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The Speckled Palate
September 4, 2019

Easy Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Nutella Swirl

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In celebration of the arrival of fall, bake Easy Pumpkin Muffins with a Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl. Fluffy and decadent, these oil-free pumpkin muffins are a brilliant autumnal breakfast that won’t last long. Makes 12 muffins.

Easy Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl sit on a cooling rack with bottles of milk

I’m supposed to be sharing an ice cream birthday cake recipe with y’all, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut I got inspired by autumnal pins on Pinterest this past weekend. I knew I had to make pumpkin muffins yesterday morning, so I made up these Pumpkin Muffins with a Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl…

They’re my new favorite thing.

It still doesn’t feel like fall in Dallas, but these muffins transported me to cooler days.

If nothing else, I will continue chowing down on them until they give me hope our seasonal change isn’t too far off.

These muffins are quite simple to pull together, and the payoff is absolutely divine.

They’re just about layering flavors… and dolloping a little of this and a little of that into your muffin tins before popping them in the oven.

Other pumpkin recipes we adore during the fall: Cranberry Pumpkin Cold Brew Coffee DrinkVegan Pumpkin Biscuits with Maple ButterMini Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate ChipsPraline Pumpkin Upside Down CakePumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies

Ingredients for muffins are laid out on a marble background

What do I need to make Nutella Cream Cheese Swirl Pumpkin Muffins?

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Wet ingredients are combined in a bowl before mixing

How to Make Easy Pumpkin Muffins

Preheat the oven, and place cupcake liners in your cupcake/muffin tin.

I really like to use the parchment paper ones ones linked above because the muffins come free so easily and without mess. You also don’t have to spritz the liners with nonstick baking spray, so that’s a win, too!

Dry ingredients are mixed with wet to make the muffins

Make the Pumpkin Muffin Batter

In a large mixing bowl, blend the pumpkin, sugar, applesauce and eggs together until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk until combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients, and use a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together until just combined.

Collage of cream cheese swirl layer being made in a food processor

Make the Cream Cheese Filling

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cream cheese, honey and egg.

Use your hand mixer or the food processor to get them nice and combined. (In the past, I’ve used a hand mixer, but I found this time that the food processor really got them where I needed them to be.)

You’ll want this mixture to be super smooth, and then you’ll set it aside.

Collage of six images showing how to put together the muffins before baking

Put the muffins together

Dollop the pumpkin batter halfway up the cupcake liners in the prepared muffin tin. Add a dollop of cream cheese to ’em.

On top of that, add a teaspoon of Nutella.

Using a toothpick, swirl ’em gently until you get a pretty swirl, like you see above in the images. The swirling step with the toothpick isn’t necessary, but it makes for extra pretty muffins, in my opinion.

Dollops of batter are placed on top of the muffins before they bake

Then add another layer of the pumpkin mixture on top of the filling.

Do this until all your muffins have been layered, and then transfer the tin to the preheated oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool for 10-15 minutes, and then enjoy them warm.

Easy Pumpkin Muffins, shown in the muffin tin, cool before they are enjoyed

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you use applesauce instead of oil or butter in this recipe?

I went through a phase where I cut out a lot of oil in my baking recipes by using unsweetened applesauce instead.

The unsweetened piece is important, as applesauce that doesn’t have this label oftentimes has added sugars.

In fairness, unsweetened applesauce has naturally occurring sugars from the apples, so this recipe takes that into account.

And since these muffins has plenty of sweetness, we don’t need to add anything extra.

Applesauce, like oil, adds tons of moisture to a baked good, and while it’s not a low fat food, it adds extra nutrients to the dish.

How do I add the swirl of Nutella and cream cheese without making a mess?

To be honest, a steady and careful hand will help you from creating a mess. 

That said, if you have little helpers in the kitchen, expect a mess. (As you should, no matter what you’re making.)

I’ve found that blending the cream cheese mixture in a food processor (or the blender, your choice) and using a spoon or tablespoon to dollop it in isn’t incredibly messy.

Measure out the Nutella as a whole before dividing it between the muffins. Also, spritz your teaspoon in a nonstick baking spray (like this avocado oil cooking spray) because it’ll help the Nutella slide off the measuring spoon instead of sticking. However, please note that you will probably still need to use a finger or an itty bitty spatula to assist with the Nutella.

Several Easy Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl cool on a wire cooling rack

How do I know when these muffins are done? Muffins with a lot of moisture can sometimes over or under bake if you’re not careful.

I totally understand that the cream cheese and Nutella mixtures can throw off the toothpick test, but the key to the toothpick test here is getting beneath the filling to confirm that it’s done. It’s not 100% accurate, though, so I understand the worry that it could be done wrong.

