Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe


Southern Caramel Cake. It’s just hard to beat it. It is one of my family’s all-time favorite cakes – especially for holidays, birthdays and major celebrations.

You can just count on it appearing to make those special occasions even more special.

Memorable even.

It’s odd to put that much significance on a cake, but you know, that’s just the way it goes around my house.

Southern Caramel Cake

my family’s original Southern Caramel Cake Recipe


I’ve talked about this cake before and how much the recipe means to my family.

The original cake will forever be a family-favorite.



Anything used for my baby’s first birthday cake has to be extra special. Don’t you think?

Oh my goodness. Just seeing that photo makes my heart melt.

Where has the time gone?

But thankfully, we weren’t celebrating my baby’s birthday this past weekend. I’m not exactly ready for him to be 11 yet. It was my Mama’s turn.

So, since my Mama has given the world to me, I thought it was only fitting that I make her very favorite cake for her on her birthday. But, I did something we’ve never done in my family. I changed the recipe!


I did. I really did.

And I wasn’t struck by lightening.

I went to bed and slept well.

I woke up and pinched myself because I hadn’t gone to…. well, you get the picture.

Before I go on. You really can’t go wrong with the original Southern Caramel Cake recipe that I’ve shared and made a thousand and one times. It’s perfect. No kidding. Perfect.

But, if you want to have a little fun with this cake and change things up a bit, you might just fall in love with this version, too.

So. Here’s what I did.

I made the cake recipe and the frosting recipe both just a touch lighter.


Salted Caramel Buttercream Cake


And I mean lighter as in texture, not as in calories. Just to be clear.

Just look at that texture!


Let me just say, no one refused a piece.



And the birthday girl loved it.

Please note that this recipe makes a three layer, 9-inch cake. I used the batter from one of the layers to make my Little Buddy some cupcakes. He couldn’t wait.

Here’s the recipe for my Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting that I think you should make for your next special occasion.

Like a birthday, anniversary, engagement, shower, or just because it’s Wednesday.

That’ll do, too.

4.7 from 23 reviews
Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Southern Caramel Cake is always a favorite. This version with Salted Caramel Buttercream is out of this world!
Serves: 12
Butter Cake Recipe
  • 3 cups flour, all-purpose
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Salted Buttercream Frosting Recipe
First Stage
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup Crisco vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Second Stage
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
Butter Cake Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans with shortening and flour.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter until fluffy and then add sugar. Cream together for about 8 more minutes.
  5. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream together after each.
  6. Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Combine each addition of flour and then turn mixer on high to add air into the batter.
  7. Add vanilla and beat well. Turn mixer on high once vanilla has been incorporated for about 10 seconds to lighten batter.
  8. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
  9. Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
Salted Caramel Buttercream Recipe
  1. Add all ingredients from the first stage of the frosting recipe in a 3-4 quart pot. Stir ingredients with a wooden spoon as cooking over medium-low heat.
  2. Cook to softball stage (235-245 degrees on a candy thermometer as well as using the cold water test).
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a whip attachment, whip the caramel until it has cooled enough to touch lightly.
  4. Add the butter and salt from the second stage of the frosting recipe to the mixing bowl and whip.
  5. Add confectioner's sugar in ½ cup increments, stopping after each to scrape sides of mixing bowl. Turn mixer onto high for about 10 seconds after each addition to incorporate air into the frosting.
  6. Adjust the amount of confectioner's sugar to result in a frosting that will hold it's shape.
  7. Frost cake and store on a cake plate covered with a dome or an airtight container.
  8. Best served within 1-3 days.
For easier frosting of cake, wrap tightly in parchment and aluminum foil and freeze overnight. Brush the cake with a pastry brush to remove loose crumbs and then frost the cake with a light layer of frosting to create a crumb coating. Then, frost the cake as normal.




Robyn xoxo


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  1. 144


    just tried to make the frosting… And basically it just kept bubbling higher and higher until it boiled over all over my stove. I have never made caramel before so WAY more instructions would have been helpful, or some pictures… Hoping I can figure it our before Hubby’s bday tomorrow.

  2. 145

    Chelsea says

    This cake was pure perfection! The cake was easy enough to make. My only worry was the icing. I have never made caramel before and this was a concern. The instructions were so straightforward that I easily succeeded and my icing was magnificent. I am so beyond excited to have made this cake. It was a challenge but it tastes so good! Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I’m sure my boyfriend is going to love it!

