Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes


All the flavors of a caramel apple in a moist, fluffy, generously frosted cupcake. I’ll take 10 please! These cupcakes are fabulous to say the least. My husband said they were his favorite cupcakes ever, so I guess they must be pretty good =). I will admit coming up with cupcake recipes is no easy task. My first recipe attempt wasn’t what I was looking for so I made a few alterations, such as reducing the sugar and butter slightly, omitting baking powder, and adding lemon juice to help imitate the slight tartness of a caramel apple (I may even add more next time). I also used coarsely grated apples the first time around and found I didn’t like the texture. They seemed to make the cupcake too heavy as well so I went with the finer grate the second time around and it made a world of difference.

If you like caramel apples this is definitely a recipe you’re not going to want to let this Fall season go by without making. If you aren’t a fan of salted caramel feel free to omit the sea salt. If you want to make them extra fancy you could add some vanilla bean seeds to the caramel sauce or the frosting. And for an added crunch you could sprinkle them with chopped pecans or walnuts.
Be sure to be careful when making the caramel as you are working with boiling hot melted sugar here. Also really pay attention to its color while it boils as it will go through stages. Through the clear, the light golden, to golden orange, then amber and at last the dark amber. Be sure to allow it to become dark enough in color but also making sure it doesn’t become too dark. It’s color is key. If it is under cooked or over cooked the caramel wont be the right consistency and wont have the right flavor. When it’s too dark it is burned and tastes bitter. When it’s under cooked it will taste more like butter and sugar than caramel and it will be too runny.
I absolutely love homemade caramel sauce. Once you make it at home you’ll have a really hard time buying the stuff at the store (that’s made from mostly corn syrup). The homemade caramel sauce is the crowning jewel of these cupcakes. Enjoy!


Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Yield: 2 dozen


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup salted butter , at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce , at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely grated Granny Smith Apples (about 4 small apples, peel them first)
  • Caramel Frosting , recipe follows
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt , or to taste

Fluffy Caramel Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter , at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup Caramel Sauce , recipe follows (cooled completely)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, blend together butter, sugar and applesauce until well blended and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in eggs one at a time mixing until combine after each addition. Blend in lemon juice and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Fold in finely grated apples (as well as the juice of the grated apples). Divide batter among paper lined muffin cups filling each cup about 1/2 full. Bake cupcakes in preheated oven 17 - 19 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely then frost with Caramel Frosting. Just before serving, drizzle cupcakes with leftover caramel sauce and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Store cupcakes in an airtight container.

Fluffy Caramel Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add powdered sugar and blend on low speed until mixture comes together. Add caramel sauce and vanilla and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy about 3 - 4 minutes.

Caramel Sauce

  1. Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a glass jar to cool completely.
  2. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy


  • sally @ sallys baking addiction: gorgeous cupcakes and beautiful photo composition Jaclyn! I LOVED the salted caramel frosting paired with a spiced apple cupcake when I made my version. They scream FALL! October 2, 2012 at 12:50pm Reply

  • sandra / from-snuggs-kitchen: mmmh yummy! I will bake that tomorrow :D
    greetings from germany October 2, 2012 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: These are absolutely stunning! They’re almost too pretty to eat! October 2, 2012 at 10:50pm Reply

  • Julia | These cupcakes are out of this world! October 3, 2012 at 1:57am Reply

  • Jaclyn: Thanks for the comments =)! October 3, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Peggy G.: These are so beautiful! I bet they’re quite tasty too =) October 8, 2012 at 2:02pm Reply

  • Kim: I’m working on these cupcakes–I ruined my caramel sauce following your directions, I think it went too long and burned. I’m curious what’s the reason why you have the water and boiling off of the water as a step? I’ve got another caramel sauce recipe that works better for me where you just melt the cup of sugar straight off and then add cream. I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing batch of cupcakes though! October 25, 2012 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: Kim – sorry to hear that! I think many people find the water method is easier and you are less likely to burn the caramel when it’s added. I noticed Elise over at Simply Recipes mentioned something similar here: I think that the start sugar method is a trickier method for people but whatever works best for you I’d say definitely go with that. I hope you enjoy the cupcakes though =)! October 25, 2012 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Wendy: Just made these. I’m not much of a baker, but these are very easy and delicious. I used a store bought caramel sauce because I had it already on hand, and it was still good. Great recipe, it’s perfect for the fall! November 10, 2012 at 5:37pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Wendy – I’m glad you enjoyed, thanks so much for your comment! November 14, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

