Southern Caramel Cake Recipe

Southern Caramel Cake from #cake #recipe #desserts #caramel

Southern Caramel Cake is one of those desserts that is a true labor of love. So rich and decadant, it’s a cake that surely takes any special occasion to a whole new level and is by far one of my family’s favorite cakes.


We celebrated two birthdays in my family this past weekend – Mama’s and my husband’s. I asked each of them what kind of cake they would like for their birthday and both of them replied, “Caramel Cake!” Any cake that is requested by multiple people in a family the size of mine for their birthday is definitely a cake to make sure you get just right.

It’s a cake to take pride in, even though mine is a far cry from decorator perfect. Right down to the smudges on the rim of the cake plate. You can surely tell it’s homemade can’t you?

Here’s how I make it.


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Even though professional bakers and cooks say to use unsalted butter, I stick with my Grandmother’s instructions instead and use salted butter. It’s just better that way in my book.



Cream your butter until it is fluffy and then add in your sugar. Cream the two together until they are nice and .. well, creamy.



Add in your eggs one at a time and cream them into your butter and sugar mixture.



Now add in your flour and buttermilk alternately. Start with your flour.


Then buttermilk and the rest of your flour.



Add in your vanilla, give it a quick mix.



Pour your cake batter into three prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees.



Remove from the oven and turn cake out of cake pans onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.

This is when you’ll have time to make your caramel icing.

I’ve previously posted the recipe for Southern Caramel Icing that I use. I do have a slight update though. After I posted my recipe, my Mama told me that if Grandmother had had a big heavy duty mixer, she bet she’d have used it. Thanks for the idea on that Mama. I’m a converted woman!

Once your icing has reached the soft ball stage, pour it into your mixer bowl and whip away until it reaches a point where it holds when you stop the mixer. Basically, if you were to stick your finger in the icing for a taste, someone would be able to tell that you stuck your finger in there. {Not that that is how I test mine or anything!}



Another example is that it looks like this.



Stack, spread and stack and spread again.



And then spread it nice and thick all over.

Then, think about how much I need to take a course in how to decorate a cake.

Make this cake soon for someone you love, to celebrate something special, or just because. You won’t be sorry.



4.7 from 23 reviews
Southern Caramel Cake Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A traditional Southern Caramel Cake recipe.
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups flour, self-rising
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Southern Caramel Icing Recipe, double the recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Cream butter til fluffy and then add sugar and cream for about 8 more minutes.
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream after each.
  5. Add flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
  6. Add vanilla and beat well.
  7. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
  8. Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
  9. Prepare Southern Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then ice cake.


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  1. 71

    Kelly says

    I made your cake a couple of times this Christmas and liked it so much, I am now using the cake part for my 10-layer chocolate cake. I will attempt to do a 10-layer caramel with this recipe soon, as it was requested. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 72

    Chrissy says

    I have another question or two that aren’t real clear on the instructions. What temperature do you cook the icing on? And once it reaches the soft ball stage, do you then convert it into the mixer to whip?

  3. 74

    Jennifer says

    I have just one question. How are you going to say to prepare the caramel icing for the cake and you don’t submit the recipe? I know that everyone has there own style to do things. I would like to see your recipe for this cake.

    Jennifer, NC

  4. 76

    Karisse says

    I have made this cake several times and it always gets rave reviews. However, I am not sure what I’ve done wrong with the frosting as mine is never spreadable after I beat with the mixer. As a result, I’ve been pouring the frosting on the cakes after it cools and thickens some, but then it all doesn’t stay on the cake. My frosting also gets granular as it starts cooling. It still tastes AMAZING and there is never any left, but I want it to be pretty like the picture. Any ideas?

    • 77

      Hope says

      When I took the icing off the heat initially and beat it with my mixer it did have the consistency of melted caramel but, the key is you have to let it cool a bit and beat it on a high speed to get the fluffy consistency. Don’t get nervous that the coloring is a bit darker when you first take it off the heat…when it cools and you beat it on a high speed it turns into a light color.

