Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting.

A shortcut chocolate cupcake recipe topped with creamy salted caramel frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Devil’s food chocolate fudge cupcakes with a salted caramel-infused buttercream frosting topped with caramel drizzle and a pretzel twist. I die.

This frosting is on of the best frostings I’ve ever had.  I did NOT want to stop eating it.  I had enough “samples” that I actually had to make more frosting. You have to taste test the recipe before you serve it, right?! The caramel flavor hits all the right notes and isn’t too salty or too sweet.  It’s creamy caramel bliss and literally melts in your mouth.

I was contemplating making salted caramel cupcakes to pair with the salted caramel frosting, but I wanted a bit  more of a flavor contrast.  Caramel and chocolate are like a match made in heaven, so chocolate won. I used the recipe from Amanda for the BEST ever chocolate cake that starts with a….wait for it…. Devil’s Food Chocolate boxed cake mix.  Now, you have to trust us on this one…this is TRULY the best chocolate cupcake.

If you’d like to make a 100% from-scratch, homemade chocolate cupcake instead, I suggest using my homemade chocolate cupcake recipe.

Today’s semi-homemade cupcakes incredibly moist, rich, and so incredibly chocolatey.

But there’s a little secret behind using the cake mix.  You have to forget all of the ingredients that the back of the box calls for.  Instead, add a small box of Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, some vegetable oil, milk and sour cream. That’s it!

This magic combination produces the chocolatiest, most decadent chocolate cake and cupcake I’ve ever tasted.  Every rich, fudgy and moist bite is to-die-for.

Now, many people do not think that boxed cake mixes produce “homemade tasting” cakes or cupcakes. And I agree — to an extent. By modifying the ingredients called for on the back of the box, you can truly create a “homemade” cake or cupcake while still having the convenience and ease of a boxed mix.

After one taste, my friend even said that this cupcake was the best cupcake she’s ever eaten!


Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Yield: 20-22 cupcakes

Print Recipe

A shortcut chocolate cupcake recipe topped with creamy salted caramel frosting.



  • 1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 small box Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream (or low fat Greek or regular yogurt)

Salted Caramel Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 20 pretzel twists, optional


Start with the frosting: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add salt. Allow to bubble for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until you reach desired consistency.

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand held electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk and sour cream. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Scoop the batter evenly into cupcake liners. I got 20 cupcakes using 1/4 cup measuring cup to spoon into the liners.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let cool. Once fully cooled, frost cupcakes with salted caramel frosting and garnish with a pretzel twist.

Cupcakes stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for 5 days.

Additional Notes:

*I saved a bit of salted caramel to drizzle over cupcakes.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.


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141 Responses to “Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting.”

  1. #
    Pennyposted April 28, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Hi there,

    I tried this out. Looked really promising. Followed all directions to a T. Here were my probs:

    1.) cake recipe VERY eggy. Not light, not dense, kind of weird for a cupcake. Ideas?

    2.) frosting was a total fail. 2 cups of powdered sugar wasn’t enough…kind of gummy, runny….not piping consistency. Added a 3rd which turned it into fondant. What the heck? Help. I’m a great recipe follower so I was disappointed.

    The great thing was everything TASTED delicious. But I’m looking for a recipe that gives great texture, appearance AND taste. I’m sure it was something I did but I have no idea what.


  2. #
    Hposted May 29, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    These cupcakes turned out seriously delicious. so light, fluffy, and chocolatey. yum yum.


  3. #
    Jennyposted June 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Do you think that I could use this frosting on your chocolate cake recipe?


    • Sallyreplied on June 8th, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Definitely. Enjoy!


  4. #
    bakergirlposted July 1, 2014 at 6:53 am

    hi sally! i tried out these cupcakes and they were great, although my frosting was kind of thick, like when u mix peanut butter with sugar when u make peanut butter cups, that kind of thick, i don’t know where i went wrong, could u please recommend me on how i may make it better the next time. perhaps i did not wait for the caramel to cool before adding in my sugar?


    • bakergirlreplied on July 1st, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      actually, fondant thick! i’m really looking forward to giving the frosting another try though, hoping for your reply xx


  5. #
    Mishposted July 26, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Your cupcakes look delicious! I am going to try to make them for my kid’s birthday party. Can I frost them the day before? If I can, how should I store the frosted cupcakes? Thank you in advance for your help!


  6. #
    Jamieposted July 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

    These look so delicious!
    How much caramel sauce can I keep for drizzling before I add in the powdered sugar?


    • Sallyreplied on July 29th, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      I would say about 2 Tablespoons or so. Depends how much of a drizzle you want.


