Browned Butter Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

A delicious pumpkin and autumn spice cake that's enhanced with the rich flavors of browned butter, and sweet and salty caramel. This cake is sure to impress!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pumpkin cake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 559 kcal
Author: Jaclyn



  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, diced into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 2 1/4 cups (318g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups (324g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups (395g) canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk

Caramel sauce

  • 1 cup (210g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cup (56g) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream


  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups (375g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (from above)
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Chopped pecans, for garnish (optional)


  1. For the cake: Add butter to a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Melt butter and allow to brown, whisking occasionally (for how to see link here). 
  2. Pour into a 4 cup bowl and allow to cool in refrigerator until creamy and nearly set, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Alternately, chill fully overnight, then let rest at room temp until softened, about 20 - 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, line with a round of parchment, butter parchment and lightly dust pans with flour, shaking out excess. Wrap cake pans with cake strips if you have them.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves for 20 seconds.
  5. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cooled browned butter with 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time adding in vanilla with last egg.

  6. In a bowl or liquid measuring cup mix together pumpkin and buttermilk. With mixer set on low speed add in 1/3 of the flour mixture (to the butter mixture) and mix just until combined then add in 1/2 of the pumpkin mixture and mix just until combined. Repeat process once more with flour and pumpkin mixture then finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture until nearly combined.

  7.  Fold batter with a spatula to evenly incorporate. Divide batter amoung two prepared baking pans and spread batter into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 25 - 30 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Meanwhile prepare and chill caramel sauce.
  8. For the caramel sauce: Have all caramel ingredients ready. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, water and sea salt. Set over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until it begins to boil, then allow mixture to boil until it turns to a rich amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally.
  9. Immediately whisk in butter then remove from heat and whisk in cream (be careful, it will steam! A long handled whisk is recommend) and stir until smooth. Allow to cool several minutes then pour into a glass bowl or jar and chill caramel until completely cooled.

  10. For the frosting: Whip butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of the cooled caramel sauce, sea salt and vanilla. Mix until well combined and slightly fluffy. 
  11. Chill until it becomes a more firm consistency if needed. Spread over cake and drizzle some of the remaining caramel sauce over cake just before serving. Sprinkle with pecans if desired.