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

4.91 from 50 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




298 Comments

    1. Traci, I haven’t made this cake in either a Bundt pan or sheet pan. I think you should be able to bake it in a 12×16 (half) sheet pan. I would think the cake might be more dense and dry baked in a Bundt pan.

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Robyn!☺️ I remember when I baked this Southern Caramel Cake recipe for the first time. I was over the moon because it came out perfect, the cake and the ‘labor of love’ icing. At that time, I did not have a cast iron dutch oven, but I was given one as a gift soon after that. The cast iron dutch oven really does help with my caramel icing. I get to my softball stage sooner and the texture of my icing is consistently smooth. Sometimes the icing pops out and burns me. Doing well with this cake certainly made me more confident with my baking. Well, years later this delicious cake and icing is still one of my favorites, along with your white cake. Scrumptious. I just made the Southern Caramel Cake for Thanksgiving for my family which is small in numbers. All of my folks love your recipes as well as I do. The weeknight chili, the white bean chicken chili, your strawberry cake, your chocolate cake, just to name a few. Happy Thanksgiving, Robyn, to you and your family. God bless you and your family.
    Take care. ❤️

    1. Andrea, thanks so much for letting me know how much you love my recipes. I really appreciate you trying so many of them. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    1. This cake should be baked in 3 9-inch cake pans, Khrystal. Over mixing the batter, not having all ingredients at room temperature, and extra baking time for a smaller pan than the recipe calls for can all cause a cake to be dense.

  2. What can you use in place of the buttermilk if you don’t have any? Sour cream, heavy whipping cream, can milk?

    1. You can make your own buttermilk, Ann. Follow my How to Make Buttermilk Substitute with whole milk and vinegar or lemon juice.

    1. Cindy, stirring the caramel while it is cooking, storing it in a humid room, or making the caramel when the outside weather is humid can cause the sugar to crystallize and the caramel become grainy.

    1. I haven’t made this with butter flavored shortening, Angela, so I can’t tell you how it would be.