Easy Caramel Cake

slice of caramel cake on white plate on wood background

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.

slice of caramel cake on metal spatula

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. 

caramel cake with caramel swirled in batter in glass 9x13 inch pan

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. 

Adding 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
slice of caramel cake on white plate on wood background

How to Make Caramel Cake with Cake Mix

For this recipe you’ll want to use a 15.25 oz box of Duncan Hines spice cake mix. I know some boxes out there are 18.25 oz, so be sure you’re getting the right size. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, sugar, flour and salt. 
  2. Add in the eggs, mil, 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.
  3. 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. I chose a homemade caramel icing that 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:

slice of caramel cake on white plate on wood background

More Easy Cake Recipes

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For a step-by-step of how to make this caramel cake recipe, watch this short video:
Easy Caramel Cake

Easy Caramel Cake

Yield: 9x13 inch pan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

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.

Ingredients

Caramel Cake

  • 1 box white cake mix, 15.25 oz
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup jarred caramel sauce, divided in half

Caramel Icing

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Caramel Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. 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.
  3. Spray a 9x13 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.
  4. 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.

Caramel Icing

  1. 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.
  2. Once simmering, add in the heavy cream, stir and allow the mixture to return to a simmer.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

26 comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. This looks delicious!

  4. Is it 2 sticks of butter or 1/2 cup for icing?

  5. Do you make your own Carmel sauce or it’s in a jar you buy from the store?

  6. Why butter milk, sour cream and milk?

  7. 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?

  8. This looks amazing! Which caramel sauce did you use? 

  9. 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!!!
    Jan

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. have you tried this in cupcakes?

  14. Hi, I’d love to make this cake can I substitute something else for the sour cream?

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