Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

By Maria Lichty

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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!

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Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

The best pumpkin cupcakes you will ever eat!
4.80 from 5 votes


For the Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes:

For the Salted Caramel Frosting:

Salted Caramel Sauce:



  • To make the brown butter pumpkin cupcakes: preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Have you tried this recipe?

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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4.80 from 5 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Love love love the salted caramel sauce, I did find it just slightly too salty for my taste buds, however, I made it to use in another recipe that was posted, pumpkin toffee cookies with the salted caramel glaze, so with all that sugar I’m sure it will even out. These cupcakes look like they will be next on the list of things to try! The caramel sauce was perfect on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream too! 🙂

  2. To Deena, I could not find the salt flakes in any of the local stores either (I’m in PA), you can order them online though…

  3. Omg! seriously love everything about this pumpkin cupcakes Maria! From the brown butter frosting to the pumpkin cupcakes, to the salted caramel Woow! Thanks Maria 🙂

  4. These are amazing!! I’ve made them at least a dozen times now. I made some for a thank you for a client, they have a friend who owns a high end bakery/coffee cafe and he was over and tried them and asked ‘who is this guy’ lol! I step them up a bit and fill them with a cream cheese buttercream. Too much?, never lol!!

  5. Thank for the recipe, these were amazing! I didn’t brown the butter but they came out beautiful! I tried attach a photo but it wouldn’t let me….
    How long can I keep the extra yummy sauce??

  6. I have made these multiple times and they NEVER FAIL! They are my husbands absolute, hands down FAVORITES! Thank you for them!

    I plan on making these for my thanksgiving but IN MY WHOOPIE PIE PAN! Have you experimented using a cupcake recipe as a whoopie pie? (:

    thank you!!


    1. I am so glad you like the cupcakes. They are so good! I haven’t tried them as whoopie pies, let me know if it works! Enjoy!

  7. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh. I saw this on Simple Pin’s TW Tribe and I had to click through to let you know I need this in my life haha. It looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it.

  8. 5 stars
    Wow! These cupcakes are definitely not for the faint of heart, but once you eat one, you will be so glad you put in the effort. After my first attempt at making the caramel sauce failed miserably, I almost gave up, but decided to try again. I’m so glad I did. These are rich and decadent and absolutely delicious! Everyone who tried one loved them. Thanks for this yummy recipe 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    These were the BEST! And the frosting and salted caramel sauce were divine. I must admit, I ate some of the leftover frosting all by itself, and the leftover sauce was wonderful on ice cream. We made them for Thanksgiving, and everyone raved about them. They were sure a hit!

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