    • 78

      sandye gillespie says

      Slounds to me like you’re cooking your icing to a higher temperature than is recommended, ;and/or overbeating the frosting after cooking it. the granular part comes form cooking at too high a heat or overcooking it. the sugar re-granulated.

  5. 80

    Angela says

    I made cupcakes with this recipe and they were good. However, I would like to have the caramel flavor throughout the cake. If I substitute half the sugar with brown sugar will it change the outcome of the cake?

  6. 81

    Andrea Barnes says

    Hello Robyn,

    Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful Caramel Cake recipe with me so that I could make it for my family. I started baking (about 7 or 8) different homemade cookie recipes last year at Christmas time as gifts to give and send to members of my family. I wanted to give something thoughtful, special and full of love. I really got into it with decorations from cookie bags with wraps to attaching small Christmas ornaments (bulbs) to the cookie bags with my signature written on them. I loved every minute of it. I found myself in a very happy zone, a different space, when I was baking. You could say that I got the “baking bug”. So I didn’t stop there; I wanted to start baking homemade cakes just like my mother, grandmother and great grandmother and great aunts did.
    Now I have baked other homemade cakes before, and I know that you have to pay close attention when following directions of recipes, homemade especially, because any small mishap will mess it all up. It seemed like it was quite a challenge, so out of fear, I have never even attempted to make a caramel cake.
    Your caramel cake recipe is a “Southern Jewel”. I made the caramel cake and the icing on yesterday. My cake turned out beautiful:) When the cake layers came out perfect, I was jumping up and down:) The icing was perfect as well. My icing was smooth, but it may have been just a tad bit grainy, and I mean just a tad bit to the point where it was hardly noticeable and I jumped up and down:) The icing had a nice, buttery, caramel flavor. It put me in the mind of caramel popcorn or caramel apples. This caramel cake was one of the best desserts that I have ever put in my mouth, and I was so proud of myself because I made this cake. I was sending pictures to my family members and everybody wanted some. Now I refuse to buy cookies and cakes at the stores anymore because I know that I can do it myself at home.
    I did not have the cast iron dutch oven or the wooden spoon on hand. I used one of my heavy boilers to prepare the icing. I have to get a wooden spoon. I used a big size regular spoon and it worked out. I will work on smoothing out every grain in the icing to bring it to an even creamier consistency the next time. My family loves it. I love you and thank you for giving me this gift of a beautiful recipe that I can share with others. Thank you and God bless you and your family.

    • 82


      Yay, Andrea! I’m so glad you loved the caramel cake! It is definitely a labor of love to make, but so very worth it! Believe it or not, so much can contribute to a bit of a grainy texture to the icing. Using a wooden spoon is one of the best ways to eliminate it, as well as not making it when it is humid or rainy. I really appreciate your sweet comment and can’t wait to hear what else you make! Bless you and yours as well. xoxo

  7. 83

    verliene says

    I would LOVE to make this for a funeral I’m attending in a couple days along with my made from scratch Red Velvet Cake. Was just wondering if instead of using the 3 round pans what size rectangle cake pan could be used?? Would 9×13 be big enough? And would I still double the frosting recipe?

  8. 84

    Marilyn says

    Hello, Robyn, it’s my first time on your site and I’m afraid it is for bad news. I recently followed a facebook recipe page and there is currently a lot of drama saying the owner of the page isn’t crediting people for the recipes she is posting… She claims she is. Now, someone has accused her Southern Caramel Cake to be a copy of yours, I am afraid it is… At the very least the cake part is almost word for word from your blog… [link removed]
    I’m sure if you contact facebook authorities something can be dome about this, at the very least you can be credited, since at the moment the owner of the page is maintaining that this was her mother’s recipe.

    Compliments on your recipe, I hope to be making it very soon.

  9. 86

    Rita da Cunha says

    Hi Robyn, when you say one cup, do you mean a cup with a capacity of 250ml? I really really want to try this cake, seems so delicious but I don’t want to give it a go and ruin it because of the measurements. Keep baking and cooking the way you do, I’m already a fan!

