Caramel Apple Cupcakes

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes made with a spiced apple cupcake topped with caramel buttercream. They melt in your mouth and are such a delicious apple dessert idea!

This recipe uses my Easy Salted Caramel Sauce as an ingredient. It’s the best caramel ever!

pinterest collage of caramel apple cupcakes

So today’s recipe is actually an update of a recipe from back in 2015. The older version was based on my very first vanilla cupcake recipe I shared on this site. It was a much denser cupcake. Today’s update is based on my new Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes, which are light and fluffy and have been a favorite for a while now. Given that I love the new vanilla cupcakes so much, it seemed appropriate to update this wonderful fall dessert with my BEST version!

Despite the update, the flavors and such are quite similar. It’s the execution that’s a bit different. These cupcakes are still full of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, apples and caramel. But they now use the more traditional creaming method and ultimately come out quite differently in texture.

caramel apple cupcakes on a marble and wood cake stand zoomed outcupcake on a white plate with a bite taken out

Cupcake Ingredients

While you don’t really need to hear all about every ingredient, I thought I’d highlight the more significant ones:

  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg: For the perfect fall apple flavors.
  • Butter and Oil: I like to use a combination of the two so that you have both the great flavor of butter and the added moisture of the oil.
  • Brown Sugar: This recipe uses regular granulated sugar and brown sugar. The brown sugar adds extra flavor and warmth to these cupcakes.
  • Sour Cream and Milk: The combination of sour cream and milk, as opposed to just milk, helps to thicken up the cupcake batter to keep the apples from sinking to the bottom while baking.
  • Apples: You’ll want to peel your apples and then dice them so that you don’t have huge chunks in your cupcakes. I used Granny Smith apples, but other varieties such as Honeycrisp would work well too.

Caramel Buttercream Ingredients

Naturally, this buttercream has plenty of butter in it. Additionally, you’ll find:

  • Powdered Sugar: I’m often asked about reducing powdered sugar amounts and it’s hard to answer that sometimes. For me, a thicker buttercream is preferred so I’d say don’t. But if you are ok with a thinner buttercream that doesn’t hold up as well to some piping, you can certainly reduce it. It’s kind of a preference thing, in addition to a consistency thing.
  • Caramel Sauce: I mentioned before that I used a homemade caramel sauce and that’s definitely what I recommend here. Often store bought sauces are much thinner and will thin out your frosting more quickly without adding as much flavor. My homemade sauce is thick enough and has lots of flavor so that you’ll end up with a flavorful buttercream that still has a nice consistency to it.
  • Cinnamon: Optional, but I do love my cinnamon.

caramel apple cupcakes on a marble and wood cake standcaramel apple cupcakes on a white plate with green napkin

How to make Caramel Apple Cupcakes

As mentioned before, these cupcakes use the creaming method. So to get started, you’ll combine your butter, oil and sugars and cream them together for about three minutes. Don’t skimp on that time! It adds air to the batter that helps the cupcakes rise. You’ll actually be able to see a noticeable difference in the color and texture of the mixture when it’s ready.

Next, you’ll add the vanilla and sour cream, then the eggs one at a time.

After that, you’ll alternate adding your dry ingredients and milk.

Finally, you’ll fold in your chopped apples. Pretty straightforward, right?!

When your cupcakes are baked and cooled, you’ll make your caramel buttercream. Beat your butter until smooth, then add about half of the powdered sugar.

Add some of the caramel sauce next, then add the remainder of the powdered sugar.

Now that you know just how thick your powdered sugar is, you can add more caramel sauce until you have both the consistency and flavor you want. If you’re adding the cinnamon, you can do that too.

Finally, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate them with a caramel drizzle and apple slice.

For an even more detailed look at how to make these cupcakes, check out the video below where I walk you through the whole process.

four cupcakes on a white plate with green napkin

Read Transcript

You might also like these apple dessert recipes:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Blondie Trifle
Easy Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Caramel Apple Pecan Layer Cake
Caramel Apple Trifles
Caramel Apple Blondie Cheesecake
Caramel Apple Cookie Cups
Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Recipe updated 8/18/2020. For the previous version of the recipe, download the PDF.

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon
caramel apple cupcakes on a white plate with green napkin
Recipe

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 14-16 Cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Caramel Apple Cupcakes made with a spiced apple cupcake topped with caramel icing. They melt in your mouth and are such a delicious apple dessert idea!


