Southern Caramel Cake Recipe

Who doesn't love a little Southern hospitality? Things are just better down South, especially when to comes to food. From barbecue food to baked goods, the South just does it right. This southern caramel cake would be great served at a birthday party, or pretty much on any other occasion. Heck, you don't even need a particular reason to whip up this cake. The sweet treat includes 3 layers of yellow cake and a homemade caramel-flavored frosting that will knock your socks off — it's light, fluffy, and delicious. 

Recipe developer Jessica Morone is the brains behind this recipe for Southern caramel cake. "My favorite thing about this recipe is the frosting — it's not too sweet and it's really delicious," Morone raves. "This cake is really decadent, the cake itself is moist and fluffy, and the frosting is rich and mouthwatering." Keep reading to find out how to make this incredible cake. 

Gather the ingredients for this Southern caramel cake

Once you're ready to begin, you will need to head to the grocery store, and grab the necessary ingredients. Pick up unsalted butter, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, sour cream, large eggs, cake flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, buttermilk, heavy cream, and powdered sugar.

Now, you can whip up this sweet, Southern caramel cake.

Cream the butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grease 3 8-inch cake pans. Next, cream 1 cup of softened butter, the vegetable oil, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Then, add the eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and sour cream, mixing until everything is well-incorporated. "The sour cream in the cake makes it extra moist, and the buttermilk in the frosting adds a little bit of a tangy flavor that balances the sweetness in the frosting," Morone says. 

Mix the wet and dry ingredients

Take out another bowl, and toss in the dry ingredients — the cake flour, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. A little bit at a time, slowly begin adding the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Leave the mixer running on a low speed as you add the dry ingredients. Continue mixing until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, and everything is well-combined.

Bake the cake

Pour the cake batter evenly into each prepared cake tin, then bake them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, you can check the doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake — if it comes out clean, it's done. After you remove the cakes from the oven, make sure to let them cool completely for a couple hours before you add the frosting. 

Make the caramel

Toss the brown sugar, remaining 1 cup of butter, buttermilk, heavy cream, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the ingredients come to a boil, lower the heat down to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes. Make sure to stir it regularly as it cooks. 

"The cake itself is pretty simple, but the frosting can be tricky because you want to make sure you don't cook the caramel [for] so long, that it burns," Morone notes. "Cooking it 3 to 5 minutes after it starts boiling is ideal — longer than that, and it could end up tasting burned." Remove the pan from heat, and pour the caramel sauce into a bowl. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, until it's lukewarm.

Whip up the frosting

Add the caramel mixture, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, beating until the frosting become smooth and fluffy. Then, add the frosting over each cake layer, and on the top of the cake. Add any desired decorations on top of the cake, such as macaroons. 

Serve and enjoy the caramel cake

After you frost the cake, slice and serve it as you wish. "This cake is really pretty, so it would be perfect for any celebration or gathering that you want to impress people at," Morone says. "If you keep the cake covered and in the refrigerator, it can last up to 5 days." 

Southern Caramel Cake Recipe
5 from 39 ratings
Elevate your home baking skills with this Southern yellow cake recipe with homemade caramel frosting.
Prep Time
Cook Time
overhead view of iced cake
Total time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Optional Ingredients
  • 8 macaroons to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease 3 8-inch round cake pans, and set aside.
  2. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to cream together 1 cup butter, the vegetable oil, and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and sour cream, mixing until well-incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients, beating as you go, until everything is well-combined.
  5. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely for a couple hours.
  6. While the cakes cool, add the brown sugar, remaining 1 cup butter, buttermilk, heavy cream and ¼ teaspoon salt to a large saucepan. Heat on medium heat until it begins to boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the caramel into a separate bowl to let it cool until it's lukewarm, about 10 minutes.
  8. Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat the cooled caramel, remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  9. Frost the cake immediately, decorate as desired, and then serve.
Calories per Serving 921
Total Fat 48.0 g
Saturated Fat 24.1 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 175.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 119.1 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Total Sugars 91.3 g
Sodium 237.0 mg
Protein 6.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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