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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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline @ chocolate and carrots September 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

These cupcakes are a dream! Not only do they look gorgeous and fluffy and delicious, but they are the perfect fall cupcake. Plus, it doesn’t help that I have a recent love for salted caramel. Mmm! Beautiful job Amy and yay for the suggestion Jaclyn!

2 amy September 15, 2011 at 9:04 am

caroline, i was so tempted to send you this recipe + picture early because i know what a fall / pumpkin lover you are! the salted caramel buttercream is amazingly fluffy + delicious – i found myself just eating it straight out of the bowl – whoops! + the pumpkin cupcakes are perfectly spiced with a wonderful texture. these are definitely A+ cupcakes!

3 Mommyof2Girlz/StephD September 15, 2011 at 9:11 am

Shut the front door, omg! I do not think there is a better recipe out there to remind me of fall than this. Pumpkin, salted caramel and buttercream all on one! I am beside myself excited…lol

4 amy September 15, 2011 at 9:25 am

i felt the same way when i saw this recipe — these cupcakes perfectly capture the wonderful flavors of autumn! i hope you try ’em – i think you’ll be super excited with the results!

5 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl September 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

Wow, these look A.MA.ZING. Pumpkin is definitely my favorite fall flavor–and with salted caramel? Holy moly, I feel a weight gain of five pounds coming! :-) Thanks for posting these!!

6 amy September 15, 2011 at 9:39 am

ha! now you see why i took these to a party rather than keeping them all at our house – i would’ve eaten them all! i will admit, i did so much taste-testing of these prior to the party that i barely had room to eat anything else. oops!

7 Rachel @ The Avid Appetite September 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

ahh you are killing me! these look soooo good! Love anything pumpkin, but I usually go for cream cheese frosting…I never thought to do salted caramel buttercream! Genius :)

8 amy September 15, 2011 at 9:49 am

i normally make cream cheese frosting with anything pumpkin, too + i absolutely loved this variation. the creamy, rich salted caramel works perfectly against the spiced pumpkin flavor. it’s delish!

9 Leah | So, How's It Taste? September 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

I love salted caramel buttercream! It is so delicious. I bet it paired beautifully with pumpkin cupcakes. Thanks for sharing!

10 amy September 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

you’re most certainly welcome! isn’t it delicious? i even liked it spread on graham crackers, proving that salted caramel buttercream can dress up anything!

11 Shannon September 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

OMG – you and I must be on the same wavelength when it comes to these cupcakes. I was totally thinking of making pumpkin spice cupcakes with caramel buttercream this weekend, but now I see SALTED caramel buttercream and I’m like….WOW!!!! They look awesome!

12 amy September 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

well, they do say that great minds think alike. =) i hope i get to see a picture of yours, since your cupcakes always turn out so beautifully. in fact, maybe you can give me some cupcake-decorating lessons sometimes? i’ll pay you in sweets!

13 Renee September 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The cupcakes look good and I am in love with those black and white cupcake cups. Where did you get those? I must get some.

14 amy September 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm

thanks, renee! the cupcake cups are Reynolds brand victorian baking cups that came from our local kroger (+ weren’t expensive at all). if you do a search for black + white damask cupcake cups, lots more come up on etsy + ebay, too!

15 Jaclyn September 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Thanks for the shout out Amy! I’m trilled they turned out as good as they did. I should make another batch soon. Fall has certainly arrived in Minnesota – it is 53 degrees today!

16 amy September 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

thank *you* for sending me the recipe! fall seems to arrived in nashville, too – its only 60 degrees right now — brrr!

17 Ally Garner September 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm

That buttercream looks dangerous…. Talk about the perfect Fall dessert. I bet these were a huge hit! You’re guacamole made my Tailgate menu this weekend & these will certainly make an appearance next week. I cannot wait to make these. Seriously. I’m dying.

18 amy September 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

they *were* a huge hit, ally! everyone loved ’em. + thanks again for putting my guacamole on your tailgate menu – so glad you made it + it turned out delicious for you!

19 Maris (In Good Taste) September 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

All I can say at the moment is OMG! These look so delicious and just scream my favorite season- Fall!

20 amy September 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm

maris, they are amazing! you’ve gotta try ’em. and thank you again for featuring my chili in your food for football parties post today – it made my day!

21 New York Diaries September 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

These cupcakes look so delicious! So yummy!

