5 from 1 vote
Home » Recipes » Holidays » Halloween » Scary Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Cupcakes for Halloween

Scary Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Cupcakes for Halloween

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Halloween is the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen, and these scary Halloween cupcakes are a great place to start!

Four jack o lantern cupcakes on a chequered cloth.

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There’s just something about this spooky holiday that inspires us to whip up some awesome treats for our family and friends! Unfortunately, we tend not to take a lot of time off for this holiday, which really cuts down on the amount of time we are able to spend coming up with creepy goodies.

So, this year, I am sharing a few easy Halloween cupcakes that are super simple and don’t require you to spend days prepping. Like my quick Halloween marshmallows, pretzels, ghost cupcakes, bat snack cakes, and of course, this Jack-O-Lantern cupcake recipe that only requires three ingredients – all of which you can find at your local grocery store or craft store.

Want more delicious Halloween sweet treats to try out?  If you loved this recipe and you’d like some more sweet recipes for Halloween desserts, you could try these simple Halloween cookie bars. Or, for a creepy Halloween cupcakes alternative, make some ghost cupcakes for the perfect Halloween treat.

If you want something with pumpkin flavor to go with the pumpkin look, make some no-bake cheesecake pumpkin truffles.

Close up of orange jack o lantern cupcake.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to Make: With just three simple ingredients, you can whip up these Jack-O-Lantern cupcakes in no time.
  • Fun for Kids: This fun treat provides a great hands-on activity, allowing children to flex their creative muscles.
  • Festive and Spooky: Perfect for any Halloween party, these creepy cupcakes bring a touch of spooky charm to your dessert table.
  • Customizable: You can easily customize the Jack-O-Lantern faces to make each cupcake unique and tailored to your spooky preferences.

What’s In This Scary Cupcakes For Halloween Recipe

  • Chocolate Cake Box Mix: This mix serves as the base for our cupcakes, offering a rich and decadent cocoa flavor that pairs perfectly with the festive decor. It’s quick and convenient, allowing you to save time without sacrificing taste.
  • Orange Frosting: This vibrant frosting gives the cupcakes their signature pumpkin appearance and adds a burst of sweetness. You can easily find it pre-made in stores or whip up your own at home.
  • Black Decorating Gel: Used for creating iconic Jack-O-Lantern faces, this gel is great for adding intricate designs and spooky details. It’s easy to handle and versatile, making it perfect for creative decorating.

The complete list of ingredients, quantities, and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Cake Mix Alternatives: If you’re not a fan of chocolate, you can use any other flavor of cake mix, such as vanilla cupcakes, pumpkin spice cupcakes, or traditional red velvet cupcakes, to create a unique twist on the classic Jack-O-Lantern cupcakes.
  • Frosting Options: Instead of orange frosting, consider using cream cheese frosting with a touch of orange food coloring for a tangy flavor. You could also use buttercream or whipped frosting for a lighter texture.
  • Decorating Variations: While black decorating gel works perfectly for Jack-O-Lantern faces, you could also use melted chocolate, dark chocolate chips, or black licorice for a different texture and flavor.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Simply use a gluten-free cake mix for a gluten-free version. You can also use dairy-free frosting and gels available in stores for those with lactose intolerance.
  • Additional Toppings: Get creative by adding Halloween-themed sprinkles, edible glitter, or small candy pieces around the Jack-O-Lantern faces to make them even more festive and fun.

How To Make Jack-O-Lantern Cupcakes (step-by-step directions)

Collage of Four cupcakes sitting on a countertop piped with orange frosting.
  1. Bake cupcakes per recipe or box directions and cool completely (Photo 1)
  2. Pipe a base of orange frosting on top of the cupcake with a large piping tip (Photo 2)
  3. Use the black decorating gel to create a variety of faces
Four lined orange jack o lantern cupcakes sitting on a checkered cloth.

Recipe Tips

  • Cooling Completely: Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Decorating warm cupcakes might cause the frosting to melt and slide off.
  • Uniform Cupcakes: Use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners. This helps in getting uniform cupcakes.
  • Piping Tips: If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a large zip-top bag with a small corner snipped off to pipe the frosting.
  • Chilling Gel: Chill the cupcakes slightly after piping the frosting for precise Jack-O-Lantern faces. This helps the gel food coloring to set better and not bleed into the frosting.
  • Practice Designs: Before decorating the cupcakes, practice your Jack-O-Lantern faces on parchment paper to perfect your technique.
  • Add Details: Use toothpicks for smaller details or intricate designs on the Jack-O-Lantern faces. This gives you better control over your creativity.
  • Cleaning Tools: Keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe the tips of your frosting bags or gel tubes to avoid messy or uneven lines.

