photo of hand holding pumpkin cream cheese muffin over gold wire rack

About These Small Batch Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are incredibly moist and flavorful, thanks to lots of homemade pumpkin spice and tangy cream cheese swirls. The cream cheese swirl makes the muffins taste like they have bites of tangy cheesecake throughout!

I’m especially excited to add this to my muffin recipe collection because there’s lots to love about this recipe. The pumpkin muffin batter comes together with minimal equipment, with no stand mixer required! You can mix both the cheesecake swirl and the pumpkin batter by hand with a whisk.

But the best part?

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins is a part of my extensive small batch baking recipe archive. The recipe only makes 6 muffins, making it perfect for small households. With this recipe, you’re reducing leftovers and waste!

Learn more about this delicious pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipe below, and be sure to check out the other pumpkin recipes in the Hummingbird High archive!

photo of pumpkin cream cheese muffins on gold wire rack

Why You Should Make The Recipe

Here are all the reasons to make these small batch pumpkin cream cheese muffins:

Last year, I published this recipe for Small Batch Pumpkin Muffins. The recipe only made 4 pumpkin muffins, each with a dramatic muffin top covered in beautiful, craggy sugar. The recipe was a hit!

This year, I wanted to see see if I could improve the recipe with new flavors and variations. Which is how I ended up with this pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipe! I love pumpkin and cream cheese together. The tangy flavor of cream cheese pairs well with the woody, spiced flavor of pumpkin.

The batter comes together with minimal equipment (no stand mixer necessary!).

Both the cheesecake swirl and the pumpkin muffin batter comes together by hand really easily. Doing so only requires three bowls, a whisk, and a stiff rubber spatula. That’s right—you don’t need a stand mixer to make the recipe!

Despite the fact that the muffins come together so quickly, you still end up with bakery-style muffins with picture-perfect, sky-high domes. It’s magic!

The recipe only makes 6 muffins!

Most muffin recipes typically yield at least a dozen muffins; or, often times, more! However, this pumpkin muffin recipe only makes a grand total of 6 muffins. Pretty cool, right? It’s the perfect amount for a small family of 2 to 6 people.

photo of pumpkin cream cheese muffin on white plate against white background

Ingredients and Substitutions

Now that I’ve convinced you to make the recipe, here’s your shopping list for the muffins:

Shopping List For Small Batch Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin Recipe

  • cream cheese
  • large eggs
  • pure vanilla extract
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • all-purpose flour
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cloves
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • granulated sugar
  • canned pumpkin puree
  • canola oil

And let’s talk about some key ingredients and their potential substitutions:

Canned Pumpkin Puree

You need ⅓ cup pumpkin puree to make small batch pumpkin muffins.

What is canned pumpkin puree?

In the United States, most grocery stores sell canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin consists of pumpkin (or sometimes, according to this Kitchn article about pumpkin puree, squash!) that is de-seeded, peeled, roasted, and pureed. Many American recipes instruct you to use this pumpkin puree in both sweet and savory recipes. My favorite brand of canned pumpkin puree is Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin.

I can’t get canned pumpkin puree where I live. What can I use instead?

According to my international readers, canned pumpkin puree can be difficult to get outside of the United States. But no worries! You can make your own pumpkin puree at home. 

Simply process a pumpkin or the yellow or orange squash of your choice (my favorite is butternut squash) by peeling its skin, slicing it in half, and carving out the pumpkin/squash seeds. Cut the pumpkin/squash into 1-inch chunks and place the chunks on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Toss with 1 Tablespoon neutral oil. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fork-tender. Then, use a food processor to puree the pumpkin/squash. Use the puree immediately, or refrigerate in a ziptop bag or an airtight container for up to 3 days. After that, freeze for up to 3 months.

