Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Moist & flavorful apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting on top!

Moist and flavorful apple spice cupcakes finished with a salted caramel frosting. No mixer required! Recipe on

It’s that time of year again. Apples, pumpkin, cinnamon spice, and everything nice are taking over the kitchen! And there’s no way I’d rather have it. These are my favorite flavors. Move over chocolate ’cause apple crisp, pumpkin pie, and gingersnap cookies are my absolute FAVORITE.

Moist and flavorful apple spice cupcakes finished with a salted caramel frosting. No mixer required! Recipe on

Today’s cupcakes are why I believe that sometimes less is truly more.

While they aren’t stuffed with chocolate ganache or adorned with candy bars, these modest cupcakes are quite certainly a new favorite. The cupcake itself is made with melted butter and brown sugar. Comforting flavors like nutmeg and cinnamon dot each bite with the perfect amount of fall spice. The tiny and tender pieces of tart Granny Smith apples hiding inside will melt in your mouth. These apple spice cupcakes are incredibly moist like banana bread, soft and fluffy like a muffin, rich and decadent like chocolate cake.

How to make apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting on

How to make apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting on

The cupcakes pack enough flavor that there’s no need for frosting!

But let’s not be silly.

Moist and flavorful apple spice cupcakes finished with a salted caramel frosting. No mixer required! Recipe on

Apples and caramel are a classic fall flavor combination and I baked today’s cupcakes as an excuse to make salted caramel frosting. This stuff is dangerously good. Luscious, satin-y, and combining the perfect balance of salty and sweet.

What I love most is how simple it is – (1) make a brown sugar caramel (2) let it slightly cool (3) stir in a little extra cream and confectioners’ sugar (4) stuff your face (5) check yourself in the mirror before walking out the door. I may have skipped #5 and left the house with frosting on my nose, but whatev. Totally worth it.

Moist and flavorful apple spice cupcakes finished with a salted caramel frosting. No mixer required! Recipe on

One bite is all it will take to convince even the most die-hard summer spirit that the flavors of fall are here. And there’s no turning back. 😉

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting



  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2/3 cup (135g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
  • 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk1
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 cups)2

Salted Caramel Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark)
  • 1/3 cup (5 Tablespoons; 80ml) heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 - 3 cups (240-360g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • optional garnish: salted caramel sauce and apple slices


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners - this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth then whisk in the vanilla extract and milk. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl.  Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently until combined. The batter will have a few lumps. Fold in the apples.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full with batter. Bake for 21–23 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting: While the cupcakes are cooling, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, add brown sugar and 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream. Whisk constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add salt. Allow to bubble for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. With a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat in 2 cups confectioners' sugar and the remaining heavy cream. Slowly add 1/2 - 1 cup more confectioners' sugar until you reach the desired consistency. Add a little cream or milk if you find the frosting too thick. Frost cooled cupcakes and drizzle with salted caramel sauce, if desired.

Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Allow it to come to room temperature before piping or spreading on top. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Recipe tested with skim milk and 1% milk. Almond milk, soy milk, 2% milk, and rice milk are all OK.
  2. I suggest Granny Smith apples for their beautiful tart flavor!

Did you make a recipe?

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© 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.

Photos and frosting recipe updated in 2016.

Moist and flavorful apple spice cupcakes finished with a salted caramel frosting. No mixer required! Recipe on



  1. Emily on August 28, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I made these and brought them into work. Everyone LOVED them. I had at least 6 people ask me for the recipe. The frosting is AMAZING! A perfect combination for the fall 🙂 I can never go wrong with your recipes, Sally!

    • Sally on August 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Oh my gosh Emily, I love these cupcakes! Thanks so much for making them and for reporting back! The frosting? I know! Amazing.

  2. Rachael on September 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Oh my darling! I’m in a fall wedding and i’m making the bridal shower cupcakes tomorrow. I’ve found a pumpkin, a red velvet (yours!) was looking for a third and think I’ve found it! What a perfect taste of fall. I’ll be reporting in tomorrow!

    • Sally on September 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Rachael! I actually don’t have a red velvet cupcake recipe at this time – but would love to make them soon. So delicious! I hope you enjoy these apple cupcakes!

      • Rachael on September 22, 2013 at 7:24 pm

        I realized after posting that, that the red velvets were Martha Stewarts and not yours and felt pretty dumb :/ BUT! I did make these yummy little guys and they were a big hit. They were the perfect combination of cupcake/muffin. My future mother-in-law said it was like apple pie in a cake. Just the right amount of warmth from the spices with real bits of apple. I snuck a taste of one when it was warm and my goodness. I rave about your blog and give you full credit. And as of now you’re recipes are 4 for 4!

