Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Muffins

I’ve made these three times since my sister brought them for an October birthday brunch (a morning on which we could all get together to collectively celebrate 4 birthdays within a week) – sometimes stuffed with cream cheese, sometimes not. They’re delicious either way – dark and moist and mildly spiced – and fast to stir together, even at 4:20 as it was on one morning when I was on early traffic duty on CBC – this batter takes no time to whisk together and divvy into muffin cups before you hop in the shower. Your coworkers will thank you for it.

I’m working out of a cushy office with a mountain view this week – out in Jasper for the 24th annual Christmas in November festivities; the first weekend group had left on Sunday, round two arrived yesterday afternoon. My sleep-in was foiled by the time change, but having irreparably woken up at 6:42 am, I got to work in bed for the morning, and then treated myself to a visit to the spa for the best facial I’ve ever had (not that I’ve had many) – it was part excavation, part exorcism.

And – news! When I got back to my room, after lounging in the spa in a big plush robe with a stack of holiday food magazines (bliss!) and then sneaking up to the lobby in my sunglasses and greasy post-facial hair for a hot chocolate with whipped cream (!) and shaved dark chocolate (!) I came back to the room to follow the Taste Canada Food Writing Awards gala in Toronto-an event I had missed to be here in Jasper. Spilling the Beans was a finalist for best single-subject cookbook in English in Canada, and it won. Just wow. Chef Michael Smith’s book, Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen (Penguin) won in the general cookbook category, Unquenchable by Natalie MacLean (Doubleday) for culinary narrative and Made in Italy, by David Rocco (HarperCollins) for best regional/cultural cookbook.

Congrats to all. And after talking with Sue and celebrating with Michael and some champagne, I went to bed feeling like a real food writer.

But – back to the muffins. If you skip the cream cheese and sprinkle their tops with sugar before you bake them, they come out looking a little like molasses crackle cookies. It might seem like a lot of oil – we cut back on the original already – but you could probably cut it back further. Or remember that canola oil is a heart-healthy kind of fat, one that will keep your muffins deliciously moist.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


Yields1 Serving

Cream Cheese
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. flour
1 14 oz. (398 ml) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat or a combination)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (if you're not using pumpkin pie spice)
pinch allspice
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt


Preheat the oven to 350F.


In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients; add to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined.


Fill paper-lined muffin cups and if you like, sprinkle with coarse sugar. If you're filling them, poke a hole in the top of each with the handle of a wooden spoon and add a small spoonful of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, or until springy to the touch.



Cream Cheese
 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
 1/4 cup sugar
 1 large egg
 2 Tbsp. flour
 1 14 oz. (398 ml) can pumpkin puree
 1 cup sugar
 1 cup canola oil
 1 large egg
 2 tsp. vanilla
 3 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat or a combination)
 1 Tbsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (if you're not using pumpkin pie spice)
 pinch allspice
 2 tsp. baking powder
 1 tsp. baking soda
 1/2 tsp. salt



Preheat the oven to 350F.


In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients; add to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined.


Fill paper-lined muffin cups and if you like, sprinkle with coarse sugar. If you're filling them, poke a hole in the top of each with the handle of a wooden spoon and add a small spoonful of the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

About Julie

42 comments on “Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Muffins

  1. Cheryl F
    November 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Congratulations to you and Sue!! Enjoy your time in Jasper!

    By the way, you are looking amazing!

  2. ericabell@shaw.ca
    November 7, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Glad to see Taste Canada recognized that Spilling the Beans is fantastic! Cheers & congratulations to you & Sue 😀

  3. Carol S-B
    November 7, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Yeah for Spilling the Beans! “Just… wow”.
    Heck, yes!
    Two more things: I made these from your original post back in October: I did mini muffins, and filled them with cream cheese. What a big hit! I reduced the oil, too. To compensate, I added a splash of eggnog, instead. So good!
    Thing two: stop it! you’ve hardly ever had a facial? But your skin is so glorious! *sigh*

  4. Terri
    November 7, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Well done Julie and Sue…so pleased for you. See! All that hard work putting the project together really paid off!

  5. Donna
    November 7, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Congratulations Julie – It is a wonderful cookbook
    Enjoy Jasper

  6. Stephanie
    November 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Wow!! Congrats!! That book is on my xmas list and I’ll looking forward to checking it out 🙂

  7. Ann
    November 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Congratulations Julie and Sue! That’s fantastic news. It’s a great cookbook and one I enjoy using a lot!!

    Lucky you to be in Jasper – it’s my most favorite spot on the planet.

    Thanks for the pumpkin muffin recipe. I think I’ll try this on the weekend. Thanks also for maintaining this wonderful blog. Just about every single thing I cook or bake is a “Julie recipe.”

  8. Sue (London, ON)
    November 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Congrats to you & Sue and of course Michael!! Enjoy the rest of your time in Jasper… sigh! Wish I was there. Can’t wait to try these muffins.

  9. the other Al
    November 7, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Congratulations on your win! Well, Well, done Darlink! I loved the Tweet “your the Jan Arden of Food writers”from a fan. I’ve always enjoyed reading your perspective on daily life. A sense humor is invaluable today. Thanks for keeping ours afloat. I will be buying your Bean book.

  10. Fiona
    November 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm


  11. CathyH
    November 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Congratulations!And you look fantastic!

  12. Carolyn
    November 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Congratulations… you totally deserve this! Great picture!