If you plan on using homemade pumpkin puree to make this recipe, bring the pumpkin puree to room temperature. Using pumpkin puree that’s too cold will result in a lumpy cake batter that’s hard to whisk together. Alternatively, using a pumpkin puree that’s too hot could potentially scramble the eggs in the batter.

photo of hands setting down a tray of small batch pumpkin cream cheese muffins

How To Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Here are the basic steps to make these pumpkin cream cheese muffins from scratch:

  1. Prep the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl and the pumpkin muffin batter. (Prep Time: 10 minutes)

  2. Make the cream cheese swirl. (Work Time: 5 minutes)

  3. Make the pumpkin batter. (Work Time: 5 minutes)

  4. Assemble the muffins. (Work Time: 15 minutes)

  5. Bake the muffins. (Bake Time: 20 minutes)
photo of hands holding plate of sliced pumpkin cream cheese muffins

Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: Questions About Ingredients In the Recipe

Do I have to use pre-ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves? Can I grind my own spices instead?

Absolutely! If you want to score the extra credit points and end up with even tastier muffins, grind whole cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to use in this recipe. Grind them right before making the batter, too. Doing so will ensure that the spices are at their strongest and most aromatic, infusing the bread with lots of flavor.

If you want to learn more about grinding spices, be sure to check out this recipe for Lavender Earl Grey Cookies. In the recipe FAQ, I talk about the different tools you can use to grind spices.

Can I use pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves?

Yes! In a pinch, you can substitute all the spices with 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice.

FAQ: Troubleshooting Common Recipe Errors

Help! My pumpkin cream cheese muffins don’t look as tall and domed as yours. What did I do wrong?

In the recipe, I instruct you to fill each muffin pan cavity with a LOT of muffin batter—around a ¼ cup’s worth. That amount goes beyond the conventional wisdom that states that you should only fill muffin pans up to ⅔- or ¾- full of batter!

So, a lot of people tend to panic and stop at around that capacity. Many think that, if they follow my instructions, the muffin batter will overflow the pan and onto the oven floor when baked.

And I get that, I really do. But it’s also likely why your muffins aren’t as tall and domed as mine. It turns out one of the secrets to super tall and domed muffin tops is filling the muffin cavities with a generous amount of batter. Don’t worry about the muffin batter overflowing the pan!

FAQ: How To Store Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

How To Store Small Batch Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are best the day they are made—that way, you get a crispy top! However, the muffins can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap, or stored in an airtight container or under a cake dome, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Can you freeze small batch pumpkin cream cheese muffins?

Technically yes, but I don’t recommend it. If you do, the tops will lose their crispiness—the muffin will still be tasty and soft, with no crunch or crisp from the muffin tops.

But if you insist, you can indeed freeze the pumpkin cream cheese muffins.To do so, follow the recipe instructions to bake the muffins. Once you’ve turned them out of the muffin pan, cool them completely to room temperature. Once cool, individually wrap each muffin in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Rewarm by placing the muffins on a parchment-lined sheet pan, and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.

Best Recipe Tips

About Ingredients

  • It’s important that the cream cheese is softened to room temperature. If it’s too cold, it will be too hard to mix the batter for the cream cheese swirl by hand! Cold cream cheese also makes a lumpy batter.

    To make sure that my cream cheese is softened, I actually like to microwave it on medium-low for 10 to 15 seconds.

Next-Level Recipe Techniques

  • If your cream cheese isn’t softened to the right temperature (see my previous tip about microwaving it to warm it!), it can be hard to mix the batter for the cream cheese swirl. If you’ve already added the egg, do NOT microwave the mixture to soften it more—you’ll end up scrambling the egg. Instead, just use a handheld electric mixer to bring the mixture together.

  • The recipe instructs you to line every other cavity with a muffin liner. To do so, align a muffin pan so that its short side faces you. With a standard pan, that means that the muffin pan’s cavities will be in a 3 x 4 grid. Lining every other cavity means that you’ll end up with a pan with liners that look like they’re in hopscotch formation.