  3. 148

    Kara W says

    ABSOLUTELY delectable. I was expecting it to be sweeter due to the amount of sugar in the recipe, but it was actually a wonderful balance between cake and frosting. Next time, I will try brown sugar, as my frosting turned out to be quite white!

    • 149


      Just a hint to some who have had problems with the frosting–be sure you are using pure cane sugar. Some store brands of sugar contain beet sugar. I have found that beet sugar will not caramelize and so in this recipe that may be a factor. Years ago I tried to caramelize sugar in a skillet to make caramel for a recipe and it only lumped up but would not melt and turn brown. After several failures, it occurred to me that the sugar was the problem so I checked the bag and it did not say “pure cane sugar” so after that I made sure to buy cane sugar and never had that problem again.

  4. 150

    Michelle says

    So I usually never take the time to comment because I am a bit lazy after I have made a huge mess in my kitchen but this salted caramel buttercream is too good to not share about! OMG it is just perfect. I wish I could describe the flavor but it is escaping me except to sit here gaping open mouthed remembering how good it is and wondering i 11am is too early to eat another slice. The only changes were made were out of necessity but then it still ended up turning out perfect so I thought I should share.So I was out of shortening so I used 1 cup of butter in phase 1 of the frosting. I made sure it cooked to 235 and was a tiny worried it was getting too dark but after I whipped it the color changed to the same as your photos. It took at least 10-15 minutes to get the temp up and it started out very foamy like when I make buttermilk syrup.

    Then in phase 2,I was in a rush so I poured the caramel into my stainless steel kitchenaid bowl and put it in an ice bath. I was once again a little concerned that the oils in the caramel looked like they were separating, but once it cooled and I whipped it up a little with the whisk attachment, it was fine. I waited until the caramel was cool enough not to melt the softened butter you add in phase 2. I also only had a 1/4 cup of butter left. I added it and whipped up the frosting with scant 2 cups of powdered sugar and lo and behold, perfect caramel frosting. It frosted beautifully and it had great texture. Not at all grainy or overly sweet like I was worried about before starting. I have to admit I did not use the cake recipe offered here because I had another butter cake recipe from food and wine magazine that I had been wanting to try, but considering how great this buttercream concoction is, I am betting the cake is amazing as well. Thanks for a forever recipe. I can promise I will be using it as a default frosting from now on!

  5. 151

    Janet says

    Do you need to add any actual caramel? If so how much and what type? Really want to make this cake! Thanks for the recipe.

    • 152

      Janetjanet says

      Thank You – I followed your recipe step by step and it is divine! Thank you so very much! I have never made caramel before and it is delicious. So, for the other people out there who don’t know the first stage of the salted cream recipe makes the ‘caramel’ and it is delicious!

  6. 153

    Meghan says

    My frosting turned out much paler and significantly more mild then many salted caramel cakes I have had. I soft ball tested and everything (bordering on a firm ball test), but the color failed to become amber…more beige. I’m sure this is why the caramel tastes so mild. Any idea why? And my finished icing was also slightly grainy. Suggestions?

  7. 154

    Candy says

    Unable to print recipe no matter how many times I tried. I even ended up trying a cut and paste at the end of it all and still unable to print it! My printer is fine as it has gone on to print without any problems. Just thought I would let you know and wonder if anyone else has experienced this issue?

  8. 156

    Brianna says

    So firstly, this cake is INCREDIBLE. Absolutely delicious. If anyone has eaten the caramel cake at the Piece of Cake bakery in Atlanta, this tastes JUST like it. I’ve moved away from Atlanta so I’m thrilled to have found a remedy for my craving!

    But I did have a lot of problems with the vague instructions for making the icing. It took me multiple tries to get it right and almost caused me to ruin my kitchen aid mixer in the meantime. The first stage hit 235-245 degrees way before it was actually ready. It didn’t start becoming golden and caramel-y until higher temperatures. I also had to up the temp a lot. I have a very strong stove top but medium-low wasn’t cutting it. I was successful at medium-high temps. I wish more instructions and tips had been given on how to know the icing is ready or when you’re getting close, etc for people like me who don’t have any experience making caramel cakes.

    Other side notes – This was only enough batter for me to make 2 9-in layers, not 3. And to get layers of icing as thick as they are in the pictures, I would recommend doubling the recipe. I made one batch and my icing layers were probably half the size as the ones in the pictures.

    But I was so relieved when the cake ended up being worth the trouble. It was so so yummy.

