Muffins · Sweet Bread

(Better than Starbucks) Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I love muffins. I love muffins with streusel. I love muffins without streusel. I love muffins made with browned butter.I love these Bran Muffins. I even love this Almond Poppyseed Bread that reminds me of the giant Costco muffins I especially love muffins with a filling. These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are hands down my favorite muffin. As soon as the weather starts to cool down, I pull this recipe out and get baking.

I’m sure if you are a pumpkin and/or muffin lover you know that Starbucks has a delightful pumpkin cream cheese muffin available during the fall. Well, I’m here to tell you that these are BETTER than Starbucks. If you don’t believe me, just go ahead and try making these and you can be the judge.

When I made these a few weeks ago, I decided to lighten them up a little bit so they wouldn’t be as greasy and oily as the original recipe. My oldest daughter loves all things muffins just like me. Once I photographed them, she grabbed one and started eating at quickly as she could. She had no idea they were filled with a cream cheese filling. One, she loves cream cheese in and on everything, and two, she was so happily surprised about the filling that she couldn’t even contain her excitement. She literally melted into her seat because of the deliciousness.

This recipe makes a large amount of muffins, but we love to keep them in the fridge and just warm them up for breakfast the next few mornings. Just make sure not to warm them up too much because that delightful filling will become like lava. This recipe also needs some planning ahead. The cream cheese filling has to be made ahead and stuck in the freezer in order to work with it and get it in the muffin.

F.A.Q.s and Troubleshoot for Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Do I have to freeze the cream cheese filling? This is an absolute yes! The cream cheese filling is soft and unmanageable unless frozen. Just plan ahead. Either make the filling at night and stick it in the freezer overnight or do it first thing in the morning. About 3 hours in the freezer should be just enough.

Should I use a cupcake liner? I prefer to not use liners when making muffins. I tend to think that the muffin itself sticks more to the liner than the pan. Make sure to grease the tin really well and the muffins should come out easily. With that said, if I do use liners, I prefer these. They are taller which helps produce a bigger muffin and they don’t have the ridges, so there is no muffin stickage.

I really don’t want to have two dozen muffins, what should I do? You could easily half this recipe, freeze half of the muffins, or deliver them to some neighbors. I’m sure they won’t refuse.

I noticed you only used cinnamon, why didn’t you use other spices? I personally don’t love nutmeg and cloves, plus there are cloves and nutmeg already included in the pumpkin spice. They make my throat feel funky. You could definitely add in a teaspoon of each if you prefer those spices to be a bit stronger.

I don’t love the taste of honey, is there something else I can use instead? Sure! You could substitute regular sugar or brown sugar for more of a caramel taste.

Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


  • For the filling
  • 8 oz. full fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • For the Muffins
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 TBS. pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 3/4 cup mild tasting oil such as vegetable or canola
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • For the Streusel
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 TBS. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 TBS. cold butter


  1. With a hand mixer, mix cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth and fully incorporated. This will take about 2 minutes. Lay out a large piece of saran wrap and place the cream cheese mixture in the middle. Roll the wrap up so the mixture forms a thin long log. Stick in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
  2. Once the cream cheese mixture is frozen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. To make the muffin batter, mix the dry muffin ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. Slowly incorporate the liquid ingredients until a thick batter forms and everything is fully mixed together. You can also use a hand mixer if you prefer.
  4. For the streusel topping, combine all of your streusel ingredients together in a small bowl. Incorporate the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter together with a pastry cutter. If you don’t have one of those on hand, you can use two knives, or use your hands. Set the streusel topping aside.
  5. Remove the cream cheese mixture from the freezer and unwrap. Slice the log into 24 even slices. In a greased muffin tin, place a spoonful of the batter, followed by a slice of cream cheese, and then topped with another spoonful batter making sure to cover all of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel on top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops bounce back when lightly touched.
  7. Let them cool before biting in.

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