Apple Spice Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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These apple spice cake cupcakes are favorites every fall in our household. They are like eating an apple cobbler or apple pie in cupcake form!

Apple Cupcakes
This homemade apple spice cake recipe is perfect with warm autumn flavors!

I make them with brown sugar and load them up with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves. I also always add lemon zest to my apple desserts as it brightens up the flavor and gives them a little zing!


Apple Cupcake Ingredients
These moist and delicious cupcakes are loaded with apple flavor. This is a must-try for fall dessert recipes!

The most important ingredient in this recipe is apples. I like to use tart apples that hold their shape. I don’t want apple mush in my cupcakes; I want recognizable apple bits.

Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious apples are all great choices, but there are so many others that will also work well.

Tip: There is no need to peel the apples before using them in this recipe. I don’t peel them in my apple crumble pie, either!

This recipe also uses sour cream, but you can always substitute yogurt in its place if that’s what you have on hand.

How It’s Made

Start by preheating your oven to 350 F and whisking together dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.

Next, beat butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. An electric or stand mixer is helpful for this.

Brown sugar and butter mixed
Apple spice cake is easy to make and turns out perfectly every time!

Beat in eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until blended.

Mix in flour mixture a little bit at a time until just combined. It’s always important to not over-mix cupcake batter.

Gently fold in apples.

Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners (they will be filled almost all the way to the top) and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Expert Tips and FAQs

Best Frostings to Use

Over the years, I’ve experimented with many different frosting recipes for this dessert.

Vanilla cream cheese frosting and a caramel drizzle is a classic choice and yields fantastic caramel apple cupcakes. That’s what I share in my recipe below.

Apple Cupcakes
Make these proper caramel apple cupcakes with a hearty drizzle of sweet and gooey caramel!

Cream cheese frosting is always a win for me, but if you prefer buttercream, try my vanilla buttercream frosting.

One of my favorite ways to frost these cupcakes is with pumpkin frosting (shown below). I make that using actual pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin Frosting on vanilla cupcakes
Top your apple cupcakes with pumpkin frosting to combine two distinct fall flavors that taste incredible in harmony.

Apple cupcakes are also wonderful with a crumb topping. When you make them that way, you can actually serve them for breakfast and call them apple muffins.

Apple Muffins
Adding a crumble topping is a great way to alter this apple cupcake recipe and make it appropriate to serve at any meal, any time of day!

For other fall recipe, frosting, and decorating ideas, take a look at my favorite fall cupcakes!


Apple Cupcakes
Apple spice cake cupcakes are the perfect way to distill all of your favorite autumnal flavors into a single delicious and easy-to-prepare dessert.
Why do these cupcakes peel away from their liners?

If a big piece of apple is right up against the liner, it won’t stick to the liner in the same way that the cupcake batter would. The liner will peel away. You can avoid this by cutting the apples into smaller pieces.

If you like big apple pieces or want to hide the fact that your liners separated from the cupcakes, you can use cupcake wrappers [paid link] that go over the liners after baking. Next time you make the recipe, try using baking cups [paid link] instead of cupcake liners.

Do I have to go out and buy sour cream for this recipe?

Sour cream gives the cupcakes a subtle tang that enhances the recipe’s flavor while also adding more dairy and fat to the recipe. That said, I’ve done extensive testing and found that yogurt works perfectly as a substitute for sour cream. You could even use flavored yogurt as a recipe twist!

What is the best apple for apple spice cake?

When it comes to apple pie cupcakes, you might be best off mixing several varieties of apples to achieve different notes of sweet, tart, crisp, and soft. Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples are some of our favorites, but if you prefer a sweeter cake, go with varieties like Fuji and Gala.

Can you add apples to spice cake mix?

Yes, you can make a shortcut version of this apple cupcake recipe by using a storebought spice cake mix and adding apples to that. It will still result in a delicious cake, though I prefer to measure out all of the cake mix ingredients and spices myself to make sure everything is just right.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!
Apple Cupcakes
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4.70 from 71 votes

Apple Cupcakes

Apple spice cake cupcakes with chunks of apples and fall spices are topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting for a perfect fall dessert recipe.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 500kcal
Author Stefani


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pound apples roughly chopped and loosely packed, about 2 1/2 cups chopped apples

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  • Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until blended.
  • Mix in flour mixture a little bit at a time until just combined.
  • Fold in apples.
  • Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners (they will be filled almost all the way to the top).
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the vanilla.
  • Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time until fully combined.
  • Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.