Scale

Ingredients

APPLE SPICE CUPCAKES

  • 1 1/2 cups (195g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (52g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112g) packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (43g) sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple

CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups (575g) powdered sugar
  • 46 tbsp caramel sauce
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Additional caramel sauce, for drizzling
  • Apple slices, for decorating

 


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and prepare a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder , cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, oil and sugars to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined.
  7. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter might look a little curdled, but that’s ok.
  8. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  9. Gently fold in the chopped apples.
  10. Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove cupcakes from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
  12. To make the caramel buttercream, add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
  13. Carefully add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
  14. Add about 4 tablespoons of the caramel sauce to the frosting and mix until well combined.
  15. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional caramel sauce as needed to get the right consistency and taste.
  16. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Decorate with a drizzle of caramel sauce and apple slice
  17. Cupcakes are best when stored well covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. Serve at room temperature.

Keywords: caramel cupcakes, caramel desserts, apple cupcakes, apple dessert idea

Enjoy!

Share a Comment

Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you and seeing what you made!

Recipe rating

82 Comments
  1. Gloria

    How long can I keep frosting? I have had in fridge 3 days, what should I do to it to reuse it once I take out of fridge. I made cupcake but I failed at recipe for some reason but plan to retry and use frosting 

    1. Lindsay

      The frosting should be fine in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about three months. When you are ready to use it again, bring it back to room temperature and give it a good stir.

  2. Savannah

    You are a baking queen! Thank you so much for sharing your talent! These turned out perfectly!!!

  3. Aaliyah

    Hi, just wanted to check. The recipe above says it yields 14-16 cupcakes but in the comments you tell someone it makes 22-24. Which is it? Looks yummy by the way. I am planning to try it for my Halloween party this weekend.

  4. Lisa Near

    This recipe and especially the explanation of ingredients were spot on! it really helped me understand what role each ingredient plays! I love it! I actually found caramel bits which i put in the batter. i think next time i will cut them down further. instead of putting a slice of apple i put diced apples which were awesome!

  5. Molly

    Lindsay,
    These cupcakes are fantastic and so fun to make! I shared them with some friends and they quickly voted these cupcakes as their favorite! Thanks again for a great recipe!

  6. Mehndi

    This recipe was a huge hit last weekend! But I shouldn’t be surprised, because all of your recipes are keepers in my house!

  7. Sara

    Every time I make these people fall in love! I can’t tell u how many time someone has said “Are you bringing those apple cupcakes?” with a big hopeful smile one their face. lol

  8. Cheyenne

    Oh my gosh these are delicious! My family and I are obsessed with cinnamon/spice so we added extra brown sugar & cinnamon. Everyone needs to make these!

    1. Lindsay

      That should be fine. Just make sure they are well covered when you freeze them and then saw them in the fridge.

  9. April

    Made these as minis. Delicious!  Didn’t use caramel sauce in recipe. Substituted with a high end brand, but then frosting was too thick. Added milk to thin and turned out great!  Can’t wait for the teens at youth group to try them!  

  10. Jaye L Taylor

    I love this recipe, but your website is so overrun with ads, ones that even my adblockers can’t take care of, that it makes me not want to come back to this page. They’re actually interfering with reading the recipe. I’m glad that you can get paid for your work, but wow, there are just so many ads.

  11. Alauna

    I had a request to make some type of cupcakes for my aunt. They didn’t order a specific type. They said “she likes caramel.” So I did a search for recipes and came across these. They only ordered a dozen, so I had a dozen left over. I had to taste them of course because I don’t want to give my customers anything that doesn’t taste good. I must say, I AM IN LOVE with this recipe. Possibly one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. I’m currently on a weight loss journey, and after tasting one I had to tell myself no more! So so good!

  12. MacKenzie

    I have made these cupcakes for a silent auction before, and they were a BIG hit. I don’t have anything to criticize on these, and they were moist, sweet, apple-y, and just downright delicious. When I made these for the silent auction, I added a cinnamon-apple filling, and the extra one that I did get to try was like taking a bite out of heaven. Today, I’m actually going to make these as a cake, with the apple filling I used last time as a filling in between the layers, and enter it in the local Texas Austin County Fair. I’d like to know if you have a recommended time to bake the cake layers for, and any tips and pointers that could possibly help me. Also, would the cake fair well if it was left out at room temperature for several hours-overnight?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I actually just posted a Cinnamon Apple Cake today that might be a good one to reference. These cupcakes as a cake will be quite dense, if I remember correctly. The new recipe I posted will be a little lighter. It also has a wonderful apple filling (which is very caramel-y), if you’re interested in trying that one. You could still use the caramel frosting from the cupcakes, if you wanted. I’d just double it or so, depending on how much frosting you like to use.

  13. Cindy Roccodero

    Are the apples inside the cupcake Supposed to be like eating a hard apple vs.  poked apple (apple pie)?