I also use an eyeball test on this, meaning I’ll make a visual assessment before removing them from the oven to do the toothpick test.

My criteria are as follows:

  1. Do the tops of the muffins look like they’re baked through? You can tell this with these muffins by seeing if the batter is wet. If the tops are still not cooked through, the insides definitely will not be, either.
  2. Do the muffins appear to be baked through? You can accomplish this by using an oven mitt-ed hand to move the muffin tin a little. If any of your muffins jiggle, they need to bake for longer.

If the muffins appear to be baked through, then I’ll remove them from the oven and do the toothpick test. Since you fill the muffin tins halfway up with the batter before adding the fillings, you’ll need to push the toothpick in deep. You can also look for a spot that doesn’t have the filling oozing out of it, too, as you might get a cleaner shot.

If the toothpick comes out with batter on it, it needs to bake a little more.

If the toothpick comes out with crumbs, you’re good to go. 

And if the toothpick comes out with filling on it and you can’t make an assessment, cut one muffin in half and see how it looks from the inside… and go from there.

Pumpkin Muffins are stacked on top of each other, shown with glasses of milk

Should I use muffin liners?

Yes. These parchment paper ones are my favorites because I have never, ever, ever had anything stick to them.

You can use regular liners, though, if that’s more your speed and if you want something more festive.

That said, please spritz them with a nonstick cooking spray before filling. Since these muffins are super moist, they run the chance of sticking to a regular paper liner. I’d do this as a precaution or simply spray the muffin tin with the baking spray and bake them without liners. When they’re done baking, remove the muffins, and let them cool on a wire cooling rack. 

Are pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie mix the same thing?

No, they are not. Pumpkin puree is 100% pumpkin while pumpkin pie mix is pumpkin mixed with spices, and in some cases, sweetener.

While I know pumpkin pie mix makes baking during the fall months so much easier, I urge you not to use it in this recipe because we add plenty sweetness with the sugars (and a little extra with the honey in the cream cheese swirl.)

Can you make it work if you have that? Sure, but I’d reduce the sugars by 1-2 tablespoons. (And I don’t guarantee they’ll taste the same, as I’ve never tested this before.)

Several Easy Pumpkin Muffins cool on a wire cooling rack, with Pinterest text

What are some other brunch recipes that I could serve with these Easy Pumpkin Muffins?

If you’re struggling with how to host breakfast, I’ve written you a handy guide of how to host brunch at home. (It’s easier than you think, I promise.)

Now let’s talk about these beauties below…

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl
Yield: 12 muffins

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

In celebration of the arrival of fall, let's bake Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl. An oil-free pumpkin muffin base is filled with a cream cheese mixture and a dollop of Nutella before baking. Fluffy and decadent, these Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese and Nutella Swirl are a brilliant autumnal breakfast or brunch item that won't last long in any household!

Ingredients

Muffins

  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Filling

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Nutella

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place parchment paper liners in a cupcake/muffin pan. Set aside. (If not using liners, spray liberally with nonstick baking spray.)

Make the Pumpkin Muffin Batter

  1. Whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, applesauce and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir until smooth.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, folding the ingredients together until just combined.

Make the Cream Cheese Filling

  1. Combine the cream cheese, honey and egg in the base of a food processor (or in a bowl, if using a hand mixer.)
  2. Blend until smooth, and set aside.

Prepare the Muffins

  1. In your prepared pan, dollop the pumpkin batter halfway up the cupcake tins. (About 2 tablespoons.)
  2. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on top of the pumpkin batter.
  3. Measure out a teaspoon of Nutella on top of the cream cheese mixture in each muffin liner.
  4. Swirl the cream cheese and Nutella together using a toothpick. (Gently, insert it into the mixture and twirl until the ingredients have combined slightly.)
  5. Top the fillings with another scoop of the pumpkin batter on top.
  6. Repeat until all the muffins are put together.
  7. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven, and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy warm!

Notes

Depending on how hot your oven runs (and how old it is), the baking time could change. I've baked these in our new ovens for 22 minutes, and they're perfect while it took 25-27 minutes in our older oven.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12 muffins

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 189 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 56mg Sodium: 285mg Carbohydrates: 30g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 16g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

Do you have a go-to autumn breakfast recipe?

The photos and recipe for these Easy Pumpkin Muffins were originally published on September 22, 2014. The photographs, along with the text of this blog post, were updated on September 4, 2019.

25 Comments

  1. Megan

    You got me at pumpkin, but then I saw cream cheese THEN Nutella… I can’t even. These sound amazing!

