Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

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

2 images of chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting and a pretzel on a cooling rack

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.

chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting and a pretzel on a cooling rack

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.

box of Devil's Food cake mix

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.

chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting and a pretzel on a cooling rack

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 topped with salted caramel frosting and a pretzel on a cooling rack

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

33 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Do you have to refrigerate the final or will they do fine in an air tight container? They look sooooo good!

    1. An air-tight container is sufficient! Thanks Holly 🙂

  2. Ashton Roberts says:

    Holy moly, these were amazing! I made them for a couple’s shower I was co-hosting and they turned out so well. The cupcakes were so moist and tasted fantastic but the frosting was just stupid. Stupid in the best possible way, of course. I am thinking that I may use the salted caramel, omitting the powdered sugar, as a swirl in for some browned butter brownies that I like to make. Can’t wait to test it out! Another win for Sally’s baking addiction which is another win for me. Thanks again for all the tasty recipes!

    1. Hi Ashton! I’m so glad that you loved these cupcakes. They are truly one of my very favorites. And your idea for the salted caramel brownies sounds amazing.

  3. Hi Sally, I made these cupcakes before and they were so moist and amazing! I was just wondering if I could use this recipe to make a cake? Are there any changes that would need to be made? Thanks!!

    PS Can’t wait to get your book!!

    1. Hey Julie! Yep, you can definitely use this recipe to make a cake in a 9×13 pan. Don’t change anything about the recipe but the baking time, which will be much longer. I’m unsure of the exact baking time myself but maybe around 40 minutes?

  4. Do you think that I could use this frosting on your chocolate cake recipe?

    1. Definitely. Enjoy!

  5. I made these and they are to die for! Thank you for sharing!

  6. I made these. They are so yummy and fantastic! I didn’t have any pretzels, but I did melt some caramel and spread it out on a cookie sheet, broke it up when it was cooled and put that on top as a pretty in place of the pretzels. Big hit at my house!

  7. Made these cupcakes tonight and they are excellent! I sprinkled maple syrup salt on top instead of using pretzels. I love trying out new cupcake recipes. Thank you! I will definitely be making these many times in the future!

  8. 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?

    1. You can certainly add chocolate chips to this cupcake batter. Fold in around 3/4 cup – 1 cup.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!?

    1. How about adding a little more heavy cream. This should help lighten it up– both the color and texture.

  11. 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!

  12. Cindi Torres says:

    When you say beat the frosting, do you mean by hand or with a mixer? Thank you.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

    1. Hi Grace, I’m in Canada too. I see on pg 2 of the comments she says 3.4oz box works best so I’m going to give that a try.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. Laura Aubrey says:

    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.

  19. When you say to let the Caramel sauce cool, do you mean completely?

  20. Sally, could I use a Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge mx instead of the Devil’s Food mix? Thank you.

    1. Absolutely!

  21. Hi, Sally.
    Do you mind giving me updated directions to bake this in to a two layer cake? Thank you!
    Sarah

    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/

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

  23. Hadley Mattson says:

    Sally all I have to say is these cupcakes are unbelievable! I have people asking me to make them for them and they will pay me that’s how good they are. All of recipes are incredible I haven’t came across one that isn’t mouth water delicious.

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