    1. Lindsay

      The apples should soften when baking. If they didn’t, try chopping them a little smaller. You could also cook the apples prior to adding if you wanted them to be really soft.

  14. Stacy

    I made these last week, but eliminated the nutmeg because I don’t like it. Seriously, the best cupcake ever!!! I had leftover icing which I froze. I’d like to turn this recipe into a cake to use the rest of the icing. Do you think it will turn out ok as a cake?

  15. Rita Shipp

    With the buttercream recipe you said 8 cups of powder sugar but with the directions you on say to add 4 cups. Do you need 8 cups. 

      1. Anna

        Do you think you could use a little of the Carmel sauce as a cupcake filling? Would it be a huge mess, or too much Carmel? 

      2. Lindsay

        My guess is that it would just soak into the cupcake and leave a hole. You could try poking the cupcake with some small holes and brushing some caramel on top to let that soak in.

    1. Lindsay

      You can, just keep in mind that it’ll be a thinner sauce (probably, depending on brand) and you might not need to add as much to the frosting or it’ll thin out too much. Also, if you have to add less caramel, you may not have as strong of a caramel flavor in the frosting.

  16. Tiffany p

    Is there a way to use apple sauce vs chopped apples? If so how much apple sauce would I substitute?

    Thanks so much!!

  17. Rachel

    can I make them two days before? Wonder if the cooked apple will make them get soggy or go bad. I’ve made them once before they were amazing!  Thanks! 

  18. Abc

    THIS WAS A DISGRACE TO THE CUPCAKE LORDS!! i threw up in my mouth and the flavor is still taunting me. Trust me when I saw to NOT USE THIS RECIPE!! 

  19. Angie

    These look amazing, can’t wait to try them next week! Quick question.. if I wanted to make mini cupcakes, how should the temperature and cooking time be adjusted? And do you think it would double the yield? Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      I would probably leave the temp the same, but reduce baking time to 8-10 minutes. You’ll have to try it though. I would think it would at least double the yield.

  20. Michelle

    Shouldn’t there be some sort of liquid in the frosting? Once everything was mixed, it was all crumbly. I ended up adding milk slowly to get an actual consistency. Great recipe otherwise, everyone loved them and i’ve had two people ask me for it!

    1. Lindsay

      In this case, the caramel was my “liquid”. If it was too thick for you though, adding the milk is how I’d thin it out. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the cupcakes!

  21. Dena

    I made these for work today and have just a couple comments. Recipe made 18 cupcakes only for me. If you use this caramel recipe watch it closely as it gets done more quickly than you think… mine was a touch overdone I think and had a few lumps, but worked fine yet thankfully. I have about 3.5 cups of frosting leftover and I was generous, frosting similar to those pictured here. They were very tasty, moist and I received a few compliments so far.

  22. Michele

    We recently had a family reunion/picnic. I was in charge of desserts. I decided on taking all cupcakes. I baked almost 100 cupcakes (five different kinds). Top 2 favorites were these caramel apple pie and a lemon meringue cupcake. The apple was my favorite. Mine were a little messy but who cared. Made about 2 dz and they just disappeared in a couple of minutes. Kinda’ messy but oh so good.

  23. Leonie

    These looking amazing, I can’t wait to make them!  Can I switch out the sour cream for something else?  My husband can’t eat yogurt or sour cream.

  24. Bettie

    These look amazing! My best friend loves anything apple related – can’t wait to make these for her party this weekend!

  25. Erin R.

    Ha ha! This really made me laugh, because my husband is the absolute KING of dork mouth. And it just gets worse and worse once he starts, it’s like his brain explodes and he can’t stop. I sometimes have to declare a “No more talking!” Ah, love it.

  26. LeAnn

    Looks great! What kind of apple did you use for the batter, and did you use salted butter for the buttercream as well? Thanks!

    1. lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com

      I believe I used red delicious apples, but any should be fine. And yes, I used salted butter in the buttercream too. Enjoy!

  27. Jessica @ Sweetest Menu

    Ah well at least, unlike Jessica, your blonde moment wasn’t caught on television! 😉 These cupcakes look marvelous Lindsay! Your pipping is perfection!

  28. Julianne @ Beyond Frosting

    HA! I laughed out loud about Jessica Simpson. She will never live that down. Also cupcakes, need them, want them, must have them.

    1. Shannon

      I’m making these for a Halloween party tomorrow but am trying to do as much as I can today. If I make the cupcakes today and the frosting tomorrow, how should I store the unfrosted cupcakes for 1 day? Would room temperature be fine? I’m so excited to try them!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12