These apple pie cupcakes are a perfectly spiced vanilla cupcake filled with a delicious caramelized apple pie filling and then topped with silky cinnamon buttercream and a dollop of apple pie filling. The perfect handheld fall treat and a lot easier than a full apple pie!
These apple pie cupcakes start with a fragrant blend of spices you would typically find in apple pies plus a couple others. Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg are the usual suspects when a little cardamom and ginger added for more depth of flavor.
If you don't have all these spices or don't want to purchase individual spices, you can just substitute apple pie spice which you should find in your spice aisle. Use two teaspoons of apple pie spice instead of the individual spices.
This is a simple cupcake recipe that starts with creaming butter and sugar together, adding an egg and then alternating the wet and dry ingredients to complete the batter.
Why alternate wet and dry ingredients?
After adding an egg and mixing well, you’ll alternate pouring in milk and vanilla with the dry ingredients. Alternating the wet with the dry ingredients in any recipe that calls for this technique is done for a very specific purpose.
Alternating the ingredients when adding them prevents you from overmixing the batter. If you dump all of the dry ingredients in right away, the batter will be very thick and you’ll likely overmix it to incorporate all of the dry ingredients.
By adding the dry ingredients in thirds in this cupcake recipe, and then adding the liquid in 2 parts, you’ll incorporate a small amount of the dry ingredients and limit the mixing to combine thoroughly. Don’t skip this step!
How to easily fill the cupcake pan
This recipe will make 12 cupcakes so it’s fairly easy to evenly divide the batter between each cupcake. If you find that you didn’t have enough at the end, simply scoop some of the batter out of the cups that seem more full than others.
The easiest way to get the batter into the cupcake liners is by using an ice cream scoop. I promise this will simplify your life if you’ve never done it this way! I use a large cookie scoop like this one, or you can use a standard ice cream scoop like this one. Each cup should be filled about ⅔’s full.
Apple Pie Filling
For the filling for the apple pie cupcakes, diced apples into a small dice. About ¼ inch pieces are good. A smaller dice is best so that you have lots of little pieces of apple in each cupcake.
Dicing the apples is the most time-consuming part of the the filling. The rest of the filling is butter, brown sugar, a little lemon juice and some salt brought to a simmer and cooked until the apples soften.
To make sure the apple filling isn't too runny, add cornstarch mixed with a little water to the pan and let the mixture come to a boil for a couple minutes until thickened.
Let the apple pie filling cool before adding it to the cupcakes!
Assembling the cupcakes
The easiest way to fill the apple pie cupcakes is to use a cupcake corer to remove the middle of the cupcake. I use this one and it’s really easy to use. Place it in the middle of the cupcake, push down and twist until you are about ⅓ of the way from the bottom of the cake. Pull the corer up and push the cake out of the corer. Either eat the cupcake cores or freeze to make cake pops!
If you don’t have a cupcake corer, don’t worry! You can do this with a knife as well. Remember not to cut all the way through the cupcake to the bottom or you will have filling spilling out.
Use a small spoon to fill each cupcake hole with the apple filling. Fill it all the way to the top, patting the apples down with the back of the spoon as needed.
The cinnamon buttercream is a traditional american buttercream flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. It's the easiest type of buttercream to make and completely foolproof.
You can adjust the amount of milk you add to make thicker or thinner buttercream.
I like to pipe my buttercream on using a piping bag and a decorating tip like one in this set. I used the large open round tip and applied pressure down while squeezing the buttercream out to create the mound of frosting.
If you don't have a piping bag or decorating tips, just put the frosting in a plastic bag and push it all toward one corner. Squeeze the air out of the bag and twist it right above where the frosting ends to keep it from coming out the top. Then just snip a small triangle off the corner of the bag and use that to pipe on the buttercream.
After frosting the cupcakes, I used a small offset spatula (you can just use a knife or the back of a spoon) to create a small well in the top of the frosting and then added an additional small dollop of apple pie filling.
Storing the cupcakes
These are best kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator and should last 4-5 days if tightly covered. Because the frosting is a buttercream, when refrigerating, the butter will harden slightly. Allow to sit for 10-20 minutes after refrigerating before serving for the best texture.
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Apple Pie Cupcakes
Apple Pie Filling
- 2 medium apples peeled and chopped into ¼ inch pieces, about 2 cups
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¾ cup light brown sugar packed
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk whole or 2%
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp milk whole or 2%
- In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine chopped apples, brown sugar, butter, lemon juice and salt.
- Stir until the butter and brown sugar have melted and the mixture starts to boil, about 3 minutes.
- Mix 1 tsp cornstarch with 1 tsp water and pour into apple mixture. Continue to boil while stirring for another 2 minutes or until filling slightly thickens.
- Remove from the heat and allow the filling to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer or in a large bowl and a hand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar for about 4 minutes until light and fluffy on medium/medium-high speed.
- Add the egg, mixing well and scraping the sides of the bowl.
- In a small bowl or pourable measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla. Set aside.
- Starting with the dry ingredients, add about ⅓ to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
- Add half of the milk and mix well. Continue alternating dry and wet ingredients, ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour batter into each cupcake liner filling about ⅔ full. Bake for about 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Using a stand mixer or mixing bowl and hand mixer, beat room temperature butter until creamy.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing well.
- Add cinnamon, vanilla and 2 tbsp of milk.
- Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add an additional tbsp of milk if frosting is too thick.
- Using a knife or cupcake corer, cut a hole in the center of each cupcake making sure not to go down all the way to the bottom of the cake.
- Spoon the apple filling into each cupcake, level with the top.
- Frost the cupcakes with frosting using either a knife or a piping bag and piping it on each cupcake.
- If desired, make a well in the top of the frosting and add more apple filling on top of each cupcake.