Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

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

apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, a drizzle of salted caramel, and a slice of granny smith apple on top

It’s that time of year again. Apples, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, 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.

apple spice cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting and a drizzle of salted caramel

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.

apple spice cupcake batter in a glass bowl with a red spatula

apple spice cupcake batter in a cupcake pan before baking

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

But let’s not be silly.

apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, a drizzle of salted caramel, and a slice of granny smith apple on top

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. (Don’t forget that one.)

If you’re not into caramel frosting, cream cheese frosting is divine on these too!

apple spice cupcake with salted caramel frosting, a drizzle of salted caramel, and a slice of granny smith apple on top

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. 😉

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apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, a drizzle of salted caramel, and a slice of granny smith apple on top

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 14-16 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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



  • 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) milk*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) 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)*

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
  • 23 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.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Milk: Recipe tested with skim milk and 1% milk. Almond milk, soy milk, 2% milk, and rice milk are all OK.
  3. Apples: I suggest Granny Smith apples for their beautiful tart flavor!
  4. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: apple spice cupcakes

Photos and frosting recipe updated in 2016.


  1. I love these cupcakes Sally! Salted caramel is the best!

  2. Made these today for my family and they were a huge hit. I loved how easy they were to make. Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try another one of your recipes

  3. Love your website!!

    Do the apples need to be peeled?

    1. 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!

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

  5. 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!

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

  6. Delicious! Super easy to make too! 

  7. hello sally can i used brown butter for the cupcakes?

    1. Sure can!

  8. Sally, these look divine. Can the batter be used to make two 8” rounds for a cake?

    1. Hi Stef! I haven’t tried dividing the batter between 2 8-inch pans, but that *should* work!

  9. I used honeycrisp apples and added cloves. Made me think of apple cider. Delicious.

  10. Made these for Halloween festivities and everyone raved about them. Absolutely delicious recipe!

  11. Could I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?

    1. I don’t recommend it for these apple cupcakes.

  12. How finely chopped should the apple be?

    1. Hi Kat, if you look at the photo of the batter you can see the little pieces folded in – they are probably about 1/4 of an inch. Enjoy!

  13. Hi Sally:

    I kicked off my fall baking with these cupcakes. I frosted them with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting provided for your banana cupcakes and WOW! They are so delicious that I’m making another batch for gifting. Thanks for yet another fabulous recipe.

  14. Hi Sally – Is there any way to make this frosting so it holds up to a Wilton 1M piping tip? Or do you have a similar frosting that would work? I’m making vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream for a party this weekend and was hoping to mix some of these in as well to add the fall feel! Just wanted the frostings to look the same in the display. Thanks in advance!

    1. I did slightly update this frosting recipe since this post was written:
      However, it will not hold an intricate shape as nicely since the frosting is sooo creamy. So I suggest a simple round tip.

  15. Hi Sally,

    Can you use vegetable oil in place of the butter? These are on my to do list 🙂

    1. For the best taste and texture I recommend sticking with butter for this recipe. I hope you love them!

  16. OMG!!! These were so GOOD! They were the sofest, fluffiest, and flavor packed apple cupcakes!! UWU. My family LOVED them!! Thank you Sally!

  17. Hi! Was wondering if I can use the same recipe to make a loaf instead of cupcakes? What size and baking temp/ time please. Thanks.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ai, This batter should fit into a 9×5 loaf pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed. Let us know if you try it!

  18. Can I make this into a cake? But not but the apples in the batter? Thanks 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Zofia, This batter will fit into three 6 inch pans. For baking directions see the post 6 Inch Cakes. It should fit into a 9×5 loaf pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed for a loaf pan. Let us know if you try it!

  19. Can I use whole milk?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:


  20. This recipe sounds delicious but I am planning on making this for my niece who is allergic to eggs. What can I use to substitute the eggs in this recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ramona, We haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute but let us know if you try anything. If you are interested here are all of our egg free recipes.

  21. Great pop of flavor, I have used this recipe for fall and Halloween parties and everyone loved them. Even had someone offer to pay me to make some for them. Do you have more cupcake recipes?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maya, Here are all of our cupcake recipes!

  22. Hi Sally! I hope you & your beautiful family are staying healthy! Can I use buttermilk instead of milk in this recipe? Thanks so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caitlin, That should be just fine. Happy baking!

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