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Easy Caramel Buttercream Frosting

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Top your favorite treats with this easy to make caramel buttercream frosting. Just imagine all of the cakes, cupcakes, and cookies it could go on!

chocolate cupcakes topped with rosettes of light tan caramel buttercream ready to eat.

Sweet caramel goodness in a super delicious buttercream makes for a perfect frosting. This recipe whips up in minutes and is perfect for piping and decorating.

It holds its shape and tastes delicious!  It is the perfect topping to any desserts that could benefit from a touch of caramel goodness.

Making a rich caramel frosting doesn’t have to be complicated. This recipe doesn’t require any candy thermometers or saucepans.

It is so quick and easy that you can start decorating your cake or cupcakes in just a matter of minutes. It is a fun twist on American buttercream, which is the least complicated version of frosting to make.

pouring caramel into mixing bowl full of buttercream

When I originally created this recipe, I used to top some carrot cake cupcakes. It was a yummy combination.

This time, I made some chocolate cupcakes and toasted some coconut to go on top. It was reminiscent of a German chocolate cake only quicker and with fluffier frosting!

It would also be amazing on vanilla cake or imagine it spread over a tasty apple cake. The possibilities really are endless, so bake up your favorite cake and make a batch today.

Original Post from 2019

This week is going to be a fun one. This frosting is just the start of something scrumptious.  The next few days are going to build to something fun for your Easter table.

It started with the want to make some carrot cake cupcakes. Don’t worry, I’m sharing the recipe tomorrow. (Be sure to check out how I made them into a carrot shaped cupcake cake as well!)

Those cupcakes would, of course, need some frosting. I usually top my carrot cakes with cream cheese frosting.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling spunky, I go with maple cream cheese frosting. It is super delicious and adds a little warmth to the mix.

mixer bowl full of easy caramel buttercream frosting.

This particular day and for this particular project, cream cheese frosting just wasn’t going to work. I needed something that didn’t need refrigeration and something that would hold its shape.

I had a bit of caramel sauce that was calling my name. I figured it would be an easy way to add flavor and warmth to the frosting.

rosettes of caramel buttercream on carrot cupcakes next to piping bag of more frosting.

Using a premade caramel sauce makes getting the flavor really easy. You can find nice rich, thick caramel sauce in the grocery store.

It is usually by the coffees or near the ice cream. However, feel free to use your own homemade caramel sauce if you have a favorite recipe.

The final result was lip smacking (and finger licking) good. The final color was just golden enough to give a hint of the caramel inside.

It piped beautifully on the cupcakes and was perfect on its own. They were also great with a smattering of chopped pecans and a drizzle of caramel.

caramel buttercream on cupcakes with a caramel drizzle and pecan bits.

I can’t wait to let this project unfold for you. I hope you’ll follow along.  In the meantime, what kind of treat would you put this frosting on first?

Tips for Getting the Best Buttercream

Because this recipe is a slight twist on a traditional American buttercream, it is almost foolproof.  There are a few tips to get it perfect every time.

The first is to start with room temperature butter. It should be soft, but not wimpy.

caramel buttercream frosting

You want your mixer to be able to make it super smooth with no chunks of hard butter. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times to make sure no chunks of butter are hiding out.

That and making sure the powdered sugar that isn’t too clumpy will ensure smooth buttercream.

Use your paddle attachment on your mixer to keep too much air from getting whipped into the frosting.

While you want it to be light and fluffy, using the whisk attachment can cause too many air bubbles which will affect the texture of your final product and will make it hard to get a smooth finish on your cake.

chocolate cupcakes with swirls of caramel buttercream and toasted coconut on top.

You can either use salted butter or add a pinch of salt or both. Taste it and adjust to your liking.

The salt adds balance with all the sweetness of caramel and powdered sugar. Plus, caramel and salt are a classic combination for a reason.

You can even add a little bit of extra salt if you want to make a salted caramel frosting. There is just something about rich caramel with a hit of salt.

Have fun! Frosting is supposed to be fun. So enjoy the process and have fun decorating!

What is the best way to store American buttercream?

American buttercream can be stored at room temperature for up to two days.  Just make sure to keep it covered so it doesn’t form a crust.  

For longer storage, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze for up to two months. Just bring the frosting to room temperature and whip before using.  

Did you make this great recipe? Please leave a review in the recipe card below!

chocolate cupcakes topped with rosettes of light tan caramel buttercream ready to eat.

Easy Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Servings: 24 Servings
Author: Carlee
This easy caramel buttercream frosting recipes uses caramel sauce to get big caramel flavor without needing a candy thermometer. You can use homemade caramel sauce or buy a jar at the grocery store. Either way you are sure to end up with a perfectly fluffy American-style buttercream that is perfect for using on layer cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more.
4.82 from 65 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup caramel topping
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream


  • Beat butter using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment until soft and fluffy.
    1 cup butter
  • Add vanilla, caramel topping, and salt, mixing until combined.
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ⅓ cup caramel topping, 1 pinch salt
  • Stir in powdered sugar on low speed.
    4 cups powdered sugar
  • Add desired amount of cream. Beat on medium-high speed for at least 2 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
    1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • Adjust the final consistency by adding a little more cream or powdered sugar.


If you don’t have cream, you can use milk. Just add it a Tablespoon or two at a time until you get the right consistency.
For a salted caramel buttercream, just add salt to taste.
I like using a thick caramel sauce for this recipe. You can usually find it in jars with the ice cream toppings or in a squeeze bottle with the coffee flavorings. 



Serving: 1servingCalories: 154kcalCarbohydrates: 21gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 82mgSugar: 21g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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4.82 from 65 votes (64 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Monday 22nd of April 2024

Hello! Would this recipe frost a two layer 8" round cake or do I need to double it?


Monday 22nd of April 2024

It would do a thin coat, but I would do either 1.5x or 2x it if you want a generous amount or if you want to pipe on any kind of decoration.


Tuesday 12th of March 2024

Can you color this frosting with gel food coloring?


Tuesday 12th of March 2024

Yes. It starts a pale tan, so you would need to take that into consideration. If you want a really pale pink or something it might have a bit of a tan undertone in it. But otherwise, it should take color well.


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Thank you for answering me back so quickly ☺️. I forgot to ask you if this icing needs to be refrigerated.


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

You can store it at room temperature for several days or the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. It will form a slight crust, so you will want to wrap it tightly if you plan to pipe with it later.


Sunday 30th of April 2023

Do you use real butter? I’m making a double layer 12 x 18 sheet cake and need to know how much icing this makes please.


Monday 1st of May 2023

I do use real butter. I think the butter enhances the flavor, but you could sub in some shortening if you really wanted to. This recipe makes about 3 cups of frosting.


Thursday 20th of April 2023

I made this frosting for a dark chocolate cake, with coffee ice cream and it was absolutely amazing!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!