Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Cupcakes  |  The Merrythought
If you’re a reader of my personal blog, you may have seen a version of these salted caramel cupcakes a while back. They are definitely my most popular and most requested cupcakes. Probably my personal favorite too – I can’t resist salted caramel! I really liked the recipe I had, but something about the cake part never quite did it for me, even after adjusting the recipe a bit. And then I had the brillant idea to use my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe and pair that with the salted caramel filling and buttercream frosting. I think I can finally set down the spatula and declare this recipe a winner!
Salted Caramel Cupcakes - The Merrythought


Makes approximately 30 cupcakes


1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter.

Salted Caramel Filling:

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
pinch or two of sea salt flakes
2/3 cups heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and sea salt flakes and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool. (If you still have some lumps in the caramel – strain it through a fine mesh strainer).

Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake and pour in 1 teaspoon of cooled caramel. Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/2-3/4 cup of salted caramel filling (from recipe above) – completely cooled

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add 6 cups sugar (a little at a time). Mix until thoroughly combined.

Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel – start with 1/2 cup. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Taste test to see if you want to add more caramel. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency. Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.

Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting (I used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe the frosting). Drizzle cupcakes with salted caramel filling.
Salted Caramel Cupcakes  |  The Merrythought
Salted Caramel Cupcakes | The Merrythought

Happy baking!  Manda

Sources: adapted from Sprinkle Bakes and Martha Stewart

  • Yii-HueiThursday, March 7, 2013 - 6:25 am

    Gorgeous images! Looks so mouthwatering, salted caramel is the best!ReplyCancel

    • MandaThursday, March 7, 2013 - 10:36 am

      Thanks so much! And yes, salted caramel is the best!ReplyCancel

      • Mirah makFriday, May 15, 2015 - 11:56 am

        So I’m making these right now as we speak and the batter taste amazing but the cupcakes are coming out horrible! Like its cooking so weird it’s overflowing and not coming out right even when I put less batter! Taste amazing but the top of the cupcakes look like a pancake. Help! PleaseReplyCancel

        • MandaFriday, May 15, 2015 - 1:32 pm

          Hi there – I’m not sure why your cupcakes would be overflowing like that. A couple guesses would be, be sure that you’re using 1 tablespoon of Baking Powder. You could also try bumping your oven temperature up to 350 or 375, but your cupcakes might be done a little sooner, so keep an eye on that. I’ve never had that happen before, so I’m not really sure what it could be, sorry! Hopefully you’re able to figure it out, baking disasters are the worst!ReplyCancel

          • Mirah makFriday, May 15, 2015 - 3:14 pm

            I’m cursed 🙁 I couldn’t do it I waisted 48 cupcakes im laughing at myself! I’m a great cook but baking just isn’t for me. Even when it finally came out perfect my caramel was so bitter and the cupcake was kinda sticky soft so I couldn’t put any caramel in it

  • KristenThursday, March 7, 2013 - 10:10 am

    These look soooo delicious! About how many cupcakes does your recipe usually make? I was thinking about trying them!ReplyCancel

    • MandaThursday, March 7, 2013 - 10:38 am

      Hey Kristen – I usually get around 30 cupcakes, give or take a few. (Regular size cupcakes, not giant bakery size ones.) You should definitely put these on your to-make list!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Dembowski (@piesandplots)Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 1:31 pm

    I love Salted Caramel Cupcakes. They are actually one of my favorite treats. i topped them with a caramel Italian buttercream and they were heaven. Yours are so beautiful 🙂ReplyCancel

  • ?????????Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 10:23 am


    This is a nice post!…ReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ Blueberry KitchenSunday, March 10, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    Oh yum, your cupcakes look absolutely divine! I love love salted caramel cupcakes 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Aya @sukarahSaturday, April 20, 2013 - 2:43 am

    I love the rainbow cupcake papers! They compliment the slated caramel cupcakes greatly!ReplyCancel

  • wavyturquoise.wordpress.comSaturday, May 18, 2013 - 12:56 am

    is it necessary to use paddle attachment to achieve the frosting’s consistency? i only have hand mixer which has a 4 wired attachment. i always ended up with a buttercreme with butter separating from the mixture. am thinking, is it over beaten? i need help in the way i should make my frosting. i can make a perfect cupcake but the frosting, i suck 🙁 i want my icing as elegant and steady (not watery) like yours. email me pls..ReplyCancel

    • MandaSaturday, May 18, 2013 - 11:48 am

      Hi there – I sent you an email about your frosting issues, hopefully it will help with the problems. Let me know if you have any better luck…ReplyCancel

  • CatherineWednesday, June 5, 2013 - 6:22 pm

    Your cupcakes look fantastic! For the last year I’ve been making a chocolate salted caramel cupcake, and I seem to have issues with the caramel filling sometimes. The recipe I use (which doesn’t have any butter and requires getting the temp up to 360 degrees) has a tendency to crystallize after it’s cooled in the cupcakes… it doesn’t taste bad, it just has a weird texture. Does your filling stay gooey after you’ve filled the cupcakes?ReplyCancel