  10. 87

    Katina says

    Hello! My grandmother made a cake similar to this haven’t had it in years! So I did not have 3 pans only 2 do I opted on making the cake in a angel food cake pan got a little crusty but altogether good! My icing pretty much turned out good but I don’t know if I beat to much because it cooked quickly and became grainy when I tried to spread it, also beat with wooden spoon! Thx!

    • 88

      Frances says

      Great cake, I made the first batch of icing and it was fine, wasn’t enough. I made the 2 batch and it was grainy. Please tell me what went wrong .thanks

  11. 89

    Alexis says

    Hi Robyn! I made this cake with Coffee Butter Frosting, and it was delicious! But the cake was really dense! And had a lot of bubbles. I’m thinking that I may have overbeat it or something like that, but do you know why it turned out this way? Thank you for the delicious recipe though!

  12. 90

    Brittney says

    Hey Robyn the cake turned out GREAT even the icing but the only problem I had was after it was cut, it got really dry really fast!!!!! What can I do!!!

    • 91


      Hi Brittney,
      Make sure your cake is really, really well wrapped or covered with a cake dome to keep it moist. It should last for a couple of days like that without drying out. This cake is definitely best eaten within the first day or two.

  13. 92


    Hi Robyn,

    I wanted to thank you so much for this recipe. My dad’s absolute favourite dessert in the world is caramel cake. There is reputed to be a family caramel cake recipe passed down from his mother, but due to family politics, I don’t yet have this recipe. I tried very hard to get it from my sisters on his birthday, but none of them were any help. In a panic, I searched the web for alternative recipes. I took a chance on your, and I’m so glad I chose this one instead of any other. It was perfect, and my dad said it was one of the best caramel cakes he had ever eaten.

    So thank you so much for your wonderful recipe. I’ll post a blog about it tomorrow, with a link back to you of course. Please check it out on my site, A Southern Belle in London.


  14. 93

    Mable Mills says

    Made this cake today. My husband loved it. Easy to follow recipe. This will now be a favorite at my house.

  15. 94

    Danielle says

    I made this cake yesterday 5-4-13 for my dad’s birthday and it was a hit! The cake was really great, it’s rich and flavorful. I had a few small problems with the frosting. Notes for next time: I would only use 2- 9″ pans instead of 3. I wasn’t sure how much heat to use when making the frosting. Next time I need to turn the flame higher (med high) when cooking the frosting, I realized how important it to 240 degrees because I was only ably to get the frosting to 220 degrees and it was still a little grainy. The flavor was amazing, the texture just wasn’t quite right.

  16. 95

    Barbara says

    I may be wrong, and I haven’t made this yet: It sounds like the cake is a white cake and it’s the icing that makes it caramel. Just curious. I’m about to use the frosting part for an office party tomorrow.

  17. 96

    Sheila Y. Allen says

    Robyn, I would have to rate this cake 0 stars. The cake was very, course, dense and did not rise. The recipe did not call for baking soda/ powder. Was this omitted in error? Thumbs down!

    • 97


      Hi Sheila,
      Sorry the recipe wasn’t to your liking. The actual recipe calls for self-rising flour, so no – no baking powder or baking soda are needed in making this cake if you use the ingredients called for. Now, if you substitute all-purpose flour for the self-rising called for in the recipe, you will need to add baking powder and baking soda to make the cake rise. I feel sure this is where the problem would have been caused in your cake.

      Hope you have a great week!

  18. 98

    Marcia says

    I made this cake and I must say I was very disappointed. The cake was very dense and did not rise. I thought I followed the directions exactly, but something went wrong. Don’t know where I messed up. Can you help please

  19. 99

    Dwayne says


    Just made your Southern Caramel Cake. As it is said in India, “Holy Cow” this is a good cake. I was raised on a farm in GA and this is as good any my GrandMa ever made. Thank you for posting this recipe.