  9. 157

    Vicki Donovan says

    I bake quite a bit and found this recipe most intimidating. The cakes were dry, and the icing was grainy. The consistency of the icing was very thick. It did not spread well and I had to patch it by hand and smooth with a warm wet knife. The icing had a good flavor, but the grainy part bothered me. I am going to wait until the afternoon to see if the icing is too hard to be icing and I may have to go buy a store bought cake as I made it for a friend’s birthday.

  10. 158

    Beth says

    The frosting was by far the most intimidating. I was patient with the caramel and did the softball test as instructed; however, once I started adding the confectioners sugar, the icing wasn’t puffing up to icing consistency – it was still rather dripping. I added up to another full cup of sugar and then noticed it was getting dense… a tbs of milk didn’t help either. Right now I’m letting the frosting cool and will then try whipping it again, but is there a reason why the icing is more drippy than forming peaks? And what can I do to fix it??

    • 159


      Hi Beth,
      Sorry the frosting gave you problems! While I’m not certain what happened, it sounds like the caramel needed more whipping time to incorporate the butter before adding the confectioner’s sugar. Once you add the confectioner’s sugar and it incorporates, you’ll want to turn the mixer on high speed to whip a lot of air into the frosting to lighten it up. About 20 seconds or so per cup. Since all of the sugar is now in the caramel, I’d try putting it back in the bowl and whipping it on high, watching it carefully, to get some air worked into it. Good luck!!!

  11. 160

    Lisa says

    I’d been searching for a ‘real’ caramel frosting recipe (i.e., not brown sugar) to make some salted caramel cake balls, and since the butter cake recipe looked fantastic as well, I made both. It was heartbreaking to have to crumble it up for the cake balls — the texture was just too perfect! Next time (and there will be many next times), it will be served as a cake so that texture can be properly appreciated.

    This is far and away the best caramel frosting I’ve tasted, too. I thought I’d ruined it somehow when my caramel sort of clumped up towards the end of the whipping/cooling time, but the powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk brought it right back together.

    Raves from everyone who’s tasted the results so far. Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. 162

    Dave says

    My frosting did not turn out as brown as that pictured. I could only get the temperature to 200 or the pot would boil over. Would that make a difference in color? What are the dimensions of a 3 – 4 quart pot?

  13. 163

    Berna says


    I tried your BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER and it was a hit! Now, I’m searching for the best caramel cake recipe for a change and ended here at your blog. I would love to also try this recipe because I’m a SUCKER for caramel and I love caramel! I only have 2 questions. What is “softball stage”? (newbie baker here he he) and I can’t seem to find a liquid buttermilk here. Can I use a powder buttermilk instead? Hoping for your reply. Thanks!! :)

  14. 164

    Cathy says

    Just a quick question…

    On the southern caramel cake recipe you mention using salted butter in the cake batter, is that the same for this recipe? Also, is it salted or unsalted butter in the frosting?

    • 165


      Hi Cathy,
      Real bakers always recommend using unsalted butter and adding your salt. I never remember to buy it and just use salted butter for it.

  15. 166

    Bess says

    Hi! I tried my hands at this recipe the other day and, for some reason, the cake came out with a consistency closer to that of a pound cake. I reviewed the ingredients and directions multiple times and cannot figure out what would have caused this. Any thoughts?

  16. 167


    Thank you for the amazing recipe! I made it for my girlfriend’s birthday and it was a huge hit. I have to question though to see if maybe I did something wrong.

    1) The cake didn’t rise very much (3, 9 inch round cake pans), is that normal? They rose maybe about 30-35% of the original batter size. Any idea why this might be if it was supposed to be more?

    2) I would like to try to make the cake more moist (personal preference). I used greek yogurt instead of buttermilk, but wanted your opinion on adding applesauce for moisture. I’ve used it on other recipes with great results.

    This is the second recipe I use from your website and I look forward to making more!

  17. 169

    Mindy says

    I just made these but as cupcakes. They are excellent!!! I had no problems with the recipe it went smoothly. It made 30 cupcakes. I put the frosting in a zip lock bag with a star tip and piped it on. It looked great. I’m at high altitude so the only thing I changed was the boiling temperature for the soft ball stage in the frosting (2 degrees lower for every 1000 feet in altitude). I didnt change anything with the cake and it turned out great. It’s definitely a keeper. Thank you Robyn : )

  18. 170

    Kate Wyllie says

    I did not see an reply to the Two Women that asked about substituting butter for Crisco/shortening??!!?? I am not a fan of Crisco/shortening….if one is to “go for the Gold”, I’ll head for the Butter!!

