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Caramel Cake Recipe – Mom On Timeout

two image collage showing a whole caramel cake on a glass cake stand and then a slice of the caramel cake below. center text on the collage says caramel cake.

This amazing Caramel Cake recipe is a total showstopper and a must make for caramel lovers! A tender, moist cake with subtle caramel notes is generously frosted with a rich, decadent caramel frosting – superb! Enjoy with an afternoon coffee, share with friends and family during the holiday season or serve for dessert this weekend – you really can’t go wrong!

Love all things caramel? Make sure to check out these favorites: Caramel Sauce, Carmelitas and these Caramel Apple Empanadas!

two layer cake with caramel frosting sitting on glass cake stand with a navy blue napkin in the backround.

Caramel Cake Recipe

Layer cakes have a tendency to intimidate novice bakers because they seem so fussy. This two layer Caramel Cake recipe is really very simple with the richest, most decadent caramel frosting.

There are two parts to this layer cake: the cake itself and the frosting. The cake is light and fluffy and has a subtle caramel flavor. The frosting however, is another story: rich, deep, caramel flavor that really shines.

This cake is really sweet, thanks to the over the top caramel icing, so keep some milk on hand to balance it out.

Timesaver: The caramel frosting is the star of the show in this recipe so if you need to save some time, use a box mix (yellow cake mix or chocolate cake mix will work great) to cut down the time.

Why You’ll Love This Caramel Cake

  • Serious caramel flavor. If you fancy yourself a caramel lover, this recipe for caramel cake is bound to become a new favorite. Light caramel notes from the cake itself and deep caramel flavor from the icing are a caramel lovers dream come true.
  • Can be made in advance. I love that this this cake can be made the day before and assembled before serving. It’s just a matter of frosting the day you’re planning to serve. Make the frosting, ice the cake and then let the frosting set up. You can of course take the aforementioned short cut of buying a box mix and making that instead.
  • Simple yet stunning presentation. This cake is simple to look at but is stunning nonetheless. I love that it’s not fussy and doesn’t require garnish and decorations – although, if you’re so inclined, have at it!

Cake Recipes

Craving cake? Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Best Ever Texas Sheet Cake
  2. Chocolate Chip No Bake Cheesecake
  3. Easy Ice Cream Cake
  4. Easy Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  5. Practically Perfect Pineapple Cake
  6. Oreo Cheesecake
  7. Chocolate Zucchini Cake
  8. Pina Colada Cake
slice of caramel layer cake on a white plate with another slice in the background and a small glass of milk off to the side.

Caramel Cake Ingredients

This incredible Caramel Cake recipe is always a good idea and is the perfect addition to holidays, potlucks and any party where good food is appreciated.. As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need…

For the Caramel Cake

  • all purpose flour – this is what gives the cake it’s structure.
  • baking powder and baking soda – these are the leaveners in this cake recipe and create a lovely texture.
  • salt – I prefer a fine sea salt for this recipe but table salt will also work. The salt provides a needed balance to all the sweetness going on in this cake.
  • vegetable oil – makes for an incredibly moist cake.
  • unsalted butter – adds richness and flavor to the cake recipe.
  • granulated sugar and light brown sugar – gives this cake a nice sweetness.
  • vanilla extract – I’m using a full tablespoon in this recipe to really capture the deep rich, caramel notes in vanilla.
  • eggs – you’re going to need four eggs for this recipe. Make sure these are room temperature for easier mixing.
  • buttermilk – creates a really tender cake. Let your buttermilk come to room temperature before using.

For the Caramel Frosting

  • dark brown sugar and light brown sugar – the combination of the two brown sugars is excellent but if you only have light brown sugar on hand, you can use that.
  • unsalted butter – makes for a rich frosting.
  • fine sea salt – there has to be salt in this super sweet icing to provide some balance.
  • evaporated milk and heavy cream – for flavor and richness.
  • powdered sugar – adds both sweetness and thickens the icing to make it spreadable.
  • vanilla extract – necessary to round out the flavor of the frosting.

The dark brown sugar really gives the caramel frosting incredible flavor with its extra molasses. If you can’t find dark brown sugar, additional light brown sugar can be used instead.

slice of caramel layer cake on a white plate with a forkful of cake resting on the side of the plate.

How To Make This Caramel Cake Recipe

Make the Cakes

  1. Preheat the oven 350°F.
  2. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans with baking spray and place parchment paper in the bottom of the pans. Spray the top of the paper with baking spray.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl.
  4. Beat the oil and butter until combined in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).
  5. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until fully incorporated.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  7. Next, add the eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed in. 
  8. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, alternating between the two, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. (Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the buttermilk and then repeat.)
  9. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
  10. Bake the cakes for 22 to 27 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely in the pan.
  11. Remove the cakes and cut off any doming or uneven parts of the cake if there are any.
  12. Place one of the cakes on your cake stand or plate. Set aside.