    The icing was great. I learned that one has to work fast with it.

    Do you have a recipe for a chocolate icing?

    Thank you,

    • 101

      Cathy says

      Are you using a meat/candy thermometer? Make sure you are letting the icing cook to at least 235 degrees.(Thats when it get most of its color.) Once sugar hits 230 it goes kinda fast so you must work fast and be careful because it can really burn you badly.

  20. 102

    Beth says

    I’ve been searching for a yummy caramel cake recipe for my Mom’s birthday tomorrow, hoping to somewhat replicate my late Grandma’s recipe (which is now lost, sadly). Your cake looks scrumptious, but I’m curious what makes the cake taste caramel? I’m a bit of a novice baker so any help is appreciated!

  21. 103

    Sue Smith says

    I could not get the caramel icing recipe link to open either.

    I would like to make this for moms birthday if I an get the icing recipe.


  22. 106

    Ashley says

    I accidentally made this cake with all purpose flour and it was delicious! The cake was more dense but came out wondeful. However when I noticed I mistakenly used the wrong flour. I tried redoing the recipe with the self rising flour. The cake crumbled when I tried to flip it from the pan and did not taste as good as the all purpose. I would recommend anyone who made this cake to use all purpose flour as a substitute.

  23. 107


    I just made the cake for my son’s nanny’s birthday tomorrow. Wow the directions were great! Somehow my frosting was a little too stiff (didn’t even add all the powered sugar) but still a dream to spread. I just had a hard time covering the entire cake. I snuck some tastes and Yum! I can’t wait for a slice.

    • 108

      Cassie says

      Melissa, I don’t know if it would make any difference to the icing consistency, but the recipe calls for granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar.

  24. 109

    PAM says


  25. 110

    sheril says

    Well, I am excited for my birthday cake to have the caramel icing. My question is:
    Idon’t want to use crisco, can I use coco nut oil? Or just a cup of butter?
    Thanks for your reply.

    • 112

      Anna Butler says

      I have two pans and just divided the recipe in half – will take slightly longer to cook but works fine. You can cut the cakes in half horizontally if you want a more layered effect.

    • 113

      Cassie says

      Ramon, I didn’t notice until I printed it, but the cake recipe says to double the icing recipe so you probably wouldn’t have enough icing if you reduced the amount to 2/3. I noticed that a couple of other people said they didn’t have enough icing, so maybe they didn’t notice either.

  26. 114

    Angelica says

    I love this cake and my family does too! I have not been able to perfect the frosting but I have used this cake recipe several times. Thank you for sharing your recipes, do you have a video blog showing how to make some recipes? I would love video instructions on how to make your caramel.

  27. 115

    Sal Emmanuel says

    For the icing have you tried boiling a can of condensed milk for about 2-3 hours and using the cooled contents as icing?

    Looks like a great recipe which I will soon try.



  28. 116

    Anna Butler says

    I made this cake today for my sister’s 39th birthday with the help of my nearly 5 year old daughter. We have a tradition that everyone in the family (regardless of age) gets a birthday cake – and my sister and I have been obsessed with caramel since we were old enough to make chocolate caramel slice. That’s going back a while now…. so when I found your recipe it seemed perfect. We had a ball making the cake – the more eggs to crack the better! And having never made frosting like this I was dubious when I looked at the ingredients in the pot. But some swirling later and wow! What a cake ! The frosting was fantatstic and fudge-y, the cake moist and delicious and both stood up well to the inferno of candles on the top. I just used butter instead of
    Crisco. I have a feeling that this will become a family favourite – and Wellington, New Zealand may be as far south as the Southern Caramel Cake has ventured.

