Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes

Super-moist brown sugar cupcakes filled with homemade butterscotch sauce, topped with vanilla frosting and more butterscotch. 

brown sugar cupcake topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle

I recently asked all my fans on Facebook if they liked butterscotch.

And I got an outpouring of butterscotch love! I knew I loved all of you for a reason. Butterscotch freaks can unite today. 

I’ve been trying to think of an excuse to make homemade butterscotch sauce for weeks now. Smooth, rich, buttery. Everything butterscotch should be. I was originally going to pour it on top of whole wheat pancakes, but thought many of you would find that weird. It’s not. Try it.

butterscotch filling in a white bowl with a spoon

Then I thought about drizzling it on top of brownies. Have you ever had chocolate and butterscotch together? Oh my lanta, try that too! I have a killer chocolate/butterscotch recipe in my upcoming cookbook. Worth every second on the treadmill, trust me.


I finally landed on a spot for my homemade butterscotch sauce. Cupcakes! Easy homemade cupcakes sweetened purely from brown sugar.

3 images showing how to make butterscotch filled brown sugar cupcakes

This cupcake recipe should actually be quite familiar to you. It’s my go-to standard vanilla cupcake recipe that I use all the darn time. No frills, nothing fancy, no mixer required, no strange ingredients, nothing. Just pure, simple, homemade vanilla cupcake love. The only change I made was to use only brown sugar to sweeten them. It gives the cupcakes an even moister texture, as well as a slight flavor kick-in-the-pants of molasses. Super slight, you won’t even taste it. But you’ll know it’s there.

If you have a solid vanilla cake or cupcake recipe in your life, the options are endless. I’ve used my basic recipe to make strawberry shortcake, cookies ‘n cream, snickerdoodle, very vanilla, funfetti cake, and tie-dye cake. But I think this brown sugar, butterscotch-filled, vanilla buttercream topped version is my favorite. 🙂

Let’s break down these cupcakes into three parts and go from there.

First, the cupcake batter. Put that cake mix away. I promise you’ll never pick it back up again to make cupcakes. From-scratch not only tastes better, but is much easier than you ever imagined. All you do is melt butter, whisk in some brown sugar, 1 egg, yogurt, milk, & vanilla. Then whisk in your dry ingredients.

The cupcakes bake for about 20 minutes, give or take. They’re quick.

brown sugar cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle with one cut in half showing the inside

Now, the homemade butterscotch. Have you ever had butterscotch on top of ice cream before? Did you like it? Of course you did. Now you can make it at home and have nightly ice cream sundae parties whilst buying bigger sized jeans. Not really, but maybe. (Yes I just said “whilst.”)

Making butterscotch sauce at home is quite similar to making homemade caramel – you’re pretty much using the same ingredients too! However, butterscotch sauce is not as hands-on as homemade caramel. In fact, it’s very hands-off! For most of the time, you’re just watching butter, cream, and brown sugar bubble.

Awful lighting, sorry:

butterscotch sauce in a saucepan on the stove

Once your homemade butterscotch sauce is done, let it come to room temperature. You could also make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to one week. Once your cupcakes are baked, fill them with the butterscotch.

I use an empty condiment bottle to fill the cupcakes like you see in the picture above in this post. I bought it for $1 at Walmart. If you do not want to buy one, use a skinny piping tip. If you don’t want to buy either, just drizzle the cupcakes with the homemade butterscotch instead. I promise, they’ll still be the best cupcakes you’ve ever had. Yeah, I just said that. The BEST.

filling brown sugar butterscotch cupcakes

So far we’ve covered the cupcakes and the homemade butterscotch. Now… the frosting! You’ll need butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. That’s it! Two very crucial notes: (1) make sure your butter is softened and not melted in the slightest. I simply took my butter stick out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 45 minutes as I baked and cooled the cupcakes. (2) Use heavy cream. You *could* use half-and-half or milk, but heavy cream will give the frosting the best possible texture. You’ll also have leftover cream from making your butterscotch sauce anyway.

