pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

by Amy on 15 September 2011

remember when i had a Let’s Bring on Fall party to attend + asked for ideas on what to make? y’all definitely delivered with fantastic recipes. all have been bookmarked or pinned on pinterest, + i’ve started making them. for the party itself? there was no question in regards to the dessert – pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream, suggested by fabulous reader jaclyn.

i owe jaclyn a million cookies. or a huge hug. or both. because these cupcakes were AMAZING. i mean, was there any question that they would be? how can anything with salted caramel buttercream be anything but delicious?! they were just as popular with the kiddos as they were with adults, which is always great — fancy enough to impress foodies while, flavor-wise, simple enough to appeal to kiddo palates. now that the temperatures are finally dropping + fall is around the corner, i know lots of you are looking for cooler-weather sweets. look no further, my friends, because this is the perfect fall treat. consider yourself warned though, these are addictive!

pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

makes about 20 cupcakes, adapted from made in mel’s kitchen

for the pumpkin cupcakes:


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree


preheat oven to 350 degrees. line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, + allspice; set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, + eggs. beat on medium speed until well combined. add dry ingredients + mix on low until smooth. fold in pumpkin puree.

divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. bake until tops spring back when touched, + a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 – 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. transfer to a wire rack + let cool completely.

for the salted caramel buttercream

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups powdered sugar


in a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar + water. bring to a boil over medium high heat. cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. remove from heat + slowly add in cream + vanilla, stirring until very smooth. let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm, but still pourable.

in a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter + salt together until lightened + fluffy. reduce speed to low + add powdered sugar. mix until thoroughly combined.

scrape down the side of the bowl + add the caramel. beat on medium high speed until light + airy, + completely mixed (about 2 minutes). mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. if your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny – if this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Cindy November 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Made these for a recent tailgating party and they were a huge hit! So moist, and the frosting is fabulous. I could hear people in the group moaning with pleasure as they bit into one. My sister asked for me to modify the recipe to turn it into her birthday cake. And in a true testament to the deliciousness of the frosting, we caught my two-year-old niece licking it off and returning the naked cupcakes to the serving platter. Next on my to-cook list from your blog: the red wine-braised beef stew. Thanks for all the goodness you share via your recipes!

52 amy November 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

that is so fantastic to hear, cindy + how fabulous that your niece loved the frosting. hope you caught a picture of that! =) + do let me know how the beef stew turns out for you – it’s my favorite beef stew that i think i’ve ever eaten!

53 Amy L January 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

These look so good! I’ve always had problems making a good salted caramel buttercream and I couldn’t find a good recipe for it. This one seems promising, so thanks for sharing! :)

54 amy January 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm

thanks so much, amy! i found this salted caramel buttercream to be one of the easiest (+ tastiest) i’ve ever tried. hope it turns out great for you — do report back!

55 Niquay June 5, 2015 at 5:27 am

Could I use milk instead of cream?

56 Amy June 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Niquay, in the buttercream? I haven’t tried making it with milk, so I can’t speak to that substitution. Sorry! If you try it, do let me know how it turns out.

57 Sylvanna October 22, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Hi! I was wondering could i make the caramel buttercream and let it stay in fridge for about 12 hours? I need to make 50 cupcakes Saturday and I thought i’d make the buttercream ahead of time on Friday night. would is still be good? Thank you!

58 Amy October 22, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Hi Sylvanna! I haven’t tried making this particular buttercream in advance, but I have had made other buttercreams the night before and have had no problems. =) Keep it covered in the fridge overnight, and bring it back up to room temperature the next day before frosting. =) It will likely need another whip to fluff it back up, but you should be good to go! Let me know how they turn out.

59 Lisa April 9, 2016 at 12:08 am

hello! ive tried making the butter cream twice now, and each time my caramel becomes a hard lump of caramel sitting in a saucepan of liquid….no creamyness like you mentioned. Any tips?

60 Amy April 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Hi Lisa, when does your caramel become a hard lump? While it’s boiling? Right when you stir in the cream and vanilla? Or not until you let it sit for the 20 minutes? I have a few ideas of what it can be, but it’ll help if I know when it happens. Let me know, and we’ll get it fixed!

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