  29. 117

    Jessica Valentine says

    Excellent recipe…Especially the frosting!!!! My 4 yr. old granddaughter licks the bowl every time I make it.
    **It’s an absolute must to double the Caramel Icing recipe..You’ll need the small extra for all of the fingers that go into tasting it :)

  30. 118

    Barbara Hurst says

    I made this cake and frosting yesterday for my sons’ 16th birthday and I was very disappointed with it, to say the least. The cake is extremely dry and the frosting is too thick. And the consensus of my family is that this does not taste like a caramel cake, at least the one’s that we’ve tasted, in any way, shape or form. The frosting is not too bad, except for it being too thick in texture, but the cake has virtually no flavor and lacked the sweetness that a cake should have. I followed the recipe verbatim, so I don’t feel that it was anything that I did incorrectly. I do not like to give negative ratings on anything unless I feel very strongly about it, and this is exactly the way I feel about this recipe. I chose this recipe because of it’s five star rating, and I do not believe it deserves it.

    • 119

      Barbara Hurst says

      To add to my earlier post, I shared this cake with my next door neighbor and she liked it, but also said that this cake did not taste like a caramel cake whatsoever.

  31. 120

    Justine Murekatete says

    Hi Robyn,

    My first attempt at baking a cake was with your caramel recipe.I followed your instructions to the letter and the results was a deliciously superb cake.For a novice baker i was deeply encouraged to try more recipes.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy baking.

  32. 121

    Sandy R says

    I made this cake and I am sorry to say it was a flop!!! I am a busy executive with a day off and would have apprecited more play by play instructions. The icing was clear and the cakes didn’t rise very much.I was so embarresed. My husband thought I didn’t know what I was doing. I am not betty crocker so can you please include cake baking 101?

    • 122

      Dawn B says

      Wow! You pull a free recipe off of a free site that many people have had success with and you attack the woman who shares it? Shame on you.

    • 123

      Angelica says

      Sandy I’m sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you. Baking is an art, some people get it, while others don’t. The most important thing is to add dry to wet (always)! That’s where many fail. Adding the eggs one at a time is important as well. I would suggest you try a cake recipe with a step by step video. It may also be helpful to try a recipe where you can use Swan cake flour.

  33. 124

    Nita T says

    I just got done making this cake. It turned out just like the picture!! I am so proud! The icing took a good hour and a half to cook and cool to the right consistency to put on cake but so worth the time. Thank you Robyn for sharing your recipe!!

  34. 125

    Carrie says

    Hi Robyn!

    I absolutely loved this cake. I made it for my husband’s birthday to expose him to more of my southern roots. He loved it. The only problem was that the cake seemed a little dry. Any tips for making my cake a little more moist? Planning on making it this thanksgiving.

  35. 126

    Leah says

    Hi.. just wanted to know. If I have to resort to using AP Flour, how many Tablespoons of Baking Soda and Powder do I add??

    • 127

      Cassie says

      Hi Leah. I’m getting ready to make this cake and was curious about this as well. Here is an answer from another website.

      Substitutions: Can self rising flour be substituted for all-purpose flour?

      No. Self rising flour contains baking powder and salt. However, if a recipe calls for self-rising flour and you have all purpose flour, you can easily make your own. For each cup of self rising flour needed, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

  36. 128

    Denise says

    I made this cake and icing yesterday for our Christmas dinner. Both the cake and icing were delicious- the icing however did turn out a bit stiff and grainy (I have to work on that…). I have plenty of flour, sugar, eggs etc. so the plan is to experiment (and if need be give my neighbors not so pretty cake until I have it just right….

    Also, after eating the grainy scraps and really enjoying them… I decided to add some good ole Georgia pecans and I made pralines. Can someone say simply “DELISH”. OMG- my boo boo turned into a wonderful treat that I put over ice cream.

  37. 129

    Malou says

    Thanks Robyn for the great recipe!

    This cake is yummy! Am having trouble tho getting the cake itself to light brown. They always turn out just like white cake. Wondering if this is normal?


  38. 130

    Marcia says

    I have tried this recipe twice now. The second was a little better than the first, but I am still not happy at all with the results. The case is dry and the icing is grainy. I followed the instructions exactly (or so I thought). I did stir the frosting constantly while cooking. Was this a mistake? I got it to softball stage and removed from heat and let cool for about 1/2 hour before beating with electric mixer. I had to beat it for about 30 minutes for it to get thick enough to frost the cake.