A wonderful thing about this buttercream is that you have full control over its texture, sweetness, and thickness. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency, more cream for a thinner consistency. Add salt to make it less sweet. Add more vanilla for a stronger vanilla flavor. Beat the frosting for longer to obtain a creamier texture. It’s not rocket science, it’s just frosting!

brown sugar cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle

The last thing you need to do for your brown sugar butterscotch cupcakes is smother them with your homemade butterscotch sauce. And I mean, completely smother! The more butterscotch, the better.

From the brown sugared cupcakes, to the butterscotch filling, to the creamy vanilla frosting, and the butterscotch drizzle on top – I really don’t know which part I like best? It’s all so buttery! Luckily we don’t have to pick favorites. Have it all. Go ahead, indulge!

Don’t be overwhelmed by the ingredient list. Most of the ingredients are repeats of each other.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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brown sugar cupcake topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Super-moist brown sugar cupcakes filled with homemade butterscotch sauce, topped with vanilla frosting and more butterscotch. Indulgent, show-stopping, perfect.


Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

  • 1 and 2/3 cup (210g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) yogurt*
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk*
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 34 cups (360-480g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream*
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste


  1. Make the butterscotch sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the brown sugar, then whisk in cream then let mixture bubble and thicken for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and salt. Allow to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 12-count cupcake pan with liners or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in the brown sugar vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick. Divide batter between 12 cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before filling.
  4. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt (or more) if frosting is too sweet.
  5. Fill & frost the cupcakes: Fill a plastic squeeze bottle or piping bag (with a filling tip) with butterscotch sauce and push tip of bottle into top of each cupcake, applying enough pressure to fill each cupcake with sauce. Top with vanilla frosting and drizzle with remaining butterscotch sauce. I used a Wilton 1M tip for my frosting.
  6. Cupcakes remain fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 4 days. Store any leftover butterscotch in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Yogurt: Sour cream OR nonfat, low fat, vanilla, plain, Greek or regular yogurt is OK.
  2. Milk: Skim milk, 1%, 2%, whole, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or rice milk is OK.
  3. Heavy Cream: Heavy cream preferred in frosting for optimal texture. Milk or half-and-half are acceptable substitutes, but your frosting won’t be as creamy or fluffy.
  4. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: brown sugar butterscotch cupcakes, butterscotch cupcakes


Comments are closed.

  1. Hi,

    Will this cake recipe make an 8×8 cake in the listed measurements?  I wasn’t sure if it would be too much batter, but noticed I can’t halve it due to “1 Egg” in the recipe for the cake part. 



    1. Fill the pan halfway with batter and use any extra for a few cupcakes on the side.

  2. Hi Sally!
    This recipe looks so amazing and I’m looking forward to making it on my family night. I was wondering if I could use an electric beater instead of a whisk to mix the batter. Would that give the mixture any difference?

    1. Hi Cody! Yes, a mixer would be just fine for the batter. Try to avoid overmixing it, though.

  3. I really love this recipe but i would love to try use the self-raising flour. What is the measurement for self-raising flour if i am substituting the flour+baking powder+baking soda? 

  4. I just made these cupcakes and they turned out so lovely!! I will definitely be making them again, and I can’t wait to try some different flavour combinations using the cupcake recipe as a base! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Hi Sally, can you tell me if I can refrigerate these cupcakes after they’ve been frosted?  Will they go dry? Thanks.

    1. You can refrigerate the finished cupcakes. Though I recommend allowing to come to room temperature before serving.

  6. Yes, that should be fine.

  7. Hi Sally,

    What can I use instead of egg. Like I don’t want to use egg, as my mom does not eat eggs. What can be a substitute? Thanks for helping.

  8. Hey Sally… I had a few questions.
    I was wondering if I could make this as a cake and would it fill 2 9 inch. circle pans? Also If it can be made as a cake can I store it in the freezer or fridge and if so how long on each? Also am I able to store the frosting in the freezer or fridge and if so how long ? Thank you so much !!! Love your recipes

    1. Briana, this recipe will fit one 9-inch cake pan. Fill halfway and use any extra batter for cupcakes. Unsure of the exact bake time– maybe 25 minutes or so? Store cake and frosting in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or freeze for 3 months.

  9. Hi Sally! I made butterscotch for the first time today using your recipe and it just tastes AMAZING! I was wondering though, if I halved the recipe for butterscotch, should I let it bubble for 5 minutes or should the time taken be lesser? My butterscotch seems to have turned out thicker than yours. 

