Salted Vanilla Caramel Icing

star rating (5) rate this recipe »
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Total time:
Yield: approximately 4 cups

Recipe photo

Sweet and salty snacks have always been a part of American pop culture and have taken on quite a style and sophistication in the last few years. Sea salt in chocolate, Hawaiian pink salt on a handmade caramel, even gourmet potato chips in exotic flavors.

This icing is super simple to put together using melted vanilla caramel instead of cooking sugar from scratch. Beating in butter and sugar creates a fluffy cloud to top cupcakes or brownies; the first bite of salty sweetness hits the spot. It's hard to resist "just one more bite"!

Salted Vanilla Caramel Icing

star rating (5) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Total time:
Yield: approximately 4 cups
Published: 03/03/2011


  • 1/2 cup caramel, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder (optional, for stability)
  • 1 teaspoon vanillla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream, as needed

Tips from our bakers

  • Love chocolate and caramel and salt? Combine swirls of whipped chocolate ganache with swirls of salted vanilla caramel icing and swoon away!
  • If your caramel is a bit thicker and the icing is stiff, add milk or cream by the tablespoon until the icing is a smooth spreadable consistency.


see this recipe's blog »

1) Melt the chopped caramel(s) with the heavy cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool to lukewarm.

2) Place the butter, confectioners' sugar, meringue powder (if using), vanilla extract, and sea salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, just to combine. The mixture will still be quite lumpy.

3) Add the cooled caramel to the butter/sugar in the bowl. Beat on low speed for 1 minute to incorporate the caramel into the mix. If the mixture is quite thick, add milk or cream as needed to thin to a blend-able consistency.

4) Increase the speed to high and beat the icing for 5 minutes. You'll see bits of caramel throughout the icing at first; these will melt into the icing over the long mixing time. The meringue powder will increase the fluffiness of the icing as well.

5) Spread the icing on cupcakes, cakes, brownies, even cookies. Add an extra sprinkle of sea salt on top if desired, or drizzle with additional caramel. Store leftover icing in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Yield: about 4 cups icing.


  • star rating 08/10/2011
  • mnglamourgirl from KAF Community
  • In a word, AMAZING! I added more cream, about 6-7 tbsp to get the consistency I like. I also used the meringue powder and don't know if that's what made it so fluffy but if it did, it's worth the purchase. I also used fleur de sel and it added depth to the icing that truly made it amazing.
  • star rating 04/22/2011
  • lorilei from pittsburgh
  • This frosting is excellent. I followed the recipe as written but, needed to add a few tablespoons of extra cream as suggested to achieve the correct consistency. I used it to frost chocolate cupcakes for a birthday party and everyone wanted to know what was in the frosting. At the end of the evening there was not a single cupcake left.
  • star rating 03/26/2011
  • Christina Amado from KAF Community
  • This frosting was a huge hit! I used half & half instead of cream [to lower the fat content] and it was a perfect substitution. I also added added an extra tablespoon of milk to make it a little less thick. Top the cupcakes off with a sprinkle of sea salt and your diners will swoon! It's a perfect accompaniment for gluten-free chocolate cupcakes. Thanks, King Arthur!
  • star rating 03/09/2011
  • maryvig from KAF Community
  • Made 2 batches. The flavor is pretty good, but the consistency is that of a dough rather than a frosting. I can not get it to a smooth spreadable consistency. It needs more liquid or butter... not sure but it was not workable. Any suggestions?
    I am sorry the consistency didn't come out to your liking. It is possible that your cooled caramel was too stiff and as a result, made the icing tough to work with. The temperature of the ingredients is crucial with this recipe. Feel free to give us a call on the hotline, should you have further questions. ~Amy
  • star rating 03/08/2011
  • orionautumn from KAF Community
  • I had to make this icing immediately! I followed the directions as they were, but for some reason, it could not form an icing. I thought about what was missing in it. I thought I could add more butter (as it was looking very dry) but then it may not hold together very well under higher temperatures. So, I decided to add milk to it, a tablespoon at a time. That did the trick! I added 6 tablespoons for the consistency I was looking for. Other than that, this icing is delicious, especially over chocolate zucchini cake!

Related recipes