If a drizzle of caramel can make any dessert more desirable, imagine what a dollop of caramel buttercream will do! This caramel buttercream recipe is simply the best. And it all starts with a delicious caramel sauce that's whirled with butter and powdered sugar.
This recipe only requires three steps. In fact, the hardest part is waiting: There's a short period of waiting for the caramel to cool between Steps 2 and 3.
Typically, a buttercream like this is reserved for cakes and cupcakes, but there are so many more fun ways to use it! After the recipe, I've shared a few ideas and pairings, too
Caramel buttercream recipe
Makes enough to cover up to a 10" single layer cake or 1 dozen standard cupcakes
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cold butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup salted butter softened
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
First, make the caramel sauce for our caramel buttercream. Since we're only cooking a small amount of sugar, we’ll judge the doneness by color instead of using a candy thermometer.
Place sugar in a small pot, over medium-high heat.
Keep a close eye on it and whisk it as the sugar begins to melt.
Once the sugar turns a golden, almost amber color, immediately remove it from the heat. It will continue to cook and caramelize.
After removing from the heat, immediately add 1 tablespoon of cold butter and whisk until melted. The mixture will bubble vigorously.
Next, add the heavy cream and whisk. Then add the vanilla and whisk again until it's incorporated and the sauce is free from any lumps. If you do have lumps, keep whisking and it will eventually smooth out.
Let this mixture sit and cool for about 15-20 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place softened butter and powdered sugar. Beat on the lowest setting first to avoid a puff of sugar coming out of the bowl.
Once the butter and sugar come together, add the caramel sauce. Scrape the sides and beat on medium speed. I typically stop my mixer two or three times to scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure the caramel sauce is perfectly incorporated into the buttercream.
Use as desired (or eat with a spoon)!
Caramel buttercream pairings and usage
Now that you have your beautiful and flavorful buttercream made, there are a number of delicious ways to use it.
Obviously, you can use it to cover cakes and swirl on top of cupcakes. But there are other flavor profiles to try that pair well with caramel!
Here are a few of my favorites flavors
- Hummingbird cake
- Salted caramel
- Sweet potato
And a few of my favorite buttercream delivery vehicles:
- Cake rolls
- Whoopie pieces
- Cookie towers