Applesauce cupcakes are an easy fall dessert to make from scratch. These cupcakes are tender and moist, with a soft apple flavor and a hint of cinnamon. Topped with rich brown butter frosting!
Everything about applesauce cupcakes gives off a cozy fall vibe. The taste of apples and cinnamon will fill your home while you bake. The browned butter gives a nutty and toasted flavor to the frosting.
I think these applesauce cupcakes are great year round, although they make a fantastic dessert especially for the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Another great option is my recipe for applesauce bars.
For this recipe, you'll need unsalted butter, an egg, all-purpose flour (or cake flour for a fluffier, more tender cupcake), unsweetened applesauce, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Making applesauce cupcakes
First, add your butter and sugar to a large bowl. Beat until creamed together. Then, add your egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all of your dry ingredients. Then, add half of your dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add half of your applesauce, mixing until just combined. Repeat once more until all ingredients are incorporated.
Your batter will be thick, as pictured.
When filling the cupcake liners with batter, I like to use a large cookie scoop (amazon affiliate link) which is the perfect size to fill a cupcake liner with a single scoop. This ensures that your cupcakes will all turn out the same size! It makes scooping batter a breeze.
When checking on your cupcakes, try sticking a toothpick into the center of one cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, or with crumbs - your cupcakes are done.
If the toothpick comes out with wet batter - your cupcakes need a few more minutes of baking.
How to brown butter
If you've never browned butter before, don't be scared of this additional step. It's as simple as warming butter in a saucepan until it begins to caramelize.
Simply melt your butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Once your butter is completely melted, you will want to stir frequently while small flecks of brown develop at the bottom of the pan.
When your butter begins to brown, it will happen quickly. You'll see deep golden flecks covering the bottom of your pan. Remove your pan from the heat and allow your butter to cool to room temperature.
To speed this process up, I pour my browned butter into a small bowl and refrigerate it for 15-20 minutes, or until the butter begins to solidify. You're looking for room temperature butter, not cold butter.
Making browned butter frosting
Once your butter has cooled, whip it in a large bowl until creamy. Then, add your confectioner's sugar, half at a time, until combined.
Last, add your vanilla extract and heavy cream and whip until fluffy. This recipe will make enough frosting to pipe frosting onto all 18 cupcakes as shown in the photos. Or, spread onto the top of each cupcake with a knife.
Cupcake tips and tricks
Cupcakes can be tricky if you've never made them before. Here are a few tips for success!
When making cupcakes, the most important thing to remember is do not over-mix your batter. When you beat the batter, you're slowly whipping air into it, making it fluffier. This can cause several issues:
- You will end up with more batter than you think you should. So, after you fill your cupcake papers, you'll have "extra" batter. In reality, your cupcakes will be under-filled once they bake.
- When you bake an over-mixed batter, it will rise rapidly, then fall and sink in the middle due to the excess air being released.
To avoid this, simply mix just until the ingredients have been combined into your batter. If you're worried about over-mixing, just use a spoon instead of a mixer.
Also, room temperature ingredients are important when creaming together your wet ingredients. This ensures that your ingredients incorporate completely, leaving no clumps of butter or egg unmixed.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
Browned Butter Frosting
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add butter and sugar. With a hand mixer (or stand mixer) cream ingredients together until light and fluffy, about a minute. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until just incorporated. Add half of the applesauce and mix until just incorporated. Repeat once more until all ingredients are incorporated into batter. Do not overmix.
- Divide batter between 16 cupcake liners. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Browned Butter Frosting
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, stirring frequently. Butter will begin to foam and boil. After 4 to 5 minutes you will see brown flecks appear in the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until butter is golden and flecks are a medium brown color. Watch closely, butter will brown quickly. The entire process will take about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove butter from heat and pour into a small bowl. Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes, or until butter has cooled to room temperature and beings to solidify.
- Add browned butter to a large bowl and whip until creamy. Add confectioner's sugar, half at a time, mixing slowly to incorporate. Increase speed and whip for 2 minutes until fluffy.
- Then, add vanilla extract and heavy cream. Whip another 2-3 minutes, or until frosting is fluffy.
- Pipe or spread frosting with a knife onto cupcakes and serve.
- Over-mixing your batter will cause your cupcakes to rise quickly, then sink in the middle. To prevent this, only mix each ingredient until it is incorporated into the batter. Try using a spoon instead of a hand mixer to incorporate the dry ingredients and applesauce.
- Cupcakes will keep for 3-4 days at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely before removing from paper liners. If still warm, cupcakes will stick to the paper liners.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Buttercream frosting melts between 90-95 degrees, and will melt if frosted onto a warm cupcake.
- Frosting recipe makes enough frosting for tall, dramatic piped frosting (as shown in the photos). For less frosting, cut frosting recipe in half.