Salty, sweet and delicious, this Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe instantly elevates every dessert from basic to EPIC with the least amount of effort. Its so delicious – its hard to stop eating it out of the mixing bowl!
What is Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting?
Its a delicious buttery cake frosting that tastes like buttery sweet caramel with random sharp pops of sea salt. Unlike vanilla and chocolate frosting, this salty buttercream icing is more complex because you have multiple flavors working at the same time. Its one of the best frosting recipes to use for special occasions!
Why make this frosting ?
I stumbled on this frosting one weekend, when I had this overwhelming craving for one of those old fashioned, seriously decadent cakes that my mom bakes – you know the ones with loops and loops of frosting. It was the middle of quarantine so the only way that this was happening was if I made it myself.
Most recipes call for store bought caramel, but I had none at home and my goodness it was so hot, so I made the caramel part from scratch.. I was shocked at how easy it was to make.. and the fact that homemade frosting is just so much better.. To top it all off, unlike other frostings, its very aromatic so both the cake and my house smelled wonderful.. Homemade caramel sauce has a much more intense caramel flavor than store bough dulce de leche!
You only need six ingredients for this recipe and you might just have everything you need in your pantry at home. Unlike cake batter, it is not necessary to use room temperature ingredients.
- Unsalted butter – I like using unsalted butter because I like to control the amount of salt in the frosting. If you use salted butter, you will most likely not need to add any additional salt.
- Dark brown sugar – Both dark and light brown sugar work – I really like the more intense taste of dark brown sugar.
- Evaporated milk – I like how the taste of evaporated milk pairs with caramel – however the recipe works with any kind of milk you might have on hand – from almond to skim milk, half and half and even heavy cream.
- Sea Salt – The sea salt ingredient for this recipe is the best part – it needs to be coarse and ground. You cannot substitute the sea salt with table salt because it is produced by the evaporation of seawater. The sea salt is gently folded into the frosting and melts in small clumps. As a result when you eat the frosting you get these random explosions of delicious saltiness which is what differentiates salted caramel from caramel. You can easily substitute kosher salt for the sea salt
- Confectioner’s sugar – is a key part of the body of the recipe because it is very fine and has a neutral taste. Granulated sugar or brown sugar really doesn’t work as a substitute.
How to make this Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
This American buttercream frosting is surprisingly easy to make – you basically make the caramel, mix in a few basic ingredients and then whip in the sugar. As a finishing touch, fold in a pinch of sea salt.
Make the salted caramel sauce
Step One: Place the butter, table salt, evaporated milk and brown sugar in a small pot on low heat. Stir the mixture and cook until all the brown sugar dissolves.
Step Two: Raise the heat to medium. Do not stir. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until a bubbly froth forms in the center and covers about half of the pot and the mixture turns amber. Do not overcook or the caramel will turn bitter. The mixture will look somewhat grainy and separated. Pour directly into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer to cool to room temperature. As the mixture cools it does look rather unappetizing – however once you stir it – it looks like caramel.
Make the Frosting
Step One: Add about half the powdered sugar to the caramel mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat first on low speed until the sugar is mixed. Turn the speed up to medium speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture turns into a silky smooth frosting. Repeat with the remaining half of the sugar. If the mixture looks too thick – add a little evaporated milk. Add a pinch of salt if needed – avoid over salting the frosting because the sea salt which will be added in the next step, will also add a layer of saltiness. Sprinkle the buttercream frosting with sea salt and fold into the frosting. Try not to mix too vigorously at this stage because you don’t want to break up and dissolve the the sea salt. It takes about 10 minutes for the sea salt to take effect so you won’t taste the full effect of the salted caramel immediately.
. You are now ready to layer and decorate!
How much frosting do you need?
The amount of course, depends on how you intend to use it. I have used it to cover a two layer 8″cake and also a cover and decorate a 9″ bundt cake. The recipe produces enough frosting to fill double layer cakes with a light crumb coat frosting – which is perfect when you want to use a mirror glaze. This Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe should work for a 9″x13″ sheet cake.
If you like to generously swirl frosting on your cupcakes (I love that!), you can frost about 12. If you use a knife to apply the frosting you could probably frost 24 cupcakes.
How long does buttercream frosting last in the fridge?
To store buttercream frosting in the fridge, simply store it in an air tight container. Do not add the sea salt until ready to use. Buttercream frosting will last about a week in the fridge. It is important to make sure you use an airtight container as the buttercream frosting will absorb the flavors of other food in your fish like fish and meat. To use, put the frosting outside for about a half hour or until the buttercream frosting reaches room temperature. Re-whip to bring it back to it original, fluffy consistency and fold in the sea salt.
