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These brown sugar butterscotch cupcakes are filled with homemade butterscotch sauce and topped with vanilla frosting. They’re buttery, rich, and flavorful, plus using all brown sugar keeps their texture super moist!

brown sugar cupcake topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle

We’ve used a basic cupcake recipe to make strawberry shortcake cupcakes, cookies ‘n cream cupcakes, snickerdoodle cupcakes, and very vanilla cupcakes. It’s consistently delicious and makes the perfect blank canvas for a variety of flavors. Brown sugar butterscotch was next on our list!


Tell Me About These Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes

  • Flavor: These cupcakes have a comforting buttery vanilla flavor that all bakers love. But we don’t stop there! We use all brown sugar to sweeten them and fill each with homemade butterscotch sauce. If you love butterscotch as much as we do, you’ll enjoy today’s cupcakes and you should try this homemade butterscotch pudding too!
  • Texture: Yogurt and melted butter guarantee a perfectly moist cupcake with a buttery dense and cakey crumb.
  • Ease: These brown sugar butterscotch cupcakes have a few moving parts, but each are completely doable– even if you’re a beginner! Most of the ingredients are repeated in each layer/component and you don’t need a mixer for the cupcake batter. (Though you’ll definitely need to pull it out for the frosting.)
brown sugar cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle with one cut in half showing the inside

 

Homemade Butterscotch Sauce & Vanilla Frosting

  1. Butterscotch Sauce: This part of the recipe is quite similar to making homemade salted caramel and you’re pretty much using the same ingredients too. However, butterscotch sauce is not as hands-on as caramel. In fact, it’s very hands-off. For most of the time, you’re just watching butter, cream, and brown sugar bubble. 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 the cupcakes have baked and cooled, fill them with the butterscotch. (Any extra? I recommend drizzling it on whole wheat pancakes. What a treat!)
  2. Vanilla Frosting: You need butter, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and a little salt. Two very crucial notes: (1) make sure your butter is softened and not melted in the slightest. Reviewing our room temperature butter post is always helpful before making a butter-based frosting. (2) Use heavy cream as the liquid in the frosting. You *could* use half-and-half or milk, but heavy cream will give the frosting the creamiest texture. You’ll 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 confectioners’ sugar for a thicker consistency or more cream to thin it out. And add salt to taste.
butterscotch filling in a white bowl with a spoon
3 images showing how to make butterscotch filled brown sugar cupcakes

 

Overview: How to Make Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes

The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it quickly so you understand each step before we get started. 

  1. Make the butterscotch.
  2. Preheat and line the cupcake pan.
  3. Make the cupcake batter
  4. Bake, then cool the cupcakes.
  5. Make the frosting as the cupcakes finish up cooling
  6. Fill and frost the cupcakes. Fill the cooled cupcakes using a plastic squeeze bottle or a piping bag & tip. Top with frosting and drizzle with butterscotch sauce.
brown sugar cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting and butterscotch drizzle

More Butterscotch Recipes

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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 1x
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale

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 (209g) 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 (60g) yogurt*
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk*
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) 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 (60ml) heavy cream*
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  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 confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Beat in a pinch of salt, taste, then beat in another pinch if desired.
  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.

Notes

  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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. When I saw this recipe I knew I’d have to make it! I LOVE butterscotch! I made them this afternoon (what better way to spend a rainy day?), and they were every bit as good as you described-sinfully delicious! My 5 year old already declared that he wants one for dessert again tomorrow. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe!

  2. Sally,
    You are an inspiration. I made these cupcakes last night, and brought them into the office this morning. Everybody loves them! I can’t wait to try the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes.
    Best regards,
    Allen

  3. I made these for work last week, and they were a huge hit. Honestly they are the most delicious thing I can remember ever baking.

  4. Thank you! Could I ask if I start timing when the mixture begins bubbling or right after whisking in the cream until combined? Also, is it fine if at 5 minutes the colour of my butterscotch wasn’t a similar colour like yours but somewhat paler? I thought it was a tad too runny so I boiled it longer >< does it thicken up as it cools?

    1. Yes, it thickens as it cool. Start timing the boiling once it begins to boil. Which should be almost immediately.

  5. Just made these for a birthday. Absolutely delicious!! I will be making these again. Your recipes always make the perfect amount, never any leftover mixture. This makes me want to quit my job to bake and blog. Amazing!

  6. I made these cupcakes today and they were the best cupcakes I have ever made! I couldn’t find plain yogurt at our local grocery store so I used the sour cream instead and they were still wonderful! My husband said they are a keeper!

  7. I made these cupcakes yesterday and OMG!! Literally the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. My mom ate all of them! Thank you so much for the recipe

  8. Hi Sally!! Is it possible to use this recipe and make it into a cake instead? My niece’s birthday is this Sunday and I made these once, THEY LOVED IT! so I was thinking of making it into a cake for her.. What do you reckon? (:

    1. Definitely! It will be a 1 layer cake. Perhaps you can just drizzle the butterscotch on top of the cake? Or double the recipe to make a 2 layer cake and put butterscotch in between the layers. The cake will take about 30-32 minutes in the oven in 9×2 inch cake pans. Fill pans only halfway full, then use any extra batter for cupcakes.

  9. I made the butterscotch sauce and it is not very thick (more like a syrup). Do I need to thicken it a bit? If so, how do I do that?

    1. Did you let it bubble and thicken for enough time? Perhaps 2-3 minutes longer of that would help.

  10. Can I use regular milk in the butterscotch sauce instead of cream?

    1. Unfortunately no. The high fat percentage in the heavy cream is imperative.

  11. I am the official baker at work, birthday treats for all, retirements, babies, marriages we celebrate everything with baked goods 🙂
    In September I was asked to make 75 cupcakes for a co-workers daughters baby shower. They were to be served at a fancy country club luncheon type shower. Ugh !! I was also told that my cakes would be the centerpiece and only decorations. The pressure I put on myself was ….stressful !
    I immediately came here and started my search, I had free reign on what to make. I ended up making 5 different flavors from various sites and THIS ONE WAS A HUGE HIT !!! Not only did it taste amazing the cake was an absolute beauty. My frosting was light and fluffy and not overly sweet. The butterscotch was so good I could have eaten it off a spoon and the cake itself was so moist and gooey with the addition of the golden butterscotch inside.
    So today I am back here ( cant find my recipe, wrote it in my planner this time) because once again I am baking on Sunday and this cupcake was the #1 request from BOTH of the birthday gals 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful food. You made me look like a pro !!

  12. I baked these gorgeous cupcakes for my boyfriend’s family, and they loved them! His dad took one bite and said, “She’s a keeper.” I made the recipe exactly, except that I used dark brown sugar instead of light, and I filled the cupcake with butterscotch sauce at 3 points of entry, so they’re REALLY filled with it! Thank you so much, Sally, for sharing your passion and talent! 🙂

  13. These were incredible! I cannot typically bake (literally – if required to cream butter and sugar, I somehow fail) but these came out so perfectly! I couldn’t even wait to make the frosting, and just smothered them with thick butterscotch sauce. They’ve been devoured and I have just made my second batch this week. Thank you so, so much! I’ve never had a ‘go-to’ cake recipe before but now I do!!!!

  14. is making butterscotch essentially the same as making caramel sauce? the butterscotch sauce looks about the same you make for your caramel frosting

    1. 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.

  15. 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. 

    Thanks.

    Ashley

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

  16. 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?
    Thanks
    Cody

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

  17. 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 🙂

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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. ❤

  24. 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!

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

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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 😉

  29. 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!
    Thanks

  30. 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.