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Pumpkin frosting is easy to make with 4 ingredients.

This is our go-to no fail pumpkin buttercream recipe!

pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin frosting on wooden tray
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This is the ultimate pumpkin frosting how-to guide!

Learn solutions to common buttercream problems and how much frosting you’ll need for cake, cupcakes, layer cakes.

Sometimes I dream about making buttercream frosting when I’m sleeping.. it’s become that natural! It’s kind of like brushing your teeth when you’re half asleep.

But I didn’t always know how to make buttercream. Before I learned, I thought it was one of those super secret baking techniques that only skilled bakers knew. Like Martha Stewart.

Any skill gets easier and becomes more natural with practice. Learning how to make buttercream is a great skill to have because it opens tons of doors in terms of flavors and pairing with cake.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Frosting

  • unsalted butter – room temperature butter is needed when making frosting
  • shortening (can be replaced with butter) – I make all butter frostings now, but when I originally published this recipe, I was using half butter half shortening. You can use either.
  • pumpkin puree 100% canned pure pumpkin puree
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • powdered sugar – also known as confectioner’s sugar
pumpkin cupcake with pumpkin frosting on wooden background with pumpkins in background

How To Make Pumpkin Frosting

Beat butter. Start by placing room temperature butter (and vegetable shortening, if using) into a mixing bowl. Beat using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, 1 minute.

Add puree and spices. Add in the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Mix using a spatula.

collage image with butter and shortening in blue mixing bowl, second image with butter, pumpkin puree and spices in blue mixing bowl

Add in the powdered sugar. 1 cup at a time, mixing with a spatula at first so the powered sugar doesn’t puff up everywhere.

Mix. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, beat the buttercream using an electric mixer, 1-2 minutes.

mixing pumpkin frosting in blue mixing bowl

TA DA! Pumpkin spice frosting that you can spread on pumpkin cupcakes.

Common Buttercream Problems

My buttercream is too wet and just flops over!

Solution: Add more powdered sugar, 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until the buttercream is loses that glossy look

My buttercream is too thick, it won’t easily come out of a piping bag!

Solution: Add more pumpkin puree. Since pumpkin puree is naturally moist, that will help put some moisture back into the buttercream.

Sheesh! This pumpkin frosting is dangerously good.

Solution: Put it on everything. Especially Homemade Chocolate Cake.

pumpkin buttercream frosting piped onto metal plate

Butter or Shortening in Frosting

Sometimes I use a combination of butter and shortening in my buttercream, especially if it’s hot outside.

Vegetable shortening gives buttercream stability. Using vegetable shortening in buttercream will definitely prevent it from being “floppy.”

If you’re having problems with your buttercream staying in beautiful swirls after you pipe it on, consider using shortening next time especially if the weather is very hot.

However, most of the time I make my frosting with all butter.

piece of pumpkin cake with pumpkin frosting on metal plate

How Much Frosting Do I Need?

This pumpkin buttercream recipe yields about 2 cups of frosting. Here’s a guide for how much frosting you’ll need for cakes and cupcakes.

9×13 inch cake: 3-4 cups

12 cupcakes: this really depends on how much frosting you pipe onto each cupcake, about 2.5-3 cups

8 or 9 inch 3 layer cake: 6 cups

Frosting Tips for Success

  • Use room temperature butter, it is easier to whip into a fluffy frosting
  • Do not pack powdered sugar into the measuring cup, use the spoon and level method
  • If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of heavy cream or milk

How To Store Frosting

If using the frosting the same day, store it in an airtight container on the counter.

To store frosting for 2+ days, store in an airtight container in the fridge. Place the frosting on the counter 20 minutes before using to come to room temperature. Re-whip with a mixer to bring it back to a fluffy consistency.

Pair Pumpkin Frosting With..

4.49 from 129 ratings

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Pumpkin Frosting

By: Beth
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Pumpkin frosting is easy to make with 4 ingredients. This is our go-to no fail pumpkin buttercream recipe!


  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature*, 1 & 1/2 cups
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 5-7 cups powdered sugar


  • Place room temperature butter (see note) in a mixing bowl. Beat using an electric mixer until smooth, 1 minute.
  • Add in the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. Mix using a spatula.
  • Add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing with a spatula at first so the powered sugar doesn’t puff up everywhere. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, beat the buttercream using an electric mixer, 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  • Use on your favorite desserts like pumpkin cupcakes, chocolate cake, vanilla cupcakes, and brownies.



*The original recipe called for half butter half vegetable shortening, but I now prefer an all butter frosting. 

To frost..

-6 inch 3 tier cake, double the recipe.
-8 inch 3 tier cake, triple the recipe.
-12 cupcakes, you could get by with the original recipe, otherwise increase the recipe by half.
-24 cupcakes, double the recipe. I always like to err on the side of having leftover buttercream. Plus, I pipe a lot of buttercream onto each cupcake.
*Optional: replace 1 stick of butter with 1/2 cup vegetable shortening for a more stable frosting, especially in hot weather
Some have commented that they used 3 & 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and liked the flavor. The amount of powdered sugar all depends on your taste and how stable you want the frosting.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 1721IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Beth

I believe that everyone should have a go-to dessert to bring to parties! With hundreds of recipes, I'll help you find yours!

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Recipe Rating


  1. Love it youmake everything so easy to follow .Its easy to understand and then you show us what to use. Your an angel.

  2. Hi Beth,  I just pulled up your pumpkin butter cream recipe.  I will be making this.  Especially with Fall coming.  Sooooo easy.  That’s my kind of recipe.  Thanks,  Staci

    1. Hi Brittany! Are you wanting to freeze the cake with the frosting on it? I have never frozen a cake with buttercream on it for a long period of time, but it freezes well for short periods so I am thinking it would be okay!

  3. I work for a mobile catering/ vending company and I think this frosting would work well for some of our desserts but I need to know the conversion from 1 stick of butter to one pound of butter. Is there any way you can help me out with this. Thank you in advance.

  4. I plan on making cupcakes for my office Halloween party. I am definitely making this for the frosting! Can I make this and frost the cupcakes the night before or does it have to be refrigerated?

  5. Yummy. I just made this today to top a spice bunt cake. Covered it completely with some to spare . topped it off with chocolate sprinkles (cause we have to have sprinkles whenever possible.)Can’t wait till after dinner to enjoy a piece. Thanks for a nice recipe to add to my collection.

  6. In my opinion, this calls for way too much sugar. I used only 3 1/2 cups and it was plenty. Also, remember to sift your powdered sugar before using.

    1. Yep – I totally agree and wish I had read comments before making.

      Tried to salvage by adding butter, but was torn because I didn’t really need more volume. This one definitely sports a sugar-forward flavor to say the least!

      Also as a note – I doubled the recipe (plus the 1 cup extra butter) and still have probably 3 cups leftover after generously icing two 9×13 sheet cakes.

    1. “Pumpkin spice” is a combo of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. And honestly, it never has enough ginger bite for me. You can make your own to taste. ;)