Want to add some sweet goodness to your cakes and bakes? Then this caramel buttercream frosting is perfect!
It uses a store-bought caramel sauce for a quick and easy recipe.
This creamy caramel frosting is an American-style buttercream, making it super simple to whip up in less than 15mins.
This recipe uses only 3 ingredients!
✏️ Recipe creation
I first made this caramel frosting for my easy salted caramel whiskey cupcakes. It was so delicious and addictive, that I wanted to be able to add it to other desserts too.
It's great for topping treats for all of your special occasions. Personally, I love it on cupcakes for your guests at parties!
This recipe is based on my classic vanilla American buttercream frosting. The heavy cream and/or milk is replaced with tasty shop-bought caramel or toffee sauce.
You can also easily turn this buttercream recipe into a salted caramel frosting by adding ¼ teaspoon of sea salt.
This frosting recipe calls for the following ingredients:
See the recipe card for quantities.
I use a caramel sauce for this frosting recipe, but you can swap this for other thick sweet sauces such as dulce de leche, fudge, butterscotch or toffee. They must be in a thick liquid form.
You can also make your own homemade caramel sauce instead of buying it at a grocery store. This caramel recipe by broma bakery is great!
Personally, I also love using salted rum dulce de leche sauce in place of the caramel in this recipe!
- Room temperature ingredients mix together well. Take your butter out of the fridge to come up to room temperature before you start. For me, this takes about 30mins to warm up.
- Using unsalted butter lets you control the salt in your buttercream. Make yours a salted caramel buttercream by adding ¼ teaspoon of salt (or less if you’re not a huge salt fan).
- For a smooth frosting, sieve your powdered sugar (a.k.a icing sugar or confectioners’ sugar).
- It’s best to use weights rather than cups for better accuracy measurements.
- When using store-bought caramel, you want the one that comes in a tin or jar where possible, as these are often thicker than the squeezy bottles or syrupy ones used for coffees. I use the tinned Carnation caramel sauce.
I use the following equipment for this recipe:
- Electric hand mixer or stand mixer (or whisk/fork)
- Medium mixing bowl (unless using a stand mixer)
- Silicone spatula or wooden spoon
- Weighing scales
- Measuring spoons
I usually use a stand mixer or a hand mixer for this recipe - it’s super easy!
However, you can instead use a sturdy whisk, spatula or fork to make your frosting. It might take some elbow grease!
- I use digital scales to weigh ingredients as it's quick, easy and accurate.
- Use real measuring spoons. Cutlery teaspoons and tablespoons aren’t actually the correct volume.
- I’d also recommend levelling off any heaped scoops for a more accurate measurement.
- When using a stand mixer, I like to use the paddle attachment with a low speed to remove air bubbles and reduce the chance of overmixing.
- It’s a good idea to scrape down the sides and bottom of the stand mixer bowl a few times to get an even mixture while you beat the butter and frosting.
Step 1 - Beat the butter for several minutes until pale and fluffy.
Steps 2 - 3 - Sieve in half of your powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Step 4 - Repeat with the other half of your powdered sugar.
Steps 5 - 6 - Add in the caramel sauce and salt (if using), beating until smooth.
Your caramel frosting should last up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Bring your buttercream up to room temperature before use.
You can also freeze your icing for up to 3 months in an airtight container. It’s best to label your frozen frosting with what it is and when it was frozen so you don’t forget about them.
Defrost your buttercream and re-beat it before use.
💭 Top tips
- For creamy frosting, beat your butter until it’s pale, light and fluffy first. This could take several minutes with an electric mixer and longer by hand.
- Avoid a cloud of sugar in your face by stirring your sieved powdered sugar into your butter briefly. Use a wooden spoon or spatula briefly before turning on the electric mixer. Though if you want to breathe tasty sugar air, I won’t judge you!
- If your frosting is too thick to pipe, add room temperature milk to thin the consistency. Use ½ tablespoon at a time until it’s right.
- If your frosting is too thin, you can try chilling it in the fridge for 10-20mins before use. Alternatively, you can beat in a few more tablespoons of butter to thicken it.
- If you have any leftover frosting, use it for cake pops and cakesicles!
Caramel is a sugar candy created by heating sugar to a certain temperature. This breaks down the components and creates that rich golden-brown colour.
Cream, butter, vanilla and/or salt are often added to caramel to add creaminess and flavour.