  13. Susan
    November 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Congratulations to Julie and Sue. And as Ann said above, thanks for the blog. If I ever need something, this is the first place to go. Today’s butternut squash soup was from ‘day 225’. Remember when it was just supposed to be a year? So glad you’ve kept it up, I really appreciate it!

  14. Roxanna@WholesomeHedonist
    November 8, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I love these Starbucks muffins but have been scared ever since I read the crazy ingredient list (why, oh why, do I do that to myself? I have a compulsive need to turn over the package and read the label.) I’m so happy to have found a homemade version! They seem perfect for a Christmas brunch – especially with the cream cheese in the middle! I hope you won’t mind too much if I tell people it’s ‘my secret recipe’ 😉

  15. Kathy H
    November 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Congratulations on your success! You’re my favorite real food writer 🙂

  16. Laurie from Burnaby
    November 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Congratulations to all concerned!

  17. gwendolyn
    November 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Those muffins look amazing!

    I love all things pumpkin, so I’m definitely adding them to my must-make list.

    Enjoy the rest of your time in Jasper.

  18. Jennifer Jo
    November 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Congratulations, Julie! So wonderful! (I never doubted your authentic food writerly-ness!)

    I made these muffins, but with some whole wheat and fresh cranberries. So, so good. http://bit.ly/SFOJzi

  19. Barb
    November 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    The win is great news! I am super excited for you! Not surprised, however. I have the book and it is tremendous. I flipped through Michael’s and it looks very good,too.

  20. Heather
    November 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    This post makes me smile. Congratulations! Spilling the Beans is a great book, I have used it every weekend since the snow started. And for someone who doesn’t cook that often it makes me feel like a superstar. And now I have some pumpkin muffins to try. 🙂

  21. Rose
    November 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    WOW!!!! What a thrilling achievement! I have this recipe book and love it. Thanks so much for your work here. You are my first go to for a recipe when I’m searching and I refer to you regularly with my family. {Every once in a while my daughter tells me…”you know Mom, Julie doesn’t know you, she’s not your friend”}

    But it feels like you are!! I bet every other reader would agree.

  22. Erin
    November 10, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I tried these muffins with my daughters as my helpers and they may be the very best muffins I have ever produced in my kitchen. I was holding a fussy toddler as I was adding the cream cheese filling, so instead of it being inside the muffins it kind of ended up as a topping. They are still delicious and look great.

  23. natalie
    November 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    So happy for you and Sue. I made the butternut squash lasagna for dinner last night. Really yummy. I made these muffins immediately after reading your post. Thanks for the inspiration.

  24. Laura
    November 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Those are gorgeous. Sometimes pumpkin stuff is almost too moist, almost gummy on the surface, so I suspect you got the oil perfect.

  25. Knockout Kitchen
    November 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I love pumpkin flavored things and those muffins look great.

  26. Andy
    March 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    The pumpkin muffins are so delicious! I made them without the cream cheese, but added a little sprinkle of vanilla sugar on top for just the right amount of sweetness. The texture of the muffins is great too … probably my most successful attempt at pumpkin muffins. Thanks for posting this recipe Julie!

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  28. Tab
    May 28, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Excellent recipe..I make it slightly different.
    I use 2.5 cups whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of oat bran.
    I add 1/4 cup of plain yogurt or kefir for added moistness.
    and sweeten with 1/2 cup liquid honey instead of sugar..
    When in a huurry instead of cinnamon sugar sprinkle top with choc chips and forget about the icing.

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    December 14, 2013 at 10:09 am

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  30. Jill
    March 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I made these, added an extra egg yolk, and put them in a 12 muffin cup pan, filled to overflow. These muffins don’t rise too much, so no mess. Very moist, fulfilling muffin with coffee. Freeze well.

  31. Brenda from Carstairs
    June 25, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I made these today and they are awesome. I cut the oil amount in half, used half whole-wheat flour and half white, added 1/2 cup each of chopped pecans and dried apricots. Thanks for another great recipe.

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  33. Dawn
    September 27, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Colosal waste of time. Batter was too think, muffins barely rose and were very dense. Bleck.

  34. Rebecca
    November 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Julie,
    Just making these today after getting your last newsletter. I put the cream cheese in but have a question. Was I supposed to cover up the cream cheese with more batter? I thought it might sink in more but it didn’t really do that.

  35. Lori
    October 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Ugh-why do they sell pumpkin in such weird portions – I freeze my pumpkin puree in one cup portions.
    Also, do you plan to attend Christmas in November in Jasper ever again?

    • Julie
      October 26, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      I know, right? And if it was up to me, I’d be there every year… 🙁

  36. Sharon Raas
    October 27, 2017 at 4:23 am

    Has anyone ever made the muffins with cooked pumpkin? (steamed or baked) I am in Australia and sadly, while there are several varieties of fresh pumpkin in the stores, it is impossible to buy canned pumpkin!

    Kind regards,
    from a Canadian down under

    • Lori
      October 27, 2017 at 6:05 am

      Yes! I cook and puree pumpkin and that’s what I use all the time.

  37. Sarah B
    October 19, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    I don’t know if I didn’t follow the instructions correctly or maybe I did something wrong but these muffins did not turn out well.

  38. Elise
    April 1, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I just wanted to tell you, I’ve used this recipe for years and probably refer back to it 3-4 times a year. It’s still hands down the yummiest pumpkin muffin recipe I’ve found!

    • Julie
      April 1, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      Aw, I’m so glad to hear it! I have to make them again sometime!

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