Prepare The Caramel Frosting

  1. Stir to combine the brown sugars, butter and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk in the evaporated milk and the heavy cream.
  3. Simmer for 4 minutes (you will notice the mixture starts to thicken.) Transfer the mixture immediately to a heat safe bowl.
  4. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and then beat in the vanilla extract. 
  5. Spoon ¾ cup of the frosting on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.
  6. Carefully place the remaining cake top side down on top of the caramel frosting. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides working quickly.
  7. Let the frosting to set up completely, about 2 to 3 hours, before slicing and serving.
three image collage showing how to frost the caramel cake.

Storage Information

Store and leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days. 

To Freeze: Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Place in an airtight container or ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost at room temperature or in the fridge overnight before enjoying.

slice of caramel cake held above the rest of the cake sitting on a cake stand.

Trish’s Tips and Tricks

  • Be sure to cool the cake completely before frosting. If it’s warm, the frosting will melt and run off the sides of the cake.
  • When frosting the cake, work quickly. This frosting is more icing in nature and will start to hardenSpread the remaining frosting on the top and sides working quickly to ensure the cake is frosted before the frosting starts to get stiff. 
  • Use room temperature ingredients. This really makes a difference! Make sure the eggs, butter and buttermilk are at room temperature before making the cake.
  • Regularly, scrape the sides of your mixing bowl often to ensure all the ingredients are being fully incorporated into the batter.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

This cake is really gorgeous and would make a tasty addition to your holiday dessert table!

Caramel Cake FAQs

Can I use a cake mix instead?

Yes, you sure can. I would recommend a yellow cake mix, chocolate cake mix or butter cake mix. Those three will pair well with the caramel frosting.

Can this caramel cake be made in advance?

The cakes do need to cool completely so the cakes could be made a day or two in advance and then frosted on serving day. You could frost a day in advance too if needed.

Do you add any decorations to this cake?

I typically leave the cake as is because the frosting is so pretty but I’ve shared some ideas below on fun toppings for this caramel cake recipe.

Caramel Cake Toppings

This recipe for caramel cake is stunning in its simplicity and the gorgeous caramel icing is more than enough but if you wanted to, you could top it off with a sprinkling of sea salt, a drizzle of caramel sauce or chocolate sauce and perhaps some fresh berries.

You could also top with your favorite caramel candy: Twix, Snickers, Rolos etc. Cut in half or chop and pile in the center or decorate the edges of the cake.

two layer cake with caramel frosting sitting on glass cake stand with a navy blue napkin in the background.

More Delicious Cakes

  1. Creamsicle Cake
  2. Limoncello Cake
  3. Hummingbird Bundt Cake
  4. Chocolate Pound Cake
  5. Carrot Cake
  6. Strawberry Shortcake Roulade
  7. Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake
  8. Peanut Butter Icebox Cake

How To Make Caramel Cake

Print Pin

Caramel Cake

This amazing Caramel Cake recipe is a total showstopper and a must make for caramel lovers! A tender, moist cake with subtle caramel notes is generously frosted with a rich, decadent caramel frosting – superb! Enjoy with an afternoon coffee, share with friends and family during the holiday season or serve for dessert this weekend – you really can’t go wrong!

Keyword caramel cake, caramel cake recipe, southern caramel cake
Author Trish – Mom On Timeout

Ingredients

Caramel Cake

  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk room temp

Caramel Frosting

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • cup evaporated milk
  • cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven 350°F. Lightly grease two 9 inch round cake pans with baking spray. Place a parchment paper circle in the bottom of each pan. Spray the parchment with baking spray. Set aside.

  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl.

  • Add the oil and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Beat together until fully combined.

  • Beat in the granulated and brown sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes or until fully combined.

  • Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

  • Next, add the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated.

  • Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, alternating between the two, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. (Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the buttermilk and then repeat.)

  • Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.

  • Bake the cakes for 22 to 27 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely in the pan.

  • Carefully remove the cakes from the pans and place on a level surface. Use a large serrated knife to cut any doming or uneven parts of the cake if there are any.

  • Place one of the cakes on your cake stand or plate. Set aside.

Prepare The Caramel Frosting

  • Combine the brown sugar (both light and dark), butter and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. As the butter melts, stir to combine.

  • Whisk in the evaporated milk and the heavy cream.

  • Bring to a simmer and continue simmering for 4 minutes (you will notice the mixture starts to thicken.) Transfer the mixture immediately to a heat safe bowl or heat safe bowl of a stand mixer.

  • Using your stand mixer or electric hand mixer, gradually add the powdered sugar a little at a time until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.

  • Now it’s time to work fast while the frosting still has a spreadable consistency.

  • Spoon about ¾ cup of the frosting on top of the cake on the cake stand and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly on top of the cake.

  • Carefully place the remaining cake top side down on top of the caramel frosting. Spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides working quickly to ensure the cake is frosted before the frosting starts to get stiff.

  • Allow the frosting to set up completely, about 2 to 3 hours, before slicing and serving.

Notes

Storage Information Store and leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days.  To Freeze: Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Place in an airtight container or ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost at room temperature or in the fridge overnight before enjoying.

Nutrition

Calories: 786kcal | Carbohydrates: 108g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 314mg | Potassium: 254mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 86g | Vitamin A: 944IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 2mg



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