    • MandaFriday, June 14, 2013 - 9:46 pm

      Hi Catherine – the filling in my cupcakes stays gooey for me. I’ve noticed the caramel sauce will start to get a little crystallized if it’s in my fridge for a long time (like over a month or two), but using it fresh, I’ve never had a problem with that.ReplyCancel

  • ShelleyFriday, June 14, 2013 - 2:43 pm


    Do you need to refrigerate the cupcakes ( with frosting and caramel on it) ?ReplyCancel

    • MandaFriday, June 14, 2013 - 9:40 pm

      Hi Shelley – I would base it off the temp/weather of where you live. If it’s warm – I would, just to keep it from getting too gooey/melty. They won’t spoil if you leave them out – I leave mine out most of the year here. They also freeze well, I just put them in an airtight container in the freezer, frosting & all, and then pull them out and let them sit at room temp for a few hours to thaw.ReplyCancel

  • PamelaMonday, July 8, 2013 - 12:09 pm

    Hey! I’m so excited to make these; today if I can get ahold of some neighbors eggs, tomorrow if I can’t. I pinned your picture so I could get back to the recipe, then I just saw your little copyright thing that said no taking your images without written permission. Do you want me to unpin it?ReplyCancel

    • MandaMonday, July 8, 2013 - 1:00 pm

      Hi Pamela- pinning is definitely an okay thing! So pin away. 🙂 Hope you enjoy these cupcakes!ReplyCancel

  • DeanneTuesday, July 23, 2013 - 1:23 am

    I LOVE to bake. Frostings are something I love to get creative with. I’ve been looking for a good salted caramel cupcake recipe for my friend’s wedding….and it looks like this is it! I can’t wait to try these!
    I have to admit I’ve given up using cake recipes though. I can never make them as light & airy as a box cake. They’re always dense. I’m so tempted to try this recipe, but am tired of being disappointed after the time & expense. I’ve heard using egg whites instead of while eggs helps. Any thoughts? I’m desperate. I make GREAT desserts, but I feel like I’m cheating when I only use box cakes!ReplyCancel

    • MandaTuesday, July 23, 2013 - 9:04 am


      Don’t feel bad about using box cakes! If you like them, use them. A lot of professional bakers I know use box mixes that they just doctor up a bit. And I’ll admit it – I love a good box mix cake. I think they’re yummy and um, super easy! I also don’t mind if a cake is a little bit more dense, so making from scratch works for me too.
      So I would use what you’re confident with and what you like. The stealers for these particular cupcakes are the frosting and the caramel inside, so I think you could use whatever cupcake base you like, and they will be super yummy.
      I think using egg whites may help to lighten up the cake a bit. Check out this post from a blog I enjoy reading to see her attempt at making a scratch version of a box cake. It’s my go to for making vanilla cakes. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it in cupcake form though.
      Hope that helps.ReplyCancel

  • joyceSunday, August 18, 2013 - 11:34 pm

    Hi! May i know how long should I beat after adding the butter? Because Im not too sure about the ‘Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour’ phrase as I mixed till it resembled sth like dough? Did I mix too long? hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • MandaMonday, August 19, 2013 - 5:17 pm

      Hi Joyce – you want to mix it for about 1-2 minutes. The key is just not to overbeat the batter at any point. I mix it in until I have no large clumps of butter, just smaller bits. Then after I do the first addition of the milk/egg mixture, I beat it till it seems that the butter clumps have been thoroughly mixed in. After everything is incorporated, you shouldn’t have any butter clumps in your batter at all. Hope that helps.ReplyCancel

  • PamelaSaturday, August 31, 2013 - 2:10 pm

    These are literally one of the best things I have ever baked. Literally. Holy Heavenly goodness in the form of butter and sugar and cream. Combined to perfection. I’m about to make them for the third time. In less than two months.ReplyCancel

  • AdrienneSunday, September 8, 2013 - 8:06 am

    Hi! 🙂 The recipe seems so good, I can’t wait to try it! I just wanted to ask you what size of cup you use when you say ”1/4 of a cup” 🙂

    Thanks so much for this, salted caramel is the best thing! xxReplyCancel

    • MandaMonday, September 9, 2013 - 9:15 am

      Hi Adrienne. I just use a regular, one cup measurement. So it’s a 1/4 of one cup. (US measurement).ReplyCancel

  • JenTuesday, September 10, 2013 - 2:17 pm

    Hello, I have a question about your caramel filling. I see you can leave the leftovers in the fridge and use as needed…..
    …Will this become too stiff as a cake filling after the cake is put in the refrigerator? I need my frostings to crust and I always wind up refrigerating my cakes, so I want to make sure the filling doesn’t become hard.
    …Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • MandaTuesday, September 10, 2013 - 10:08 pm

