Salted Caramel Buttercream

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I’m kind of obsessed with caramel lately, especially when there is salt involved.

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Ever since I made these bars a few months ago, caramel has been on the top of my list for delicious dessert ingredients.  There is something about the rich flavor and silkiness that keeps you going back for more.  After seeing this Caramel Sauce at Trader Joes so many times, I finally gave in and bought a jar.  In order to keep myself from eating the entire thing with a spoon, I figured I should use it in a recipe.

caramel sauce

What better way to use the sauce than in buttercream?  It creates a delicious icing that has the perfect hint of salt and caramel flavors, but not in an overwhelming way.  To keep the buttercream from being too sweet, I used cream cheese as a thickening agent.  That way, I didn’t have to use too much extra sugar.

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This Salted Caramel Buttercream would go well on top chocolate or vanilla cake, maybe with some sort of peanut butter filling.  I used it to ice some low fat vegan chocolate cupcakes.  It’s all about balance;-)

Start with room temperature butter and cream cheese

butter and cream chs

Beat them in a mixer on high for a few minutes, until light and fluffybutter cream cheese creamed

Add confectioners’ sugar carefully, when mixed in turn mixer back to high speed

add sugar

Beat in vanilla

add vanilla

Then add the caramel sauce

add caramel

Beat on high speed until all ingredients are well combined; if frosting is too liquidly, add extra sugar

caramel buttercream

Use to top cake, cupcakes or eat with a spoon

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Salted Caramel Buttercream


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce

Cooking Directions

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese in a mixer on high for a few minutes, until light and fluffy
  2. Add powdered sugar carefully, when mixed in turn mixer back to high speed
  3. Beat in vanilla
  4. Then add the caramel sauce; beat on high speed until all ingredients are well combined
  5. *If frosting is not firm enough at this point, add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time


frosted cupcake 6

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56 Responses to “Salted Caramel Buttercream”

  1. Lauren February 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    Holy heaven on a cupcake! That buttercream looks sinfully delectable ;).

  2. Erin Hutton February 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    WOW!! That looks wonderful. I’ve been into the sweet and salty combination lately and there’s a Trader Joe’s nearby…this could be dangerous. :)

  3. Victoria (District Chocoholic) February 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Salted caramel is amazing. And such a cool idea to use cream cheese to add some tang to the frosting – I’ve only done straight up buttercream.

    For a while, I was on a caramelized white chocolate kick. That stuff worked nicely on many things. Including…a spoon.

  4. Bethany February 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    OH my goodness that sounds incredible!! I lurv me some salted caramel — that sweet and salty thing is great! And genius to use cream cheese — a little tang is a great balance.

  5. Veronica February 13, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Oh, I looooove caramel buttercream but I didn’t use salted caramel sauce so I’ll have to do that next. I made my own and would do it again, this time adding fleur de sel since we don’t have no stinkin’ Trader Joes. I wish. Your comment about balance made me laugh and reminded me of a friend who took my suggestion to make “diet cake” by mixing a cake mix with a can of diet soda (nothing else–that’s it!) and turning it into cupcakes which she frosted AND filled with cream cheese icing. She had a similar idea as you. :) BTW, making cake that way actually gives you a really moist and tender cake! Try it some time.

    • KeepItSweet February 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      oh homemade caramel sauce would work really well!

      i used to do the diet soda cakes but haven’t in a long time! good reminder:-)

  6. actorsdiet February 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    so good to know about that TJ’s product!

  7. ann February 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    I’m loving this cupcake. I’m going to have to run to TJ’s for some of that delicious looking caramel sauce.

  8. Jenn (Cookies Cupcakes Cardio) February 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    YUM! I would definitely use a spoon to eat that! Why waste it on a cake ;) I am very disappointed not to have Trader Joe’s in Canada…but I guess it saves me from myself!

  9. Baking Serendipity February 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    I am always up for a caramel recipe :) Combined with buttercream sounds fantastic! I’m ready for another Trader Joe’s trip now… :) Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • KeepItSweet February 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      Thanks, happy Valentine’s Day to you!!

  10. Kristina February 14, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    Buttercream frosting-yummmmm!!!!! You never fail!

  11. TheHealthyApron February 14, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    I just love coming to your blog! such fantastically delicious looking recipes! Buttercream frosting is my favorite, so I’m positive I would love this!

  12. Madison Mayberry February 14, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Oh yum! What a fabulous adaptation of buttercream. And I love me some TJ’s any time of the year. :)

  13. kateiscooking February 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    I’ll take caramel any day over chocolate. And, that looks like an awesome way to use it!!!

