This Southern Caramel Cake Recipe is a traditional caramel cake made from an heirloom family recipe. It’s delicious topped with homemade caramel icing!

Caramel cake on a white cake stand on a dark wooden table.

Southern Caramel Cake is one of those desserts that is a true labor of love. So rich and decadent, 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?

How to Make Southern Caramel Cake

Ingredients

Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.

Ingredients used to make southern caramel cake on a marble counter.

For the caramel cake, you’ll need butter, sugar, eggs, self-rising flour, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and a double recipe of my family’s Southern Caramel Icing.

Room Temperature Ingredients

Make sure your ingredients, especially butter, eggs, and buttermilk, are all at room temperature. This allows them to mix more fully into the cake batter.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Prep. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three cake pans with butter and flour. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. Cream together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined after each egg. Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour.

Caramel cake batter in cake pans ready to be baked.

Bake the cake. Divide the cake batter between the three prepared cake pans and bake until the center springs back to a light touch and the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. You may enjoy reading all of my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.

Cake layers cooling on a wire rack.

Cool the layers. Remove the cake layers from the oven. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Make your caramel icing. 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.

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

Southern Caramel Cake Recipe

4.90 from 49 votes
This Southern Caramel Cake Recipe is a traditional caramel cake made from an heirloom family recipe. It's delicious topped with homemade caramel icing!
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 24

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three cake pans with butter and flour. Set aside.
  • Make the cake batter. Cream together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined after each egg. Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour.
  • Bake the cake. Divide the cake batter between the three prepared cake pans and bake until the center springs back to a light touch and the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. You may enjoy reading all of my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.
  • Cool the layers. Remove the cake layers from the oven. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • Make the icing. Make double the original recipe for Southern Caramel Icing to have ample icing for this three layer cake.

Notes

The nutritional information is for the cake only without frosting. 

Nutrition

Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 292IU | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review




296 Comments

    1. Cheryl, you can store the cake covered at room temperature for a couple of days. You can freeze the layers. Just allow to cool completely per the recipe instructions and wrap each layer in freezer wrap and store in an airtight container. When ready to frost the cake, allow it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure it’s thawed completely before you frost it.
      I would not freeze it with the caramel icing on it.

  1. I thought I had a fail until it wasn’t… I wish I could share a pic but it’s amazing. My caramel icing solidified enough to shape it all up

  2. 5 stars
    I used the cake recipe and it was absolutely delicious. The only change I made was vanilla bean paste instead of extract. Yum! Thanks for sharing. A keeper!!!

  3. Hi! I made this cake Today lol. But I added dulce de leche to my cake batter beyond needed that caramel “cake” flavor. How ever it can out pretty good a bit dense but stackable like I need it. It’s for my husband birthday tomorrow and it’s a surprise party all in one! He has no idea!! Great recipe thanks for sharing.

    1. Yetevia, I haven’t tried adding dulce de leche to the cake batter. Thanks for the tip and I hope your husband had a very happy birthday.

  4. Dear Robyn,
    I am making your cake today; August 17,2022 for my sister’s birthday. However, one slight mistake in your recipe. It mentions add sugar and cream in the instructions. It does not say what kind of cream? Or does your recipe mean for us to stir it with the mixer? Anyway, perhaps I am too literal and I added the buttermilk too early; so did not read entire recipe. By cream, I was thinking maybe she meant; sour cream. So, I added half a cup of sour cream too.
    I will see how this recipe turns out given it has a lot of moisture and perhaps not enough flour. Oh dear, I was confused.

    1. Kathy, cream is a common baking term used in this recipe for mixing butter until it is fluffy and then mixing the butter and sugar for 8 minutes after adding the sugar so the butter and sugar are mixed well and fluffy. I’m not sure how the cake will turn out after sour cream was added. All ingredients needed in this recipe were included in the ingredients list.

  5. Robyn I made your Southern Caramel cake and Southern Caramel icing and both turned out perfect! I added a teaspoon of Rum extract to the cake which offers a unique taste. I live in Kentucky but grew up in Georgia. This cake reminds me of my mom’s from years back. Thank you!

  6. I just saw this recipe and I can’t wait to try it. I have a few questions though. #1 What is your recipe for the icing?
    #2 Do you grease the pans and if so do you grease just bottom or both bottom of pan and sides?
    #3 Finally if you grease the pans do you lightly flour the pan?

    1. Jeannie, click on the underlined words Southern Caramel Icing Recipe in the ingredients list and it will take you to the icing recipe. I butter and flour the sides and bottom of my cake pans. Hope this helps.