Caramel Icing
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3.73 from 29 votes

Caramel Icing

An authentic caramel icing with no short cut to great flavor.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel icing, stovetop caramel icing recipe
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 125kcal


  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter the original recipe called for margarine, but I only use butter
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, mix butter, evaporated milk and two cups of sugar.
  • Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Do not allow to come to a boil.
  • Once sugar dissolves, reduce heat to low.
  • In a small cast iron skillet on medium-low heat, melt half cup of sugar – stirring constantly until liquid and brown
    Caramel Icing Step 1
  • Stir constantly.
    Caramel Icing Step 2
  • Keep stirring until liquid dissolves.
    Caramel Icing Step 3
  • Pour the browned sugar into the saucepan and quickly stir to incorporate.
  • Stir regularly until the liquid reaches the soft ball stage. It’s easiest to check for the soft ball stage with a candy thermometer (the caramel should be about 235 F). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test by dropping a small amount of caramel into water to see if it forms a soft ball (hence the name). It may take up to thirty minutes to reach the soft ball stage. Here’s where the patience kicks in. Resist the temptation to turn up the heat because the caramel can easily burn.
    Caramel Icing Step 4
  • Let cool slightly. If you wait too long, the caramel will become difficult to spread.
  • Mix in vanilla.
  • Spread on caramel cake cupcakes (or anything).


I got the caramel icing recipe from My Yellow Bluff.  I looked at many, many recipes and this one struck me as the most authentic.  I am reprinting it here with a bit more detail and my notes.


Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 24mg | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 2.7% | Vitamin C: 0.2% | Calcium: 2.2% | Iron: 0.1%