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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Salted caramel chocolate cupcakes-your favorite coffeehouse drink in cupcake form!

I’m SO EXCITED to share with you all this cupcake recipe. I truly believe this is the best cupcake I’ve ever made. The buttercream tastes exactly like the first sip of the salted caramel mocha drink you get at Starbucks (well, sans caffeine).

It’s my favorite holiday/seasonal drink and now it’s in cupcake form – brilliant!

I brought this cupcake to so many people. I brought it in for my coworkers and I brought it to happy hour with my friends. Upon my arrival with the cupcake box to the bar, the bartender asked me, “oh, are those cupcakes from the cupcake place in the shopping center?” You have no idea how awesome it felt to tell her, “nope, I made them!” with a big, cheesy grin :) I love that my frosting skills have improved so much. I remember my first few trials with frosting. Oh man, those were the days!

These will probably be the moistest cupcakes you will EVER EVER have. Seriously. Also, in the process of buttercream recipe testing, I ate so much buttercream that my hips are cursing me and my jeans aren’t happy!

Alright, so, if you aren’t in the mood to get up to go to Starbucks, whip up a batch of these and you won’t even miss that green lady in your hand :)

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert, Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 dozen
  • 1 box devil's food cake mix
  • 1 package of Jello instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • For the salted caramel buttercream:
  • 15-20 caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 3-4 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with baking cups.
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl, mix together cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Mix very well. Gently stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  3. Equally divide the batter into the baking cups, filling ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, let cool for 5 minutes in pan, then remove and place them on wire cooling racks to cool completely.
  4. In the meantime, make your buttercream by first melting the caramel candies and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the caramel is all melted, stir in ½ tsp. of salt.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the remaining 1 tsp. of salt.
  6. Gently add half of the powdered sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Then drizzle in the caramel while the mixer is on low. If the caramel has hardened up a bit that you can't pour it, heat it up just enough so you can pour it into the mixer with ease.
  7. Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until well combined.
  8. Put the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a pastry tip of your choice.
  9. Pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.
  10. Store cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
The frosting won't be enough for you to pipe as much as I did on all the cupcakes. You might want to double the frosting if you want to pipe a lot like I did, or you can just pipe a tiny swirl :)

Cake recipe from Kevin & Amanda



  1. 10/03/2012 at 6:37 am

    what a brilliant compliment! they do look so professional! and they sound absolutely delicious!

  2. 10/03/2012 at 6:54 am

    Julie these are gorgeous! Your icing looks amazing!!

  3. 10/03/2012 at 7:53 am

    I can almost taste these…

  4. 10/03/2012 at 9:08 am

    I seriously almost just licked my computer screen. WANT.

  5. 10/03/2012 at 9:43 am

    Anything with salted caramel, and I am in heaven!

  6. 10/03/2012 at 9:53 am

    These cupcakes look amazing! Can’t wait to try these!

  7. 10/03/2012 at 9:56 am

    would you believe i’ve never had a salted caramel mocha in my life? either way, these look fantastic + i’d love to get my hands on one right now!

  8. 10/03/2012 at 9:57 am

    Looking good. =)

    I bet they’re waaaay tastier that that “cupcake place in the shopping center”! hehe

  9. 10/03/2012 at 10:09 am

    Those cupcakes look fantastical, Julie! Salted caramel–it can do no wrong, yo. Plus, I LOOOOVE that you used boxed cake mix to dress these pups up.

  10. Pam
    10/03/2012 at 10:10 am

    These are so good! Perfect combination of salty and sweet!

  11. 10/03/2012 at 10:40 am

    these look fantastic Julie!! So glad you are feeling better :)

  12. 10/03/2012 at 11:47 am


    That is all I can say.

  13. 10/03/2012 at 11:51 am

    Now, this I would adore!!!

  14. 10/03/2012 at 11:57 am

    These cupcakes look to die for!

  15. Julie Carpenter
    10/03/2012 at 11:58 am

    These are delicious!! I am lucky to work with Julie, and she shared one with me. Absolutely amazing!

  16. 10/03/2012 at 12:03 pm

    These look so good! I think you should eat one of these with the Starbucks Drink!

  17. 10/03/2012 at 12:19 pm

    Love this recipe! My mom has always added a pudding mix to boxed cake mix and it always makes them so moist. I have to try this buttercream too!

  18. 10/03/2012 at 12:45 pm

    Those cupcakes look gorgeous and fresh looking. You really got me hooked on this – cake mix + choco pudding…what’s easier and fun way for semi-homemade. :D

  19. 10/03/2012 at 12:58 pm

    Oh my god give me the frosting right now… and a side of cupcake ;)

  20. 10/03/2012 at 12:59 pm

    I absolutely love this flavor combo – one of my favorites of all time! I’m not a coffee person so I’ve never had the Starbucks drink, but I’m confident I’d love these all the same :)

  21. 10/03/2012 at 1:18 pm

    Your frosting looks incredible – so high and it sounds heavenly!