    • Rachael on September 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Ps. Holy terrible grammar sorry!

  3. Nanci on October 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I just finished making your pumpkin cupcakes and they are a-maz-ing! I also just made these apple spice cupcakes. I only got enough batter for 12, but your recipe says 18. Have you or anyone else had this happen? I followed the directions to the letter.
    Thanks and happy baking!

    • Sally on October 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Hey Nanci! Oh goodness, you only got 12 cupcakes? I get anywhere from 14-18 when I bake them. It depends if I go over/under 1.5 cups of apple. But I’ve never gotten 12 before using a standard muffin pan. Well, I’m glad you love these! And the pumpkin ones too. Thanks!

  4. Ariel on October 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Love your website!!

    Do the apples need to be peeled?

    • Sally on October 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      It doesn’t matter. I’ve made them before with peeled and unpeeled apple pieces. Peeled apples are a bit softer inside the cupcake. Enjoy, Ariel!

  5. Emily on November 2, 2013 at 8:01 am

    There is a potluck at church tomorrow and I think I know what I’m bringing! Bring on the apple spice cupcakes! Holla!!

    • Sally on November 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Haha! I hope these cupcakes are a huge hit.

  6. Susan Jones on November 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I love Thanks for all the great recipes.
    I’m confused about the salted caramel frosting . One place says bubble one minute another says bubble two minutes before adding powdered sugar. Which works best? I love caramel,,

    • Sally on November 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Hi Susan! So sorry about that. It should be two minutes.

  7. Johanna on November 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    These cupcakes are absolutely heavenly. This is now one of my go to cupcake recipes.

  8. [email protected] on February 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

    These cupcakes are amazing!! The second time I tried to make them, I doubled the wet mixture but forgot about the dry ingredients! However they STILL turned out fantastic!! Thank you!

  9. Myra on June 6, 2014 at 9:27 am

    could i use buttermilk instead of milk?

    • Sally on June 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Definitely! Enjoy.

  10. Erin on August 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Oooooooohhhhhh I am loving these. How long in the oven if I wanted to make a layer cake? I need this in my life….

    • Sally on August 3, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Erin! I’m unsure about the bake time for a cake. Sorry!

  11. Emily on September 3, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Sally. I’m helping out at a friend’s baby shower, and I want to bring these cupcakes. I did a trial run this evening, and they tasted great. But, I have a couple questions if you have time. First, if the frosting gets too thick is it okay to add more heavy cream? Next question; I believe my cupcakes were not very moist. I’m assuming they’re supposed to be moist. I’m think I may have over-baked them or maybe over-mixed? Any thoughts? Thanks, and I love your recipes!!

    • Sally on September 3, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Emily! Yep, feel free to add more cream to the frosting. I fear the cupcakes were over baked. Keep your eye on them. Careful measuring your flour – do not overmeasure. And perhaps try using buttermilk instead of any other milks. It makes creates a moist texture.

      • Emily on September 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm

        Thanks, Sally! I think I agree with you about the over-baking. I baked it less than 20 minutes. However, I’ll keep a closer eye on them for the baby shower!

  12. Julissa on October 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Hello! I’ve made this recipe twice already and people think they are amazing! The only problem that I’ve had was the frosting. It comes out too thick and it crumbles a lot. People said it was too think and not very frosting like. What am I doing wrong? Or how can I fix it? Thank you for this delicious recipe!

    • Sally on October 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Julissa. A great way to thin out the frosting is to add a little cream or milk when you add the powdered sugar. This frosting is supposed to be very thick, not really light and fluffy like buttercream or other frostings.

  13. Melanie on March 12, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Hello Sally!! This recipe looks delish and I’m going to try making it tonight. But I have one question: is the salted caramel frosting pipeable? Can I use a Wilton 1M tip to pipe it?

    • Melanie on March 12, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Also- I made your s’mores cupcakes for a baby shower I was hosting yesterday. Everybody LOVED them! I love your recipes and am planning to give the apple spice cupcakes ago after the s’mores ones were a hit! Thank you for bringing yumminess into our lives :D:D

    • Sally on March 12, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      I piped the frosting here with a Wilton 12 tip, but I wouldn’t try a swirl tip. It won’t hold the shape. Let me know how you like them!

      • Melanie on March 14, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        They turned out delicious 🙂 I got so excited about all these yummy flavors that I bought your cookbook! I was happy to see they sell it on Amazon Europe!! Thanks again for all these yummy recipes!

  14. Marissa on September 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

    HI Sally!  I’m so excited to make these for our party tomorrow. How ‘finely’ chopped should the apples be? Smaller than a fingernail size? Thanks!

    • Sally on September 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Fingernail size is perfect Marissa. Enjoy the cupcakes!

  15. Natalie on October 15, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Can I replace the heavy cream with fresh milk for the frosting? 

    • Sally on October 15, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Heavy cream is a must for the caramel.

  16. Gemma on March 1, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Sally,
    Love all your recipes and have made these before but would like to turn it into a double layer birthday cake- do you think just to double quantities? 

    • Sally on March 2, 2016 at 5:32 am

      Gemma, I would make two separate batters instead of doubling. Working with less batter heads decrease the risk of overmixing. Unsure of the bake time for the layers in a cake. But it will be delicious!

      • Gemma on March 2, 2016 at 7:05 am

        Thanks for the reply! Can’t wait to give it a try- the cupcakes always go down so well anyway!

  17. Jennifer on October 1, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Hi Sally,

    I’m thinking about making these for a party but want to make them ahead of time. Do you think the unfrosted cupcakes would freeze ok? I’ve frozen cupcakes before, but not sure about the apple bits. Thanks!

    • Sally on October 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      They’re OK frozen! Just thaw them overnight in the refrigerator then bring to room temperature before frosting.

  18. Blogtastic Food on October 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Beautiful recipe, and beautiful photography!

  19. Nandini on October 23, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Hi Sally
    Want to try these cupcakes they really look yummy.
    I have a question since we r vegetarian do you think
    flaxseeds(flaxegg) will work in this recipe if not what
    can be the substitute?

  20. Jessica Eastburn on October 26, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    So you are a genius and these are amazing!  I had to log on and tell you that I just made these and they were perfect!  My family is going to go nuts once they try them!  The only thing was my icing was grainy, but it was totally my fault cause I overlooked the sifting part of the sugar.  I think I was just so excited and rushed it, hahaha!  I’m hooked on your recipes 🙂  You go girl!!

    • Sally on October 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

      I always rush things too, haha! So happy you love them and I hope your fam enjoys them too! Hope you’re doing well 🙂

  21. Vivian on November 14, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Delicious! Super easy to make too! 

  22. Corrin on November 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Do you think I could use a premade salted caramel sauce in the frosting instead of making one? I have the delicious Fleur De Sel sauce from Trader Joe’s.

    • Sally on November 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Yes, absolutely! LOVE TJ’s caramel sauce.

      • leah rosenberg on January 13, 2017 at 11:12 am

        Hi Sally,

        How much of the premade salted caramel sauce should I substitute?

        Thank you,


  23. Alycia on September 18, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Hi Sally, I love your site! Can I sub cake flour for all purpose? I haven’t made these yet but whenever I make cupcakes from scratch I feel like they are too dense.

    Thanks for your help and for sharing your great recipes!

  24. Natalie on September 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I made these and they were amazing right out of the oven with the melty pieces of apple. The dark brown sugar caramel was so delicious, I almost didn’t want to turn it into frosting! However, the consistency of my cupcakes were more like muffins. Everyone at work is raving over this recipe i have received so many compliments but I would like to make them more like a cupcake next time. What can I do differently? Someone suggested it may be my oven. Thanks!

  25. Nora Guthrie on October 13, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I followed directions for the frosting exactly, tho it cooled a little longer. No amount of beating solved this! Love your recipes. This is the first one not a success. What did I do wrong? It’s also more like Penuche fudge than icing.

  26. erika on October 27, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    hello sally can i used brown butter for the cupcakes?

    • Sally on October 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Sure can!

  27. Marissa Peterson on November 4, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    These sound scrumptious! We have family coming for Thanksgiving this year, and one has a severe cinnamon allergy. Any suggestions as far as using slight different spices; maybe ginger, cloves, and nutmeg?

    • Sally on November 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Marissa! I would increase the nutmeg, add some ground cloves, allspice, and ginger. Should be delicious!

  28. Shivani on November 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Sally, silly question but what do you mean when you say “line the second pan with 2 liners” ? Should you put two liners in one muffin slot? 

    • Sally on November 20, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      This recipe makes 14 cupcakes, so the 2nd pan will only bake 2 cupcakes. So you need 2 liners. 🙂



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