    Also, would it be possible to make butterscotch frosting by adding confectioner’s sugar to the butterscotch?

    1. Amanda, it’s never a good idea to halve, double, triple, etc candy recipes– or any recipes with cooked sugar syrup like this butterscotch sauce. The added or reduced volume makes it tricky to have perfect success. Can you make the whole recipe and gift half of it in a little jar to someone special? Or use it over ice cream! I can imagine adding confectioners’ sugar would be brilliance– perhaps beat it in with a little heavy cream. Unsure of the exact amounts off the top of my head.

      1. Hi Sally, sorry to bother you again. I decided to make butterscotch frosting for my mille crepe with your butterscotch recipe.
        It started out fine enough, the butterscotch was perfect, the frosting turned out ok.. However, after I chilled my assembled mille crepe, the confectioner’s sugar  started separating from the syrup. Would you happen to know why?

      2. I’m not sure I understand. The butterscotch sauce was solid and coming off the frosting? Or the frosting was curdled because of too much butter? If the latter, make sure you are using enough confectioners’ sugar to soak up all the butter.

  10. is butterscotch sauce required on these cupcakes? will they taste good with just the cupcake and frosting? what model of kitchenaid mixer do you recommend for a home baker? i was thinking of getting one!

  11. Hi Sally,
    The cupcakes look mouthwateringly delicious. I would love to try this recipe but we are only two people. So can I halve the recipe for 6 cupcakes?

    1. You can try halving the recipe, yes. Or you can prepare the full recipe and freeze the leftover cupcakes.

  12. Sally, thank you for this delicious recipe! I made these for my dad & sister’s birthdays, who both love butterscotch, and they were a huge hit! I would make them again & again!

  13. Eden Passante says:

    Butterscotch is the best! These look so amazing!

  14. Hi Sally,
    Can I bake 1 layer of a 9 inch round with this? How long would it take?

  15. Hi,Ms. Sally,
    If I’m using all purpose cream, should I chilled it first or just use it in it’s liquid form?Thanks so much.

  16. Hi Sally

    I have made this recipe many times and love it! My only issue is that my butterscotch sauce doesn’t get thick enough to make a solid piece in the cupcake..the cupcake absorbs the sauce. What am I doing wrong?

  17. Latesha Vosacek says:

    I’ve made these cupcakes a few times and they are always a hit. I feel like the first time, the butterscotch sauce was a bit on the thicker side, which made it easier to fill the cupcakes with but now, I’m not sure what I’m doing differently, but the consistency seems much thinner. Any suggestions for thickening it up again? Maybe make a slurry with some cornstarch?

  18. These were incredible! Although they gave me some trouble (which was 100% my fault) I stuck with it and they turned out so beautifully. Everyone said they look so professional – and then I should open a catering company. Lol! Featured in my recipe roundup this month!

  19. Sally,
    These cupcakes turned out amazing! I love every recipe that I have ever made from YOUR recipes….every cake….every pie….every cupcake…. I don’t generally write comments (busy life ) but I had a few minutes to let you know you’re loved. ❤ Please continue what you’re doing and I’ll be there to attempt the great recipes that you share.

    1. Kim, Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a kind comment! I’m thrilled that you have been enjoying my recipes so much!

  20. Omg Sally!

    The cupcake turns out amazing.. love it. I bake it without the yogurt though but still turns out really good. Thanks for this..

    I love reading your site. ❤

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed these cupcakes!

  21. Hi sally,

    I tried making butterscotch sauce.. it tastes amazing but my only concern is color.. it doesn’t look like caramels rather looks like color of dirt which is not appealing at all.. what could be the reason and how can I fix/avoid it next time. Please help me.


  22. Hi Sally! This cupcakes look really delicious, and I’m planning on making them for our connect group this week. I was wondering whether I could incorporate some of the butterscotch sauce into the cupcakes themselves? And is the texture of these cupcakes as light, tender, and fluffy as that of your simply perfect vanilla cupcakes? Or relatively similar? If not, I might use those instead. Could I substitute brown sugar for white in those? Thanks!