  • You can experiment with different sizes for the apple pieces. If you like chunks of apples in your desserts, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. You can also cut them into smaller pieces or matchsticks if you want them more integrated into the batter.


Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 109mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 61g | Vitamin A: 730IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 1.2mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Lisasays:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I did not use frosting. Perfect cupcakes.!

  2. Terri C.says:

    5 stars
    These are excellent. I made half and got 8 using 1/4 c. batter per cupcake. They baked in 17 minutes. I omitted all spices but cinnamon and added 3/8 t. salt but they needed more. I made my own thick glaze for these.

  3. Adrianasays:

    5 stars
    Love these cupcakes! I decided to try these because they use more apples than most and I had a bunch to use up. I did do 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour because I’m in that habit as I’m feeding two little ones. I am also dairy free so I subbed cocconut oil for the butter and vegan yogurt for the sour cream. When I bit into the first one, I thought it was delicious but it needed something. Then I realized – salt! I will definitely add 1/2 tsp next time. I find salt brings out the sweetness and the spiciness in such a recipe.

  4. Erwin Buansays:

    5 stars
    I made this cupcake a week ago. i followed every step and it’s perfect. Not too sweet and you can smell the flavors of autumn while baking. I topped it with your Crumb topping recipe and drizzle it with homemade caramel sauce. The outcome was a big hit to my family. They love it. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  5. Marysays:

    This recipe sounds delicious! I was wondering if the cream cheese icing is stable enough to colour and pipe in 3 different styles on a cupcake and if the icing would melt off?

  6. Rachelsays:

    What did u use for the caramel sauce on top

  7. Janet Schultzesays:

    5 stars
    Delicious! I made these and my pals were also gushing about how good these are. Will definitely make again.

    I did sub Greek yogurt for sour cream, skipped the cloves and then added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the frosting. The spice blend and the fresh apples make it. Thank you!

  8. Miriamsays:

    Any idea on what to replace the yogurt/ sour cream if I want it non dairy?

  9. Gizemsays:

    I tried this yesterday and it was the most delicious cupcake i had ever made. There are not a lot of local recipes where i live and the recipes i did before just didnt end like they were cupcakes at all. But these ones, omg they are so delicious, thank you! I would like to see a recipe with a video doing it though. Thank!!

  10. Zuzanasays:

    5 stars
    Simply delicious. I will bake them again and again. Thank you for the recipe.

  11. Izzysays:

    Amazing! Made this last night and I love the taste of the cupcakes. Perfect balance of sweetness and spices. I love that its not too sweet! My frosting came out as more of a glaze but still so yummy!

  12. Elizesays:

    5 stars
    This bake looks so sophisticated and the wrapper makes it look even more smart I would really like to give this a test as apples are a favorite ingredient for baking in our home I am sure I will be a star! Thanks for sharing…

  13. Debrasays:

    5 stars
    First let me just say that those are the most professional looking cupcakes EVER. Every frosting option you list sounds delish…I don’t know which to pick!! The cupcakes look so moist with those apples. Can’t wait for the weekend to give these a try.

  14. Donnasays:

    5 stars
    Oh my, these sound amazing! My kids have been asking to make apple cupcakes all Fall – I think these will more than satisfy the craving!

  15. Marisa Francasays:

    5 stars
    I love all the spices you use in the apple cupcakes. Now is such a great time to make apple desserts and cupcakes are always a favorite. And your topping is the perfect finish to the delicious dessert.

  16. Tinasays:

    5 stars
    I love the idea of eating these in cupcake form. I think it would be great for breakfast on the go. Perfect for a morning fika. Definitely going to have to try this1

  17. Tracy Koslickisays:

    5 stars
    Oh these look perfect for an upcoming party we have. Fall flavors in something unique! Honeycrisps are my favorite and I LOVE the addition of lemon zest.

  18. Eileen Kellysays:

    5 stars
    I love the flavors in these apple cobbler cupcakes. They are great for a fall teat and the frosting is just delicious! These are a great treat to bring to an autumn party!

