Butterscotch Cupcakes are made with a moist and tender brown sugar and browned butter cake base then topped with a butterscotch frosting made with Homemade Butterscotch Sauce and drizzled with extra sauce on top. These cupcakes are irresistible!
I must say, that as soon as I mastered my Salted Butterscotch Sauce, I was in for a real treat! Since then I’ve used it to make Butterscotch Cake, a Butterscotch Shake, AND Butterscotch Ice Cream — all with smashingly delicious results!
Why This Recipe Works
- Moist butterscotch cupcakes recipe. This moist cupcakes recipe is made with buttermilk, browned butter, and oil. These three elements provide that moist and tender texture.
- Delicious butterscotch cupcakes. Since the cake is made with browned butter and dark brown sugar, you really get the butterscotch flavor coming through that your taste buds will love!
- Homemade Butterscotch Sauce. This recipe doesn’t use ANY butterscotch chips. Instead, we use homemade butterscotch sauce for the best flavorI definitely recommend making my homemade butterscotch sauce instead of buying store bought butterscotch sauce. It will make the frosting SO much better!
- Cake Flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content than other flours. It is also finely milled this will give the cake a lighter and more delicate texture.
- Dark Brown Sugar: I like using dark brown sugar for the butterscotch cupcakes because butterscotch is made with dark brown sugar. This will help that butterscotch flavor to come through the cake more.
- Buttermilk: The buttermilk will help to tenderize the texture of the cupcakes thanks to the acidity of it.
- Eggs: Use room temperature eggs.
- Browned Butter: Click the link to go to my browning butter recipe. You’ll find how to, recipe tips, FAQs, and more! And yes, you REALLY need to brown the butter. You won’t get the same flavor AT ALL without browning it.
- Vegetable Oil: Using vegetable oil AND the brown butter will give us the best texture (oil) and flavor (browned butter).
- Salted Butterscotch Sauce: I highly recommend making my homemade butterscotch sauce recipe I’ve linked here because it is SO easy to make at home and you’ll be glad you did! It’s so so yummy.
- Powdered Sugar: Sifting the powdered sugar will give us the best smooth texture.
- Heavy Cream: Adding heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, to the butterscotch buttercream, will help loosen up the texture since the powdered sugar will make things thick pretty quickly. Add as much cream to get your desired consistency.
- Brown the butter. Take 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter and brown it. See my recipe for browning butter for instructions and tips.
- Combine the dry ingredients. Preheat the oven to 335ºF. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add 1 1/2 cups cake flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix until combined.
- Add the browned butter. Add the 4 oz browned butter to the stand mixer and mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Combine the wet ingredients. To a large liquid measuring cup add 5 oz buttermilk, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 large eggs. Mix to combine.
- Combine the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix for 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again just until things are incorporated. Don’t over mix.
- Fill the cupcake liners. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Divide batter among each and fill until 2/3 full. Do not over fill.
- Bake the butterscotch cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes and remove when a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out the cupcakes to let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Make the butterscotch frosting. Add 1/2 cup softened butter and 2/3 cup salted butterscotch sauce to a large bowl (or stand mixer bowl). Mix for 1 minutes on medium speed. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time and mix after each addition. Add heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the consistency is spreadable. Beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes until light in texture and color.
- Frost the butterscotch cupcakes. Frost the top of each cupcake with the butterscotch frosting. Using a knife or spoon, create a little well in the center of the frosting and then add a little bit of butterscotch sauce. You can either leave the butterscotch in the well, or swirl it into the frosting. Enjoy!
Use room temperature wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, etc.) to help the batter incorporate together so much smoother!
Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl when combining the wet and dry ingredients. You want to make sure everything is well incorporated (but NOT over mixed. Those are different!).
Let the cupcakes cool completely before topping with the frosting or else the frosting will start melting.
No stand mixer? No problem! Use a large bowl and medium bowl and an electric mixer.
You can also place the butterscotch buttercream in a piping bag and pipe the frosting onto the top of the cupcakes then top with butterscotch drizzle.
If you want butterscotch filled cupcakes, then you can core out the cupcakes (use a cupcake corer or the circle end of a piping tip) and drizzle in some of the butterscotch sauce.
If you don’t want to core out the cupcakes, then put the salted butterscotch sauce in a plastic squeeze bottle and inject some of the sauce into the cupcake center that way.
Knowing How to Brown Butter is a game changer when it comes to being in the kitchen. It’s the key component in my Brown Butter Cake and can level up any buttercream recipe!
For an in-depth look at how to brown butter, along with tips and FAQS, check out my Browning Butter post!
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
The butterscotch frosting will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-6 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Remove the frosting from the freezer (or fridge) and let come to room temperature and then beat in a stand mixer until fluffy again.
Store the frosted butterscotch cupcakes in the fridge for 3-4 days or at room temperature for up to 2 days (for best results). Both frosted cupcakes and unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
To freeze the frosted cupcakes, flash freeze until the frosted is firm, then double wrap in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and let come to room temperature before enjoying.
Since this butterscotch cupcake recipe has butter in the cupcake batter, the cupcakes will have the best texture when brought to room temperature (if you choose to store them in the fridge).
Making Homemade Butterscotch Sauce is easy! All you need is dark brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, vanilla, and some salt.
A lot of water content in the butter will evaporate as it is being cooked. So you need to start out with more butter so the measurement is accurate once the butter is browned.
You most likely overfilled the cupcake tin! It can be so hard to not fill the cups full of batter, but if you do, they will overflow in the oven! Filling the tin to 2/3 full in each cupcake cavity is the most I would do.
More Cupcake Recipes
- Reese’s Cupcakes
- Oreo Cupcakes
- Cookie Dough Cupcakes
- Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes
- Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
Brown Butter Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar - packed
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 oz buttermilk - at room temperature
- 2 large eggs - at room temperature
- 4 oz browned butter - room temperature (will take about 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter prior to browning to give you the 4 oz needed)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter - softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup salted butterscotch sauce - plus extra for drizzling overtop of the frosting
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 335°F. Line a standard 12 compartment muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment add the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine. Add the browned butter and mix for 15 seconds or until the mixture looks like coarse sand.
- In a large liquid measuring cup whisk the buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium speed for a few seconds just to incorporate.
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove and let cupcakes cool until room temperature.
- While cooling make the frosting. Add the butter and butterscotch sauce to a large bowl. (I used my stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment). Mix on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time and mix until smooth. Add a splash of milk or heavy cream if needed to make it more spreadable.
- Add a large dollop of frosting to each cupcake, use a knife or spoon to create a small well in the center of the frosting. Add a teaspoon or two of butterscotch sauce into the well and either swirl it into the frosting, or let it stay there. Enjoy!