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Salted Caramel Frosting

This past week I wanted to recreate a salted caramel drip cake I made a few years ago. This meant I needed to make some caramel, and of course, salted caramel frosting!!

I used my caramel sauce recipe to flavor this frosting, and to make the drip on my cake! It’s super versatile, and can be used in so many different ways.

caramel buttercream photo

The Secret Ingredient: Homemade Caramel

I know that making caramel sauce from scratch can seem intimidating if you’ve never tried it before. When I was a kid, I remember seeing caramel made in giant copper kettles at candy stores.

I was convinced it was some complicated process, that must require all kinds of special equipment. But the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, my caramel is made without a thermometer, with just four ingredients. A batch can be made in about 5 minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

whisk attachment with salted caramel buttercream photo

All you need is sugar, butter, heavy cream, and a bit of salt. The only part that is a little scary is melting down the sugar.

My biggest tip when doing this is to add the sugar in gradually. I add about a quarter of a cup at a time.

This helps the granulated sugar liquify more quickly, and minimizes clumping. It makes a world of a difference.

However, I didn’t know to do that when I first started making caramel. I used to just dump it all in at once.

The caramel will still turn out if you add all the sugar at once, but it takes a lot longer to melt down.

salted caramel frosting, piped with a wilton 1m photo

American Buttercream Frosting Base

Like almost all of my frosting recipes, this salted caramel frosting has an American buttercream base.

American buttercream is the simplest (and sweetest) of all the buttercream out there.

I like it for both of these reasons. American buttercream is pretty much butter and powdered sugar, and is incredibly easy to make.

This frosting base comes together in less than 5 minutes, and keeps in the fridge for up to a month!

I also have a huge sweet tooth, and grew up eating sugary desserts and tons of candy.

If you’re used to eating sweets here in the US, or like classic American baked goods, you will love this frosting recipe.

However, some people do prefer less sweet buttercream like Swiss Meringue buttercream, or Italian buttercream.

Different strokes for different folks!

salted caramel drip cake photo

Share Your Creations With Me!

If you try this salted caramel frosting recipe, please let me know what you think of it by sharing a rating and/or comment!

You can also tag me on social media @chelsweets, and use #chelsweets.

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Yield: 7

Salted Caramel Frosting

salted caramel frosting, piped with a wilton 1m photo

This salted caramel frosting is simply the best! It's packed with rich and buttery caramel flavor, along with a flourish of salt that takes it to the next level.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature (42 grams)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature (57 grams)
  • pinch of table salt (1 gram)

Salted Caramel Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (907 grams) - or a 2 lb bag
  • 1 tsp table salt (6 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (15 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 1/3 cup of caramel sauce - recipe above (108 grams)

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the caramel sauce. Turn stove onto medium heat, and place a pot over element.
  2. Pour in sugar gradually, adding 1/4 cup at a time. Wait until the sugar is mostly liquified, then add the remaining sugar.
  3. As the sugar melts, it will gradually deepen in color.
  4. Stir occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved, and is an amber color.
  5. Turn off the heat.
  6. Mix in butter slowly (1 Tbsp at a time), then stir in cream and salt. The mixture will be very thin, but will thicken as it cools.
  7. Pour into a separate container, then place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes.
  8. As the caramel cools, make the caramel buttercream.
  9. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle or whisk attachment, until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and salt on a low speed.
  10. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with the heavy cream and caramel, which will help thin the frosting.
  11. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 

Notes

This recipe makes about 7 cups of frosting.

Paddle Attachment vs. Whisk Attachment

Either a paddle or whisk attachment can be used to make this frosting. I like to use my paddle attachment when making frosting for a cake, to minimize the amount of air that is incorporated into the frosting. This makes silky smooth frosting, which is easier to smooth onto cakes.

I use my whisk attachment when making frosting for cupcakes, which I like to be light and fluffy! I like to incorporate air into frosting for cupcakes, because I usually pipe massive swirls onto each cupcake.

Leftover Caramel

The caramel sauce recipe will yield about 3/4 of a cup of caramel, but you will only need 1/3 cup for this salted caramel buttercream. It's hard to make that small of a batch though, so I prefer to make enough to have some leftover for topping ice cream or cupcakes!

I like to pour my extra caramel in a squirt bottle (for drizzling over cakes), but a mason jar or Tupperware container would work great too.

This caramel will keep for several weeks in the fridge. I usually store it in a plastic bottle (and pop it into the microwave to reheat it), but an airtight container would work great!

How Much Buttercream Do You Need?

I usually make 1 1/2 batches of frosting to stack and frost a seven or eight inch cake. If you decide to make this amount, you'd need to use 162 grams of a caramel sauce.

One batch of frosting can be used to frost about 24 cupcakes with large swirls.

Nutrition Information

Yield

7

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 1139Total Fat 61gSaturated Fat 38gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 165mgSodium 417mgCarbohydrates 153gFiber 0gSugar 150gProtein 1g

Sue

Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Hi Chelsey , I can’t wait to try this recipe ... can you use this frosting for cookies ? And can you color the frosting too ?

Salted Caramel Macarons: Detailed Recipe & Step by Step Tutorial

Sunday 24th of January 2021

[…] a ring of salted caramel buttercream onto one macaron shell, fill the center with salted caramel sauce and top it with a second shell. […]

Joanna

Sunday 22nd of November 2020

Came out so much better than I thought I could achieve thank you!

Elena

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Hey! I love your cakes so much! I haven’t made a carmel frosting before and I am trying to find the perfect recipe. I love the consistency of your frosting. I was wondering if this frosting has a good carmel taste and not as much as a salt taste? I have seen other recipes using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. What is the difference in taste? Or is it the same carmel taste?

AMY

Friday 19th of March 2021

@Elena, I have used brown sugar for caramel frosting and it comes out gritty. Using this recipe with the caramel sauce made with white sugar has a similar great taste but not a gritty texture.

Tabitha

Friday 1st of May 2020

Could this be altered to a normal Carmel buttercream and not so much of a salted caramel? I love salted, however my husbands birthday is coming up and he does not.

Chelsweets

Friday 8th of May 2020

Hi Tabitha,

You can totally make this cake with normal buttercream! Just don't add the caramel to the frosting, and add in a bit more heavy cream to thin it to the right consistency. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

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