  7. #
    Connieposted August 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    hi sally,
    what would the baking time be if i baked it as a cake instead of cupcakes?

    thank you!


  8. #
    Hillaryposted August 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Hi Sally!

    I’m making cupcakes for my sister’s wedding next week and a “chocolate fudge cupcake with salted caramel frosting” is her request. I absolutely love everything I’ve ever tried of yours so you were my go to! I’m just wondering if the frosting is going to be sturdy enough to hold form for a couple days? And if not, do you know how I can sturdy it? Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on August 14th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Hillary – I would frost these as close to the event that you can. It’s really best the day of. You can try adding more confectioners’ sugar but that would make it super sweet. Maybe a little salt can help offset the additional sweetness though.


      • Milia Staggsreplied on October 21st, 2015 at 6:21 pm

        I too have to make these a couple of days before an event. Do you think the caramel drizzle will ruin the frosting? Like make it soupy? 

  9. #
    Lilyposted August 29, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Hi Sally! These look great. I live in Australia and can’t get the Jello instance pudding mix so I was wondering what the gram amount was for one small box, so I can use an Australian brand of instant pudding.. Do you think it would change the recipe if I used a different brand?
    Thanks :)


  10. #
    Angieposted September 1, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Sally! Really looking forward to making this recipe! If I use a 15 oz cake mix and a 5 oz Jello pudding mix would it be too much? Or what is the weight of your small Jello pudding mix? Thanks!!


    • Sallyreplied on September 1st, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Angie. Use the dry pudding mix. 15 oz cake mix is fine. 3.4 ounce pudding mix boxes are best.


  11. #
    Meliposted September 6, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I just made these cupcakes and OMG they are amazing! My frosting turned out quite thick but delicious still! I can’t wait to share!!!


  12. #
    Shilpaposted October 11, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Hi Sally!
    I’ve been contemplating making a salted caramel frosting for ages, and I’ve been scared to do it because people may find it ‘too’ sweet – but this recipe really really stands out for me – it just hits the right notes!

    Do you think they’d go well with vanilla as well? the vegan vanilla cupcakes I make aren’t too sweet so I think it would balance out well? Thanks for all your recipes.. they’re so easy! :)


    • Sallyreplied on October 12th, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      This frosting would be incredible with vanilla cupcakes. Definitely give it a try.


      • Shilpareplied on October 13th, 2014 at 6:51 am

        THEY ARE DELICIOUS SALLY!!! I have a picture I took I want to show them to you!! And the salted caramel frosting was so perfect – with the vanilla it was even more divine! I really want to show you a photo!

        • Sallyreplied on October 13th, 2014 at 7:52 am

          Sounds wonderful Shilpa. Feel free to email it to me (sallysbakingaddiction (at) OR tweet it to me if you have Twitter.

  13. #
    Jenniferposted October 31, 2014 at 9:46 am

    How many cupcakes does this recipe make?


  14. #
    Leslieposted November 27, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Hi sally! I wanna make these cupcakes right now but I don’t have any heavy cream for the frosting with me. What can I substitute it with?


  15. #
    Amberposted January 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    I made these and they are to die for! Thank you for sharing!


  16. #
    Samanthaposted January 23, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I made these. They are so yummy and fantastic! I didn’t have any pretzels, but I did melt some caramel and spread it out on a cookie sheet, broke it up when it was cooled and put that on top as a pretty in place of the pretzels. Big hit at my house!


    • soniareplied on February 19th, 2015 at 12:24 am

      did you use the caramel from the recipe for garnishing?? I’d like to try to do the same thing but I’ve never done it before. Thanks :)


  17. #
    Amyposted January 29, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Made these cupcakes tonight and they are excellent! I sprinkled maple syrup salt on top instead of using pretzels. I love trying out new cupcake recipes. Thank you! I will definitely be making these many times in the future!


  18. #
    Susanposted February 15, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Delicious! A requested remake (S–don’t double)


  19. #
    Abbyposted March 2, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    These cupcakes are soooo yummy! I got 24 very full cupcakes from this recipe. The caramel was so very easy to make. I saved about 1/2 a cup of it to drizzle on ice cream later this week so I did not add all of it to the frosting. I did add an extra stick of butter to the caramel after it had cooled with a little vanilla and a splash of cream and whipped it till it was light and fluffy then added the powdered sugar. I just wanted to make sure I was going to have plenty of fluffy frosting and it came out perfect. My family and friends will love these. Thank you for such a great recipe…every recipe I try of yours always comes out great!


  20. #
    Laura Mahoneyposted March 17, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    how would you recommend making this frosting if you already have homemade salted caramel on hand?