  19. Tracisays:

    5 stars
    I don’t usually eat sweets for breakfast, but you have me wanting one of these right now after reading through this post. YUMMM! I’m kind of intimidated by cupcakes because I want them to turn out perfect (who doesn’t?), but that doesn’t always happen. This recipe looks like a good one for that. I love the spice combo you used, and of course that sour cream seals the dealio for me. Thanks for sharing this one with us! Pinning now! :)

  20. Lydiasays:

    5 stars
    Such a delightful cupcake! I love how flavorful it is and the apple pieces help them stay nice and moist. Delicious!

  21. Shadi Hasanzadesays:

    5 stars
    I love apple cupcakes, these look so tasty and I can’t wait to make them!

  22. Jamielynsays:

    5 stars
    These look SO pretty! Love the caramel drizzle and apple garnish on top!

  23. Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessertsays:

    5 stars
    These would disappear in our house!

  24. Karasays:

    5 stars
    These sound like a perfect fall cupcake, and I’m a fan of anything with cream cheese frosting! I’d love them with chunks of apple, but my kids would definitely prefer them grated.

  25. Rachael Yerkessays:

    These are so good!

  26. Lisasays:

    5 stars
    These apple cupcakes are positively glorious! I’ve made apple spice cake using applesauce before, but I’ve never made cupcakes with real apple bits before. Love that idea and bonus that you don’t have to peel the apples. I think the cream cheese frosting is for me, though I’d be happy to taste test all of them (for quality purposes)… But what is that wonderful drizzle you have on top of the cupcakes? Caramel? Cider reduction?

  27. Kirsten/ComfortablyDomesticsays:

    5 stars
    Wow! I feel like I can’t lose with all of the extra information you added based on reader questions! I think that I’m a classic Apple with vanilla cream cheese and caramel drizzle kind of girl. However, I do like the idea of a doing a crumb too and calling it breakfast!

  28. Katiesays:

    5 stars
    Apple anything this time of year makes me happy, but cupcakes make me extra happy! This is an amazing recipe!

  29. Marisasays:

    5 stars
    These look so perfect for fall!

  30. Sonalsays:

    5 stars
    So many apple recipes and this is one of those must save and must try.. looks amazing.

  31. Ellensays:

    I’d love one of these cupcakes with a cup of coffee!

  32. Dinisays:

    5 stars
    You’re right, this is absolutely everything yummy about Fall in cupcake form! :) Love the pumpkin frosting too, definitely trying these soon!

  33. Luci Petlacksays:

    5 stars
    Every version of these apple cupcakes sounds amazing – that pumpkin frosting combo sounds delicious. And I love huge chunks of fruit in baking!!

  34. Aprilsays:

    5 stars
    I love this cupcake, it’s sooo good! I love how many variations you’ve made with it, too. I need to try each and every one.

  35. Carolynsays:

    5 stars
    Dang, girl. Those look like the perfect fall treat!

  36. Gloriasays:

    5 stars
    These sound delicious…and addictive. Perfect for dessert, or with my afternoon latte. Apples in season are the BEST…and I know my grandkids would love these after school too.

  37. Carynsays:

    These sound amazing! What type of apples do you recommend? Can’t wait to try!

  38. Sherrisays:

    5 stars
    I have a longstanding love affair with cupcakes and was browsing the internet looking for some good fall recipes when I happened to stumble onto your blog and the recipe for the apple cobbler cupcakes with pumpkin pie frosting. I LOVE THESE! I have made three batches in as many days and anyone I talk into trying one adores them as well. Thanks so much for such a great find; you have definitely gained a new follower and I look forward to seeing what else your blog has to offer!

  39. Nicoletta Hopssays:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this cupcake! It comes out wonderful every time I make it.I use your brown sugar frosting instead of the pumpkin (my boyfriend doesn’t like pumpkin). I highly recommend this cupcake :-)!

  40. Lydiasays:

    Is the taste of the sour cream noticeable in the end result? For some reason, I’ve never really liked the taste. If it is, is there something that could be used to replace it?

  41. Jessica Keysays:

    5 stars
    I just made these cupcakes yesterday, and they are delicious! I’m making them for my son’s first birthday (for the adults), and now I can’t wait to see what everyone else will think of these… perfect for fall, my favorite time of year!! Thanks for the recipe!

  42. Sandy Michnicksays:

    I am exicted to make some of these… is the brown sugar packed?


  43. Kaitlynsays:

    5 stars
    I just made the cupcakes and they are the best cupcakes I have ever had. I am in cupcake heaven right now. I love these so much and i haven’t even frosted them yet. they are DELICIOUS!

  44. Christinesays:

    5 stars
    This is quickly turning into my favorite recipe to play around with. After the blackberry I mentioned above, I wanted to try again with the pumpkin pie topping. In my mind, I was thinking about pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it. So I swapped out the lemon extract for 1 tsp vanilla, Ginger for 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and in stead of apples I added a cup of chocolate chips. Topped with pumkin pi and a few sprinkles of mini chips. They were unbelievably good. Now you’ve got me wondering what other sorts of cream pies I could use instead of frosting… hmm

  45. Anonymoussays:

    Loved this recipe. I was looking for a way to use some beautiful blackberries I found, so I swapped out blackberries for the apples, pumpkin pie spice for Ginger, and paired them with your sour cream frosting with the vanilla paste. I topped it off with a sprinkle of high end cinnamon and more fresh blackberries. The effect was like blackberry cobbler with classy vanilla ice cream. Fantastic! I’ll bet it would be great with any fruit.

  46. Angelasays:

    5 stars
    Great recipe..I used 1/2 ginger and 1/2 cinnamon with a vanilla cream cheese frosting. My kids loved it!!

  47. eecdsays:

    These were awesome! I just added a cinnamon cream cheese icing to fill the cupcakes and put some candied ginger on the top! everyone loved them

  48. Stefsays:

    Colleen – Sometimes cupcakes deflate a little bit, but they shouldn’t deflate too much. Did you take them out of the tins right away? That helps them to cool evenly, which might help with that.

  49. Colleensays:

    I made these cupcakes last night and they are absolutely delicious. I still need to try them with the pumpkin pie frosting (I will tonight). I’m wondering if it’s normal for the cupcakes to deflate a good amount after taking them out of the oven. Did I take them out too soon?

  50. Elizabethsays:

    5 stars
    Wow, what a combo! I can’t even imagine what it tastes like, but it HAS to be good. Such an autumn-y treat, they look gorgeous!

  51. AllieDalesays:

    Seriously genius!! pumpkin pie frosting, i can’t get over it hahah. i love combining the best of multiple foods into a superfood!

  52. JehanPsays:

    Yum! probably very delicious but also pretty!

  53. Clearesays:

    love your blog,love this cupacakes! My blog actually is only in Italian but as soon as possible i’ll translate all my recipe in english!

  54. Stefsays:

    Alisha and Anon – I think you meant to comment on my contest on FB. Be sure to leave a comment there.

  55. Anonymoussays:

    pumpkin cupcakes with carmel cream cheese frosting…

  56. Alishasays:

    I would make pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes w/ cinnamon pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

  57. Stefsays:

    Anon – Sure, you’d be fine with that.

    Whoops – Michelle, I think you meant to leave that comment on FB.

  58. Michelle Vandergriftsays:

    I think I’d make a sweet potato based cupcake with a cinnamon frosting to celebrate the holidays!

  59. hollysays:

    I almost started drooling! Can’t wait to give these a try.

  60. Anonymoussays:

    I live in new zealand, we only use pumpkin for soup or roasting, also its spring here but cupcakes a grand idea for school lunches. would cream cheese icing (frosting) work? love your blog

  61. Holly Hatamsays:

    I’m abandoning all of my work to go make these cupcakes right now…

  62. Suzannesays:

    looks very yummy!

  63. Adriennesays:

    …you have got to me kidding me. There is fruit in it, therefore I can eat these for breakfast. Every. Day.

  64. Stefsays:

    DellaRae – Thanks! Just click the Like button at the top of the Facebook page.

  65. DellaRaesays:

    These sound great. I went to your facebook page, but didn’t know how to follow you on it. I’m new to facebook.

  66. the blissful bakersays:

    what an amazing combo for a cupcake! they sound DELICIOUS!

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