Salted Caramel Buttercream Recipe

caramel buttercream recipe by sugar and sparrow

One of my favorite things to do with my homemade salted caramel recipe is incorporate it into buttercream. It ends up being such an awesome blend of sweet and salty, perfect for topping cakes and cupcakes or using as a cake filling. It can transform basic cake flavors like chocolate and vanilla into something above and beyond, and it also adds complexity to Fall-inspired flavors like apple spice cake. Whatever flavors you love pairing with caramel, this salted caramel buttercream is magic!

caramel frosting recipe by sugar and sparrow

It all starts with a great homemade salted caramel recipe, like this one. It’s only four ingredients, easy as can be, and you don’t even need a candy thermometer to make it! Making the salted caramel from scratch is the key to this beautiful caramel buttercream flavor, so if you have your own favorite salted caramel recipe, feel free to incorporate it into the buttercream recipe below. Just avoid premade salted caramel sauces that tend to be overly sweet, because they might send the sweetness level of this buttercream way over the top.

salted caramel buttercream recipe

When you’ve got your salted caramel made and ready to go, make sure you give it enough time for cooling to room temperature before you add it into the buttercream recipe. It’ll be very hot and runny when you remove it from the stove, and allowing it to cool will not only ensure that your buttercream doesn’t melt into soup, but the caramel will get thicker and more flavorful as it sets. If you prefer to make the salted caramel ahead of time, that’s fine too! You can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in an airtight container, then when you’re ready to make the buttercream, just microwave it in 15 second intervals to bring it back to room temperature.

salted caramel frosting recipe

Once your ingredients are all room temperature and ready to go, all you need is a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and about ten minutes from start to finish. The process is about as basic as it gets when it comes to an American buttercream recipe, but the end result is buttery salted caramel magic that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful!

caramel buttercream recipe by sugar and sparrow
5 from 9 votes
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Salted Caramel Buttercream

A sweet and salty caramel buttercream, perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes or using as a cake filling. 

Prep Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 Cups (480g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup (120ml) salted caramel, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on high until it’s fluffy and light (almost white in color), 5-6 minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle a few times in between. Turn the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar a few cups at a time, scraping down the bowl and paddle after each interval. Add the vanilla. 

  2. With the mixer still on low, add the salted caramel. Add a pinch of salt, increase the speed to medium, and mix for 2 full minutes.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead Tips: You can make this salted caramel buttercream ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you're ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-whip in your stand mixer to bring it back to smooth buttercream consistency. 

108 Comments

  1. Hi there, you mention topping cupcakes and filling cakes… what about covering a cake completely prior to putting fondant on it? Do you think it would tolerate the weight of fondant? And get a dry enough crust to put fondant on? Thankyou for any advice!

    • Hi Christine! This salted caramel buttercream will totally work for covering a cake before putting fondant on. It’s a crusting buttercream and I would recommend chilling it slightly prior to covering in fondant – that way you’ll get a firm surface and plenty of support for the fondant!

  2. Sounds wonderful! I’m planning on putting this on top of some decadent chocolate cupcakes for a friend’s birthday at work. Does this recipe make enough to pipe 24 cupcakes?

    • Hi Kate! This buttercream is SO tasty on chocolate cupcakes. To pipe 24 of them, I would 1.5 the recipe.

      • Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly! I am so excited for these!

        • Tabatha

          Oh my GOODNESS.

          Just made this to use for a birthday cake. So impressed. Had to put it away to stop myself from eating it by the spoonful.

          • Yay, Tabitha! So happy to hear you love this recipe as much as I do. It is SO hard to stop eating it by the spoonful!!

  3. Caitlin

    I can’t wait to try this recipe in full next week for my husbands birthday cake… we have the same birthday just 10 years apart, and this is what he requested to be on and in his cake.. Cake layers to be my Italian cream white cake recipe. So I am 1000% sure your SCBC is going to be heavenly on it!

  4. Hi Whitney,
    Why in this recipe you used more powdered sugar than the white chocolate butter cream recipe?
    Can’t wait to try both

    • Hi Giulia, there isn’t really a scientific reason why there’s more powdered sugar in this buttercream recipe. It’s just the way I’ve always made it. If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar, you can always decrease it by 1/2 cup or more, just eyeball the consistency in the process to make sure it’s thick enough to spread/pipe.