  14. Monica February 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Adding the caramel to buttercream frosting is a delicious idea. Who needs the cupcake? All I need is a spoon and a bowl of the frosting!

  15. Lindsay @Eat, Knit, Grow February 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Salt caramel is my favorite! Yum. I could just eat that frosting right from the bowl. Spoons optional!

  16. eatinglikeahorse February 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    This looks so amazing, I almost wish I hadn’t seen it! Hee hee, never tried salted caramel, but as soon as I read this, I can see why it’d be brilliant, thank you! :-)

  17. Simply Life February 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    oh I looove carmel – these look amazing!

  18. happywhennothungry February 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    This buttercream looks delicious! Yum!

  19. Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum February 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Oh geez. This looks amazing. I made a less fancy version of this for my husband’s birthday this week – but mine featured Cool Whip. :) Dang. I need to step it up!!

  20. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite February 15, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    This looks entirely wonderful. There is nothing better than a sweet + salty combination! Oh and I have the same cupcake liners, which I just adore :)

  21. Rachel Wilkerson February 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    This looks AMAZING! I love sweet and salty together…mmmmm.

  22. Crepes of Wrath February 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Everything I love in one cupcake – how ever did you know?

  23. Evan @swEEts February 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    My fiance requested a chocolate cake with cream cheese icing for his birthday.. this is the perfect recipe! I can’t wait to try it out :) I’ll let you know how it goes!

  24. briarrose February 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    Oh my…lick the bowl! Love caramel.

  25. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking February 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Oh these look so good. I always love reading your blog because you always have something great I want to try! I hit a milestone on my blog and I want to Thank You for helping make it possible I really appreciate the nice comment that you left on my blog. Thanks Again.

  26. Joanne February 16, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    I eye that little jar of salted caramel just about every time I’m in Trader Joe’s. And wonder what it would be like to take it home and cuddle with it in bed with a spoon.

    I should probably take it home and make buttercream with it instead! Sounds fabulous.

  27. Jen @ keepitsimplefoods February 16, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    These sound so amazing! Love the salty/sweet combo.

  28. Susi February 16, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Oh man, that is one dangerous sounding buttercream. I’m not sure it would ever make it on cupcakes or if I would just eat it with a big spoon :o)

  29. Kayla February 16, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    These look so yummy and the frosting looks to die for!

  30. Megan February 16, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Oh my! I am a huge fan of salty sweet treats…and I love to make cupcakes! This is going down on my list! I love it!

  31. Kristina Vanni February 17, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    Outstanding! I am a sucker for anything salted caramel…

  32. Joy February 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Those looks wonderful. Hmmm Salted caramel

  33. Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan February 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Oh man. I am going to have to veganize this ASAP! It sounds amazing!

  34. Brian @ howtobaker February 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Caramel buttercream is amazing! I’m actually making salted caramel tonight for a new candy creation I’m working up but this looks great. I can’t wait until they open the Trader Joe’s by my house this summer.

  35. Shauna from Piece of Cake February 24, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Wow! This sounds divine. I now have to head to Trader Joe’s and track down that caramel sauce!

  36. mikelanne March 15, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    i have been thinking of doing a good salted caramel frosting but was going to introduce it into a traditional buttercream… i love the idea of adding cream cheese instead!

    • KeepItSweet March 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      It worked out really well… I may or may not have eaten it out of the freezer with a spoon;-)

  37. Pretty. Good. Food. June 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Yup, hungry now. I would like a bowl of this. I don’t need the cupcakes or cake layers. Just a spoon.

  38. Molly @ Toffee Bits and Chocolate Chips August 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    OMG!! AWESOME idea. I’ve been seeing this amazing looking, not too expensive caramel sauce at Central Market and I haven’t bought it b/c I was looking for the perfect thing to make with it. This is certainly a have to try recipe!

    • KeepItSweet August 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      This buttercream was so easy and delicious, definitely worth a try with the caramel sauce you found!

  39. Veronica August 31, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    i forgot about this one until the sweet and salty party-now I have it saved! This is right up my alley.

  40. yvonne October 11, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    hi Lauren!
    I cannot find salted caramel sauce anywhere in Singapore where I live, only caramel sauce for ice cream. (which looks a bit liquid to me) Can I still use it and just add normal salt? (I dont have the special fleur ones too)
    Do you think its possible? (:

  41. yvonne October 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    how about if i dont make my own? I’ve tried twice and failed ):

    • KeepItSweet October 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

      If you can’t find a thicker caramel topping, maybe try using a higher proportion of cream cheese to butter to make the frosting a little thicker.

  42. yvonne October 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    thanks for the tip! i’ll try increasing the cream cheese to butter ratio ((:


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