22 amy September 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

they taste even better than they look! that salted caramel buttercream is just sinfully good.

23 EA-The Spicy RD September 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Pumpkin + Salted Caramel Butter Cream??? Oh my! I must try and make these gluten-free!

24 amy September 16, 2011 at 7:33 am

if you make a gluten-free version, please share! i’d love to see how they turn out. they’d be wonderful, i’m sure!

25 Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) September 16, 2011 at 7:59 am

These look amazing…not sure why, but I don’t bake cupcakes often. But these make me want to break out my cupcake tin and go buy some cute cupcake papers! Fall still is playing hide-and-seek with Texas, but she can’t hide forever…right?!?!?

26 amy September 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

that’s true – you definitely make more cakes than you do cupcakes. my cake-frosting skills aren’t too fab, but my cupcake piping skills are much better, which is why i think i make ’em so much! plus, you know i like just a tiny bit of dessert, + cupcakes are a good portion size for me. sending major fall vibes down to Texas – it’s time for y’all to get some cooler weather! =)

27 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. September 16, 2011 at 9:15 am

These look amazing girl!

28 amy September 16, 2011 at 9:28 am

thanks, alison! + i just saw that you tweeted out the link – thank you so much for that, too!

29 ErinsFoodFiles September 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

I’m drooling right now!

30 amy September 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

i thought you might like this recipe, what with your ‘pumpking’ love + all. =)

31 Melissa @ Made in Melissa's Kitchen September 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

So glad you liked these! I can’t wait to make them again this year. :)

32 amy September 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

thanks again for the wonderful recipe, melissa. the frosting is seriously in the running for my favorite ever!

33 Marina September 17, 2011 at 11:06 am

I wish I could be in on that party! This is amazing!

34 amy September 17, 2011 at 11:43 am

i wish you could’ve been at the party, too – everything was delicious! =)

35 Simply Life September 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

oh. my. gosh. did you really make these?! How did you get the frosting SO PERFECT?! I need a tutorial!!!

36 amy September 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

if you’re trying to make me feel good … it’s working! my cupcake frosting needs a lot of help but these are definitely the prettiest i’ve made in a while. will gladly give a tutorial! =)

37 Jess September 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Wow these sound deacdently amazing! Mmm pumpkin and salted caramel, my mouth is drooling!

38 amy September 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm

they are delicious! pumpkin + salted caramel = perfection!

39 Jessica @ Cajunlicious September 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

What a perfect cupcake to welcome fall! They sound delicious would be perfect with coffee!

40 amy September 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

you’re so right — they would be great with coffee. or chai. or a homemade pumpkin spice latte. =)

41 LeAndra September 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

These look and sound absolutely delicious! I never would have thought of pairing salted caramel with pumpkin, but I’m certainly looking forward to this combination now. Thanks for sharing!

42 amy September 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

i would never have thought of the pairing either but it works wonderfully! you gotta try ’em. =)

43 Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts September 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I want one, or maybe three! These look amazing. The frosting combination with the pumpkin is so perfect!

44 amy September 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm

thanks, erin! three of these would definitely make for a perfect snack. or meal. =)

45 stacy October 1, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Oh my word! Thank you for this salted caramel buttercream recipe. SOOOO much easier than other ones I had seen floating around and DIVINE! SOOOOOOO tasty! I could not stop sneaking tastes as I was piping it onto my caramel cupcakes. YUM!

46 amy October 2, 2011 at 8:05 am

that is such great news, stacy! I love that it turned out great for you. And what a great idea to use the buttercream on caramel cupcakes. Sounds delish!

47 Sara October 3, 2011 at 6:35 am

Made these this weekend for my Grandfathers 90th birthday party. The were a huge hit with the family! The cupcakes were flavorful and moist and the frosting, of course, was the best part. Thank you for sharing! Happy fall.

48 amy October 3, 2011 at 8:14 am

that’s great news — i’m so happy they turned out great for you + your family for your grandfather’s birthday party. happy birthday to him, + happy fall to you, too!

49 Amanda @ http://foodfascinations.blogspot.com/ November 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I made the buttercream with chocolate cupcakes. It was amazing. Thanks for introducing me to an amazing recipe. Although a dangerous one!

50 amy November 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

isn’t it insanely awesome? that buttercream is just to die for. but you’re right — dangerously addictive!

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