These decadent butterscotch cupcakes are made with plenty of butter and brown sugar – just like butterscotch sauce. Their unmistakable flavor is the one that you know and love! They are easy to make by following the step-by-step instructions below.
For the full experience, top the cupcakes with butterscotch frosting and drizzle them with butterscotch sauce!
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are basic pantry items. Below are a few notes to consider as you select them.
If you’ve made my vanilla cupcakes, you know that I typically advocate for a mix of oil and butter in cupcake recipes. But, not so here! Butterscotch requires 100% butter. Use unsalted butter so that you can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
This recipe works with dark or light brown sugar. I recommend dark brown sugar as it has a stronger flavor.
You can substitute yogurt for the sour cream. Either will work.
Whole milk will provide the richest flavor, but you can use any milk in this recipe – even plant-based milk.
You’ll need butterscotch sauce for the frosting. I highly recommend homemade sauce, however store-bought will do the trick in a pinch.
I use 4 cups of powdered sugar in this frosting, which makes a very stiff frosting – great for piping. You can adjust the amount of powdered sugar to the level of stiffness that you prefer.
How It’s Made
Tip: If you’re a beginner baker, stop here and first take a minute to read my post on how to make cupcakes. It covers some of the basics and offers up a lot of tips. I also recommend that you get yourself some essential baking tools.
Start by mixing dark brown sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter until crumbs form. This takes about three minutes with an electric mixer on high speed.
Mix in eggs, one at a time, then sour cream and vanilla extract.
Tip: It’s very important to not over-mix the batter at this point. Mix until just combined. A cupcake with an over-mixed batter will end up squat and dense – something you definitely don’t want here. (See my post on overmixing cake batter for more information.
Add milk to the batter, mixing on low speed until just combined again. This cupcake batter is very thin – almost liquid.
Fill liners halfway full. It is very important that you don’t overfill the liners. If they are too full, the top will spill over the edge and look like a pancake. Because of their slightly higher than average sugar content, these cupcakes are not meant to dome. If you fill them properly, the top should be flat.
Bake for 14 minutes or until done. You can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a cupcake; it should come out dry to indicate doneness.
Remove the cupcakes from the tins immediately and set on the counter or a cooling rack to cool.
Expert Tips and FAQs
I highly recommend using butterscotch frosting. It’s a simple buttercream frosting, like my vanilla frosting, with the addition of homemade or store-bought butterscotch sauce. This frosting would also be wonderful on pumpkin cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, or coffee cupcakes. The full instructions are in the recipe card below.
Make sure to fill only halfway. If you overfill the cupcake liners, it can look like the image below.
Store them at room temperature for up to three days or refrigerate for up to a week.
Yes! These are great to make as minis because they are so rich. Follow my mini cupcake instructions to convert the recipe.
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour not self-rising
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract use pure, not imitation
- 2/3 cup whole milk room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar add more until it reaches your preferred consistency
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butterscotch sauce plan on a little extra sauce to drizzle over the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together brown sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes.
- Mix in eggs, one at a time until just combined.
- Mix in sour cream and vanilla until just combined.
- Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquidy. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
- Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full. DO NOT OVERFILL. These cupcakes are meant to be flat. If you fill the liners too high, the tops will spread like pancakes instead of doming.
- Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
- When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don’t own a cooling rack) to cool.
- Beat butter on high speed with an electric mixer for about three minutes until light and airy.
- Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
- Add salt and butterscotch sauce and continue to beat for another minute.
- Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes and drizzle with extra sauce as desired.
- Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
- Use room temperature ingredients – everything will mix together more smoothly that way.
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