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 (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


  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. Just made your butterscotch sauce – DELISH! I am going to put into Swiss Meringue Butter cream for my son’s birthday cake. Thanks!

  2. 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.

      1. Perfect! Thanks Sally! xx

  3. 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.

  4. For the frosting , what do you mean by too thin and too thick? How to see that?

  5. Made these last night and they are SO yummy! Going to be trying your cinnamon cupcakes next. I had so much butterscotch left (doubled the recipe) that I am making a cake version today! Yum!!!! Thank you!!!:-)

  6. 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.

  7. Hi ! I think I’m going to make this recipe pretty soon !! I was wondering does the baking soda is compulsory ?

    Thank you

  8. These sound delicious! And I’m planning on making them for my nephew’s little 1 year birthday celebration. His dad isn’t able to have gluten though… boo. What are your thoughts or experience replacing the flour with almond flour?

    1. Hi Courtney– I do not recommend using almond flour in place of flour in my cupcake recipes. Sorry! How about a gluten free flour? I’ve never tested it myself so I cannot be sure of the results. Perhaps you can search the internet for an already GF cupcake recipe.

  9. 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 !!

    1. Awesome, Beth! I’m so happy to hear these were a hit. I’m not surprised. These are definitely my favorite.

    2. Also: 75 cupcakes? you’re a pro.

  10. 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! 🙂

  11. I really love the sound of this… Do you think the batter would be enough for two 6-inch pans that were 2″ deep? Or should the recipient be doubled?

    1. You *might* be able to stretch this batter into those pans. But I am not 100% sure. Give it a try. I think you should be OK.

  12. I cannot figure out for the life of my why the lumps never go away…

  13. Just making the butterscotch filled cupcakes they smell beautiful! Will definatly be using youe recipes again!

  14. HI Sally,
    I love this recipe! I made them last year for my son’s birthday and they were a huge hit. This year I’d love to use the same recipe but I want to make cakes in a 9×13 pan (minus the butterscotch filling). Could this recipe work for that? Would I double it?
    Thank you for a great recipe!

    1. Kate, you’d likely have to double the recipe. Only fill the pan about 1/2 – 2/3 full. Use any extra batter for cupcakes. I am unsure of the bake time for this size pan.

  15. Hi Sally. I really hope you would be able to reply this. I had tried your recipe and followed everything to the T; especially the mixing method. I had baked 4 batches of this and yet all the time the cupcakes came out very dense and wet. It was completely different from the texture in your photos. Yours looks very dry and crumbly and fluffy. I would like to achieve this texture. Would you be able to advise me on why mine turned out off?

    1. It sounds like the cupcakes were underbaked. Do you have an oven thermometer? I suggest purchasing one and testing your oven temperature. Cupcakes are very particular and need to be baked at the proper temp. I would bake them for a little longer if you try them again.

  16. Hi Sally, just what I was looking for, I recently had a butterscotch cake at a Bday, and wanted to try it at home. Your recipe seems perfect, just one query, the cake I had ,had a crunch in it like a toffee in between bites, it was delicious.
    Could you advise what couldit be and how can I get it..maybe nougat,harder ended caramel/ butter scotch sauce, don’t know…

  17. 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!!!!

  18. Okay I just have to say I baked these yesterday and they were absolutely delicious. One of the tastiest things I’ve ever baked. I used 2% milk and lowfat vanilla yoplait yogurt and they turned out perfect. I read your note about the leftover butterscotch, i stored it in the fridge, and I also had leftover frosting too. I put the frosting in the fridge, but how long is it good for? A week just like the butterscotch? Just wondering because I plan to bake these again in 2 days for my parents. Thanks! Great recipe Sally these were bomb!

  19. 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.

  20. These cupcakes were great! i made one little revision I’m not a big fan of American buttercream so I switched it up with cream cheese icing! They were still great and I got an order for another batch! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  21. Oh my goodness! These look positively divine! I am going to try to make these for a cupcake night at my friends. In the pictures these cupcakes look fairly dense. Are they?

  22. Hi. Can what can I substitute the yogurt and sour cream with

  23. Hello,
    Can I prepare the butterscotch sauce ahead of time and store in the refrigerator? Would it solidify/harden?

    Also, If I fill cupcakes with the sauce and put them in the fridge-would the sauce harden? Should I bring the cupcakes to room temp before serving?


    1. The sauce will not harden in the refrigerator. I would bring them to room temperature before serving, yes.

      1. These cupcakes turned out super moist and tasted wonderful!! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

        Can I bake this batter as a cake instead of cupcakes? Would I have to tweak the recipe?


      2. Absolutely! Use a 9×2 inch cake pan (or even a 9-inch springform pan). Unsure of the exact bake time– around 30 minutes.

  24. WOW! These were amazing! Your cupcakes are always the moistest and tenderest (is that a word?), I halved the recipe for my family so we didn’t have too many sitting around because they would of course get eaten, and each of them took one bite and said “WOW”. I didn’t have many ingredients on hand but was in a baking mood (when am i not in a baking mood?), so I made a few substitutions. For example, I didn’t have icing sugar so I made a ermine–boiled milk and flour (super duper creamy)–frosting with brown sugar. Paired with your butterscotch sauce it was seriously HEAVENLY and the cupcakes turned out beautiful!! I love your blog!!

  25. Susan Hanvey says:

    Just finished cooking and icing these wonderful butterscotch cupcakes and they tasted amazing. They turned out just like you said, light and fluffy and full of flavour. Just the best.
    Thanks once again for sharing this recipe.
    They will definitely be on my list to bake again.


  26. Loved this recipe! it was sweet but really delicious. Is there any other recipe which i can re-use the left over butterscotch – I have so much leftover!

    1. Absolutely! Sarah, how about on top of ice cream? Or on top of these mini cakes?

  27. Can you double or triple the recipe?

  28. Hi Sally, I want to make your cupcakes for a party on Saturday, but i was wondering if i can make them a day early and refrigerate them? Or will they go bad?

    1. You can make the cupcakes, cover tightly, and keep at room temperature overnight.

  29. Hi Sally,

    this was such a great recipe and was a hit at my work fundraising day.
    I did have a problem with the butterscotch sauce though. I found that my consistency was not lovely like yours. After letting it cool the butter seemed to of separated from the sauce and hardened up a little making it difficult to drizzle over the cupcakes. What did i do wrong??! Thank you 🙂 x

  30. Hi!
    My cousins and I are having a bake off, and I am planning on making these along with chocolate cupcakes.
    First of all, would premade butterscotch work?
    Secondly, would brown sugar or vanilla cupcakes go better with chocolate.

    1. Pre-made butterscotch works. Either sound great with chocolate in my opinion!

      1. TwirlyGirly says:

        I tried to fill some cupcakes I made with Smucker’s Butterscotch Sauce, and had issues. I should mention when I filled the cupcakes, the sauce was at room temperature (new jar), as were the cupcakes.
        The butterscotch sauce absorbed into the cupcakes, as opposed to leaving a core of butterscotch in the middle. I think the viscosity of the butterscotch filling is really important to getting the butterscotch “core” like yours in your photo. I suspect your homemade butterscotch must be MUCH thicker than the premade variety.

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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