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 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.

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. (Don’t forget that one.)

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

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. 😉

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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 (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)*

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.

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


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

    1. So glad you enjoyed the apple cupcakes, thank you!

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

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, Sona!

    2. Swapped the 2 sugars quantity, no salt in either the batter or frosting, and it was still lovely. I was really worried when they came out of the oven, I thought they were a bit fluffy and contracted a bit when cooled down. But they were perfect, really light and tasty. Thank you

  3. Approximately how long should it take for the sugar to dissolve in the butter? I have tried the caramel sauce 3 times now and I can’t get it to turn out. The first two times it seized up after a few minutes and this last time I stirred for at least 10 minutes and the sugar still hasn’t dissolved. Please help. I was thinking maybe it’s the saucepan i’m using, its a stainless steel heavy bottom pan but I’m not sure. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jess! My tip is to turn off the heat and stir vigorously until the sugar dissolves in the butter. It should only take a couple minutes.

  4. If I want to make a cake instead of cupcakes for the recipe, do I bake them for the same amount of time as the cupcakes would take?

    1. The cake will take a little longer, but keep your eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

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

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

  6. Hiii, love your recipe just qq. Can I not use confectioners sugar? Is there any other substitute or it will be too liquid?

  7. Hey

    Lovely recipe! How do I make the frosting less sweet?

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Sarina Kinnunen says:

    I’m so excited to try these.. They are baking in the oven as we speak! I’ll be sharing these with my guests for a Harvest party tomorrow!

  11. These look absolutely beautiful. I was wondering if you can suggest something to replace the eggs in this recipe to make it vegetarian. Thanks 🙂

    1. I haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute but let me know if you try!

  12. 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.

  13. This recipe was very difficult, mostly because the caramel caramelized, which I had to restart, which failed again. Added water to the mixture and dissolved the sugar, which worked! Tasted very good, the texture was almost like a muffin, but the frosting helped a lot.

  14. Hi
    I am making these and serving them the next day, how would I keep the apple from turning brown? Or is there another decoration I could use?

    1. Try dried apple chips– delicious!

  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!

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