    Any suggestions on why this didn’t work??

    • 131


      Hey Marcia,
      This caramel cake recipe is one that we love and fuss about all in the same breath. While it has been a in the family for generations, it is still one that we have a love/ hate relationship. I know that isn’t at all comforting, but just to tell you that it a cake that I have practiced making for years and years and still have off times. But, with all that said, here are a few things that would’ve made your icing grainy: you should swirl the icing or if you have to touch it at all with a spoon, you use a wooden spoon. You don’t make the caramel icing when it is rainy or the humidity is high outside as it just won’t “do right” as my grandmother would say. It always seems to turn out grainy if the humidity is high. You might find that you like this version of caramel frosting. I hope that helps!

  39. 132

    Mark Jacobs says

    Hi Robyn,

    You are such a trooper to take the time to respond to these comments. I commend you. I just concluded my ‘test run’ baking of your Southern Carmel Cake and it was a great experience. Several lessons learned for me along in the process and your commentaries helped to avoid a few pitfalls.
    The cakes were a snap to make. Given there were three cakes to bake in the oven, they didn’t cook evenly. So I will cook two and then cook the third separately. Then, I did a dumb thing . . . I removed one of the cakes from the pan right after I took it from the oven. Well – it fell apart. I should know better.
    Making the icing was easy and it turned out perfectly. If you have any more advice as to how to spread it before it stiffens, I would welcome a response. I didn’t quite get around completely to all sides of the cake.
    Thank you again for the recipe and your kind responses.

    • 133


      Hi Mark,
      I’m so glad you love the caramel cake! It is absolutely one of my favorite family cake recipes! To get the cake iced, I do have a couple of tricks. One is to work quickly. I mean QUICKLY to get the icing on the cake before it stiffens. The other is to keep a glass of really hot water beside the icing so that I can dip my offset spatula or knife into the water when it does stiffen as you mentioned. Another trick that my aunt uses is to keep icing over a double boiler as she ices her cake. She say it works like a charm!

  40. 135

    Shannon says

    Hello, I made this cake tonight and it was certainly a hit. However I do feel that it could be improved, and maybe the problem I’m having is due to higher altitude. I live at 7500 feet. My cake turned out very dry and crumbly. Great flavor, but I would have expected it to be more moist and spongy. Anything I can add or adjust to get a more moist consistency?

  41. 137

    Dana says

    I made this cake again for the second time tonight. It is so wonderful! I have never had a problem with the icing like some of the posts. I think using a candy thermometer is key and doing the cold water test. After I get it to that point, I let it cool for about 5 minutes and then mix it with my KitchenAid mixer for about 10-15 minutes and then ice the cake. One thing I have found when Icing the cake, if it starts pulling up the cake, I dip my knife in hot water to get it warm so it spreads easier. This cake is just as good, if not better than the cake I bought from Caroline’s Cakes, the Caramel Cake.

  42. 138

    Linda Lich Tower says

    I haven’t tried this cake but I may, I am more a pie baker but my comment is about a few of the others comments. It reminds me of being the “fastest gun in the west” some people always try to “shoot you down” ha. When people say to me, “you make the best pie crust ever” I cringe, knowing someone out there is gunning for me. Not that I care a great deal, I just find it amusing. I love your recipes and will try some but rest assured if they flop, you wont hear about it because it will be something I did wrong

  43. 139

    Victoria Rose says

    This recipe sounds good, but it would be nice if you had also posted the Caramel Icing recipe. Or, maybe you did but it did not show up on my page, which doesn’t make much sense.

    • 140


      Hi Victoria,
      The link to the caramel icing is the last item in the ingredients list. When you click it, it takes you straight to the recipe. Hope that helps!

  44. 141

    Marilyn says

    Thank you so much for posting tho wonderful recipe! I made it for my friends’ birthday (she grew up in Arkansas) and she loved it!


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