  5. So where is the recipe for the salted caramel! Pintrest just takes you around in circles! Not a friendly site
    Don’t show a recipe and then only give us half of it!!!

  6. Hi Whitney! Would this be enough to fill 2 10 inch Chocolate Cakes?
    It will be a 3 layer cake.. and may coat the outside with the luscious looking buttercream, then covering in fondant for a birch tree look. Thank you in advance and sharing your recipe!

    • Hi Laura! This recipe will be enough to fill a 3 layer 10-inch cake. That sounds like it’s going to be lovely and delicious!

    • Hi Taylor! I’ve never tried coloring this white. You can definitely give it a try but my assumption is it would take a lot of white food color gel to color it.

      • Patricia

        Hi, if I use food colouring eg red or blue in this recipe will the colour be affected by the slightly brown colour of the icing?

        • Hi Patricia! Yes, it will. Basically whichever color you mix into this buttercream will be a little muted since you’re starting with beige buttercream as opposed to white. If you’re going for super dark colors it might be possible, but just keep in mind it might be more of a muted tone than a true tone.

  7. I’m going to try this frosting with Carmel filled chocolate cupcakes!! They are cooling now and getting ready to start the frosting!

  8. Connie Churchill

    5 stars
    Oh my!! This is amazing! The directions were spot on, and I’m in love with the caramel and the frosting! This will be my go to recipe. I’m overjoyed, thank you for sharing!

  9. 5 stars
    Also left a comment on the salted caramel recipe – which I used for this and it was amazing with my banana cake, which everyone agreed. Substituted sea salt flakes as can’t get kosher salt, and it was lovely every now and again a tiny taste of it! Smell of the caramel in the icing was dizzying! Thanks for a couple of great recipes. Don’t normally provide feedback but couldn’t see much from people who had already made it so thought help to add one having had such success with this!

  10. 5 stars
    I’m not a big frosting person – I typically scrape off about 80% of it on cakes (even when I make them)… BUT this? This is amazing. Seriously, so good. I just licked the entire paddle after making it (don’t tell my kids). I may develop diabetes by the end of this fall because I plan on making this a lot. Thanks for the great recipe!

  11. Carol Chapa

    I just tried both the salted caramel and the SC buttercream frosting. Your descriptions were very accurate and helpful! I used the frosting to frost my husband’s 66th BD cake. Both recipes turned out perfectly! Thank you for posting! Super yummy!

  12. 5 stars
    Ever since I heard about salted caramel buttercream from a local baker, I’ve been itching to make this! This morning I did (for a Halloween layer cake I’m making for tonight’s party). I have an electric stove and the sugar got hot too fast on medium high and burnt before I realized it was happening. Round two on medium heat throughout the process was a success (just took a little longer)! It tasted delicious on the spoon and I can’t wait to taste the buttercream later!

    • So happy you had success with this recipe, Lisa! It’s one of my very favorites. Hope it was a hit at the Halloween party!

  13. I came here looking for a yummy caramel frosting to go on apple cider cupcakes. The recipe called for a brown sugar buttercream, that was a weird texture for me personally. I think this salted caramel frosting is exactly what an apple cider cupcake is screaming for!!

    • Hi Tiffany! I bet the salted caramel frosting is perfect on those apple cider cupcakes!! I’m gonna have to try that sometime.

  14. Can I use margarine for this recipe? I live in a place where you cant find butter easily and its super expensive.

    • Hi Noemi! You can substitute margarine, although I’ve never done that before so I don’t know how it will taste. Let me know how it goes!

  15. Search for “ sugar and sparrow salted caramel buttercream” on Pinterest and you will find quite a few pins using your photo but they aren’t linked to your site. I suggest you report they are using your intellectual property to Pinterest.

    I searched the web to find your real website since you had its name on your picture. Thank you – i will try your recipe soon – it looks fantastic.

  16. Laura Saravia

    hello! Can I make this buttercream with a standard mixer that does not have the paddle attachment?

