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We Gave Starbucks’ Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin a Healthy Makeover

Lindsey Engelken
October 26, 2021

Pumpkin spice season is at its peak, and Starbucks takes the proverbial cake for their Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin— or do they?

We love the flavor combination that they use: that warm spice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove, which contrasts so well with the tang of the cream cheese frosting. But there’s an overwhelming amount of sugar. It’s literally the first ingredient in the recipe. (I mean come on Starbucks, really?!) It got us thinking: There has to be a better way.

Enter the Clean Plates version: our Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin Copycat. While it doesn’t taste exactly like the ‘bucks version, it’s also not going to leave you feeling sluggish afterwards. Plus, nutritionally it’s a great choice so it works as a midmorning pick-me-up or late afternoon snack. 

Read next: Our Top Hacks for Reducing Sugar in Your Baking (and a Clean Plates Original Banana Bread Recipe!)

As an added bonus, our recipe will help you use up all those bananas you had the best intentions of eating before they got too ripe, but never actually got around to. An additional step we think is worth the extra effort? Using defrosted frozen bananas, rather than fresh.

Fun fact! The chemical process of freezing and defrosting bananas separates the excess water and naturally caramelizes this fruit. Freezing and defrosting also makes it easier to mix the bananas into a smooth puree (just in case you’re lump-averse). 

While you can definitely eat these warm, we actually love to enjoy them cold — it really firms up the cheesecake-like filling! 

Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin Copycat Recipe (Gluten-Free)




20 min


25 min


2 med. frozen bananas (defrosted, with any excess liquid from defrosting discarded)

1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree

1 ¾ cup gluten-free flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 GF flour blend)

2 eggs

½ cup + 3 tbsp pure maple syrup, divided

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ½ tsp vanilla, divided

⅓ cup of 2% Greek yogurt (cold)

⅓ cup (about ⅓ block) of cream cheese, softened

3 tbsp pepitas, or pumpkin seeds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Stir together GF flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer), use the flat beater on defrosted bananas on medium-high speed. Once smooth, add pumpkin puree, ½ cup maple syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla until fully combined before beating eggs in one at a time.

Add half of the dry mix to wet mix, mixing on medium speed until fully incorporated. Repeat with second half of dry mix. Set aside.

Place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl and whip with a hand mixer on medium speed for 30-45 seconds. Add Greek yogurt, 3 tbsp maple syrup, and ½ tsp vanilla, and continue to mix until fluffy and a uniform color.

Add ⅓ cup of pumpkin muffin batter to each liner in muffin tin.

Using a rounded spoon (a 1 tsp-sized measuring spoon works perfectly!) gently form a small, round crater in each of the cups.

Using rounded spoonfuls, scoop one tsp of the cream cheese mix, and drop into the crater you made in the last step.

Sprinkle 5-6 pumpkin seeds on each muffin. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the middle.

Bake for 23 minutes on the middle rack, rotating the tray halfway through.

Remove and let cool fully. Store uneaten portions in the refrigerator.

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