Two Peas and Their Pod

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

We got home yesterday from a ten day trip with Travel Oregon. We loved every second of our vacation (stay tuned-I will be doing a few posts about our trip), but it is always nice to come home.

I have a travel hangover and was tempted to not write this blog post for today, but I made these Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting before we left on vacation and have been dying to share them with you. They are the BEST pumpkin cupcakes I have ever tasted…and I am not saying that because I made them:) They really are life changing.

I fell in love with salted caramel sauce when I made Apple Crumb Bars with Salted Caramel. I actually had leftover caramel sauce from the bars and that is what inspired these cupcakes. Making homemade caramel sauce is SO worth the extra effort…and see, you can get two fabulous desserts out of one batch of caramel sauce. Bonus! And the salted caramel sauce is good enough to drink by the gallon, but try to save some to make the frosting:)

The brown butter, pumpkin, and salted caramel frosting come together to create the most heavenly cupcake in the history of cupcakes. I am usually a cookie person and can pass on cupcakes, but if you put one of these Brown Butter Cupcakes with Salted Caramel in front of me I would devour it in a heartbeat. And if you tried to take a bite, I would fight you for it:) There really are no words to describe these cupcakes. They really are pumpkin perfection!

It is officially fall now, so get out the pumpkin and make these Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting. This is the perfect pumpkin recipe to kick-off pumpkin season! And if you are a pumpkin fan, like me, make sure you check out these 50 Pumpkin Recipes for Fall!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Yield: 15 cupcakes

The best pumpkin cupcakes you will ever eat!


For the Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the Salted Caramel Frosting:

Salted Caramel Sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce


1. To make the brown butter pumpkin cupcakes: preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown, Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, and brown butter. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire cooling rack and cool completely before removing cupcakes.

5. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the salted caramel frosting. First, make the salted caramel sauce. Make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Once you start the caramel sauce you have to pay close attention so you don't burn it. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.

6. Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. If you are new to making caramel, I suggest using a thermometer.

7. As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted.

8. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.

9. Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large mason jar and cool to room temperature.

10. To make the frosting: beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add the salted caramel sauce. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.

11. Frost the cooled pumpkin cupcakes with the salted caramel frosting and and drizzle cupcakes with extra salted caramel sauce, if desired.

Note-you can use store bought salted caramel sauce, but I highly recommend homemade salted caramel sauce. It is the best. The salted caramel recipe will make about 2 cups so you will have extra. Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Pumpkin cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

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185 Responses to “Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting”

  1. Renee — September 27, 2012 @ 2:29 am

    These sound absolutely delightful!

  2. april — September 27, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    These look absolutely fabulous! I love brown-butter treats!

  3. Brenley — September 27, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

    i made these yesterday and they are heavenly! so delicious! best cupcakes i’ve ever made! ever tasted, for that matter! i had to deliver a plate of them to three different families today because i would have eaten all of them within a few hours. thank you so much for sharing this! and for loving pumpkin flavored anything as much as i do :) your blog is my favorite!

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  5. Tara — September 28, 2012 @ 11:16 am

    I made pumpkin cupcakes (David Leite’s recipe) with caramel buttercream a few years back and agree that it is a completely heavenly combination! I could see how the salted caramel would be outstanding in the frosting as well.

  6. Cookie and Kate — September 28, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

    Goodness! These cupcakes look marvelous, Maria.

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  8. Shannon Tuckett — September 29, 2012 @ 12:22 am

    Hi there, I live in small town with only two different grocery stores, and neither of which carry sea salt flakes, can I substitute with sea salt or regular salt, and if so how much?? Thanks so much!

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  10. Cheryl — September 29, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

    We have two sizes of pumpkin. Is this the smaller of the two sizes?

  11. Two Peas — September 29, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    You need 1 cup of pumpkin-the small can will be more than a cup!

  12. Two Peas — September 29, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    Yes, just chop it up a bit. Enjoy!

  13. Megan P — September 30, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    These were great! The perfect start to kick off fall. I couldn’t get the frosting to really set… this is a recurring issue for me – I think it is my very muggy florida kitchen. I might try to revamp the icing with a cooked butter cream version just to have a reason to make them again :)

  14. Esi — September 30, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

    It’s almost time for pumpkin. These look good.