      It will firm up more in the fridge, but mine never becomes hard. Just a lot more firm and maybe a little thicker. (I’ve frozen these cupcakes before and once they’re thawed the caramel is fine.) Hope that helps.ReplyCancel

  • HelenThursday, February 27, 2014 - 4:23 pm

    hi there.. i have the same issue with one of the user above. i only have a whisk attachment and my frosting turns out runny, and then sticky. the cake and caramel sauce was superb though. it’s just me and my frosting issues. in a professional/ experr point of view, what do you think went wrong? the attachment, or over beating, or something else? hope to hear from you soon!ReplyCancel

    • MandaSaturday, March 1, 2014 - 10:49 am

      Hi Helen. Sorry that you’ve been having problems with your frosting – baking issues can be so frustrating. This is the response that I had sent to the other person having some issues with frosting – so maybe it will help you:

      I’m not sure why your butter would be separating from the mixture. It wouldn’t be from over-beating – the longer you beat your frosting, the more of a whipped consistency it would get. (Lighter & fluffier). You also should be able to use a regular hand mixer with no problem – you just might need to mix for a little longer than a stand mixer. Is your butter too hard or too soft when you put it in? That would be my guess. I like mine to be slightly soft, but not at all melted. I then beat it at medium speed for at least 3 minutes, or until it’s smooth and creamy. You can even do it for longer to achieve a really soft and fluffy frosting. Also, what about the powdered sugar you are using…it’s best to use Confectioners’ 10-X Powdered Sugar. (Brand doesn’t matter – I just use store brand). So make sure your butter is creamed very well, then add powdered sugar, a little at a time. You also might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to make sure everything is getting thoroughly mixed. I keep adding sugar until it’s the right consistency – sometimes I add more than the recipe calls for if mine seems too runny. (And if it gets too thick, add a little water or milk). The only other thing I can think of that might effect your frosting is your climate, I’m not sure where you live, but if it’s very warm, that might give you problems trying to get your frosting to set up.

      Hopefully this helps! Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Dani O'NealMonday, March 3, 2014 - 8:21 pm

    Hi there was wondering if u have the older receipe for the salted Carmel cupcakes please xReplyCancel

  • Dani O'NealWednesday, March 5, 2014 - 7:39 am

    That wasn’t the same one I tried last summer the spong came out a lot lighter ReplyCancel

  • CarlWednesday, August 6, 2014 - 10:05 am

    Hi does the butter (for the cupcake batter) needs to be cold ? Im making these in a few days time, hope u could reply on time!ReplyCancel

    • MandaWednesday, August 6, 2014 - 11:02 am

      Hi there – my butter is slightly softened. You don’t want it melted, but I’ve found it mixes in best when softened. So probably about room temp should be good. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

      • CarlWednesday, August 13, 2014 - 11:20 pm

        Thanks ! Can i know what sugar you are using ? Just the normal granulated or caster ? And….. Can i just use the regular plain flour ?ReplyCancel

        • MandaThursday, August 14, 2014 - 9:02 am

          For the cupcakes and salted caramel filling it’s just granulated sugar, the frosting is powdered sugar. You can use regular flour, however the texture will definitely be different, and you might need to adjust the amount a little. You can make your own cake flour with AP flour and cornstarch if you didn’t want to buy a whole box of cake flour…google can help you out with some recipes for that. 🙂ReplyCancel

          • CarlThursday, August 14, 2014 - 9:16 am

            I meant the unbleached AP… Will it make a difference if i just use the regular ones ? Im not gg to substitute the cake flour of cos. Thanks for ur reply anw, appreciate it loads <3

  • cyrellenicoletteThursday, January 15, 2015 - 3:25 pm

    Hi! I wanna try this out soon! What icing tip did you use?ReplyCancel

    • MandaFriday, January 16, 2015 - 12:05 pm

      Hi – I used a Wilton 1M tip for these.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa KMonday, April 6, 2015 - 10:42 am

    Hi! I tried these this weekend and they were very good! Some found the cake to be dry and crumbly so I was wondering if I could have done anything differently to get better results. I made the cake part the night before and they were left out in a tin with a lid (think like a roasting pan). Was that the problem?ReplyCancel

    • MandaMonday, April 6, 2015 - 10:51 am

      Hi – glad you enjoyed the flavor, sorry you had a bit of trouble with the texture. The container they are stored in needs to be airtight, or they will dry out. I’ve found that if I put mine in some kind of plastic food storage container (like tupperware), they almost seem even more moist the next day, so I would guess that maybe your tin was not airtight? Also, cake flour does produce a different texture cake, and some people just don’t prefer that. You could try using a little more all purpose flour and a little less cake flour. And make sure that your ingredients are measured correctly – if there’s too much flour and not enough liquid, that would affect the texture and they would seem a little dry. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • SamanthaTuesday, July 7, 2015 - 7:34 pm

    Hey, just wanted to say I found these today after looking for a vanilla caramel cupcake (hard to find one that isn’t chocolate!) and these turned out AMAZING! Thank you so much!!ReplyCancel

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