Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe | Cupcake Project

Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe

Brown sugar frosting is one of my most favorite frostings. If you use light brown sugar, as shown above, the brown sugar frosting tastes like a thicker version of the glaze on a glazed doughnut. If you use dark brown sugar, as shown below, the flavor is a bit richer and the frosting is somewhat more creamy. This makes sense since dark brown sugar is really just light brown sugar plus additional molasses.


You can’t go wrong either way.

Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe

I got the delectable brown sugar frosting recipe from Southern Food on About.Com.

Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe

Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar


  1. In a saucepan, melt butter.
  2. Add the brown sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
  6. Gradually add sifted confectioners' sugar. (I would highly recommend sifting this confectioners' sugar. It's such a pain to sift, but it ensures that the frosting will be extra smooth.)
  7. Beat until thick enough to spread. If too thick, add a little hot water.


FYI: The top photo is of my sweet potato casserole cupcake. The bottom photo is from my gluten-free quinoa cupcake.

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40 Responses to Brown Sugar Frosting Recipe

  1. Trish November 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    I’ve never made this type of frosting before…but it is beautiful and simple…great over a spice cupcake I bet!

  2. D@nielle November 12, 2009 at 1:17 am #

    oh I’m so happy with this recipe, as of last month I’m not allowed a lot of white sugar only brown sugar and unrefined brown sugar. Definately trying this thanks !

  3. Ivy November 12, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    I just love brown sugar!
    Molasses too.;>

  4. Astrid November 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    I just used your recipe to make the frosting for my thanksgiving cupcakes (dark chocolate pumpkin cupcakes). Thank you so much for the idea. It came out so wonderful. And it smells amazing while its boiling.

  5. Anonymous December 31, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    I haven’t had this for decades, when my grandmother use to make for special occasions. It triggered old memories, and I just mixed up a batch for the cake in the oven. Thanks for bringing this back into my life.

  6. Missy Moodle Cupcakes July 19, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    This recipe looks fantastic! My step dad hates icing so this would be perfect for him so he stops complaining :)

  7. Anonymous July 20, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    oh my god, my batch turned out so sweet I had to drink 3 bottles of water afterwards. Anyway, thanks for the recipe!

  8. Persnickety Hall August 19, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    This looks amazing! I’m totally going to whip up a batch of banana cupcakes and frost them with this. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Anonymous October 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    You just saved the day! I made apple “brownies” that turned out to be apple cake – in dire need of frosting. Perfect for dinner tonight!

  10. Robinbird March 15, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Mmm…I may have to try this on some blueberry cupcakes!

  11. Anonymous September 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Just finished making this frosting for my banana cupcakes (also your recipe!) Sooooo excited to try these!

  12. Laurie September 28, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    Just made this to top Trader Joes Pumpkin Bread mix. Made it taste homemade! Thanks!

  13. Anonymous December 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    very good on oatmeal cake.

  14. molly March 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    I turned your frosting into a glaze and tested it on some faux chicken drumsticks for April Fool’s Day and it was delicious! Thanks for the Sugar Rush!

  15. Seana April 19, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    Used this frosting on your Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes. Was a huge hit with the family AND a classroom of picky third graders.

  16. dollface May 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    goes good with these and some almond extract top with a cherry:)

  17. Julia Hayes May 25, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    This is very similar to my grandma’s brown sugar frosting, but we always thicken it with peanut butter instead of powdered sugar (which would, of course, change the taste). Now I have a nephew allergic to nuts, so I am anxious to try your recipe in place of grandma’s. Thanks for sharing!

    • Stef May 25, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Ooh – Now I want to try it your grandma’s way! :)

  18. Ashley June 9, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    I am going to try this frosting on crepes this morning. Hopefully they will turn out good!

  19. Fionavar July 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    Is the measurement for the powdered sugar before or after it’s been sifted?

    • Stef July 11, 2013 at 2:22 pm #


  20. elaine July 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    I just made this and icing is wonderful

    • elaine February 20, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      So delicious!!

  21. Betty Belanus March 28, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    I had to add more powdered sugar to get this to a spreading consistency, and also added some vanilla and cinnamon because it was WAY sweet. Easy to make. I used soy milk because we did not have any regular milk in the house. Maybe this was part of the spreading problem, it is more watery?

  22. Danielle May 20, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Does this frosting have to be refrigerated? Or can it sit out on the counter on top of a cake/cupcakes?

    • Stef May 20, 2014 at 8:02 am #

      It does not need to be refrigerated.

  23. Jane November 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I made an apple cake that didn’t call for icing but I found your recipe and making it right now. Can’t wait to try it!


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