Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

A shortcut chocolate cupcake recipe topped with creamy salted caramel frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Devil’s food chocolate fudge cupcakes with a salted caramel-infused buttercream frosting topped with caramel drizzle and a pretzel twist. I die.

This frosting is on of the best frostings I’ve ever had. I did NOT want to stop eating it. I had enough “samples” that I actually had to make more frosting. You have to taste test the recipe before you serve it, right?! The caramel flavor hits all the right notes and isn’t too salty or too sweet. It’s creamy caramel bliss and literally melts in your mouth.

I was contemplating making salted caramel cupcakes to pair with the salted caramel frosting, but I wanted a bit  more of a flavor contrast. Caramel and chocolate are like a match made in heaven, so chocolate won. I used the recipe from Amanda for the BEST ever chocolate cake that starts with a….wait for it…. Devil’s Food Chocolate boxed cake mix. Now, you have to trust us on this one…this is TRULY the best chocolate cupcake.

If you’d like to make a 100% from-scratch, homemade chocolate cupcake instead, I suggest using my homemade chocolate cupcake recipe.

Today’s semi-homemade cupcakes incredibly moist, rich, and so incredibly chocolatey.

But there’s a little secret behind using the cake mix. You have to forget all of the ingredients that the back of the box calls for. Instead, add a small box of Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, some vegetable oil, milk and sour cream. That’s it!

This magic combination produces the chocolatiest, most decadent chocolate cake and cupcake I’ve ever tasted. Every rich, fudgy and moist bite is to-die-for.

Now, many people do not think that boxed cake mixes produce “homemade tasting” cakes or cupcakes. And I agree — to an extent. By modifying the ingredients called for on the back of the box, you can truly create a “homemade” cake or cupcake while still having the convenience and ease of a boxed mix.

After one taste, my friend even said that this cupcake was the best cupcake she’s ever eaten!

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 20-22 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A shortcut chocolate cupcake recipe topped with creamy salted caramel frosting.


Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 small box Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream (or low fat Greek or regular yogurt)

Salted Caramel Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 23 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • optional: 20 pretzel twists

Instructions

  1. Start with the frosting: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add salt. Allow to bubble for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Beat in confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, until you reach desired consistency.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two 12-cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand or hand held electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk and sour cream. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Scoop the batter evenly into cupcake liners. I got 20 cupcakes using 1/4 cup measuring cup to spoon into the liners.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let cool. Once fully cooled, frost cupcakes with salted caramel frosting and garnish with a pretzel twist.
  5. Cupcakes stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Garnish: I saved a bit of salted caramel to drizzle over cupcakes.
  2. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, easy chocolate cupcakes

137 Comments

  1. These look delicious. My daughter loves the caramel chocolate combination, but wants to know if we can add chocolate chips to the cupcake batter? Do you think this would be ok or would it negatively affect the way they bake or anything?

  2. Wow these look amazing! I added all those ingredients to a box mix one time and never looked back- SO SO SO moist and delicious, and no one ever suspects it’s from a box. I most recently used the cake mix recipe to make some cute little “crab cakes”; I’d really appreciate it if you checked it out! 🙂

    https://theghswirl.wordpress.com

  3. Hi, I was just wondering if you knew if mixing some salted caramel ice cream topping into whipped vanilla icing might work? Thanks!

  4. Loved your recipe – it’s now my favorite cupcake recipe!  Want to make it for a wedding coming up, but weather here in Northern California is HOT!  Temperatures could get into the 100’s and the reception venue has only a swamp cooler.  Will the frosting hold it’s shape if it gets into the 80’s?

  5. I’ve made these a few times already and they’re pretty fantastic. This is pretty much the only thing I’ve ever baked besides break n break cookies and i still got it .right.
    The only thing i could say is that the frosting is maybe a little thicker than i would’ve wanted it and comes out darker than the picture to me its almost like the consistency of peanut butter but maybe I’m doing it wrong.

  6. Sally, I would like to make this frosting for a chocolate cake recipe. I don’t get heavy cream here in India. Is it okay to use a 20% fat content cream instead??

      1. Thanks for the reply! I intend to use this frosting for filling a chocolate layer cake , do I have to double/triple it to fill a 5 layer chocolate cake?

  7. I made these yesterday and they were a huge hit at work; in fact my coworkers told me to give up on college and become a baker! The frosting is similar to the kind I ice my sour cream banana bars with and I love it just the same on cupcakes. Overall, a fantastic recipe. Next time I make them, I’m going to fill them with a caramel center- I can’t wait!

  8. OMG! This icing is dabomb.com! I literally couldn’t believe I made it. It tastes way better the day of. Also, I only used two cups of powdered sugar.

  9. Just made these. 20 cupcakes, toothpick came out clean after 20 min.  Then they all fell!!  Sunk in!!  Also did I make frosting wrong. Heavy cream supposed to go in with brown sugar, right?  Frosting super thick, I added heavy cream to it. 

  10. I TRIED to make your chocolate cupcakes with the salted caramel frosting… first of all, 1/4 cup of cake mix was WAY too much in the muffin cups., they over flowed as they baked. Second, I cooled the caramel and attempted to beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time but the mixture turned into a bunch of tiny balls. There was no way to get it to a spreadable consistency. Mine were a total flop. Luckily I had a back up to take to my party.

  11. I absolutely love this recipe and the short cut on the chocolate cake. I followed the recipe perfectly, but my caramel frosting got very gritty and hard. I made it a few times because I was sure I made a mistake and the same result. Any ideas? 