    I would like to know if there is a scientific reason for not using Butter!

    Warmest regards,

  19. 172

    Traci says

    I made this cake yesterday just to try it out because I have been looking for a yellow butter cake recipe that isn’t dried out. It was GREAT!!! I did a homemade chocolate icing though and my family loved it! thanks so much, my search is OVER!! This one is a KEEPER.

  20. 173

    Lacie says

    Pinned this recipe for my 6 y/o bday cake. She wanted the salted caramel frosting…This is the best tasteing frosting I have ever made!!! My only concern was that I may have jumped the gun on adding the second stage of ingredients (not sure it was cool enough). The frosting seemed really thick, not air-y at all. Should I have added more confectioners?? Re-whipped it once it cooled?? Any suggestion would be great!!

  21. 174

    Julie says

    Just wanted to thank you so much for posting this recipe. When I was growing up, every year for my birthday I got a caramel layer cake from Sanders bakery (out of Detroit area, MI). When I was a teenager, the bakery changed owners and the caramel cake was never the same. I’ve made several recipes but have never found one that even comes close. This recipe is pretty perfect!! Thank you so much, I loved the cake (couldn’t stop eating it) and it brought back great memories of childhood. :)

    • 175


      Oh thank YOU so much for sharing that with me, Julie! I am so glad you love the cake and that it brings back special memories. xo

    • 177

      Christina says

      Hi, I made the cake yesterday for my teenage daughter’s 16th birthday party, and I used Copha instead of Crisco. I’ve just now been hiding in the kitchen finishing off the last slice that got overlooked…yum.

  22. 178

    Deb says


    I’m generally not one to comment on recipes from the web. However, the Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting Recipe is the exception. The cake and frosting are wonderful!! The cake batter yielded soft, moist layers that were perfect. The frosting is absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for such an awesome recipe. I will definitely make this cake again.

  23. 179

    Anne Mae says

    made it….it was AWESOME! Sent half of the cake to my 94-year-old neighbor, she loved it too. So good I had to share, or I would have eaten it all myself. Best caramel cake recipe I have found on the web. thank you.

  24. 180


    Wow!! the frosting looks so adorable, thick, heavy but soft, Only the magicians can arrive at this result!! definitely going to try this!!

  25. 181

    Gretchen Meyer says

    Made these last weekend for Mother’s Day (made into cupcakes easier to share) SO delish!

  26. 183

    Sylvia says

    Had pinned this salted caramel cake a while back and finally made it today for my daughter’s birthday. I had some troubles. I did the batter in three round pans but had trouble with two of them sticking to the bottom even though I greased the shortening and floured the pans. Maybe they were not cooled off enough. I was able to salvage the bottoms anyway and with the frosting in between, I didn’t think it would be that noticeable which it wasn’t. I cooked the caramel to soft ball stage and put it in my stainless Kitchenaid bowl and beat it on about medium till it was “cool to touch”. Next put in the butter and the powdered sugar. I failed to note that you said to put the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup at a time and dumped all in at once. It would not come together and stayed in little balls like it was separated. I thought a little more butter wouldn’t hurt so I put in about two tablespoons. That did not help so I thought I would add some half and half as I did not have any cream. That made the frosting finally come together. I didn’t know how much to add so I went ahead and started frosting the cake, but the consistency was real dense and heavy and the frosting kept pulling away and would not stay on the sides of the cake hardly at all.
    Do you think all this problem with the frosting was caused by my putting the whole amount of powdered sugar in at once. I so wanted the frosting to be light and airy like regular buttercream frosting. Is this over-all a denser frosting? I would like to try it again because it did have nice flavor.

  27. 184

    Bonnie says

    I pinned this a while ago as a recipe to try and finally gave it a go yesterday. It was a colleague’s birthday and I wanted to make cupcakes (easier for the work environment) for her (she doesn’t do chocolate). Oh. My. Goodness. They were incredible. I foolishly ignored the caution not to overfill the trays as the cake was so light, and my first tray were a bit popped over, but the rest came out beautifully and the frosting was to die for. I have a loathsome electric stovetop that has historically given me no end of trouble in the caramel making department, but I kept the heat low and my candy thermometer in place and the caramel came out heavenly. Will definitely be keeping this recipe around!