  21. #
    melissaposted March 26, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I made these and they were so amazing!!! I’m making them for my sons 2nd birthday party was just wondering if i can make the ice the night before and put in the fridge and frost the cupcakes a couple hours before? Also can i do that with the white wedding cupcake frosting too? Thank you


  22. #
    Kristinposted April 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

    These look delicious. My daughter loves the caramel chocolate combination, but wants to know if we can add chocolate chips to the cupcake batter? Do you think this would be ok or would it negatively affect the way they bake or anything?


    • Sallyreplied on April 6th, 2015 at 11:30 am

      You can certainly add chocolate chips to this cupcake batter. Fold in around 3/4 cup – 1 cup.


  23. #
    Hannahposted June 3, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Wow these look amazing! I added all those ingredients to a box mix one time and never looked back- SO SO SO moist and delicious, and no one ever suspects it’s from a box. I most recently used the cake mix recipe to make some cute little “crab cakes”; I’d really appreciate it if you checked it out! :)


  24. #
    Hannahposted June 21, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Hi, I was just wondering if you knew if mixing some salted caramel ice cream topping into whipped vanilla icing might work? Thanks!


  25. #
    Sharman Kobayashiposted July 3, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Loved your recipe – it’s now my favorite cupcake recipe!  Want to make it for a wedding coming up, but weather here in Northern California is HOT!  Temperatures could get into the 100’s and the reception venue has only a swamp cooler.  Will the frosting hold it’s shape if it gets into the 80’s?


    • Sallyreplied on July 3rd, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      The frosting should be fine for a few hours in warmer weather.


  26. #
    Heatherposted July 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve made these a few times already and they’re pretty fantastic. This is pretty much the only thing I’ve ever baked besides break n break cookies and i still got it .right.
    The only thing i could say is that the frosting is maybe a little thicker than i would’ve wanted it and comes out darker than the picture to me its almost like the consistency of peanut butter but maybe I’m doing it wrong.


  27. #
    Annieposted August 3, 2015 at 1:46 am

    Sally, I would like to make this frosting for a chocolate cake recipe. I don’t get heavy cream here in India. Is it okay to use a 20% fat content cream instead??


    • Sallyreplied on August 3rd, 2015 at 8:37 am

      That cream will work just fine!


      • anniereplied on August 4th, 2015 at 5:18 am

        Thanks for the reply! I intend to use this frosting for filling a chocolate layer cake , do I have to double/triple it to fill a 5 layer chocolate cake?

        • Sallyreplied on August 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am

          I would double it.

  28. #
    Ameliaposted August 21, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I made these yesterday and they were a huge hit at work; in fact my coworkers told me to give up on college and become a baker! The frosting is similar to the kind I ice my sour cream banana bars with and I love it just the same on cupcakes. Overall, a fantastic recipe. Next time I make them, I’m going to fill them with a caramel center- I can’t wait!


  29. #
    Jamilleposted October 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

    OMG! This icing is! I literally couldn’t believe I made it. It tastes way better the day of. Also, I only used two cups of powdered sugar.


  30. #
    Kim Gerevicsposted December 5, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Just made these. 20 cupcakes, toothpick came out clean after 20 min.  Then they all fell!!  Sunk in!!  Also did I make frosting wrong. Heavy cream supposed to go in with brown sugar, right?  Frosting super thick, I added heavy cream to it. 


  31. #
    Carrieposted December 13, 2015 at 12:13 am

    I TRIED to make your chocolate cupcakes with the salted caramel frosting… first of all, 1/4 cup of cake mix was WAY too much in the muffin cups., they over flowed as they baked. Second, I cooled the caramel and attempted to beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time but the mixture turned into a bunch of tiny balls. There was no way to get it to a spreadable consistency. Mine were a total flop. Luckily I had a back up to take to my party.


  32. #
    Lauraposted December 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I absolutely love this recipe and the short cut on the chocolate cake. I followed the recipe perfectly, but my caramel frosting got very gritty and hard. I made it a few times because I was sure I made a mistake and the same result. Any ideas? 


  33. #
    alyposted January 4, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    What did you use for the salted caramel you used atop the salted caramel frosting on your chocolate cupcakes? Did you just melt caramel candy? I noticed the frosting doesn’t have actual caramel in it but uses the dark brown sugar. Please let me know! Can’t wait to make these!! Any filling suggestion in terms of caramel or buttercream? Thank YOU! 


    • Sallyreplied on January 5th, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      See my recipe note about the caramel. You can for sure fill these with extra frosting! Or even caramel, too.


      • alyreplied on January 5th, 2016 at 6:23 pm

        I just see the note that says you used drizzled caramel? Is that the one you mean?

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