Easy Caramel Cake
This easy caramel cake starts with a box of white cake mix and jarred caramel sauce but no one would know it! This quick caramel cake turns out so moist and flavorful and the caramel icing is dreamy! Learn our cake mix hacks for how to make a box cake taste homemade.
Our doctored up cake recipes continue to be some of the most viewed recipes, regardless of the season!
I reached out to my instagram followers and asked what flavors of doctored up cake mix recipes they would like to see.
I was hoping someone was going to suggest caramel, because that’s what I had in mind! But, no one did, haha. You guys gave me a ton of other great flavor suggestions that I wrote down in my recipe notebook for future use, so some of those other flavors will be coming in the future!
But I couldn’t get the idea of a doctored up caramel cake out of my mind. Especially with fall coming, I thought caramel would be a great version to test.
I initially tried using caramel pudding mix to add that caramel flavor to a box of white cake mix, but it wasn’t quite caramel-y enough. So, I went with the real deal – caramel sauce!
Mixing half of the caramel sauce into the batter gives the whole cake that rich, deep flavor. And swirling the other half of the caramel on top of the cake batter adds streaks or ribbons of caramel to the cake once it’s baked.
This caramel cake is perfect for all of us who like the ease of a box mix, but maybe want to doctor up the cake mix for more of a homemade taste. Plus, I feel that this doctored up version comes together just as quick as the box mix because you can still put everything into one bowl and beat it together.
What is an Easy Caramel Cake?
I consider an easy cake to be one that starts with a box mix. Box cake mixes are great and very handy, plus they can be transformed into bakery style cakes with a few extra ingredients. You are essentially doctoring up a cake mix with a few cake mix hacks.
How to Make a Box Cake Taste Homemade
It’s all about adding ingredients to the cake mix to give the cake better texture & taste.
Plus, adding these additional ingredients will result in a larger cake. Sometimes people call doctored up cake mix recipes “cake mix extenders” because you’ll have more batter which = more cake or more cupcakes.
Adding additional dry ingredients to the cake mix like flour and sugar will improve the structure and texture of the cake.
Adding milk, buttermilk and sour cream will ensure your cake turns out incredibly moist and rich.
Additional eggs enhances the flavor and fluffiness of the cake.
Caramel Cake Ingredients
- 1 box of white cake mix
- all purpose flour: adds structure
- sugar: adds sweetness and flavor
- salt: enhances the caramel flavor
- eggs: binds the cake together by providing structure
- milk: adds moisture & fat
- buttermilk: adds moisture & fat
- sour cream: adds moisture & fat
- jarred caramel sauce: adds rich caramel flavor
How to Make Caramel Cake with Cake Mix
For this recipe you’ll want to use a 15.25 oz box of Duncan Hines white cake mix. I know some boxes out there are 18.25 oz, so be sure you’re getting the right size.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, sugar, flour and salt.
- Add in the eggs, milk, buttermilk and sour cream, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of caramel sauce to the batter and stir to combine.
- Spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup caramel over the batter. Use a knife to swirl the caramel into the cake. Bake for 36-39 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.
What Brand of Cake Mix to Use
I prefer Duncan Hines cake mixes, as do a lot of food bloggers, plus Wilton recommends Duncan Hines brand and Wilton is a cake powerhouse, so I trust their opinion.
Frostings to Pair with Caramel Cake
I paired this caramel cake with caramel icing. I decided to skip the traditional buttercream frosting that is more light and airy. Homemade caramel icing hardens on the top of the cake when it cools. It’s not crunchy, but the outside of the frosting sets, similar to the type of icing you’d use on a bundt cake. But here are more frosting options:
- Chocolate frosting
- Cream cheese frosting
- Salted caramel frosting
- Pumpkin frosting
- Chocolate whipped cream
More Easy Cake Recipes
Easy Caramel Cake
- 1 box white cake mix, 15.25 oz
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup jarred caramel sauce, divided in half
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, 1 cup
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, sugar, flour, and salt. Add in the eggs, milk, buttermilk, and sour cream, beat with an electric mixer until combined, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce, mix into the batter.
- Spray a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup caramel on top of the batter and use a knife to swirl the caramel into the batter.
- Bake for 36-39 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding frosting.
- In a small-medium sized pot over medium heat on the stove, melt the butter and brown sugar. Stir frequently until melted. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add in the heavy cream, stir and allow the mixture to return to a simmer.
- Once it simmers again, remove it from the heat and immediately whisk in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. It’s okay if there are a few powered sugar lumps.