    • Erin

      Haha, thanks, Megan! I promise these are pretty darn delicious!

  2. Julie @ A Warrior and A Nurse

    It was nice to come in from a nice morning walk, to be greeted by THIS post (after a little exploring). Fall is definitely in the air, here in Pennsylvania–I’m pretty sure it is actually the FIRST day of fall, but let me check on that…. Yesterday, it was almost 85 degrees…but, somehow magically the temperature dropped a good 20-25 degrees today. There was a cool fall-like breeze this morning. You can’t beat it.

    These pumpkin muffins look great! I bet they were delicious…Thanks for sharing!

    • Erin

      That morning walk sounds delightful, Julie! I hope that fall hurries down to Texas and that it hangs around your neck of the woods, too!

      Thanks! These muffins are quite delicious, and these will be something I make throughout this season… too good to only have once!

  3. Cheryl

    These are like three of the very best things in the world: pumpkin, cream cheese, Nutella.. and muffins?! Four of the very best things in the world, combine to make one seriously epic recipe. Awesome job – very creative! I bet the nuttiness of the Nutella is divine with the pumpkin

    • Erin

      FOUR best things in the world?! Thanks, Cheryl! They’re pretty divine, not gonna lie, and when I started thinking about pumpkin muffins, I kept one-upping it until I came up with this recipe. Because that’s how my brain works. 😉

  4. Madison | Wetherills Say I Do

    My jaw is on the ground right now. You just combined so many of my favorite recipes into one! I can’t wait to make these for my hubby!

    • Erin

      Haha, thanks, Madison! Let me know what you and the hubby think when you make these beauties!

  5. Skye

    It doesn’t feel like fall in Austin yet either, congrats to you for baking anyway! I guess that’s what air conditioning is for…

    • Erin

      Yeah, I baked these relatively early, so it didn’t get too hot in the house. Hopefully, the fall weather will hurry up for both of our cities!

  6. Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies

    Way to put everything I can’t say no to in a single muffin. And can we talk about how much I love applesauce in muffins? Lightens `em up a little and makes them soooo moist + delicious.

    • Erin

      Haha, thanks? These just sounded SO GOOD, and it was actually my husband who convinced me to go with the Nutella after I waffled over it for a few moments.

      And applesauce in muffins is my favorite, too! Glad I’m not the only one with this trick up my sleeve!

  7. Xiomeeks

    I’m so going to make these! Anything with Nutella is good for me. #Pinned

    • Erin

      Thanks, lady! Anything Nutella is good for me, too!
      Let me know what you think of these if you do make them!

  8. Jeanae

    These look so delicious!

    • Erin

      Thanks, Jeanae! They are so delicious!

  9. Natalie

    These look delicious! Pinned! 🙂

    • Erin

      Thanks, Natalie! Let me know what you think of them if you happen to bake these!

  10. laurasmess

    Haha, I know exactly what you mean about trying to get all of the goodness into a title!! I think you did the right thing Erin, how on earth could you leave out the… Nutella. Or the cream cheese? YUM! I cannot wait to make these when I get home (which will be in approximately one month. I miss my kitchen ridiculously!). Sorry for being so absent, our internet has been sporadic at the cheap-ass places where we have been staying!! Your site looks ah-mazing you beautiful thing! xxx

    • Erin

      This is why we’re friends, Laura. How COULD I leave anything out of the title, right? 😉

      I can’t believe you’re still out traveling the world, friend, and I hope you’re enjoying every moment of it. I’m sure your kitchen will be thrilled to have you back in it next month, and I cannot wait to hear what you think of these. Thanks for stopping by AND the compliment, lovely!

  11. Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen

    These muffins look absolutely perfect to bite right into! Love how pretty the layers look when they are cut in half! Pinned onto my pumpkin board!

    • Erin

      Thanks for stopping by and for the comment, Ceara! They really are quite delicious, and I loved biting into them to find the layers of ingredients. 🙂

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  13. Young

    Gonna make mini muffins for Thanksgiving. Is it ok not to use paperliners? Any suggestions? Like spraying oil on the tins or must have liners since oilfree muffins?? Please!

    • Erin

      Hi Young! You most certainly could spray down the tins with a nonstick cooking spray if you don’t use paper liners. (I’ve never used paper liners in my mini muffin tin, and spraying the pan well always works for me. Having a nonstick pan helps, too!) The mini muffins might be hard to fill with the cream cheese and the Nutella, but I don’t doubt where there is a will, there is a way! Also, they’ll bake for less time since they’ll be smaller. ENJOY!

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