    Why do this? Leaving a cavity empty in between the filled ones allows more air to circulate between them. More hot air enables the muffins to rise to greater heights. You can learn more in this Food52 article (where I’m quoted, too!) about achieving sky-high muffin tops.

On Styling The Muffins

  • After assembling the muffins, the recipe instructs you to swirl the final dollop of cream cheese into the pumpkin batter. Don’t fully mix the cream cheese so that it disappears into the batter. In fact, you want a fairly the cream cheese to be pretty separate from the pumpkin batter. It makes more dramatic and photogenic muffin tops!

More Pumpkin Recipes

Other Muffin Recipes

More Small Batch Recipes

Get the Recipe: Small Batch Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin Recipe

These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are soft, moist, and filled with lots of swirls of cream cheese! The recipe is small batch and only makes 6 delicious muffins.
(5 stars) 3 reviews
Leave a Review

Ingredients

For The Cream Cheese Swirl

  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature,
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature,
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted if necessary

For the Pumpkin Batter

  • cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup plus 3 Tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) granulated sugar
  • cup (2.65 ounces or 75 grams) canned pumpkin puree
  • cup (2.65 ounces or 75 grams) canola oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Prep the oven and pans. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line every other cavity of a 12-capacity muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Make the cream cheese swirl. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula until soft and creamy.
    Add the egg and vanilla for the cream cheese swirl and mix until just combined. Add the confectioners' sugar, mixing vigorously until smooth and combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Make the pumpkin batter by mixing the dry ingredients for the pumpkin batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Whisk the wet ingredients for the pumpkin batter. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, oil, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  • Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  • Assemble the pumpkin muffins. Use a 1-teaspoon measure to fill each lined cavity with 2 teaspoons (.20 ounces or 6 grams) of the cream cheese swirl. Then, use a 1-Tablespoon measure to top the cream cheese with 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce or 28 grams) of pumpkin muffin batter.
    Repeat once more, topping the pumpkin batter with another 2 teaspoons of cream cheese swirl followed by another 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin muffin batter.
    Finally, finish each muffin with a final 2 teaspoons of cream cheese swirl. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to lightly swirl the cream cheese into the muffin batter.
  • Bake the muffins. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the muffins are domed and the skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool in the muffin pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn the muffins out onto the rack to cool slightly.
  • Serve and store. Serve warm or at room temperature. The muffins can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container or under a cake dome at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes

  • It’s important that the cream cheese is softened to room temperature. If it’s too cold, it will be too hard to mix the batter for the cream cheese swirl by hand! Cold cream cheese also makes a lumpy batter. To make sure that my cream cheese is softened, I actually like to microwave it on medium-low for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • If your cream cheese isn’t softened to the right temperature (see my previous tip about microwaving it to warm it!), it can be hard to mix the batter for the cream cheese swirl. If you’ve already added the egg, do NOT microwave the mixture to soften it more—you’ll end up scrambling the egg. Instead, just use a handheld electric mixer to bring the mixture together.
  • The recipe instructs you to line every other cavity with a muffin liner. To do so, align a muffin pan so that its short side faces you. With a standard pan, that means that the muffin pan’s cavities will be in a 3 x 4 grid. Lining every other cavity means that you’ll end up with a pan with liners that look like they’re in hopscotch formation. Why do this? Leaving a cavity empty in between the filled ones allows more air to circulate between them. More hot air enables the muffins to rise to greater heights. You can learn more in this Food52 article (where I’m quoted, too!) about achieving sky-high muffin tops.
  • After assembling the muffins, the recipe instructs you to swirl the final dollop of cream cheese into the pumpkin batter. Don’t fully mix the cream cheese so that it disappears into the batter. In fact, you want a fairly the cream cheese to be pretty separate from the pumpkin batter. It makes more dramatic and photogenic muffin tops!
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment and rating for the recipe using the form below!

Your ratings make it easier to find the recipe online, and I’m always looking for ways to improve Hummingbird High.

Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

buy the book
Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.