This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
Try adding salted caramel frosting to your next cake for an extraordinary dessert experience. The sweet and salty combination is purely magical. It stands out from vanilla and chocolate frosting.
Salted caramel pairs well with so many flavors. Chocolate, vanilla, apple, and pumpkin to name a few. It’s also the perfect addition to homemade fudgy brownies.
Homemade caramel sauce is what gives this frosting such an incredible flavor and texture. Prepare the caramel ahead of time and you’ll be able to whip up this frosting in a snap.
The addition of salt balances out the extreme sweetness. Let’s face it, American buttercream and caramel are plenty sweet on their own. Combining the two is sugar overload. But in this frosting recipe, the salt makes them work beautifully together.
Once you give this light and fluffy caramel icing a try, you will turn to it time and time again.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- You don’t need heavy cream for this recipe! The caramel sauce is pretty thin and will make the frosting thinner than usual. Adding cream will cause it to be too runny.
- Adjust the salt level to suit your taste. Mix in a little at a time until it’s perfect for you!
- While the recipe calls for homemade caramel sauce, you can use storebought. It will work just fine.
I have become obsessed with coming up with the best frosting recipes. My latest favorites include strawberry frosting, peanut butter frosting, and Swiss meringue frosting. And today, I’m adding salted caramel frosting to the list.
The caramel flavor really comes through and the texture is so silky. I used the same technique as my vanilla buttercream to make the base.
The powdered sugar is whipped in very well to make the frosting smooth and light. The caramel is added last. If you add the caramel before the sugar is well incorporated, you’ll end up with a grainy frosting that’s hard to fix.
My caramel frosting will crust over slightly so keep that in mind if you plan to let it sit out for a while.
You only need four ingredients for salted caramel buttercream. But, you’ll need more to make the caramel sauce so be sure to head over to that post and grab the recipe.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter so you can control how much salt is in the recipe. And make sure it is softened to room temperature. It shouldn’t be oily or melty.
- Powdered sugar: I always look for confectioners’ sugar that contains cornstarch as the anticaking agent. It’s the best for American buttercream.
- Caramel sauce: Make the caramel sauce from scratch or you can use storebought.
- Salt: I prefer to use fine sea salt. And you may not need the full amount called for in the recipe. Adjust it to your taste.
To make this icing you’ll need:
- Mixer: You can use a handheld electric mixer (affiliate link) or a stand mixer (affiliate link) fitted with the paddle attachment (affiliate link).
How to make salted caramel frosting
This buttercream frosting is astonishingly easy to make. The most difficult part is making the caramel. Those steps are included in my homemade caramel recipe.
The Caramel – The caramel is made with my tried and true recipe. I suggest making it a day in advance. It needs to cool completely before using it.
The Frosting – I used my vanilla buttercream as a base but modified it slightly. You just whip the butter and powdered sugar together until it no longer feels gritty.
Step 1: Beat the butter
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
It should be pale in color and creamy.
Step 2: Add the sugar
Add half the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed just until the sugar has fully moistened, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed just until the sugar has fully moistened, then turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until well incorporated, about 3-5 minutes.
Allowing this extended mixing time will ensure the sugar is well mixed in. Otherwise, the frosting will have a gritty mouthfeel.
Step 3: Add the caramel
Add the caramel and beat on medium-high speed until well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Step 4: Add the salt
The recipe calls for 1.5 teaspoons of salt. You may not need all this. It’s going to depend on your palate.
Start by adding ¼ teaspoon. Beat it into the frosting on medium speed.
Stop and taste the frosting. If it’s not salted caramel-y enough, add ¼ teaspoon more salt. Continue to do this until you have the flavor you desire.
ⓘ If the frosting has too many air bubbles, mix it on low speed or by hand to knock them out. You may not be able to get all the bubbles out but this method will help reduce them.
If you like this salted caramel frosting, you’ll love these other tasty caramel recipes:
- Salted Caramel Ginger Macarons
- Caramel Apple Pecan Streusel Pie
- Butterfinger Cheesecake with Caramel Drizzle
- Caramel Sweet Potato Pie
Originally published August 2015. Post updated August 2020 with new photos and a video. A slight change to the recipe was made to create a silkier texture.