    1. I’m unsure about infusing the butterscotch INTO the actual cupcake batter. These cupcakes are pretty soft, but you can always use my newer vanilla cupcakes recipe as the base instead. Use brown sugar instead of regular granulated sugar and fill with this butterscotch. Either recipe produces wonderfully soft cupcakes!

  23. Livia Macreadie says:

    These cupcakes were so delicious! Everybody commented that they were one of the best I have made yet!

    1. I’m so glad they were a hit!

  24. Sally, you’ve done it again! Each and every cupcake I have made from your site turns out perfectly, and these were no exception. In my previous comment, I made a mistake in my question; I meant to ask about incorporating some butterscotch into the frosting, not the cupcakes. Oops 🙂 Anyways, I decided to try these cupcakes as written instead of using your newer recipe, mainly because I didn’t want to have so many leftover egg yolks at this time. These cupcakes turned out beautifully soft and moist! And, I while I previously thought caramel was the best sauce around…homemade butterscotch sauce is threatening to take over that position! I did let the sauce simmer for an additional two or three minutes, as it didn’t seem to have thickened very much. As the sauce was still quite thin, I refrigerated it, and it thickened to a perfect consistency. I cored and filled the cupcakes with the butterscotch sauce, and then attempted to incorporate some butterscotch into the frosting. The frosting curdled quite a bit, and I that was pretty dismaying, but a quick search of the internet resulted in my finding a solution; simply beat the frosting on high speed for a few extra minutes! It came back together, and I slathered it on top of the cupcakes with a knife. Unfortunately, I ran out of plastic piping bags and my cloth one teared, and I haven’t quite got the hang of making parchment paper bags yet (the frosting keeps squirting out from around the tip, and the tip falls out all the time! Any ideas as to how to create an actually usable piping bag?). I decorated the cupcakes with a small scattering of sparkling sugar and some “flowers” I made by placing a chocolate chip in the center of the cupcake and placing five almond slice “petals” around it. The folks at our connect group loved these! They received rave reviews; everyone was saying that “These are awesome!”, “Wow!” , and “These are so good. But then again, everything you ever bring is so good!” But you deserve all the credit, Sally, for your fabulous recipes! I pretty much use your recipes exclusively when baking for connect group, or any other time, really! Yours is the first site I come to when on the search for a new recipe. Always reliable, always with thorough instructions, and ALWAYS delicious! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes, Sally!

  25. Is it normal for the wet mix to separate if using sour cream? It looks disgusting, all curdled. Everything is well before the date, definitely not bad at all. Hoping it’s fine after I mix the dry in. Here goes nothing…

    1. Yep! It’s the varying temperatures and textures trying to combine. It will come together with the dry ingredients.

  26. I made this butterscotch sauce for a butterscotch polk cake recipe I made yesterday, and after one taste, I said to myself, “I am never making something without butterscotch sauce ever again.” This stuff is as good as chocolate! And for me, that’s saying a lot 😉

  27. Hi Sally, Was looking for a “different” cupcake to make – this fit the bill. This recipe is wonderful -so delicious! The butterscotch is amazing! Used all the ingredients as listed except I used sour cream instead of yogurt in the cake. Some people said they only liked Caramel, not butterscotch, but I think they are CRAZY – both are awesome! I had lots of leftover frosting and caramel….
    All recipes from your site that I have tried are awesome, so I usually look there first!

    1. Thanks Beth! I’m so glad you tried these butterscotch cupcakes. I want to make them again soon, so thank you for the reminder!

  28. Great recipe! My butterscotch ended up tasting & looking more look like caramel than butterscotch but still incredibly tasty. I sprinkled some coarse salt over the cupcakes after the “butterscotch” drizzle and voila…. salted caramel cupcakes! Will make again.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed them!

  29. Amola Darekar says:

    Hi.. I’m big fan of your recipes.. I loved your salted caramel dark chocolate chip cookies. Now I just wanted to ask you whether I can convert your this cupcake recipe into layer cake.

  30. Barbie Teed says:

    Wow! These are so pretty and whole they are a total sugar bomb, they’re worth it! They were easy to make and look so impressive when done. If you need a showstopper dessert, this is a fantastic choice. Plus, I had lots of butterscotch sauce leftover so I’m saving it for over cream. Yum!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally