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Vanilla Almond Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream

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I must confess….I’ve never been a huge fan of frosting. Not on my cookies, not on my cakes, and not even on my cupcakes. I know, I know…I’ve posted plenty of recipes on here piled high with a variety of lovely and delicious frostings, but almost always whenever I actually sit down to eat it, I only (maybe) leave on a tiny dab. It’s just never been my thing….

…..until now.

Oh. My. WORD. I had absolutely no idea that such deliciousness could exist, until I decided to test out this caramel frosting recipe on a whim while planning for the Cupcake-A-Thon. I had wanted to give it a try because it called for making your own homemade caramel, which I had never done. (And as a sidenote — was way easier than I imagined! Super speedy, and didn’t even have to use a candy thermometer!)  But I was not prepared for the rich, sweet, buttery, and caramel-y perfection that resulted in the end. Absolutely amazing.

I guarantee that — especially when paired with this wonderful almond-vanilla cupcake — it will knock your socks off. Don’t even blink an eye at the extra 10 minutes it will take to make the homemade caramel. It’s 500% worth it. (And you can make it in the time the cupcakes bake – piece of cake ;))

So cheers to the “icing on the cake”!!! I believe this officially marked my first time ever licking the frosting bowl clean. My mother would be so proud. :)


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Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes 1x


You’ll love this Vanilla Almond Cupcakes w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream Recipe that results in sweet, almond-y butter-y caramel-y perfection.



Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1 (18.25 oz.) white cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade
  • 4 eggs

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, store-bought or homemade
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Add the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, almond extract and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed. Increase speed to high and beat until thick and fluffy, 2 minutes longer.
  3. Pour or scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

To Make Frosting (pics above and below):

  1. Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (just start with a tablespoon or two), stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. (Be careful, as the mixture will definitely bubble up and possibly splatter a bit as you add in the cream.) Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.
  3. Beat the butter ]in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately (or to harden the frosting a bit).


Ali’s Tip:

Keep a close eye on the caramel as you make it! It goes from clear bubbles to the “amber” color within about 30 seconds, and then will burn pretty quickly thereafter.

Also, if you absolutely, absolutely don’t want to make the homemade caramel, you can substitute in some caramel topping to put into the buttercream instead.

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82 comments on “Vanilla Almond Cupcakes With Salted Caramel Buttercream”

  1. Beautiful cupcakes! can I ask what tip you used for the frosting? thanks!

  2. These cupcakes look delish especially with salty caramel buttercream. The frosting make these extra special.

  3. These look and sound absolutely divine. Thanks for sharing. One question though, which tip did you use to pipe the buttercream?

  4. This sounds delish. I love salted caramel, so I can’t wait to try this.

  5. Oh, I’ll have to try out this frosting! It looks lovely! I love your frosting skills. I wish I were that good!

  6. This looks wonderful, but I’m confused. In the frosting you call for mixing the butter and salt, but there is no salt in the recipe….

    • Hi Carolyn! Oops — thanks for pointing that out! The original recipe used unsalted butter, and then added in salt. I just skipped that and used salted butter, but either way works. I’m editing the post right now — thank you!! :)


  7. Oh wow, yum. Love the way you’ve frosted them – it looks like the folds of a lovely silk fabric.

  8. And Danielle & Roxan, I used the “1M” tip from Wilton. I actually didn’t let the caramel completely cool before adding it to the buttercream, so it was slightly warm, and thus slightly less firm. So that’s what made the swirls look slightly different.

    By the way, here’s a great link for anyone wanting to try the 1M swirl for the first time – :)

  9. I’ve been looking for a good frosting… This looks like just the thing! Amazing!

  10. This combination is so perfect I could shed a tear. I am so checking out that swirl technique too. So beautiful!

    • Ha…thanks, Shauna! :) And definitely try the swirl technique — it really is super-simple! Just make sure the frosting is a good consistency, and you’re good to go. That brilliant little Wilton tip works miracles! Enjoy!


  11. Oh, I wondered about that… Can’t wait to make these!

  12. These look so good! I want to try a caramel buttercream very badly, I just keep putting it off and trying old favorites instead of something new.

    • Hey Valen,

      That was me too! I had bookmarked the original recipe from CHOW months ago, but waited forever to try it. So I say don’t repeat my mistake — it’s fabulous!!! :)


  13. Looks and sounds amazing. I love your piping too.

  14. Hi Ali!
    I found you on FaceBook first, then checked out your website! Awesomeness!!! I am a cupcake crazed cook and anxiously await your postings…..I can’t wait to try this!
    btw…..I’m from Wichita….did you grow up here??

  15. WOW – I’ve always been drawn to monochromatic color schemes, but throw in a healthy dose of cake, vanilla, almond, and caramel and I’m forever yours!


  16. PS – I absolutely love the name of your blog!

  17. Oh my goodness…I am one of those who CAN lick the icing bowl clean–but I try to have self control. I might not have self control with these! I love caramel.

  18. This looks fabulous! I’m bookmarking and can’t wait to make these!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  19. Salted caramel buttercream… Are you kidding me?! This looks Ah-maze-ing! I want some right now!

  20. oh. my. god. the cupcake of all cupcakes. i love you.

  21. I baked a two layer chocolate cake last night. I used the salted caramel buttercream for the icing and it was devine!!!

  22. ooops DIVINE!! lol

  23. I made these today for my mother’s birthday and she was so thrilled. They are ridiculously delicious. The frosting just brings it over the top. Kudos.

  24. I’m totally with you with only leaving a dab of frosting on my cakes, cupcakes and etc. I don’t like it when you go to get a cupcake and it has loads of buttercream on top. The cake to frosting ration has to be right! But this one looks like it would be full of flavor and oh-so-yummy. I’m going to have to try these!