  28. 186

    Kaci says


    I came upon your recipe during a late night pinning binge, and had to make this cake! So, yesterday while my daughter dyed Easter eggs with her best friend and grandparents, I whipped my best with my kitchen aid and aunt. The cake was incredible! I’d give it a pretty high difficulty level, because if you’ve never baked from scratch before, this cake can be daunting. However, the flavor is a solid 1,000,000/10. The cake is a great supporting role to the creamy, buttery, ever so daintily salted caramel iced star. My frosting came out almost the texture of modeling chocolate. I absolutely loved the ease of spreading, verses the age old Wilton buttercream (which obviously pales in comparison in flavor as well!) All in all, the extra effort was definitely worth the extra flavor, and smiles on my family’s faces as they enjoyed it this Easter Sunday!

  29. 187

    Lacey says

    Hi Robyn! I just wanted to tell you how amazing your cake is! I’m new in my boyfriend’s family, and there have been a lot of issues of us being together (long story), but this cake truly broke the ice with them. My boyfriend’s sister, who went to culinary school to become a pastry chef/baker, was blown away by this cake, and everyone in their family has been requesting I make birthday cakes and dessert for family events even though his sister is a professional. No jealousy here though as she happily gobbles up this cake. The reason I was writing was because I followed your directions to a ‘T’ the firs time, and ended in tears. You see, I sat in my kitchen crying because I needed to take this cake to a 70th birthday party, and this was nearly identical to what the birthday girl enjoyed from her mama as a child. My frosting had stiffened up into what appeared to be a giant soft caramel chew. I stared at it for about 20 minutes wondering what I did wrong, and bemoaning the fact I was going to have to rely on an overly sweet back up, when I threw the big ball in my Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment, and began adding milk a TABLESPOON at a time. Wouldn’t you know, that that did the trick and the milk allowed my frosting to become a spreadable consistency?! Being an absolute perfectionist, I also was taking too long to frost the cake, and my frosting hardened. As long as you add milk and stir it well, your cake won’t tear and your frosting will spread beautifully. No one even knew what troubles I had had, and the cake was gone within 10 minutes. Thanks!

    • 188


      What a great story, Lacey! Isn’t it amazing how food really can bring people together? Especially cake! Love your tip on saving the frosting. xoxo

      • 189

        Angie says

        Can the cake be put into cupcakes? Going to try this for my college aged son. His favorite is caramel cake and he is going to visit his girlfriend this weekend and wanted something portable. If so, how long to cook a dozen pan cupcakes?
        Nervous to try the icing which is why I thought I would start on cupcakes! 😉

  30. 191

    Erin says

    Hi… I’m new to your blog, and I’ve decided to try may hand at making this cake :) My problem is that I only have 2 nine inch pans… my other 2 pans are slightly smaller. Any suggestions? Can I make this with only 2 layers? Thanks!

  31. 192

    Coco says

    Just stumbled upon this recipe via Pinterest. I hardly ever bake, but I was just looking for something sweet and fun to make my husband and son after I get off work today as a nice surprise. “Just because it’s Wednesday.” How perfect. Thanks for the smile, and the recipe; can’t wait to try it!

    • 194

      ann says

      I always substitute butter. Crisco is just so unhealthy. Sometimes you need just a bit less butter as compared to partially hydrogenated oil.

  32. 195

    Annette says

    Saw this recipe on Pinterest and KNEW I wanted to give it a try – first, I live in a high altitude setting and it’s difficult to make layer cakes that bake well. I did not alter the ingredients, but did bake @ 325 for a bit longer (about 35 min) and it baked perfectly.

    Second, I was a bit nervous about the frosting because I don’t have a candy thermometer. However, I kept a bowl of chilled water next to me and tested the mixture every now and then. Just when I thought it would never brown (or form a soft ball in the water), both happened. Consistency of the final product was excellent.

    If the recipe makes you nervous because you don’t have all the equipment – just give it a try, trust the process, and be patient. It’s delicious! Best way to celebrate an Aunt’s 60th birthday!

    • 196

      Melanie says

      Thanks for your post. I found it very helpful. I too don’t have a thermometer and am on my second try at the frosting. I rushed it the first time and never got it to a soft ball in water. I’m being more patient this time.

  33. 197

    mistie says

    Just made the cake and went exactly by the recipe and it came out PERFECT! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

    • 198

      Bonnie says

      The note said freeze overnight, is that the frosting or the cake you freeze? If it’s the frosting, how long does it take to thaw? Why do you need to freeze it, is it runny?


  1. […] Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting – Well, I usually fall for pretty much anything with “salted caramel” in the title, but combine that with something called “butter cake” and I’m a lost cause. This recipe from Add a Pinch totally jumped to the top of my “to make” list. […]

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