Something Swanky

Apple Cider Cupcakes & Salted Caramel Buttercream

Loved. These. Cupcakes.
Truly, madly deeply. Loved them.
As in, they’re a new top 5 cupcake.
And that’s a big deal.
‘Cause my top 5 list is pretty solid.
And it’s not just the salted caramel buttercream (which is fabulous, by the way).
This cake really holds its own too!
I think you’ll be impressed. Whip up a batch before the kids get home from school and have a TGIF fall-flavored cupcake moment with them today :)
It’ll give you warm fuzzies all over, and that is an excellent way to begin the weekend!


Apple Cider Cupcakes & Salted Caramel Buttercream


  • Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 2/3 c. AP flour
  • 1 c. apple cider
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Ingredients for the Buttercream:
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/2 bag kraft caramels, melted with 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. milk for thinning, if necessary


  1. Directions for Cupcakes:
  2. Whisk together all ingredients.
  3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake at 350º for 19 minutes.
  4. Directions for the Buttercream:
  5. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening.
  6. Add the powdered sugar and the caramel alternately (add the salt in with the caramel), mixing after each addition.
  7. Add milk, by the tbsp. as needed for thinning
  8. *The caramel is a little tricky just in that it needs to be the right temperature-- warm enough that it's still liquid and can blend into the buttercream, but not so hot that it melts the butter making everything too thin. Evaluate the buttercream at about 4 tbsp of caramel-- if it's getting way too thin, stop adding caramel or add more powdered sugar. I found that 6 Tbsp. was perfect for my batch.


Please visit my Party Page for a more complete index of Link Parties.
If you host a regular link party, please add it to my Party Page!
Follw me!


Ashton is the owner and author ofSomething Swanky. Although first and foremost a wife and mother, she considers herself an online entrepreneur, freelance writer and photographer, and brand ambassador.Her focus is in food styling, food photography and recipe development.
Follw me!

Latest posts by Ashton (see all)


69 Responses to “Apple Cider Cupcakes & Salted Caramel Buttercream”

  1. So Domesticated posted on November 18, 2011 at 3:18 am (#)

    Yum, yum ,yum… what else is there to say?

  2. Jamie Webb posted on November 18, 2011 at 11:19 am (#)

    Oh wow, what a great picture! I’m sold!

  3. Aly-CookingInStilettos posted on November 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm (#)

    That looks SO delish!!

  4. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust posted on November 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm (#)

    Gorgeous – and they sound great too! Salted caramel is awesome. :)

  5. Donna posted on November 19, 2011 at 3:35 am (#)

    oh dear…these are amazing. No seriously, AH-MAZING!

  6. Hannah posted on November 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm (#)

    These look incredible…I must try them! I am going to pin this right now so I don’t forget!

  7. Bites of Sweetness posted on November 20, 2011 at 11:02 am (#)

    Oh my…these look delicious! Your photos are just gorgeous! I actually made some pumpkin cupcakes with caramel buttercream that I’ll be posting soon. I love the drizzle of caramel on yours :)

  8. LeAnn ~ My Day In The Making posted on November 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm (#)

    I will have to try these, they look awesome!

  9. Alexandra posted on November 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm (#)

    Amazing! Thanks so much for linking up at Muffin Monday!

  10. Casa De Luna posted on November 22, 2011 at 1:01 am (#)

    Your cupcakes are so pretty!

  11. Mandy posted on November 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm (#)

    You sorta need to stop posting such amazing recipes. I can’t take it! Ok. None of that’s true. Thanks for linking up each week to TTT. You make me drool.

  12. Anne posted on November 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm (#)

    Oh my goodness, these sound DIVINE!!

  13. Maria posted on November 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm (#)

    These look absolutely amazing!

  14. Jamie posted on November 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm (#)

    OMG!! I am drooling. These sound delicious. I love your blog. I’m your newest follower.
    Would love to see you DIY Home Sweet home.

    P.S. I have a linky every Monday. Would love for you to stop by and link up.
    P.S.S. I have giveaway going on right now. Would love you to stop by and check it out.

  15. woahitsjulez posted on December 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm (#)

    these sound so delicious! but i think there’s something wrong in your recipe – should there really be a whole stick of butter in the cupcakes? i tried making them and mine came out waaaay too buttery, they didn’t look much like yours at all.

  16. Something Swanky posted on December 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm (#)

    @woahitsjulez Sorry to hear that! I just double checked the original source for the cupcake recipe ( and it calls for a 1/2 cup! And I double checked around some other cupcake recipes I use, and that’s about the same amount they call for too. I have no idea what could have gone wrong? I never melt the butter first– did you? Although, I don’t really see what difference that would make since it’s going in the oven anyway… Maybe you didn’t measure enough flour by accident? Sorry it didn’t work out this time! Keep trying though– they were totally worth it!

  17. woahitsjulez posted on December 10, 2011 at 11:04 am (#)

    @Something Swanky I thought I had measured everything correctly but maybe I messed something up haha, thanks for double checking the recipe, i’ll try it again if you say it works!

  18. Ann LeClercq posted on January 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm (#)

    Wow do these look delicious – going to try them gluten free!
    Ann @ Suburban Prairie Homemaker

  19. Clean Diva posted on September 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm (#)

    They look swanky and delicious and tasty and like something I need to make soon! Thanks for this recipe.


  20. suzmikk posted on September 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm (#)

    how many cupcakes did this make? thanks!

  21. Alison's Eats posted on September 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm (#)

    Can you melt the caramels in the microwave? They look delicious! I’m going to make them for a party Saturday!

  22. The Tablescaper posted on October 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm (#)

    These look divine!!! I’d love to have you link to Seasonal Sundays this Sunday – not just food but lots of Seasonal things!

    – The Tablescaper

  23. BakingFan posted on October 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm (#)

    I made these and loved it! I actually liked them better in a mini-cupcake form but I couldn’t get the frosting with the melted caramels to work so I just made my own caramel and caramel frosting. Probably stronger than this version of caramel frosting and overwhelmed the cake a bit.

  24. Lora posted on October 16, 2012 at 9:39 am (#)

    I came across this recipe on Pinterest and made them last night for my family. I loved the apple cider flavor in the cupcakes – they were delcious, but they had the consistency of muffins, as opposed to cupcakes. Also… I think I would cut back on the butter just a tad – they were a bit oily.

    Is there an ingredient missing in the frosting? I’m an experienced baker, and make homemade frosting all the time. I was surprised to see there was no milk in the frosting. My caramel was the perfect temperature when I added it, and it incorporated well, but the frosting was terribly thick and had the consistency of play-doh. I had to add a few TB of milk, and then it was spreadable. The flavor of the frosting was outstanding (great caramel AND salt flavor), but the consistency was a little odd. I think next time I will sub a little apple sauce for some of the butter in the batter, and make these as a muffin, instead of a cupcake – with no frosting. They would be soooo yummy for breakfast on a fall morning.

    • Ashton posted on October 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm (#)

      They would definitely be yummy as a muffin!

      As far as the consistency of the frosting goes– I’m not terribly sure what where the problem is, since I posted this recipe last year. But, just looking at it, I’m thinking I left out adding a couple of tablespoons of water to the caramel. I can’t specifically remember doing that, but as a rule of thumb I just about always add 2-3 tbsp of water to caramels for melting. So the milk was a good call :) I’ll be sure to edit this recipe to include that!


  25. Miranda posted on October 18, 2012 at 11:28 am (#)

    I made these cupcakes last night. They are amazing! I agree that it is more of a muffin texture, non the less the flavor is great!

    Couldn’t get the right consistency of the frosting though. :(

    • Ashton posted on October 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm (#)

      I was just talking to the last person who made them about the consistency of the frosting too. I’m wondering if it’s because I add 1-2 tbsp of water to the caramel before I melt them? I didn’t add them in the directions, because I grew up thinking that’s just what everyone does when they melt caramel. I have no idea why I thought that, but, I’m going back to add in the directions, because I think it will help. and the last person said that she added milk to hers to get it just right. Maybe for next time? Sorry !

  26. W. posted on October 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm (#)

    Like others, I loved the cupcakes but had bad luck with the frosting (this was before the adding water tip). The frosting came out sort of heavy and oily — it was almost moldable…more of a play-doh consistency, like a previous commenter said. I also had some trouble with the caramel re-solidifying before it was fully incorporated, so there were some caramel strings in the frosting. The flavor was great, just an off-putting texture. I’ll definitely be using the cider cake recipe again, though!

    • Ashton posted on October 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm (#)

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll have to make it again and adjust the recipe!

    • Ginger posted on December 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm (#)

      I think part of the problem with the frosting consistency (mine was the same as you described…heavy and oily; not at all like the true buttercream shown in the picture. Unless the picture is not of this exact recipe?) is that the directions are unclear about how much caramel to add. “1/2 bag of Kraft caramels” is not descriptive enough for a pastery recipe. First off, there are multiple sizes of Kraft caramels. Also, not everyone will be able to find Kraft caramels, but perhaps another brand. I think the number of caramel cubes, or better yet a measurement of the number of cups/partial cups of melted caramel, would be best. I suspect I added too much caramel, based on the ambiguity of the recipe, which caused the frosting to not be a true buttercream.

    • Ashton posted on December 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm (#)

      Thanks for your feedback. I’ll be re-writing this recipe soon! It seems necessary based on it’s current popularity. I can assure you, I wrote the recipe based exactly on what I made and what you see photographed here. However– I did write this recipe about a year ago, and I’ve learned a lot about how to correctly write a recipe that a massive amount of people with varying degrees of experience will all be able to follow. And this recipe is clearly not written well and long overdue for a re-write. It will be done within the upcoming week!

  27. Pam posted on October 21, 2012 at 1:08 am (#)

    These sound amazing! I just want to double check that the recipe calls for actual apple cider and not apple cider powder mix before I attempt them ;-) I’m so excited to bake these!

    • Ashton posted on October 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm (#)

      Yep! Actual, liquid, apple cider :)

  28. Jocelyn posted on October 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm (#)

    Does this make a full 24 cupcakes? And no instructions on making the cupcakes?

    • Ashton posted on October 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm (#)

      Yes! 24 cupcakes– sorry about the lack of instructions. I think they must have been lost in my switch from blogger to wordpress. I’m working on fixing everything that was lost, thanks for putting this on my radar! I’ll try to have full instructions back up tonight!

    • Julie Strader posted on September 14, 2014 at 4:11 pm (#)

      Ok, I just made these, frosting turned out fine, but I think I like the taste of other recipes better, and I barely got 16 very small cupcakes. I did follow all instructions and the batter baked very airy, and sticks to the liners. Very disappointed, but glad I tried a batch before making for someone with these results.

  29. Tracy posted on October 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm (#)

    Love, love, love the pictures, I am sure the cupcakes are just as devine! Thanks for posting these, they will definitely be on my cupcake list!

  30. Kait posted on October 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm (#)

    I’ve just recently began a blog and I absolutely love baking. I found your recipe on pinterest and had to try it. The cupcakes were fantastic! I had a hard time with the frosting so I completely adapted it. Honestly, I’ve never baked with shortening so I did not want to use it. What is the purpose for the shortening in the frosting? Instead, I used two sticks of butter and omitted the shortening to make a traditional buttercream. I’m not sure what happened, it could have been because I did not use the shortening or I just don’t know how to melt caramels, but it just came out awful. I ended up altering the recipe a bit. Here’s what I did in case others are having difficulties with it

    2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter
    4 c. powdered sugar
    1 tsp. salt
    1/3 (approximately) of a 14 oz. jar of caramel topping.

    • Ashton posted on November 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm (#)

      Hey there! Sorry you had troubles! I like to use shortening when I’m making a buttercream that may need a little “stabilizing.” Since we’re adding warm, melted caramels to this, the shortening helps it hold up a little better. It also helps to thin the frosting a little with some milk after the caramels are in, just like you would a normal buttercream :)

  31. Deb posted on October 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm (#)

    I made these last night and they are so good. I used the soft carmel that is used as a dip in my frosting and that worked great. I did not have any of the problems listed in previous posts.

  32. Stephanie posted on November 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm (#)

    I made these today and they were so good. The cake really good and the with the carmel and sakt just finished it off.

  33. Sweet Pea Party Designs posted on November 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm (#)

    I just made these, and they are the MOST amazing cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. I gave them all away because they couldn’t stay in my house or I’d eat them all! ;) Thanks so much for the recipe!I already Facebooked about them, and I’m planning on blogging on them soon on my site:

    • Ashton posted on November 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm (#)

      Awesome! So glad you liked them!!

  34. Dee posted on November 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm (#)

    I made the first batch by doing exactly what it says, whisking all ingredients together and they came out very dense and muffin-like. So I left the frosting off and told the kids they were muffins and they loved them! The second batch I made I creamed the butter and sugar together in my stand mixer then I added the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl I whisked together all the dry ingredients. Then I alternated adding the apple cider and the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/vanilla/egg mixture. Came out perfect! Awesome Cupcakes! Thanks! :-)

    • Ashton posted on November 13, 2012 at 12:18 am (#)

      Wonderful! I’m glad changing up the technique worked for you! I’m always such a lazy baker, when I can just throw everything in at once and have it work, I do! lol…

    • Tricia posted on November 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm (#)

      I was just coming back on here to post this exact thing! I work in a cupcake bakery and when theres butter and sugar in a recipe we cream the butter and sugar, then add eggs, then vanilla then alternate the dry and wet ingredients! It makes it so theres a lot less butter chunks! Makes them super fluffy! Must say these are delicious!

  35. Judy posted on November 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm (#)

    I bought a bunch of caramels in bulk. Any suggestions on how many would be equivalent to “half a bag” for the icing? Thanks!

    • Ashton posted on December 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm (#)

      I really don’t! I don’t have a bag handy right now, but the amount of the entire bag in ounces is usually listed on the bag. And my guess is that it will equal around 1 1/2 cups total, so 3/4 cup for half a bag? That’s just my best guess…

  36. Laurissa posted on November 28, 2012 at 11:04 pm (#)

    I have made these cupcakes three times now. These are just so amazing. I’ve always been so intimidated to make cupcakes (or anything) from scratch but these have been a blast to make! I’m so glad I gave these a shot, they’re my new favorite!! Thanks so much for this recipe :)

  37. paullyk posted on December 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm (#)

    hey- cant wait to make these- was wondering tho if you could substitute the melted caramels with caramel topping….

    • Ashton posted on December 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm (#)

      Yes! in fact, I’m probably going to re-write the recipe to suggest doing just that. Apparently, there has been a lot of confusion with the melting caramels and getting the consistency just right, but using caramel sauce seems to work perfectly! Take it slow though, adding the sauce. Don’t add too much at once! I’ll get measurements up hopefully by the weekend!

  38. Richelle posted on December 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm (#)

    Would this cupcake recipe work as an actual cake recipe? I mean, essentially they use the same batters- how long would you cook it & would it make enough for 2- 8″ cake pans? It sounds like a delicious recipe and might have to see if I can adapt it for a cake. Trying to find a recipe for a baby shower cake for a caramel- crazy momma. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Ashton posted on December 13, 2012 at 12:31 am (#)

      I think it would work just fine. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, and start checking with a toothpick every 5-10 minutes after that. Also– I haven’t fixed the recipe yet, but be sure to melt the caramels with 1-2 tablespoons of water.

  39. Josephine posted on December 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm (#)

    I made these last night, they’re awesome! I ended up with a lot of extra icing…which I put on the cupcakes too soon so it was a bit melty. I ended up throwing the extra buttercream away but after I ate one of the cupcakes I realized they needed more! How do you get the icing to set so beautifully?

  40. shawn posted on December 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm (#)

    i just made these beautiful cupcakes and they taste even better than they look!! we made our own caramel by cooking sweetened condensed milk (still in the can and covered with water) in the crock pot for ten hours, then let it cool in the fridge overnight. i used five tablespoons in the frosting which i made with all butter. i had plenty left over to drizzle over the top. i warmed up the drizzling caramel in a glass cup then transferred it to a plastic sauce bottle. perfection!! there was only one problem: we only got 14 cupcakes and extra frosting. solution: more cupcakes.

  41. Caitlyn posted on February 6, 2013 at 4:16 am (#)

    Just stumbled on your website and I love it!

  42. emily posted on August 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm (#)

    I made these and accidentally read the whole recipe and put butter into my cake batter but they tasted awesome!! This is a really good recipe and i cant wait to make the butter cream tomorrow (ran out of powdered sugar by putting that into my first set of cake batter)

  43. Cassidy posted on September 16, 2013 at 9:48 am (#)

    I love this recipe! My frosting came out perfect. My cupcakes looked just the picture! They were a big hit at the bake sale at work. Will make this again!!!!

  44. Kristen posted on October 4, 2013 at 10:04 pm (#)

    Delish!!! Made these 2x. I actually did 1/2 cup apple cider….1/2 cup Goldschlager. I also added finely diced apples. Thanks a bunch! Love your website :)

  45. Aimee posted on October 19, 2013 at 3:52 am (#)

    Hi I was wondering if there are any healthier substitutions that can be made? I don’t bake much so I wouldn’t know which the best substitute.

    Thank you!

  46. Lisa R. posted on October 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm (#)

    I just tried your recipe….testing it for my little girls birthday party coming up soon! My frosting was “hefty” …even after adding milk…it didn’t seem like it was planning on getting “fluffy”…but still tasted great! Amy suggestions on getting a smoother frosting (more like in your photo) ? I ‘m figuring that the caramel had a little something to do with that. I’d be open to suggestions! Thanks for a great taste combo…the kids loved it….daughter said “there’s a smile in my mouth!” …so I think it’s a keeper for her birthday celebration.

  47. Aurejana posted on November 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm (#)

    Tried it…..I SERIOUSLY could’ve taken a spoon and eaten the batter itself while watching a movie, it was that good. I didn’t. But, oh was I tempted. My husband and I, along with my younger brother and sister demolished these within a day. Amazing recipe.

  48. dianna posted on November 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm (#)

    Putting salted or unsalted butter would be a huge help to

    • Ashton posted on December 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm (#)

      I don’t specify if it doesn’t make a difference in the recipe. You can use either :)

  49. Emily posted on November 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm (#)

    How many does this make?

    • Ashton posted on November 26, 2014 at 11:28 am (#)

      My batch yielded 2 dozen, but I’ve heard from readers that they get a little less than that


  1. Pingback: Apple Cider Cupcakes/Salted Caramel Buttercream | Never Trust the Skinny Cook

  2. Pingback: Apple Cider Cupcakes | My Little Red Mixer

  3. Pingback: Weapons and Pie « photographyinsteadofarson