You can find tins or jars of thick caramel sauce either online (e.g. Amazon) or in the grocery store, usually in the baking aisle or near the ice cream toppings.
I recommend Carnation caramel.
Your caramel buttercream should last for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
You may need to bring it to room temperature and re-beat it before use.
Yes! You can freeze your buttercream stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost and re-beat before use.
Yes, you can make your frosting ahead of time and then store it in the fridge or freeze it until you’re ready.
Bring it up to room temperature first for ease of use.
To get rid of air bubbles in your frosting, beat it on a low speed using a paddle attachment. The whisk attachment can sometimes add too much air.
Alternatively, you can stir it with a spatula or wooden spoon by hand for a few minutes.
If you’ve got any specific questions on making store-bought caramel sauce buttercream, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to help out!
I love this caramel frosting as it is, but you can make it salted caramel frosting by beating in ¼ teaspoon of sea salt as the final step in the recipe.
You can also add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to your frosting for a sweet vanilla twist on your icing.
Caramel flavoured buttercream lends really well to the addition of alcohol. Add a boozy twist to your frosting with 1 tablespoon of whiskey, rum or any spirit / liqueur of your choice.
To make vegan caramel frosting, you can swap the butter for a firm dairy-free butter (baking block). You must use the solid kind rather than a liquid or soft variety.
Original store-bought caramel sauce is not vegan. However, they have dairy-free (vegan) variations that you can use as a substitute instead, usually made of condensed coconut milk and brown sugar.
You can make your own homemade vegan caramel using this recipe by School Night Vegan too!
If you’re baking for vegans, be sure to then use your vegan frosting on a vegan cupcake, cake or cookie!
This is a gluten-free recipe, but always check your ingredients for cross-contamination if you're unsure.
🧁 Frosting uses
You can use this caramel icing to frost your cupcakes, cakes, cookies, macarons or brownies.
Be sure to only frost your goodies once they’ve cooled fully or your frosting will melt off them.
Frost your baked goods with this homemade caramel buttercream by spreading a generous amount using an offset spatula or knife.
Alternatively, you can pipe your buttercream using a piping bag and a piping nozzle of your choice.
When I frost cakes and cupcakes, I usually use the nozzles from this large piping tips set.
This recipe makes enough to frost roughly 10 cupcakes (regular size). Make sure you’re using cool cupcakes not ones fresh from the oven.
To frost a cake fully (outside coating and between layers), you’ll need to double this recipe (scale up by x2) for a 3-layer round 6-inch cake.
For a 3-layer round 8-inch cake, triple this recipe (i.e. scale up by x3).
Depending on how sweet you like your traybakes, you’ll only need half the amount of this frosting recipe for an 8-inch square sized traybake cake or brownies. Spread a thick layer across your cooled traybake before cutting it into slices.
Great goodies to frost
Caramel frosting would go great on these treats:
- Triple chocolate brownies
- Gluten-free moist chocolate cupcakes
- Bailey's cupcakes
- Funfetti cupcakes
- Banana walnut drip cake
Toppings and decorations
There are loads of great options for topping your buttercream. One of the classic ideas is to drizzle any leftover caramel sauce on top.
It’s sticky but delicious!
Alternatively, I like drizzling melted chocolate on top of my frosted treats.
Decorate with fun and colourful sprinkles, chocolate chips or mini butterscotch and toffee pieces.
Crushed honeycomb also works a treat!
🍪 Other goodies
Looking for some other goodies to make?
This white chocolate lemon no-cream ganache is amazing too!
Check out the frosting collection for more recipes!
For more great cakes and cupcakes to use this frosting on, why not try this frosting on my simple sponge cake in this Victoria sponge cake recipe? Or use the chocolate cake from my best ever Oreo drip cake.
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Caramel Buttercream Frosting
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- Beat the butter (either by hand, using an electric mixer or stand mixer) until pale, light and fluffy. This could take several minutes.
- Sieve half of the powdered icing sugar into the butter and beat until combined, then repeat this with the remaining half of powdered icing sugar.
- Add in the caramel and salt (if using), mixing until only just smooth. Use to frost your cupcakes, cakes, brownies, etc. and enjoy!
- It's best to use the thick store-bought caramel sauce. This usually comes in a tin or jar like the Carnation brand caramel. The squeezy kind will give you a thinner frosting.
Nutritional information is an estimate based on an online nutritional calculator, actual values may vary.
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