  12. What did you use for the salted caramel you used atop the salted caramel frosting on your chocolate cupcakes? Did you just melt caramel candy? I noticed the frosting doesn’t have actual caramel in it but uses the dark brown sugar. Please let me know! Can’t wait to make these!! Any filling suggestion in terms of caramel or buttercream? Thank YOU! 

  13. Hi Sally!
    I’ve made the frosting 3 times so far. Let’s just say the score is Jacki 1, frosting 2. The first time I could not get the consistency for piping and I accidentally used unsalted butter. The 2nd time I got it and the cupcakes looked amazing!!!! I just made it again last night (I loved it so much!) and again got non piping consistency. Do you know what I may be doing wrong? You are my go to for recipes and I never have an issue with any of them. Help, I feel defeated!!! 🙁

    1. Jacki, do you mean it’s a little too thin to pipe the first and third time you’ve made it? Try boiling for 3 minutes and lowering the heavy cream to 1/4 cup.

  14. OMG!!! These cupcakes! Girl, they are SO GOOD, they really shouldn’t be legal! Haha!! I featured your recipe in my Saturday Morning Coffee Cafe post this week. http://www.perfectlycreatedchaos.com/2016/04/saturday-morning-coffee-cafe.html

  15. No matter how many times I’ve made this recipe I cannot get the frosting smooth/light/fluffy. I felt like my arm was going to fall off after beating it for 8 minutes this time and it still came out dense. More doughy than a frosting. It also doesn’t turn out this light color that you have in the pi
    What am I doing wrong!?

  16. Hi Sally! This is my go to recipe for cupcakes and I’ve even changed the flavor quite a few times (lemon & red velvet are my favorites), but I’ve never made this frosting until today.

    I’m not sure what I did wrong but, as others have mentioned, it was extremely thick and I couldn’t mix it with a whisk, so I tried it with my hand mixer and it was still like a paste. I added close to 1/4 cup more heavy cream, and it’s still too thick. How long should I mix it? I mixed it for several minutes. I tried putting a bit on a cupcake to see how it was, and it was like eating peanut butter on a cupcake and was sickeningly sweet. Any tips?? I had to start over and go back to my old stand by cream cheese frosting recipe. Thank you!

  17. I need help with this frosting! The caramel sauce turned out lovely. Though admittedly I used heavy whipping cream instead of heavy cream (perhaps this is leading to my problem?). I didn’t use the 3rd cup of powdered sugar. And it was thicker than I wanted so I added more cream. Admittedly I did pop it in the fridge and it turned into a dense fudge and was useless. My problem is the (pre-fridge disaster) consistancy seems too dense and I am afraid it is too heavy and droopy to look nice on a cupcake. Also, it tastes sickeningly sweet. I think I may be doing something wrong. Any clues as to what I’m fudging up?

  18. I made this recipe yesterday. The cupcakes seemed to turn out fine. The icing…not so much. I followed the recipe exactly. First, the color was no where near the color in the picture. The dark brown sugar makes a dark brown caramel, and even with the milk and heavy cream, it stayed a brownish color. Secondly, the consistency was thick and dough like (and I didn’t add the 3rd cup of powdered sugar because of that…and the sweetness.) So, I came back and read the comments and added more heavy cream which allowed it to be put in a icing bag and put on cupcakes. I’m taking them to a baby shower today, which is why I didn’t want them to be a brownish color. Ha! Hopefully, they are received well. I’d love help with how you achieved the light creamy color.

  19. Hi Sally, I’m from Vancouver Canada and we don’t get Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix here, just plain old Jello Chocolate pudding mix (no fudge). Will it still be ok to use this as a substitute?

    Also, you said to use a “small” box with no measurements. I checked Amazon.com for reference and the “small” size in Canada is 40g (1.4oz) and “small” on Amaxon is 3.9oz, which is 110g! That’s a pretty huge difference. So in your recipe, how many grams or ounce is the “small” Jello box?

    Thanks!

  20. Hi Sally. I made this recipe yesterday and the cake is incredible! It is so light and fluffy, very chocolatey and not overly sweet. Absolutely stunning. My frosting was a bit of a flop though and I don’t know what happened. It came out very crystalized, almost like an icing rather than a creamy frosting. The caramel sauce was spot on, so I think I made a mistake at the confectioner’s sugar stage. Any thoughts on what I could have done differently?

    Thanks for all of these great recipes! Your website is always my go-to.

  21. Hi, Sally! Is there anyway to add pudding mix to homemade chocolate cake mix (not box)? If so, how would the recipe change?

    Thank you!

  22. I’d love to make the salted caramel icing for your 3-layer vanilla cake (for my daughter’s 9-year old birthday cake) . Any recommendations on if I should double or triple the icing recipe? and more importantly, will this recipe work on a cake? TIA!! you’re recipes are ALWAYS my go to!

    1. Hey Laura! So the BEST way to make a larger batch of this frosting is to make it 2-3 separate times. Working with extra volume in 1 pot could prevent the frosting from reaching the proper consistency.

    1. Oh my, things have changed a lot in the 7 years since this was posted!:) If you still want to try it out you can certainly bake it in 2 9-inch round pans. If you want a recipe for my favorite (and a reader favorite) chocolate layer cake I recommend this one: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/triple-chocolate-layer-cake/

  23. I made this recipe today and it was SO good! The cake and frosting were perfect! Thanks so much for sharing it!

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