  25. Yummm :)
    Will try soon!

  26. I needed recipes for Mothers’Day. My daughter is a fan of your blog. I saw this recipe and had to make it. I modified it a bit because I’m not crazy about almond so I doubled the vanilla and baked it as a cake instead. It was delicious! Thank you.

  27. Wow. This looks and sounds fab! I can’t wait to try it. I love ribbon look of the frosting. Do you mind sharing which tip you used?

    • Hey Naomi!

      Absolutely — I used the 1M (large) tip from Wilton. But I had the weirdest thing happen. Somehow after using it a ton, the open star actually turned into more of a closed star. So the tip actually now looks much more like the large closed star tip. So the ribbon effect was actually kind of an accident – but I liked it! :) Good luck!


  28. I made these tonight and they turned out nicely. I wish they were a bit more heavy on the caramel flavor though…maybe next time I will experiment with doubling the caramel.

  29. These look great; I’m real eager to try the frosting. One question: I don’t usually have salted butter on hand. Do you have the proportions from the original frosting recipe that called for unsalted butter and added salt?


  30. Does anyone happen to know if this will crust? I’m experimenting with making a caramel apple cake and I’d love to use this on the outside of the cake. Can’t wait to try it, Thanks!

  31. I came across your website and I was very excited to find your recipe for the salted buttercream frosting. I tried it this afternoon but I did something wrong with caramel mixture. I followed your recipe and it even looked like your first picture at one point but it never turned an amber color, it continued to boil and just became a sticky glob. Any suggestions? What might have I done wrong?Thanks!

  32. Hi There-
    Questions: Frosting ingredients call for powdered sugar. Instructions speak to granulated sugar. Which type of sugar should we all be using?

    • Hey Jennifer!

      I’m afraid I’m not understanding your question. The frosting calls for both powdered and granulated sugar. So when you’re initially making the caramel, it says to use the granulated. And then once it’s made, you whip in the powdered sugar. I may be missing something in there though – let me know!

      Thanks, and enjoy the cupcakes! :)


  33. Love love love. I just made these and they look delicious. I cheated and used a store-bought caramel. But the frosting tastes amazing. I just had to add some extra salt to it so the flavor really came out. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  34. the first recipe I find of caramel buttercream frosting that isn’t a martha stewart version of the frosting and thus much easier to make by the looks of it ;-) I will try this one for sure!

  35. I just made these for my finance’s birthday and they were AMAZING! got so many compliments, they just melt in your mouth!

  36. These look soooooo good! But I only have unsalted butter. How much salt should i have to the caramel for the frosting?

  37. these cupcakes were yummy and the frosting was to die for! Thank you

  38. I tried to make this frosting and am having NO luck with the caramel following your recipe! Every time I get the sugar to the right color I add the cream and it just turns into a gloppy mess and hardens. I feel like there is a step missing or something? What am I doing wrong????
    I did make this with store bought caramel and it was great.

  39. I went to the grocery store immediately after seeing this recipe…and they were absolutely amazing. I had to give some away because I could not stop eating them. Making them tonight for the second time. Very easy, super delicious. THANK YOU!!!!

  40. How do you keep your buttercream icing so nice and fluffy? Every time I’ve made buttercream icing without shortening it falls and ends up as one big blob. I assume it’s from the heat since butter softens when at room temperature. Any suggestions?

  41. to help Bobbi (reply 43): after adding the cold cream to the hot caramel it may look like it’s seizing up. that’s normal…..keep the pan on low heat and stir until it heats back up and re-melts….it will all come together beautifully.

    to help Latrice (reply 46): there’s a fine line between soft and too soft butter. if a knife can slice through it without you pressing down, it’s good to go. if the butter can’t be picked up without ‘smooshing’ it, it’s too soft, will have no support, and once you start mixing it it will soften even more….this is before adding caramel to it…then it becomes butter soup;-). re-chill it to firm it up a bit, then continue w/recipe.

    using this frosting recipe today for a gluten-free hummingbird cake….can’t wait, yum!!

  42. Making the frosting to put on a banana cupcake. Getting very excited. Hoping my caramel turned out right.

  43. Curious if I prepare the white box mix as the directions say and then add the additional ingredients or use the listed ingredients you have in replace of the ones on the box? Sounds delish!

  44. Hello, I cannot make the caramel- I have tried about five times and have not succeeded. how much substitution caramel will I need? Please help.

  45. i tried the caramel last night…it was amazing…i had to put back on the heat as it parts of it hardened up into a thick mass with the heavy cream…but once on the heat it was good to go…the caramel flavour was a bit mild for me though…how can i get a stronger flavor without compromising the texture of the butter cream?

  46. How much caramel do you add to the frosting ingredients? It’s not listed in the ingredients. Or did I miss something?? lol. Would really love to try this recipe out.

  47. These are SO GOOD! Made them for my birthday treat to bring into the office and everyone raved about them for days!! This recipe is a keeper!

  48. Could I do this with light cream or is the heavy cream critical? Excited to try these!

    • Thanks for the question! I believe heavy cream is critical here for the caramel to set up. But if you try it the other way, would love to hear how it goes. Good luck! :)


  49. Just love the top of this cupcake and the caramel frosting. What tip did you use to achieve this swirl?

  50. I made this recipe twice and had much better results the second time. For starters, I felt like their wasn’t a strong enough caramel flavor, so I put in twice as much caramel sauce. Second, I had the same problem as some of you did when you add the cream to the caramel sauce and it immediatly hardened up. The second time I made it I heated the cream up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and THEN added it to the caramel mixture, this time it turned out perfectly and did not harden at all.
    This recipe is fantastic and so easy! It is a keeper, thanks for sharing!