Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake is rich, gooey and delicious! The homemade salted caramel icing with a sprinkle of sea salt takes it to another level.

slice of salted caramel chocolate cake with a drizzle of caramel on the plate.

Why You'll Love This Cake

  • Made From Scratch - totally homemade with great caramel flavor
  • Special Recipe - perfect for holidays and a special occasion
  • Great Flavor - moist chocolate cake topped with caramel frosting and sea salt is outrageously good

Recipe Highlights

I'm a salted caramel kind of girl. If you know me, you know it's one of my favorite flavor combinations. That's why I've created several recipes like Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, Caramel Apple Pecan Cobbler and Caramel Apple Cheese Pastry to name a few.

But, this cake is truly one of my favorite recipes. One bite and you'll understand why!

For starters, I use a favorite chocolate cake recipe that's fool-proof and delicious every single time. That's important, because you don't want to spend a lot of time and money on a cake unless it's going to be fabulous.

Next, I make an easy salted caramel icing which doesn't need a lot of time or a candy thermometer. That's important too, because when you want a slice of decadent cake...you want it NOW!

This salted caramel cake is a guaranteed WIN, which makes it the perfect birthday cake, holiday dessert, or cure for a chocolate caramel cake fix...which could happen at any moment!

slice of salted caramel chocolate cake lifted by a spatula.

Ingredients

See recipe card for quantities.

Chocolate Cake

  • sugar
  • self-rising flour (see info below for substitutions)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • butter
  • vegetable oil
  • water
  • large eggs
  • buttermilk

Salted Caramel Icing

  • light brown sugar
  • whole milk
  • butter (room temperature)
  • vanilla extract
  • confectioner's sugar
  • sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • drizzle of store-bought caramel sauce (optional garnish)
slice of caramel cake on an orange plate.

How to Make Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, add sugar, flour and cocoa. Stir and set aside.
dry ingredients mixed together for cake.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring butter, oil and water to a boil over medium heat for 1 minute.
butter melted with oil in dutch oven.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Blend both together with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute.
dry ingredients mixed with wet ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together. Pour into contents in mixing bowl.
eggs and milk being whisked together.
  • Blend cake batter with an electric mixer for 1 minute on medium speed until combined.
chocolate cake batter in a mixing bowl.
  • Pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been greased and floured.
chocolate cake in a baking dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool cake on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Icing Instructions

This icing is similar to a salted caramel buttercream, but it's thinner than normal cake frosting.

  • Place brown sugar, milk and butter in a large saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and stir until mixture comes to a boil.
salted caramel icing in a saucepan.
  • Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  • Take mixture off of the stove and pour into a mixing bowl. Don't be tempted to leave it cooking longer or it may burn.
  • Using a mixer on medium speed, blend in the confectioner's sugar and vanilla until no lumps are present.
icing in a dutch oven.
  • Mix on low for 3 minutes until icing begins to thicken. Scrape the sides of the bowl to get all of the lumps out of icing.
  • Stir in salt and spread over cake before icing gets cold. It will harden once it sits at room temperature, or you can put it in the refrigerator if desired.
  • Drizzle cake with store bought caramel sauce to garnish if desired. (optional)

What's a Substitute for Self-Rising Flour?

If you don't have self-rising flour in your location, substitute the following ingredients for self rising flour in this recipe.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Top Tips

  • The drizzle of caramel on top of the icing is totally optional. This cake is plenty sweet without it, and doesn't need anything extra. But, you can use it if you like the way it looks.
  • You can also leave out the sea salt if you only want homemade caramel icing on top of the cake.
  • For best results, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the icing once you've added the powdered sugar. Otherwise, it will be lumpy.
slice of salted caramel cake being held up by a server.

What's the Difference Between Frosting and Icing?

Icing is similar to a glaze, which means it isn't fluffy or rigid like what you would find on a cupcake. Icing usually starts out thin and thickens upon cooling. That's why it's great for bundt cakes or drizzling on a salted caramel sheet cake.

Frosting has more substance, and can rise really high like you see on a carrot cake, or be spread very thin and still keep its shape. It's usually made with cream cheese or butter, and can be used as a filling since it's thick and spreads easily.

Recipe FAQS

What causes grainy caramel icing?

I have tested this icing multiple times and if you use whole milk it will be smoother and not grainy. If you use another product, such as sweetened condensed milk, the sugar does not melt properly and you will be disappointed in the results.

How do you fix icing that's too runny?

Adding more confectioner's sugar (a little at a time) will thicken icing. Keep in mind that the icing will thicken nicely when it cools. If you want it to be more of a frosting consistency, add more confectioner's sugar.

Why isn't there any baking soda or baking powder added to this cake?

This chocolate cake is made with self-rising flour which already has baking soda in it. If you don't have self-rising flour, you can use all purpose flour. But be sure to add 1 Tablespoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt to 2 cups of all-purpose flour or your cake won't rise.

Storage and Freezing

Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If freezing cake, wrap pieces individually and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw cake in the refrigerator overnight for best results.

salted caramel chocolate cake on an orange plate.

Serving Suggestions

In my opinion, there's nothing better than a slice of salted caramel chocolate cake with a big 'ol cup of hot coffee. They go together like peas and carrots!

This cake is perfect as a fall dessert, and will be gobbled up on Thanksgiving Day along with the pumpkin pie and pecan cobbler!

More Great Sheet Cakes

Salted Caramel Sheet Cake is one of the best chocolate cake recipes you'll ever taste. If you love this cake as much as I do, please give it a STAR rating and leave a comment below!

Enjoy more great sheet cakes from my dessert collection...

slice of salted caramel chocolate cake with a drizzle of caramel on the plate.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake is rich and gooey in a good way! It's one of the best chocolate caramel cake recipes you'll ever taste.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 574kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 stick butter (8 Tablespoons)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk

SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING

  • 2 cups light brown sugar (tightly packed)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 3 Tablespoons store-bought caramel sauce (optional garnish)

Instructions

CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, add sugar, flour and cocoa.  Stir and set aside.
  • Boil butter, oil and water in a saucepan for 1 minute.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Blend both together with a mixer on medium speed for 1 minute.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together.  Pour into contents in mixing bowl.
  • Blend batter with a mixer for 1 minute on medium speed until combined.
  • Pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch greased and floured pan.
  •  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

SALTED CARAMEL ICING

  • Place brown sugar, milk and butter in a large saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and stir until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  • Take mixture off of the stove and pour into a mixing bowl.
  • Using a mixer on medium speed, blend in the confectioner's sugar and vanilla until no lumps are present.
  • Mix on low for 3 minutes until icing begins to thicken.
  • Stir in salt and spread over cake before icing gets cold. It will harden once it sits at room temperature, or you can put it in the refrigerator to cool.
  • Drizzle cake with store bought caramel sauce to garnish if desired. (optional)

Notes

  • If you don't have self-rising flour, substitute 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 Tablespoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt for the flour in this recipe. 
  • The caramel drizzle on top of the icing is totally optional. This cake is plenty sweet without it, and doesn't need anything extra. But, you can use it if you like the way it looks.
  • You can also leave out the sea salt if you only want homemade caramel icing on top of the cake.
  • For best results, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the icing once you've added the powdered sugar. Otherwise, it will be lumpy.

Nutrition

Calories: 574kcal | Carbohydrates: 106g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Sodium: 270mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 90g | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wow! This cake looks absolutely amazing! I can't wait to make it for our Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks for another great recipe.

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