  22. 10/03/2012 at 2:11 pm

    I can not even handle that frosting! Looks so good!

  23. 10/03/2012 at 2:18 pm

    The fact that you melted caramel into the frosting is JUST PLIAN GENIUS!!!!! I.AM.MAKING.THESE!!!!

    • 10/03/2012 at 2:30 pm

      Yessssssssssss! You will LOVE!

  24. 10/03/2012 at 2:37 pm

    That frosting sounds INSANE!! Love it!

  25. 10/03/2012 at 2:57 pm

    Woah, that frosting sounds incredible! The whole thing sounds incredible!

  26. 10/03/2012 at 3:24 pm

    Wow, Julie, you’ve really outdone yourself here! I need to make these ASAP, eat like 10 of these, and then burn off the calories at the gym for 2 weeks. It’ll be so worth it :)

  27. 10/03/2012 at 4:20 pm

    You have mad frosting skills and these cupcakes look down right delicious!

  28. Christine M
    10/03/2012 at 5:51 pm

    Hi, can you tell me which size of devil’s food cake mix box you used? The sizes are now varied by manuf. Some are 15.25 and some are 16.5 – Thank you!

    • 10/03/2012 at 6:11 pm

      I don’t remember. I used the Duncan Hines Deluxe Moist devils food one. So I guess find that one & see what ounce size it is? Sorry!

  29. 10/03/2012 at 6:03 pm

    I’ll take two please. They look absolutely perfect!

  30. 10/03/2012 at 10:18 pm

    Wow these are stunning, Julie! These seriously have my mouthwatering. I would have no willpower around these.

  31. 10/03/2012 at 11:42 pm

    If you don’t bring me five of those, I’m making you snuggle with the dog this weekend. Actually you probably won’t have much choice- he’ll probably cuddle with you anyway hahah We need to fit some baking time into the weekend haha

  32. 10/04/2012 at 12:07 am

    omgahh. i love salted caramel flavor. this is a total win ♥

  33. 10/04/2012 at 8:17 am

    that frosting…salted carmel sounds so delicious right now!!!!!

  34. 10/04/2012 at 9:47 am

    These look amazing! Love the salted caramel/chocolate combination!

  35. 10/04/2012 at 10:42 am

    Hi Julie! I’ve made these exact cupcakes before – you just cannot go wrong with chocolate and salted caramel. Love the chocolate cupcake recipe, too. You get the ease of a boxed mix with a unique homemade taste. It’s brilliant!

    Salted caramel mocha lattes are my mom’s favorite starbucks drink. Anything salted caramel is my favorite though! Beautiful piping job too!

  36. 10/04/2012 at 11:08 am

    Woah…these look AMAZING! I want one. Now!

  37. 10/04/2012 at 1:00 pm

    My face wants to be all up in that buttercream.

  38. You had me at salted caramel. This is my all time favorite fall/holiday flavor! The frosting sounds fabulous!

    If you’re ever in AZ stop into Zinburger – they have a salted caramel milkshake that is to die for!

  39. Christine M
    10/04/2012 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks Julie, that helps alot! these are on my “to-do” list

  40. 10/04/2012 at 2:14 pm

    Oh man! Chocolate and salted caramel heaven! Um, yes Ill take all of them please!!!

  41. 10/04/2012 at 7:44 pm

    I thought I already commented, but these look wonderful!

  42. 10/04/2012 at 8:14 pm

    The fact that you said this tastes just like the first sip of Starbucks is my main motivation to make this frosting ASAP!!! I adore salted caramel…probably a little too much as my jeans are not happy with me either! I love how absolutely perfect your frosting looks:-)

  43. Kim
    10/04/2012 at 9:10 pm

    Could you color this frosting? I need blue frosting for my son’s party.

    • 10/04/2012 at 10:23 pm

      Yeah, you probably could. I just don’t know if the light brown & blue would make a funky color or not.

  44. 10/04/2012 at 9:19 pm

    Okay. You know what? I have to stop visiting your blog until my husband comes home! You are killing my diet!

  45. 10/05/2012 at 9:57 am

    Whoa. You’re good at piping! I might have gasped when I saw that last picture. And I love this combination!

  46. Melanie
    10/07/2012 at 4:41 pm

    These cupcakes are amazing! I just finished them up and couldn’t resist a taste test! I sprinkled a little crystallized sugar on top.

  47. 10/10/2012 at 5:58 pm

    Your cupcake frosting look spectacular! I’ve been practicing but my pipping skill is a disaster :( Love love love your blog by the way!!!

  48. Ana
    10/15/2012 at 3:23 pm

    Wow, another hit Julie! The perfect combination of sweet and salty. I could just eaten the buttercream as it was simply divine. And the cupcake was yummy too! Very moist and full of chocolate flavor. Loved the mini chocolate chip “surprise”. Highly recommended for baking!

