moist.
- For piping, I like to use the Wilton 2A for frosting cakes and cupcakes, but you use what you like.
If you don’t have a piping bag on hand, you can use a Ziploc bag and cut the tip. If you have a piping tip, you can make use of it this way, otherwise, just pipe it simply out of the Ziploc back. They might not be as pretty, but don’t worry, no one will care once they take one bite!
If you happen to have any leftover (crazy talk), they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. My personal preference is to bring them to room temperature before eating them.
Totally! Each part (the cupcake, the streusel, the buttercream, and the apple filling) can be made ahead and kept separately stored in the fridge. Bring everything to room temperature before you assemble them, just before serving.
Apple Pie Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon apple pie spice
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Streusel Topping
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the Apple Filling
- 2 large granny smith apples peeled and finely chopped
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
For the Buttercream Frosting
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
Making the Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Line muffin pan with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and apple pie spice.
- Add the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
- Spoon batter into muffin tin holes about 2/3 full. (use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to get equal amounts).
- Set aside
- In a small bowl, and mix streusel topping ingredients of flour, butter, and sugar together
- Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the streusel over each cupcake.
- Bake for 15-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center clean when removed.
- Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
- Make the filling and frosting.
Making the Apple Pie Filling
- In a small pan, add the diced apples, brown sugar, butter, and apple pie spice..
- Cook at medium heat for 10-12 minutes stirring often until the apples are tender and the sauce thickens.
- Set aside for approximately 10 minutes to cool
Making the Buttercream Frosting
- Add the butter and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until creamy and smooth.
- Reduce the mixer to low speed and gradually add the powdered sugar and apple pie spice.
- Once all sugar and spice are added scrape down the sides, increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 additional minutes until fluffy.
- Place the icing into piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice of tip (The Wilton 2A is a nice tip to use for cup cake frosting).
Assembling the cupcakes
- Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, scoop about a tablespoon sized hole, about one inch in diameter, out of the center of each cupcake. (You can use a tablespoon cookie dough scoop, melon baller, or cut a circle with a knife and gently scoop with a teaspoon )
- Add 2 teaspoons of the apple filling and then top with icing.