You can store buttercream frosting for about 3 months in the freezer. If you make large batches of icing, you store it in a freezer-safe airtight container or freezer bag. Do not add the sea salt until you are ready to use the frosting. When ready to use, thaw the buttercream frosting overnight in the fridge. Before actually using, bright the frosting to room temperature by keeping it outside for at least 30 minutes. Re-whip to bring it back to it original, fluffy consistency and fold in the sea salt.
How long can buttercream sit out at room temperature?
All butter buttercream frostings will melt as soon as it comes to room temperature so it is really advisable to put it back in the fridge when not in use. Buttercream frostings which include shortening can stay out longer – sometimes for up to 2 days.
How long does a buttercream frosted cake last in the fridge?
Buttercream frosted cakes last in the fridge for about 3 days. There is no need to cover a cake because the frosting acts as an insulator and the cake will stay moist. That being said buttercream frosting tends to absorb the flavors of food especially meat and fish so if you have other food, it is a good idea to cover the cake with a large plastic bag.
You can freeze a decorated buttercream frosted cake for up to 1 month. To do this, freeze the decorated cake, uncovered in the freezer until it is frozen (about 4 hours). Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn and put back in the freezer. The day before you want to use the cake, simply remove the foil and wrap and defrost overnight in the fridge.
Each serving of this delicious Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting has about 223 calories, 12.3g of fat and 28.3g of carbohydrates.
This Salted Caramel Recipe yields approximately 8 servings. The nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe nutrition calculator and is intended for informational purposes only and should be used as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.
How to use it..
The best way to eat this addictive caramel buttercream icing is by itself, very slowly with a spatula ..directly from a large bowl. However, all kidding aside, it’s the perfect icing for cakes, brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Salted caramel buttercream frosting goes particularly well which chocolate cupcakes.
In addition to classic chocolate, this Salted Frosting Recipe frosting pairs unusually well with Chocolate Mousse Cake, gingerbread and carrot cake. I have made this quite often as a birthday treat for my daughter and it has been a hit every time.
You can also get quite creative with this frosting – one night we mixed it up with popcorn…omg..
More Dessert Recipes
- Chocolate Mousse Cake – A moist chocolate cake layered with a ridiculously rich yet light and airy mousse and finally covered with a silky, smooth layer of creamy chocolate ganache. Make it up to two days ahead and present a stunning stress free centerpiece for your next dinner party.
- Mini Blueberry Pies – If you love those pops of sweet, plump blueberries and crisp, flaky pie crust soaked in melted vanilla ice cream, this recipe is for you… Not only is this an extremely elegant dessert but if you have some pastry already on hand, (store bought is fine), you can have these pies on the table within 30 minutes ..
Shemai – Creamy Vermicelli in Sweet Rose Infused Cream – there is something irresistible about the cool, silky strands of roasted vermicelli suspended in rose infused cream. This is a celebratory dish served in the Indian subcontinent, typically cooked by a loved one to mark an important occasion and new beginnings.
FINALLY, IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE
I’d love to hear how it went – please leave a comment and rate this recipe. Above all, I love hearing from all of you and will do my best to answer each and every comment!
Salted Caramel Frosting
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp table salt optional
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 3 tbsp evaporated milk divided
- 1/2 tsp sea salt for sprinkling
Make the salted caramel sauce
- Place the butter, table salt, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of evaporated milk in a small pot on low heat. Stir while warming to make sure that all the brown sugar dissolves.
- Raise the heat to medium. Do not stir. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until a bubbly froth forms in the center and covers about half of the pot and the mixture turns amber. Do not overcook or the caramel will turn bitter. The mixture will look somewhat grainy and separated. Pour directly into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer to cool to room temperature. As the mixture cools it does look rather unappetizing - however once you stir it - it looks like caramel.
Make the frosting
- Add about half the powdered sugar to the caramel mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat first on low speed until the sugar is mixed. Turn the speed up to medium speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture turns into a silky smooth frosting. Repeat with the remaining half of the sugar. If the mixture looks too thick - add a little evaporated milk. Add a pinch of salt if needed. Sprinkle the buttercream frosting with sea salt and fold into the frosting.
- Consistency - If the butter melts and the frosting looks too runny, put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then re-whip. If the frosting is too firm, add a little more milk.
- Balance the sweetness - I think the sweetness of this frosting is just right but if you feel that it is too sweet, add a teaspoon of vanilla to balance it out.
- Make ahead/storage - The frosting freezes beautifully and will store for up to 2 months. You can make it ahead and keep it for about a week in the refrigerator. To use, bring it to room temperature and re-whip to desired fluffiness.
- Best served at room temperature - cold frosting is firm and not as creamy.
- This recipe yields approximately 8 servings. The nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe nutrition calculator and is intended for informational purposes only and should be used as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.