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  16. Beth — October 1, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

    Made these this weekend. The only change I made was that I used the salted caramel in a Swiss meringue buttercream (b/c I love meringue frostings). Truly divine! One of the best recipes I’ve EVER used…and I’ve made a whole lotta cake :) This is going to be a staple recipe for me. THANK YOU!

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  18. Kim White — October 3, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    I made these for my husbands birthday because he is obsessed with pumpkin. And, maybe a little because I am obsessed with salted caramel. ;) These are divine! He was very happy. And, my son’s eyes rolled up in his head as he said, “It’s like a bite of heaven.” So, thanks for the recipe!

    I’ll be making these again soon. And, I have plenty of caramel left over for other yummy treats.

  19. Celine — October 3, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    These cupcakes are so good! This was our first experience making caramel before, and it really brought these cupcakes up a level. We shared them on our new blog, Thanks for the great recipe!

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  21. Two Peas — October 4, 2012 @ 9:29 am

    Glad you liked the cupcakes!

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  23. AnnaRita — October 4, 2012 @ 10:36 am

    These are the best pumpkin cupcakes ever,and the salted caramel frosting is to die for worth making the caramel sauce from scratch.

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  25. Laurie — October 6, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

    Is the cake batter pretty thick? Mine is. . .

  26. Sandra Jaheny — October 8, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

    OMG!! These cupcakes are the bomb!! I have made many different cupcake recipes but these are by far the very BEST yet!! The caramel frosting is to die for and the cake part is so moist!! They are so delicious that I had to get them out of the house and give them away pronto before I ate them all!!

  27. Sheryl C — October 10, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

    I thought about these for a week before I had he time to make them. Absolutely delicious! I took them into work and everyone loved them.

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  29. Bianca — October 12, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

    Will have to try these!

  30. Sofia — October 13, 2012 @ 11:21 am

    I baked these today. You are right. They are absolutely divine. They just have it all! I linked back to you from my blog post :)

  31. Becki Sue — October 15, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    Agreed. Best pumpkin cupcake ever. I’ve resisted jumping on the “brown butter” bandwagon, but I can see why everyone is adding it to their desserts. Really adds another dimension to the cupcake and compliments the pumpkin perfectly. I will be making this over and over for sure. Thank you!!

  32. Shelly — October 18, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

    Made these gluten free – they were wonderful!

  33. Angela S. — October 18, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    Could I use regular salt if I don’t have any flakes at hand or is that a bad idea?

  34. Two Peas — October 18, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

    You can, but sea salt is best. Even if you don’t have the flakes, you can chop up sea salt…or even kosher salt.

  35. Lauren — October 19, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

    So the cupcakes are delicious but I did have one minor (ok, maybe major) problem. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve made a lot of caramels in my day and have never tried to make one by starting with dry sugar in the pot. I figured I would just follow the instructions, but after burning the sugar on two attempts (whisking vigorously from inception), as well as having a caramel eruption all over my kitchen, I decided that this method is a hazard lol. It’s much easier to start the caramel with 2 tablespoons of water per 1/2 cup of sugar…so 8 tablespoons total for this recipe. Then you can dissolve the sugar in water on medium heat, crank it to medium-high, and THEN let it go until it turns amber in color. MUCH easier than starting with dry sugar and much less likely to burn, although you still need to keep a stern eye on it while it’s bubbling, just like with all caramels. Anyway, still delicious!

  36. Angela — October 22, 2012 @ 12:15 am

    All I can say is wow! Just tried these today and they are absolutely amazing. Followed the recipe exactly with the exception of adding a little extra each of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (love the extra flavor). The frosting is to die for and I’m so glad I made the caramel rather than going with store bought. Delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

  37. Alyssa — October 22, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    The best pumpkin cupcakes! My friends loved them. I was a little intimidated by making the caramel (and in a time crunch) so I used the salted caramel from Trader Joes which worked out nicely. I’ll try to make it myself next time though! I’m also not sure if I did the brown butter correctly. Just out of curiousity, why can’t you leave the butter foam? Does it affect the taste/texture? Thanks!

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  40. Arielle — October 25, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

    These were by far the best cupcakes i have ever made in my life! I followed the cupcake recipe exactly with the exception of the salted caramel sauce (i used a different recipe that). Thanks for the awesome recipe!!!!

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