    • Hi Laura! It depends on what kind of attachment you are using instead of the paddle. I think a whisk attachment would work fine!

  17. I would love to try this. Do you think I can color this frosting yellow or blue and the colors will turn out ok?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Carin! Since this buttercream has a beige base, any color you add to it will mix with beige. I think adding yellow would make it more of a mustard color but adding blue might be ok, you’ll definitely end up with more of a murkier blue than if you were to add the food coloring to a pure white buttercream. Hope that makes sense!

      • Carin Woods

        Thanks Whitney! That’s what I was thinking but thought I would ask. I’m going for a deeper yellow and blue so I’m hoping it will work out ok. I may try a small batch and test it out. Thank you!

  18. Hello. Silly me put the salted caramel into the buttercream and it was still a tiny bit like warm is there a way or getting the buttercream thick and creamy again please?

    • Hi Stacy! If it’s thinned out due to warmth of the caramel I would just put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes to let it cool down and then re-whip it. Let me know how it goes!

  19. Hi! I’m making a 4 layer cake, would I need to double the recipe or would this be enough? Thank you!☺️

  20. Mikayla

    Hi!
    I have to questions. The first one is, can i use this buttercream for the icing on the cake? Second question is that your salted caramel is it liquid because I have the « syrup one » can that still work? It’s probably a stupid question but can it?

    • Hi Mikayla! You can totally use this buttercream to ice a cake. The salted caramel I use has the consistency of a thick syrup, so as long as your is a thick syrup consistency and you like the taste of it, it should work!

  21. would this be enough to fill and cover the sides of a three layer cake or should i double it?

    • Hi Arthur! Depends on the diameter of the cake layers. For 6-inch, 8-inch, and 9-inch cakes I would double the recipe.

  22. Oh my goodness!!! Thank you!!! It’s soooo DELICIOUS!! I used for my chocolate cupcake, salted buttercream, & chocolate dipped pretzel!!! They are scrumptious thank you!!

  23. 5 stars
    This frosting and the salted caramel were both amazing! My daughter requested a vanilla cake with caramel frosting for her birthday cake, and I’m so glad I found this! It was fantastic!

  24. Trina Dion

    Hi! Whitney, do you think that I could make the buttercream a day before icing the cake with it? I need a reply ASAP

    • Hi Trina! You can definitely make this buttercream a day ahead. As long as your environment is below 70 degrees, you can store the buttercream at room temp in an airtight container overnight. If you need to, you can also refrigerate it in an airtight container overnight – just be sure to leave it out for a few hours to bring it back to room temperature before using it on your cake. Whether you store it in the fridge or at room temp, be sure to put it back in your stand mixer and stir it on low speed for about 20 seconds to bring it back to silky smooth frosting consistency.

  25. 5 stars
    Love the flavour of this I’ve just made it! However no matter what buttercream I try and make it always starts to split and go runny! Any tips would be appreciated – it’s not just this one recipe that it does it, it’s on everyone I’ve tried I’ve even used a glass bowl this time and still no luck I just can’t get it right

    • Hi Jess! So happy you love the flavor of this buttercream and would love to help you get to the bottom of why your buttercreams are splitting. The main reason why buttercream splits is temperature – mainly if it’s too warm in your kitchen environment (butter starts to melt above 75 degrees) or if you start the recipe with butter that is too soft/milk that’s too cold. I like to leave my butter on the counter to soften it for an hour or so (instead of microwaving or trying to quickly soften it) because it ends up being the perfect temp to begin with. And then if your milk is too cold at the end that can cause the buttercream to split as well. It’s super important that all of your ingredients are room temp (and your “room temp” is less than 73 degrees). Hoping either of those tips solves the splitting for next time!

  26. Hi. Have just made this caramel buttercream to fill and ice a cake (made the caramel first from your recipe – delicious!) I have never made buttercream before (usually use chocolate ganache) and although it tastes good the powdered sugar hasn’t dissolved, so it’s a bit chalky. Is that normal? I am in Australia and used what we call pure icing sugar, which is just powdered sugar. I sieved it first too. It’s also unbelievably sweet, but maybe that’s because you like things sweeter than we’re used to over there? Will the sugar dissolve a bit more by the time I serve it in about 24 hrs? Thanks. Love your site BTW. Very helpful and your cakes look spectacular!