Storing Tips 

Leftover Jack-O-Lantern cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container to maintain their freshness and flavor. If you plan to consume them within a couple of days, you can keep them at room temperature in a cool, dry place. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for longer storage, where they will stay fresh for up to a week. 

Before serving refrigerated cupcakes, allow them to come to room temperature for the best taste and texture. If you need to store them for an extended period, you can freeze the unfrosted cupcakes in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to three months. Frost the cupcakes after thawing for optimal results.

Close up of one Halloween themed cupcake.

Serving Suggestions

  • Spooky Drinks: Pair your Jack-O-Lantern cupcakes with fun and festive Halloween drinks, such as bubbling witch’s brew punch, ghostly milkshakes, or classic mulled apple cider.
  • Savory Bites: Balance out the sweetness by serving savory Halloween-inspired snacks like mummy poppers, pumpkin-shaped cheese balls, mummy pretzel sticks, or spider web nachos.
  • Fresh Fruit: Lighten things up with a Halloween twist on classic fruit salad—think orange slices arranged as pumpkins or apple slices dipped in caramel.
  • Candy Buffet: Set up a Halloween candy buffet where guests can mix and match their favorite treats with cupcakes for an extra indulgent experience. 
  • Themed Snacks: Create a full spread with assorted spooky-themed treats, such as monster brownies, spider cookies, or ghost pretzels, to complement the festive cupcakes and delight your guests.
  • Decorations: For your Halloween party guests, add spider webs, a black cat, gummy worms, candy eyeballs, and other spooky treats such as spider web cupcakes, candy corn cupcakes, and more.

Recipe FAQs

Do I have to use black food gel for the Jack-O-Lantern’s face details?

If you aren’t a fan of food dye and prefer to skip it altogether, you can get some white icing, mix in some Dutch black Cocoa Powder, and use a piping bag for the face details.

What if I don’t like boxed cake mix? Can I make my own?

Absolutely if you prefer to make your own cupcake batter, you can. I choose to use a box mix to save time and lessen cleanup.

Can I use whipped cream frosting on these?

Sure, if you aren’t a fan of buttercream and prefer to go lighter with the frosting, you can make a whipped cream frosting. All you’ll need is some orange food dye, confectioner sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract.

Need More Halloween Recipes? Try These:

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Four cupcakes decorated to look like a jack-o-lantern with orange and black frosting.
5 from 1 vote

Scary Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Cupcakes for Halloween


Author: Kim Schob
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 19 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Yields 12 Cupcakes
Halloween is the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen, and these scary Halloween cupcakes are a great place to start!

Equipment

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Bake cupcakes per recipe or box directions and cool completely
    1 Chocolate cake
  • Pipe a base of orange frosting on top of the cupcake with a large piping tip
    1 Orange frosting
  • Use the black decorating gel to create a variety of faces
    1 Black decorating gel

Notes

  • Cooling Completely: Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Decorating warm cupcakes might cause the frosting to melt and slide off.
  • Uniform Cupcakes: Use an ice cream scoop or cookie scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners. This helps in getting uniform cupcakes.
  • Piping Tips: If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a large zip-top bag with a small corner snipped off to pipe the frosting.
  • Chilling Gel: Chill the cupcakes slightly after piping the frosting for precise Jack-O-Lantern faces. This helps the gel food coloring to set better and not bleed into the frosting.
  • Practice Designs: Before decorating the cupcakes, practice your Jack-O-Lantern faces on parchment paper to perfect your technique.
  • Add Details: Use toothpicks for smaller details or intricate designs on the Jack-O-Lantern faces. This gives you better control over your creativity.
  • Cleaning Tools: Keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe the tips of your frosting bags or gel tubes to avoid messy or uneven lines.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1Cupcake Calories: 154kcal (8%) Carbohydrates: 26g (9%) Protein: 2g (4%) Fat: 6g (9%) Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 2g Sodium: 297mg (13%) Potassium: 119mg (3%) Fiber: 1g (4%) Sugar: 14g (16%) Vitamin A: 1IU Calcium: 54mg (5%) Iron: 2mg (11%)

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