Devil’s food chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting are a shortcut recipe starting with a box of chocolate cake mix. The wonderful part about this recipe is that even though you’re using cake mix, the cupcakes taste homemade because we are doctoring it up with sour cream and extra eggs. Still, if you prefer, you can use my homemade chocolate cupcakes recipe instead. The frosting is creamy, salted, and sweet, and if you let it sit and thicken up enough, you can pipe it onto your cupcakes.
Tell Me About These Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
- Flavor: Salted caramel and chocolate are a match made in flavor heaven. Now, many people do not think that boxed cake mixes can produce “homemade tasting” cakes or cupcakes. And my team and I agree—to an extent. If you modify 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. These semi-homemade cupcakes are incredibly moist, rich, and chocolatey. I’m a big cheerleader for homemade, so if you have the time and ingredients, try my homemade chocolate cupcakes instead. And don’t forget the salted caramel for on top!
- Texture: This magic combination produces the chocolatiest, most decadent chocolate cake and cupcake we’ve ever tasted. Every bite is rich, fudgy, and moist. Add the dreamy creamy frosting and the crunchy pretzel, and you’re talking texture paradise. Such crowd-pleasing cupcakes!
- Ease: Because we’re relying on a box of cake mix, the cupcakes are pretty simple. The frosting requires a little extra time and attention, so be sure to read through those steps before starting. For even more information, see the separate salted caramel frosting post.
Cake Mix with Homemade Taste
I don’t use cake mix often because I find so much joy in from-scratch baking. However, I know time gets tight, especially when life is busy and you need a dessert STAT. I use this cupcake recipe for those times; it’s easier, quicker, AND has a homemade flavor. I usually use devil’s food chocolate cake mix, but any chocolate cake mix is fine. Forget all of the ingredients that the back of the box calls for and instead add a box of Jell-O Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, some vegetable oil, milk, and sour cream. See printable recipe below for details.
Could I do this with vanilla/white cake mix and vanilla pudding? Yes, absolutely! Just swap the chocolate flavors out and replace with vanilla/white cake mix and vanilla pudding mix.
By the way, my cake batter chocolate chip cookies would be nothing without cake mix! Have you tried those before?
More Cupcake RecipesPrint
A shortcut chocolate cupcake recipe topped with creamy salted caramel frosting.
- 1 (15.25 ounce) box Devil’s Food or Chocolate Cake Mix (the dry mix)
- 1 (3.9 ounce) box Jell-O Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup (120ml) milk
- 1 cup (240g) full-fat sour cream
Salted Caramel Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 equal pieces
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar (pictured cupcakes use light brown)
- 5 Tablespoons heavy cream, divided*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
- optional: 20 mini pretzel twists and store-bought caramel topping or homemade salted caramel
- Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two 12-cup muffin pans with liners. Set aside.
- Using a stand or handheld 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.
- Bake for 20–25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool completely in the pan.
- Start the frosting: (This frosting is popular, so we have a separate salted caramel frosting post if you need more help making it.) Combine the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir constantly as the butter melts. Once butter has melted, switch to a whisk to make sure the two are really combined. (Otherwise, you might see an oily layer around the edges where they’re still a bit separated; you do not want that.) Once melted butter and brown sugar are combined, add 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream and the salt. Whisk to combine, then stop whisking and attach a candy thermometer to your pan, making sure the bulb is not touching the bottom of the pan. Let the caramel boil, giving it a quick whisk every 30 seconds or so, until the temperature reaches 230°F (110°C). On my stove, it takes just under 2 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat, give it another quick whisk, and let cool for a minute. Carefully transfer the salted caramel to a heat-proof mixing bowl set on a cooling rack and cool for just 15–20 minutes before continuing. The caramel sauce thickens during this time.
- Finish the frosting: Sift in confectioners’ sugar and add remaining 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat on medium-low speed until the ingredients are incorporated. Turn mixer up to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Avoid over-mixing or the frosting will begin to “break” and separate. Let it sit for at least 20–30 minutes before filling your piping bag, to give it a chance to thicken up to a pipeable consistency.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and garnish with a pretzel twist and salted caramel, if desired.
- Cover and store leftover cupcakes at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. For make ahead details on the frosting, see separate Salted Caramel Frosting post for specific instructions and FAQs. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then bring to room temperature if desired before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): USA Pan Cupcake Pan or Wilton Cupcake Pan | Candy Thermometer | Silicone Whisk | Sieve/Sifter | Handheld or Stand Mixer
- Cake Mix: You just need the dry mix in the 15.25 ounce box. Forget all of the ingredients that the back of the box calls for and instead use the ingredients this recipe calls for. (See step 2.)
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
Keywords: chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting