The BEST Salted Caramel Layer Cake Recipe

This Salted Caramel cake consists of three layers of fluffy yellow butter cake, stacked with creamy caramel buttercream and drizzled with homemade salted caramel sauce. This cake is the ultimate salted caramel dream!

salted caramel cake.

This Salted Caramel Cake truly the best cake ever! It combines the best of sweet and salty flavors. Each bite of this decadent dessert features three layers of moist yellow butter cake, perfectly complemented by creamy salted caramel buttercream. The addition of a homemade caramel sauce drizzle takes this cake to the next level, making it a great choice for celebrations and special occasions.

In this salted caramel cake recipe, you’ll learn how to create a cake that’s both rich in flavor and elegant in presentation. You’ll learn the techniques for baking moist cake layers, assembling them with a homemade salted caramel sauce, and finishing with a smooth and creamy frosting. This salted caramel cake is not just visually impressive but also irresistibly tasty. For more cake recipes, be sure to check out our recipes for Chocolate Ganache Cake and Classic Carrot Cake.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


  • Irresistible Flavor: The combination of sweet and salty in the salted caramel sauce is to die for.
  • Perfect Texture: Soft, moist cake layers with creamy frosting create a delightful mouthfeel.
  • Versatile Dessert: Ideal for birthdays, holidays, or just a special treat.
  • Elegant Presentation: This cake looks as good as it tastes, making it a showstopper at any event.
  • Easy to Follow: Clear, step-by-step instructions ensure baking success.
  • Customizable: Easily adapt the recipe for gluten-free diets.

Salted Caramel Cake Components

Layer cakes may seem intimidating and like a lot of work, but with a little bit of planning and organization, they can come together in a breeze. Let’s break this caramel layer cake down into three components:

  1. Yellow Butter Cake: This cake is the perfect base for this caramel cake. It is moist with a tender crumb, but sturdy enough to be stacked tall.
  2. Homemade Salted Caramel: Making homemade caramel is a lot easier than you may think! The addition of flakey sea salt adds the perfect balance to the sweetness of the caramel.
  3. Caramel Buttercream: This caramel buttercream is so fluffy and creamy, you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful!  
slice of salted caramel cake.

Ingredient Notes

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Granulated Sugar: Forms the base of the caramel sauce.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds richness; ensure it’s at room temperature for smooth incorporation.
  • Heavy Cream: Room temperature cream blends better into the caramel.
  • Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor profile.
  • Fine Sea Salt: Balances the sweetness with a subtle saltiness.

Cake Layers

  • All Purpose Flour: Provides structure to the cake.
  • Baking Powder: Acts as a leavening agent, ensuring the cake rises.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall flavor.
  • Butter: Room temperature butter creams well with sugar for a light texture.
  • Oil: Contributes to the moistness of the cake.
  • Sugar: Sweetens the cake.
  • Eggs: Bind the ingredients together and add richness.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a delicate fragrance and flavor.
  • Buttermilk: Room temperature buttermilk ensures a tender crumb.

Salted Caramel Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter: Room temperature butter is essential for a smooth frosting.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: Provides sweetness and a smooth texture.
  • Salted Caramel Sauce: Infuses the frosting with caramel flavor.
  • Heavy Cream: Adds creaminess and helps adjust the consistency.
  • Vanilla Extract: Complements the caramel flavor.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall taste.

Be sure to check out the recipe card for the full ingredient list below

Step by Step Instructions

caramel in a saucepan on a hot plate.

In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly with a whisk to prevent burning. Once the sugar is fully melted and has a rich amber color, remove the saucepan from heat. Quickly whisk in the butter until fully combined. Gradually add the heavy cream, continuing to whisk.

caramel in a bowl.

Stir in the vanilla extract and fine sea salt. Then pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl to catch any undissolved sugar crystals. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container if not using immediately.

creamed butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer), cream the room temperature butter, oil, and granulated sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy.

cake batter in a mixing bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla extract. Add half of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined. Pour in half of the buttermilk, mixing until just combined. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk.

unbaked cakes.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once baked, allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

salted caramel buttercream in a mixing bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners sugar on low speed. Once incorporated, add the salted caramel sauce, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.

salted caramel cake.

Place the first cake layer on your cake stand. Spread a layer of buttercream evenly over the top. Drizzle with a layer of the homemade caramel sauce. Add the second cake layer and repeat the process of frosting and drizzling caramel. Place the final cake layer on top. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. For a beautiful cake, drizzle the top of the cake with more caramel sauce, allowing some to gently drip down the sides for a dramatic effect. Sprinkle with flakey sea salt for a contrasting flavor and a decorative touch.

Tip: For an extra touch of gourmet flavor, lightly toast some chopped nuts, like pecans or walnuts, and sprinkle them over the top of the cake along with the caramel drizzle. This adds a delightful crunch and nuttiness that complements the creamy textures.

Substitutions

Equipment

Using the right equipment ensures the best results. Here are my favorite products:

  1. Heavy Bottom Saucepan
  2. Sieve
  3. 8-inch Round Cake Pans
  4. Stand Mixer or hand mixer
  5. Offset Spatulas
  6. Wire Racks
  7. Kitchen Scale
salted caramel cake.

How to Store

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and flavor of the Salted Caramel Layer Cake. Once fully assembled, the cake can be kept at room temperature for up to three days. It should be stored in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out and to protect it from absorbing any other odors or flavors from the environment. If your container isn’t large enough to cover the entire cake without touching the frosting, gently tent it with plastic wrap, ensuring minimal contact with the frosting.

How to Freeze

Freezing is a great option if you want to extend the shelf life of the cake. You can freeze the cake either whole or in slices. To freeze, first let the cake or slices chill in the refrigerator so the frosting becomes firm. Once firm, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Label with the date, and freeze for up to three months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight before bringing it to room temperature for serving.

How to Prepare Ahead of Time

Preparing components of this cake in advance can be a great time-saver:

  • Cake Layers: Bake the cake layers up to one month before you need them. Once completely cooled, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Store them flat in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a few hours before assembling.
  • Salted Caramel Sauce: The caramel sauce can be prepared up to three days in advance. After cooking, let it cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Before using, gently warm it to achieve the right consistency for spreading or drizzling.

expert Tips

  • Room temperature ingredients: This is VERY important! Room temperature ingredients blend way better than cold ingredients. Before beginning any step of this cake recipe, make sure that your butter, eggs, buttermilk, and cream have been sitting out of the fridge for 2-3 hours. 
  • Make the caramel in advance: The caramel must be completely cool before adding it to the buttercream or drizzling it over the cake. You can make the caramel up to three days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the cake. 
  • Bake cake ahead of time: The cake layers can be baked ahead and assembled later! Once the cakes are baked and completely cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the cakes. Place each wrapped cake into a freezer zip-top bag for up to 1 month. When you’re ready to assemble and frost the cake, simply remove the cake layers from the fridge or freezer and frost! There is no need to defrost the cake layers before frosting. You’ll find that it’s so much easier to assemble if the cake is cold. When the cake is assembled and decorated, allow it to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.
  • Create the perfect caramel drip: Pour the cooled caramel into a squeeze bottle and gently squeeze the caramel around the rim of the top cake layer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance can I make this cake?

You can prepare this cake up to two days before serving. Bake the cake layers and make the caramel sauce ahead of time. Store the cake layers at room temperature under a cake dome or wrapped in plastic wrap, and keep the caramel sauce in the refrigerator. Assemble and frost the cake on the day of serving for the best freshness and presentation.

What is salted caramel cake made of?

Salted caramel cake is a delightful dessert composed of several key components. The foundation is typically a moist and buttery yellow cake, which provides a rich and tender base. Between the cake layers, there’s a creamy salted caramel buttercream, offering a smooth texture and a perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors. The cake is often finished with a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce, which not only enhances the taste but also adds an elegant touch to the presentation. The combination of these elements results in a luxurious cake that’s ideal for special occasions.

What is the sign that the caramel is done?

The caramel is ready when it achieves a deep amber color and has a slightly thickened consistency. This usually happens when the sugar is fully melted and starts to slightly darken. Be attentive as caramel can go from perfect to burnt very quickly. It should have a rich, deep flavor without any bitter burnt taste.

Can store-bought caramel sauce be used instead of homemade?

While you can use store-bought caramel sauce, homemade caramel has a superior taste and texture. The homemade version allows you to control the flavor intensity and the level of saltiness, which can significantly enhance the overall taste of the cake. However, if you’re short on time, a high-quality store-bought caramel sauce can be a convenient alternative.

How do you drizzle caramel?

Drizzling caramel over a cake is both an art and a technique that adds to the visual appeal and flavor of the dessert. To drizzle caramel effectively, first ensure that your caramel sauce is at the right consistency – not too thick and not too runny. It should be fluid enough to pour but thick enough to hold on the cake’s surface. If the caramel has cooled and thickened too much, gently reheat it to achieve the desired consistency. Use a spoon or a piping bag with a small tip to control the flow of the caramel. Gently pour or pipe the caramel over the cake, starting from the center and moving outward in a spiral or zigzag pattern. Allow the caramel to naturally drip down the sides of the cake for an elegant, artisanal look. Remember, the key is to go slow and steady for a beautiful, professional finish.

How can I ensure my cake layers are even?

For evenly baked cake layers, use a kitchen scale to divide the batter equally among the pans. This ensures that each layer is of the same thickness and will bake uniformly. Additionally, you can use cake strips around your pans for even baking and flat layers that don’t dome in the middle.

Is it possible to make this recipe into cupcakes?

Yes, this cake recipe can easily be adapted to make cupcakes. Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds full and adjust the baking time to approximately 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Keep an eye on them as cupcakes bake faster than full-sized cakes. This adjustment is perfect for individual servings and can make serving at events more manageable.

slice of salted caramel cake.

If you make this recipe, take a photo and tag #bakedambrosia on Instagram and Facebook so that I can see your creations and feature them on Instagram! To stay up to date with the latest recipes, follow Baked Ambrosia on PinterestFacebookInstagram, and Youtube. ♡

salted caramel cake.

Salted Caramel Cake

Angelina Papanikolaou
This Salted Caramel cake consists of three layers of fluffy yellow butter cake, stacked with creamy caramel buttercream and drizzled with homemade salted caramel sauce. This cake is the ultimate salted caramel dream!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
cooling time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings
Calories 1014 kcal

Ingredients 

Salted Caramel

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt

Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup oil canola or vegetable
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk room temperature

Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter room temperature
  • 5 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • cup salted caramel sauce
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • flakey sea salt for decorating

Instructions 

Salted Caramel

  • Heat the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar begins to melt, whisk the sugar to get rid of any clumps. After about 10 minutes, the sugar should be completely melted and an amber color.
    2 cups granulated sugar
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and immediately whisk in the butter and cream. Stir in the salt.
    12 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • Pour the mixture through a sieve into a heatproof bowl to remove any lumps of sugar. Set aside to cool.

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line with parchment paper 3 8-inch round cake pans.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.
    6 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup oil, 3 cups sugar
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract and half of the buttermilk.
    6 eggs, 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in the remaining buttermilk. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until there are no more dry spots and the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
    1 ½ cups unsalted butter
  • Add confectioners’ sugar, salted caramel, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low speed.
    5 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, ⅔ cup salted caramel sauce, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Increase to high speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more heavy cream if frosting is too thick.

Assemble

  • Place your first layer onto a cake stand. Spread a layer of buttercream over the cake and then drizzle salted caramel sauce on top. Place the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final cake layer.
  • Cover the cake with a layer of buttercream. Top with a caramel drip on the top of the cake and sprinkle with flakey sea salt.
    flakey sea salt

Notes

How to Store

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and flavor of the Salted Caramel Layer Cake. Once fully assembled, the cake can be kept at room temperature for up to three days. It should be stored in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out and to protect it from absorbing any other odors or flavors from the environment. If your container isn’t large enough to cover the entire cake without touching the frosting, gently tent it with plastic wrap, ensuring minimal contact with the frosting.

How to Freeze

Freezing is a great option if you want to extend the shelf life of the cake. You can freeze the cake either whole or in slices. To freeze, first let the cake or slices chill in the refrigerator so the frosting becomes firm. Once firm, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Label with the date, and freeze for up to three months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight before bringing it to room temperature for serving.

How to Prepare Ahead

Preparing components of the Salted Caramel Layer Cake in advance can be a great time-saver:
  • Cake Layers: Bake the cake layers up to one month before you need them. Once completely cooled, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Store them flat in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for a few hours before assembling.
  • Salted Caramel Sauce: The caramel sauce can be prepared up to three days in advance. After cooking, let it cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Before using, gently warm it to achieve the right consistency for spreading or drizzling.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 1014kcalCarbohydrates: 167gProtein: 8gFat: 62gSaturated Fat: 33gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 219mgSodium: 857mgPotassium: 146mgFiber: 1gSugar: 86gVitamin A: 1767IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 2mg
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