  49. Heidi
    10/27/2012 at 5:11 am

    This recipe is amazing!!! The cupcakes turned out delicious and tasted as good as they looked on your blog which is always a thrill! Thank you for sharing!

  50. Kayla
    11/01/2012 at 10:49 am

    Was your frosting taffy like?
    I made this with those little caramel melt balls instead of the candies and my frosting was thick like a soft taffy.
    Too much caramel?

    • 11/01/2012 at 11:06 am

      No, my frosting was stiff & buttercream like. Definitely not taffy-like. Yes, likely too much caramel.

  51. Brenda
    12/02/2012 at 4:56 pm

    I just made these & they are amazing. Cake is moist. Frosting is perfect. Thanks for this great recipe!

  52. Debbie
    12/10/2012 at 3:57 pm

    I followed the recipe exactly – they were yummy and the frosting is definitely caramel with a wonderful salt flavor.

  53. Michele Jones
    12/19/2012 at 10:20 am

    Going to try this! By the way, what size box of pudding? There are the tiny boxes and med size boxes…

    • 12/19/2012 at 10:28 am

      It’s the 3.4 oz size.

  54. Eileen
    12/23/2012 at 8:41 pm

    Just made these for my families Christmas Eve party! They’re amazing. I’m sure everyone will devour them in a matter of minutes LOL.

  55. Jaquielyn
    01/25/2013 at 8:39 am

    Found your blog from Katelyn James’ website!! This recipe looks incredible!! Do you recommend any particular brand for the caramel candies?

    • 01/25/2013 at 8:42 am

      No brand, just really any caramel candies you can find. I’ve used Milk Maid and Kraft brands before, though, if that helps you at the store! :) thanks for popping by!

  56. Angela Grishow
    02/05/2013 at 1:26 pm

    What kind of mini choc. chips did you use? Semisweet?

  57. 02/22/2013 at 11:21 am

    happily pinning your yummies – thank you for sharing and making me drool! ♥

    • 02/22/2013 at 11:53 am

      Thank you, friend!! :)

  58. Mialee
    03/12/2013 at 6:49 am

    Hi! These are delicious! I had a hard time with the frosting though. Definitely not able to pipe it. It was very thick and stiff. I could pick up the frosting and smoosh it like a pancake then lay it on top the cakes ha! Ideas of what I did wrong? Too much caramel? Too much/not enough powdered sugar? Over mixing, not enough mixing? Caramel too hot??? I want to take these to a party, but would like them to look better this time. Thanks!

    • 03/12/2013 at 8:19 am

      I think it’s too much powdered sugar. If that happens, you could add a tbsp. of milk at a time until you get it to the consistency you want.

  59. Jenn
    07/25/2013 at 10:01 am

    This frosting is delicious, I made it once before, and now I have a friend requesting it on cupcakes for a birthday party. My question is can this frosting be made two days in advance? If so, what is the best way to store it?

    • 07/25/2013 at 10:42 am

      You could probably make it and store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Then, before frosting, take it out and let it sit to room temperature.

  60. Tracy
    11/18/2013 at 9:16 pm

    Just made these for my husband to take to work. Did you double the frosting recipe in order to get that much on each cupcake? It didn’t see to want to stretch that far (nor did it want to pipe as neatly as yours). I’m not thrilled with the way mine look but they taste delicious!

    • 11/19/2013 at 8:26 am

      Hi Tracy! I’m so glad you enjoyed these, they’re one of my favorite cupcakes, ever! No, I didn’t double the frosting, I just used what I had and frosted about 6-7 of them with the mile-high frosting you see, and then the rest, I just spread on with a butter knife :)

      • Tracy
        11/19/2013 at 11:14 am

        Thanks for replying. Your frosting is good enough to eat with a spoon! I wonder if you’d consider making a note in the printable recipe about the frosting. Since step 9 says to pipe the frosting on, I assumed you had done so on all of them. Might save other cupcake bakers a little frustration if they know in advance that the recipe does not make enough to pipe that much on all of them.

        Can’t wait to hear what my husband’s co-workers think. They got good reviews from my random taste testers! :)

      • 11/19/2013 at 11:48 am

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll go add in a note :)

      • Tracy
        11/19/2013 at 5:47 pm

        Thanks! I should have also told you that my teenage son LOVED the cupcake (without the frosting) and thinks it would be a good cake for hot fudge cake (with vanilla ice cream & hot fudge sauce). We’re trying it tonight!

  61. Alicia
    01/03/2014 at 2:29 am

    I just made a practice batch before my daughters birthday to see how I could make these work at high altitude. It was pretty simple, I just made the adjustments that the devils food cake said to (1/4 cup all purpose flour and 1/4 cup water) and followed the rest of this recipe exactly. They turned out great! Also I got the frosting to dye to a pastel green so I know a darker color would turn out fine as well.

    • 01/03/2014 at 8:31 am

      I’m so glad you were able to modify this accurately for high altitude, Alicia! I hope she enjoys it!!


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