    • Hi Julia! If the texture is grainy I would add a little more room temperature milk to dissolve the sugar and also add a little more salt to cut the sweetness. Hope that helps!

      • 5 stars
        Thanks so much for your reply. I made another batch, sieved the sugar again in a finer sieve, and put a little milk in but didn’t want to thin it too much. Still grainy, but I’m sure no-one will notice but me! We have here a product called icing mixture, which is powdered sugar and corn starch. Should I try this next time? Might be smoother. Not sure how the cornstarch would affect the buttercream though. Thoughts?

        • Interesting! I’ve never heard of adding cornstarch to buttercream, but let me know if you end up trying that!

  27. Just made this frosting for my cut out sugar cookies and it’s AMAZING! I’ve been using a crusting buttercream recipe and just wondering if this frosting will give a little crust as well to pipe out flowers, etc. Also, will the cookies need to be refrigerated with this icing? Thanks!

    • Yay, Kathryn! So happy to hear you’re loving this recipe! It will certainly crust and be great for piping flowers, etc. You won’t need to refrigerate the cookies with this icing, as the small amount of dairy in there is well preserved by all the sugar content. Enjoy!

  28. This recipe is spectacular! I just made it for a chocolate cake and it if the fluffiest buttercream I’ve ever had. Thanks for posting this!

  29. Hi recipe doesn’t say how much it makes or how big of a cake it will frost. i have a 3 layer 6 in cake. is this recipe enough or should i double?

    • Hi Tori! For a 3 layer 6-inch cake, I would 1.5x the recipe to fill and frost, or double the recipe if you want to do additional buttercream decorations/piping.

  30. hello!! so do I use melted Carmel? and if so do I use the hard Carmel and melt it in the microwave or the stove top, make my own, or use the store bought stuff that people use on other desserts. (that’s in the squeeze bottles)

    • Hi Farah, one batch of this buttercream should frost about 15-20 large cupcakes depending on how much frosting you add to each one.

  31. Would this be good on a spice cake you think?! If so do you have a homemade spice cake recipe?!?!

    • Hi Rachel! This recipe would taste amazing on a spice cake. I have a few different spice cake recipes! Type “spice cake” into the search bar at the top of my blog to see them.

  32. 5 stars
    Hi,

    I want to try a Biscoff version, could I just use the same amount of Biscoff cookie butter as there is salted caramel in this recipe? Or should I adjust the powdered sugar when using Biscoff?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Maja! That sounds heavenly. I’ve never worked with cookie butter before, so I can’t say for sure how much to add or how it will taste but feel free to experiment with this recipe!

  33. Hello! I’m going to make this today but I have a really thick dulce de leche. Will this work or I have to thin it out?

    • Hi Aleyka, I have never tried this recipe with anything but the above ingredients. I’m not sure that dulce de leche will work in place of the heavy whipping cream, but you are welcome to try it!

  34. Debi Stovicek

    Hi Whitney! I just made this and piped on Spice Apple Cupcakes and drizzled extra caramel on top for Caramel Apple Cupcakes! DELICIOUS. Should I keep them in the refrigerator until my event tomorrow? (some do not have caramel drizzle, just the buttercream)
    Thanks!

    • Such a great flavor pairing, Debi! Yum!! You don’t need to store the cupcakes in the refrigerator, they’ll be fine at room temperature overnight due to the high sugar content, which preserves the tiny bit of dairy in this recipe.

  35. 5 stars
    Oh. My. Goodness!! Earlier I made the salted caramel (and left rave reviews) and I just finished making this to frost my dark chocolate cake and this is perfection! I could literally eat this buttercream by itself! I was in search of fall flavors to go with a large batch of apple cider and this buttercream + cake go perfectly!! Thank you!!

    • Ahhh so happy you love the salted caramel buttercream! I feel the same way about it – I could eat it by the spoonful. That flavor combo sounds delicious! Thanks for taking the time to let me know it was a hit!

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