- Immediately pour the caramel icing over the cooled cake (the icing will set quickly so be sure to move fast) and spread into a even layer. Allow the icing to set and cool before serving.
Re your doctored up caramel cake: I’m confused as to the amount of butter in icing. Recipe says “2 sticks, 1/2 cup”. One stick is 1/2 cup so is it 2 sticks or 3 sticks? Thanks.
Yes, clarified that! It’s 2 sticks, equal to 1 cup!
Hi I would like to make this cake but please Please can you tell me what is the other substitute to the white cake mix can use thanks a lot
You could use yellow cake mix!
This looks delicious!
Is it 2 sticks of butter or 1/2 cup for icing?
Sorry! Yes I clarified. It’s 2 sticks, equal to 1 cup!
Do you make your own Carmel sauce or it’s in a jar you buy from the store?
I bought jarred caramel sauce!
Why butter milk, sour cream and milk?
Those 3 ingredients help create a really moist, delicious cake with light, fluffy crumb!
This sounds delicious. I love cream cheese frosting. Have you tried this cake with a cream cheese caramel frosting? If so, what is the recipe for the cream cheese caramel frosting?
That would be awesome! I haven’t made caramel cream cheese frosting before!
This looks amazing! Which caramel sauce did you use?
I can’t remember which brand, maybe Smuckers?
Oh my gosh! I just want to sit and eat a tub of the frosting. Can you figure out a recipe to make fudge?
Thanks so much!!!
Can I use Caramel Bits instead of sauce in the cake ?
Yes, it will just have a different flavor. Do you mean melting the caramel bits or just putting them in the batter as is?
Hi. Can you use 9 ibch round cake pans instead of the 13 ×9 pan?
Hi Cheryl! I haven’t tired that myself – I’m guessing you would need to split it between two 9 inch pans.
In just made this cake. Does it have to be refrigerated?
No it doesn’t. However, if you’ll be serving it the next day, I would suggest refrigerating over night.
I made sunflower decorated cupcakes with this recipe. Swirled a tiny bit of caramel into each cupcake. Used caramel frosting as the base leaves then yellow frosting petals and chocolate center. Yummy! Just what I was looking for. Thanks. This recipe made about 30 cupcakes.
Yay! I’m so glad you made it your own and it came out well! You’re very welcome!
have you tried this in cupcakes?
Not yet, but that sounds like a great idea!
Hi, I’d love to make this cake can I substitute something else for the sour cream?
Hi Debbi! You could try the same amount of greek yogurt.
Do you think using canned dulce de leche would work in place of caramel sauce? Would it be too thin?
I think canned dulce de leche would work!
I’ve made this cake twice. Once just like the recipe and once with some changes to make it “mine”. It was a wonderful cake just as written!!!!! I just LOVE caramel and wanted even more. For both cakes, I used yellow cake mixes and I made caramel by boiling a can of eagle brand milk for 2 hours.
My second cake…I used brown sugar instead of white sugar. I did not drizzle the second half cup of caramel over the batter. I made a small Bundt cake and cupcakes. When I brought the Bundt cake out of the oven, I poked holes in the bottom of the hot cake and poured warm caramel into the holes. I then allowed it to cool, removed from the pan and drizzled caramel over the top. For the cupcakes, I let them cool and then used an apple corer and took a chunk out of the middle. I filled the hole with room temp caramel and iced with a buttercream icing that also had caramel added.
Hello I want to make this caramel cake, which brand of cake mix, did you use, I find one particular brand , does not work with it being doctored up. .
I prefer Duncan Hines!
Easy and delicious! Worked well at high altitude too. I might try halving the frosting next time to let the cake flavors shine through more. Nonetheless, family and friends asked to take home leftovers!
I made this today and I haven’t yet eaten it, but that batter and frosting were delicious!!
The recipe calls for a white cake mix but at one point in the blog you mention a spice cake mix. The pictures look like white cake mix so I thought it might be a mistake regarding the spice mix. Do you use white cake mix for this caramel cake?
Hi Lela! You are correct, this recipe uses a white cake mix. I mistakenly added spice cake, it’s been fixed.
Hello!! I’m so excited to try this and thank you for sharing as well!! My question would be, could I add more milk or substitute the buttermilk with something else??
Thanks so much!!
You can make homemade buttermilk, using milk and vinegar.
Hello, can you use a chocolate cake mix? Chocolate caramel cake…doesn’t that sound scrumptious!
Can this be used with Golden Butter cake mix?