Caramel Apple Cupcakes have a fun apple pie filling in the middle, are topped with an easy, homemade buttercream frosting and served with some extra apple filling on top. These moist cupcakes are full of warm spices and such a fun and pretty fall dessert!
Table of Contents
Why these Cupcakes are Best
These cupcakes are layered with flavor and perfect for a fall comfort food treat when apples are in season! Also, your kitchen will smell amazing as these bake!
- The moist cupcake batter has cinnamon and nutmeg for some warm spices throughout.
- The cupcakes have a spiced apple pie filling in the center for a fun surprise when you bite into them.
- They are topped with light and fluffy buttercream frosting and some more apple pie filling right on top to make them extra special.
- Take them over the top with a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
- Flour – These cupcakes use regular all-purpose flour and have a great texture. Just be sure to measure the flour correctly!
- Vegetable oil – Make sure to use a vegetable oil with a mild flavor. (Do not use olive oil or peanut oil.) The oil keeps the cupcakes extra moist.
- Vanilla extract – Use a good quality vanilla for the best flavor. If you have the time, homemade Vanilla Extract has a deep vanilla flavor.
- Apples – I love using Honeycrisp apples for this recipe, but you could also use Gala or Granny Smith apples. They both have a good balance of sweetness and tartness and do well with baking. Or use a combination of apples!
- Buttercream frosting – The homemade frosting is easy to make and so yummy, but feel free to substitute a store-bought frosting if desired. Our cream cheese frosting or sour cream frosting are also delicious options!
Making today’s cupcakes has a few steps. From cooking the apple filling, to baking the cupcakes, and finally swirling on homemade frosting.
Broken down though, these steps are easy peasy.
- Make the apple pie filling. Combine the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a large bowl. Melt butter in a skillet and cook the apples for about 10 minutes, until tender. Add the cornstarch to thicken then let the mixture cool. (Make a double batch and use as filling in our apple hand pies)
- Make the cupcakes. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add the wet ingredients and mix until combined. The batter will be thin. Bake the cupcakes then let them cool completely.
- Make the buttercream frosting. Start with softened butter and beat it with a mixer for about 3 minutes, until soft, smooth and pale in color. Mix in the cinnamon and vanilla then add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
- Assemble the cupcakes. Make a small hole in the center of each cupcake. Fill with the apple pie filling. Pipe the buttercream frosting on top. Add some extra apple pie filling on top of the frosting then drizzle with caramel sauce. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t overfill the cupcake liners. Unlike muffins, cupcake tops should be relatively flat so that you can add frosting evenly on top. The liners should be no more than ⅔ full.
- Want to make these super easy? You can substitute the homemade cupcake batter and use a store-bought spice cake mix instead. The apple pie filling and frosting will make them a little more homemade.
- Dice the apples small. The apple pieces will soften and shrink a little as they cook, but you need fairly small pieces to use as a filling in the cupcakes and as a topping.
- For the buttercream: Always start with softened butter. I usually take my butter out when I start baking the cupcakes. By the time the cupcakes are baked and cooled, the butter is softened and ready to use.
- Use a piping bag to pipe the buttercream frosting onto the cupcakes. But always wait until the cupcakes are completely cool to frost them. Otherwise, the frosting will turn into a runny mess.
Yes. Instead of making the cupcake batter, you can use a store-bought spice cake mix. Follow the instructions for baking as cupcakes. Let cool then assemble the cupcakes with the apple pie filling and the buttercream frosting.
The homemade apple pie filling in this recipe has the best, freshest flavor. However, you could use part of a can of apple pie filling to fill and top these cupcakes if desired.
Yes, caramel apple cupcakes can be made 1 day in advance, and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The apple pie filling and buttercream frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Store these cupcakes in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. You can also store unfrosted cupcakes in the freezer for up to 3 months.
More Easy Fall Recipes
- Apple Cider Donuts
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Apple Crumble Recipe
- Popcorn Balls
- Homemade Caramels
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
For the Apple Pie Filling
- 5 Honeycrisp apples
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup water
For the Buttercream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups softened butter
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons caramel syrup
To make the apple filling
- Core, peel and dice the apples 1/4-1/2-inch chunks.
- In a medium bowl mix the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until the apples are tender and the liquid starts to bubble.
- Add the cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool while making the cupcakes.
To make the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a line a 12-cavity cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Whisk until combined.
- Add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, eggs, and water. Beat until well combined. The batter will be thin.
- Fill the liners about ⅔ way and bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
To make the buttercream
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until pale in color, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Add the powdered sugar and mix until completely combined. Transfer to a piping bag.
- To assemble, use a knife or cupcake corer to make a hole in the center of each cupcake.
- Fill each cupcake with the apple filling. Pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake and place the rest of the apple filling on top. Drizzle with caramel sauce. If desired, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon.
- Make it easy! Swap out the homemade cupcake and use a spice cake mix instead!
- Store cupcakes in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Apples- we love using Honeycrisp, but choose your favorite. Gala and Granny Smith are great choices as they have sweetness and tartness in every bite. They also hold up well to cooking. Use a combination of apples for a delicious variety of flavor and texture.