These caramel filled cupcakes are the perfect dessert for caramel lovers! This is a fluffy vanilla cupcake stuffed with homemade caramel and then frosted with a creamy salted caramel frosting.
Salted caramel is such a delicious flavor. I’ve already got salted caramel macarons and a caramel covered cheesecake, and I knew I had to make a caramel cupcake! It’s a very simple vanilla cupcake, based off of my cinnamon swirl cupcakes, which you can throw together really quickly.
While making caramel sounds finicky, I promise it is easier than you think! I was really nervous the first time I made caramel, but once I tried it out I couldn’t believe how quickly I could make it!
Why you’ll love these caramel filled cupcakes!
- Quick to make – it only takes a few minutes to prepare the cupcake batter, and then about 10 minutes to make the buttercream. The part that takes the most time is making the homemade caramel, which all in all takes about 15 minutes.
- Packed with caramel flavor – The center of the cupcake is filled with homemade caramel sauce, then the caramel you’ve made is added to the buttercream. Finally, I drizzled some melted caramel on top!
- Great for parties – this recipe makes 12-14 cupcakes, so it is perfect to make for a birthday party or celebration.
- Can be made in advance – you can make both the cupcakes and the caramel the day before.
Unsalted Butter: I use unsalted European style butter for the cupcakes, caramel and buttercream. Because of the higher butterfat content (about 81% and above), it has a much richer and creamier taste!
Flour: I have only tested this recipe with all purpose flour (plain flour in the UK). I have not tested this with gluten free flour, but let me know if you do!
Sour Cream: I love using sour cream in my cupcakes to make them extra moist. You could substitute this with full fat yogurt instead.
Eggs: I tested this recipe with large eggs.
Confectioners’ Sugar: also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar, this is used to make the American buttercream.
Caramel: Of course the caramel buttercream needs caramel! If you don’t want to make salted caramel from scratch, then you can use store-bought salted caramel sauce.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit/175°Celsius and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a cupcake pan with 12 muffin liners.
Step 2: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. It should be light and fluffy.
Step 3: Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat everything together for another minute. Once you’ve stopped the mixer, use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything gets mixed!
Step 4: Pour in your sour cream and beat until that has combined. Then, add your dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Make sure to start and end with the dry ingredients!
Step 5: Fill up the cupcake liners until they are about ⅔ full. This recipe makes 14 cupcakes, so you will have to do this in 2 goes! Bake for 20-23 minutes. Let them cool for about 10 minutes in the cupcake pan, then take them out and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Step 6: Time to make caramel! In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, pour about ¼ cup of sugar. Let the sugar dissolve, then add another ¼ cup. Continue doing this until all of the sugar has melted, stirring occasionally.
Step 7: Once the caramel is a deep amber color, turn the heat off. Add the butter a tablespoon at a time – be careful as it will sputter! Stir constantly while you add the butter.
Step 8: Add the heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir until it is smooth and thick. Pour into a large jar and let it cool completely.
Step 9: time to make the frosting! In a large bowl, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on low speed. Once it is combined and starting to get creamy, increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
Step 10: Stop the mixer and add the salt, caramel, and vanilla extract. Beat for 2 minutes. If your frosting isn’t as creamy as you would like, you can add the optional heavy cream.
Step 11: Fill your cupcakes! Take your cooled cupcakes and either a cupcake corer or a large piping tip. Press into the center of each cupcake until you’re about half way down and take out the middle. Use a small spoon to fill this cavity with salted caramel.
Step 12: Pipe your buttercream on top of the cupcake and drizzle any leftover caramel on top! I used a Wilton 4B tip for these cupcakes, and then a squeezy bottle to drizzle the caramel. I finished them off with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Use a weighing scale – I highly recommend using a weighing scale and measuring out your ingredients the metric way. It makes a huge difference to your baking and is the most accurate way to bake!
- Use the fluff and sprinkle method to measure your flour – if you aren’t using a scale to measure ingredients then make sure you are measuring your flour correctly! Go to this link here to find out how to do that. If you use too much flour, then you won’t have those delicious moist crumbs!
- Room Temperature – Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start baking.
- Add more or less heavy cream – because the caramel makes the buttercream quite creamy, you don’t have to add the heavy cream. I suggest making the buttercream and then seeing if the buttercream is soft enough to pipe or if you want to make it creamier and add that heavy cream.
- Drizzle the caramel – if your caramel gets too hard, place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to soften up! I then poured the caramel into a plastic squeeze bottle to drizzle the caramel over the frosting.
Frequently Asked Questions
I found the easiest way was to use a small teaspoon to scoop up the caramel, then use a small rubber spatula to scrape it off of the spoon and into the cupcake cavity.
You can use a cupcake corer, but my favorite thing to do is use a piping tip! Use a large piping tip, and place the base of it in the middle of your cupcake. Carefully press down with one hand while holding the cupcake with the other hand, until the piping tip base is about half way through the cupcake. Lift it out and it should bring a small circle of cupcake with it! If it hasn’t I carefully use a butter knife or spoon to pry it out.
Yes, if you prefer to use ready made caramel instead of homemade you can! I promise though that making your own caramel is simple and so much more delicious.
I find the easiest way to fill a piping bag is place the bag (with the tip already in!) into a tall glass, I usually use a smoothie glass as that is quite tall. Fold the sides of the piping bag over the sides of the glass, then use a rubber spatula to scoop out the frosting from the bowl into the piping bag.
Try these cupcake recipes next!
Caramel Filled Cupcake
- 1 cupcake pan
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature
- ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup white sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup caramel
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 12-cup pan with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 13-14 cupcakes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. It should become light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract, then beat again on medium speed
- Add in the sour cream, beating on medium-low speed until well combined
- Alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, starting and ending with dry.
- Fill in liners with batter until they’re ⅔ full. Bake for 20-23 minutes. A toothpick inserted will come out clean with no crumbs. Let cool completely. Your cupcakes might have split at the top, almost like a muffin – this is ok!
- Take a small saucepan and place it on your stove over medium heat. Add the sugar ¼ cup at a time, letting the sugar dissolve completely until you add the next ¼ cup.
- Stir occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved and turns a dark amber colour. Turn the heat off.
- Add the butter in a piece at a time, be careful as it may sputter! Stir with a heatproof spatula as you add the butter. Stir in the cream, salt, and vanilla. Pour into a large jar or bowl. Let cool until it is very thick.
- In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar on low speed until well combined. Turn the speed to high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add in the salt, vanilla extract and caramel and beat again on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- If your frosting isn't as creamy as you would like, add a tablespoon of heavy cream.
- Use a large piping tip to core out each cupcake. You may need to use a knife or small spatula to dig out some of the cake in case the dip didn't go down far enough.
- Use a small spoon to pour in caramel until it reaches the top of the cupcake.
- Pipe your frosting on top, I used a Wilton 4B tip. I then poured the rest of the caramel into a plastic squeeze bottle and drizzle it on top of the frosting.