  • Anonymous: Hi Jaclyn, just wanted to stop by and say we just made your cupcakes! Weren’t quite ambitious enough to make the caramel sauce but the cupcakes were wonderful all the same! They taste great slightly warmed like cinnamon rolls :) November 10, 2012 at 8:41pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That sounds delicious warming them a bit! Thanks so much for your comment! November 14, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

  • Nicolette: These were delicious, and they were a hit on Thanksgiving! I’ll be saving this for the future! December 8, 2012 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Anonymous: I made my own cupcake recipe,but used your caramel and frosting recipe and that caramel is to die for! Making it again right now for another event tomorrow. :) December 15, 2012 at 5:43pm Reply

  • Bernadette: These look great! I tried the caramel recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake and had a hard time with it. I use sugar in the raw which starts out a tan color so I couldn’t tell when it went through the stages – it’s hard to tell when an already tan sugar turns amber! Is there a temperature I could look for with a candy thermometer? I know it wasn’t at the right stage because it never bubbled when I added the cream. It still tasted good but didn’t have the really rich flavor I expected. January 24, 2013 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Shanzay: I tried making frosting, it turned out great but when I started piping it over my cupcake, it started melting… What could be done to make it perfect ?? That stays over it ?? February 8, 2013 at 7:28am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Shandzay – I would recommend next time that you use chilled caramel sauce and also make sure you cook the caramel sauce long enough so it has a thick enough consistency. You could also use firm but not cold butter or reduce the amount slightly. I hope that helps! February 8, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

  • Ashley: Wow these look so good!

    I’m making a cake for my best friend’s birthday and she absolutely loves caramel apples; I’m planning to stack a cake and carve it into the shape of an apple, fill it with caramel frosting, and cover it in chocolate fondant. Do you think this recipe would hold up to being stacked as a layer cake? March 18, 2013 at 10:04am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think that it should but I wish I could say I’ve tried it before with success, I’ve only ever made this recipe as cupcakes =). If you do try it please let me know how it goes! March 19, 2013 at 4:05pm Reply

  • Jamie: This sounds soooo good! We’re making it in cake form. Cake is cooling right now. Had a bear of a time with the caramel sauce though; not enough water, we think. It seized and crystallized instantly before it even started changing color. After that, we used a “cheat” caramel recipe using brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Once it’s all together and we have some tonight, I’ll report back! I love caramel apples, so this sounded just lovely! August 17, 2013 at 2:56pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: If that’s the case with your caramel sauce you may just want to reduce the heat slightly next time. It shouldn’t need more water, to make a caramel sauce you actually don’t need any water at all but I prefer to use it because the caramel doesn’t usually burn as easily if water is used. Caramel can be pretty tricky though, sorry yours didn’t turn out!! I hope you love the cake! August 18, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

      • Jamie: I’ll definitely have to try making the sauce again; I’m determined to get it right. I was just impatient yesterday. :) The cake was delicious. Oh, that frosting…YUM! Thanks so much for the recipe! August 18, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

  • Brett: These cupcakes were so delicious! my husband, who swears on his life that he ONLY likes chocolate cake, devoured them…I’m talking within an hour of frosting them, there were only maybe 3 left…thanks for the wonderful recipe! Definately a keeper! :) August 26, 2013 at 10:58am Reply

    • Jaclyn: That is awesome to hear Brett! I’m so glad they were enjoyed! Thanks for your comment! September 6, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

  • Catherine: Saw these on Pinterest and they looked delicious. I have now made them on 3 separate occasions and every time they are just so yummy! They are our new favorite cupcake by a long run! January 10, 2014 at 11:13pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I am so glad you like them. January 11, 2014 at 1:48pm Reply

  • mercedes: Just wondering, about how long would you say is the shelf life of the caramel?

    Sorry if this was already asked.. December 12, 2014 at 4:07pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: About 2 weeks in the refrigerator. December 12, 2014 at 4:44pm Reply

  • Alia: These are possibly the most delicious cupckaes I have ever had. I made them using gluten free flour, added a bit of milk to the batter at the end to thin it a bit, and only baked them for 15 minutes. Just amazing! September 27, 2015 at 7:35am Reply

  • Sheila: Do you think these would taste good with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting that you used in the pumpkin sugar cookie recipe? I’m looking forward to making these :) October 4, 2015 at 12:34am Reply

  • Maureen: These are the BEST cupcakes I have ever had (cupcakes are typically not my favorite)!!!!! I made them about 2 weeks. I will be making them again this weekend since I just cant get them out of my head!! Thanks for this AMAZING recipe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! October 23, 2015 at 7:56pm Reply

  • Leslie: I was wondering the best way to store these cupcakes? I plan to make them the day prior to serving. Thanks! November 14, 2016 at 3:17pm Reply

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