This fluffy caramel frosting is simply the best. Thick and fluffy with a delicious caramel flavor and a hint of salt – it packs a punch on cakes and cupcakes.
This caramel buttercream has the buttery, sweet flavor of salted caramel in thick and creamy frosting form. It’s an American-style buttercream – meaning that it’s a no-boil frosting recipe. It’s extra thick too, so it’s perfect for piping on cupcakes and cakes.
The Best Caramel Frosting Recipe
This recipe is a simple buttercream made with butter, powdered sugar and cream or milk plus the flavoring. The caramel flavor comes from adding thick, salted caramel to the frosting, plus a little vanilla and extra salt to balance out the sweetness. The frosting ends up very thick and velvety smooth without any grittiness – which I found was quite common in a lot of caramel frosting recipes.
When I was researching and testing caramel buttercream recipes, I found a lot started by melting together butter and brown sugar. They’d then boil the mixture along with some cream, and after it had cooled, beat in the powdered sugar. But here’s the issue with that – brown sugar is used for making butterscotch, and white sugar is used for caramel. So, if you’re using brown sugar, you’ve essentially made butterscotch frosting. Still delicious, but technically speaking (if you want to picky), the flavor isn’t caramel. (Please note, I’m not trying to bash those recipes – I just wanted this caramel frosting to have a distinctly salted caramel flavor).
For the caramel used, I’ve included my favorite salted caramel sauce recipe to use in this frosting. It’s very thick and has a good amount of salt to cut the sweetness and really complement the sweet, buttery flavor. You can use your own favorite salted caramel recipe, or store-bought salted caramel if you want to save time. Just be sure that the caramel you choose is thick, flavorful, and high-quality. I wouldn’t recommend using a caramel ice cream sauce because typically I don’t find them to have a thick enough texture or rich enough flavor. It will work, but I find the results better with a thick caramel from a jar.
How Much Frosting Does it Make?
This recipe will make enough for:
- 12-14 cupcakes, decorated with a piping bag
- 18-24 cupcakes, if frosting with a thin layer using a knife
- a 9×13 inch pan of brownies or cake
- half the recipe for an 8×8 inch pan of brownies
- or double the recipe for an 8-inch or 9-inch layer cake
Or for more delicious frosting recipes, be sure to try:
- Chocolate Frosting
- Strawberry Frosting
- Raspberry Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Peanut Butter Frosting
Homemade Caramel (Or use storebought)*
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup salted caramel (you will not need all the caramel you made)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons cream or milk
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Add the sugar to a medium-sized, heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.
- Gently stir the mixture. The sugar will first form clumps. Continue stirring.
- As you stir the mixture the clumps will eventually melt and it will turn into a dark amber colored sauce.
- Carefully add in the chopped batter while whisking with a metal whisk.
- Once the butter is totally melted, whisk in the creamy. Make sure to constantly whisk the mixture.
- Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Cool fully. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until softened.
- Beat in 1/2 cup fully cooled caramel sauce (you will need to measure out 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce you made - you will not need all the caramel you made), vanilla extract and salt.
- Beat in 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, starting with the mixer on low speed.
- If needed beat in the rest of the sugar, if needed, for thicker, sweeter frosting. If your frosting seems a little too thick, beat in the cream 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Decorate cakes or cupcakes using a piping bag or a knife.
- Optionally drizzle with additional salted caramel.
- Feel free to use your own homemade caramel or storebought caramel instead. Just make sure that you're using a high-quality, thick caramel.
- The caramel recipe will make about 1 cup total - so you'll have enough to make the frosting, and drizzle your cupcakes with caramel.
- This recipe makes enough to frost:
- 12-14 cupcakes if frosted with a piping bag
- 18-24 cupcakes if frosting with a thin layer using a knife
- one 9x13 inch cake (top only) or a pan of brownies
- half the recipe for an 8x8 inch pan of brownies
- double the recipe for a 3-layer round cake (you will not need to double the caramel recipe if you don't need extra caramel for decorating/drizzling the cake with)
- Nutrition information is based off the recipe divided into 12.
- Store frosted cake or cupcakes at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.