Brown Sugar Caramel Frosting


I don’t know what it is about the change in seasons, but I always get a little hankering to clean and organize.  I’ve been tackling projects like kids’ closets, bathroom drawers, and those cupboards I stuff junk in all the time and then pretend they don’t exist.  Did you guys catch my Instastory about my mudroom?  I did not tackle that one. In that same spirit I’ve been trying to tidy up our recipe index.  Like my closets, it’s a scary work-in-progress that reminds me of all the junk we’ve stuffed in there and forgotten about!  We’re trying to make it even more user friendly, like organizing all of our frostings together in one place so you can mix and match when you want to pair something with a cake, or graham crackers, or a spoon.  #nojudgementzone

caramel Frosting

So while I’m going to give you something scrumptious to slather this brown sugar frosting on next week, this is so deliciously versatile, you can use it on a lot of things.   This style of frosting is called penuche, and it starts with a very simple caramel made of brown sugar, butter, and cream or milk.  Then a few extra ingredients turn it into a lusciously rich frosting with warm notes that are perfect for autumn.  We actually have this caramel cake with a penuche frosting on it waaaaay back in our archives.  I actually forgot this existed.  Old photos, delicious cake!

This could not be easier!  Just dump a few simple ingredients in a pot on your stovetop: real butter, brown sugar (you can use dark or light), a little cream- or milk works, too, and salt.  

Caramel Frosting

After it comes to a simmer for just a couple of minutes, you can pour it into a mixing bowl to cool. I let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s just luke warm and has thickened up a bit, but isn’t totally cooled.  

Caramel Frosting

If you wait until it’s all the way cooled, it will be  too thick to mix up into frosting and be difficult to spread.  Just warm, and it’s glorious.

caramel Frosting

Add in a little powdered sugar and whip it up.

caramel Frosting

I like this frosting on the softer side.  As I mentioned, it will thicken a little after it stands, so avoid adding so much sugar that it gets stiff (and also overly sweet). 

caramel Frosting

It’s so rich and caramel-y and you can drench it over so many things.   We ate it on graham crackers last night and it was sooooo good.  It goes especially well with things like banana bread, apple or pumpkin cake, or drizzled over cinnamon rolls.

As mentioned, I’m going to give you something to spread this on next week (besides your fingers.  You can do that today.)

caramel frosting from our best bites

Brown Sugar Caramel Frosting (Penuche Frosting)

A rich caramel frosting with warm notes perfect for pairing with cakes and cupcakes.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cream (or milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Heat butter, brown sugar, cream, and salt in a pot until melted and combined. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Let cool to luke warm (about 10 minutes) and then beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Adjust consistency by adding more powdered sugar to thicken, or more cream or milk (little by little) to thin. Use immediately as frosting will thicken upon standing.


fall baking meta slider


  1. I LOVE your blog and your products. I’ve been a fan for years and follow quite regularly. I promise I am not one to read people’s blog and pick out all of their mistakes, but these 2 were just screaming at me!

    “I let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s just look warm and has thickened up a bit” – did you mean lukewarm?

    “We at it on graham crackers last night and it was sooooo good.” – ate*

    Sorry, hope this doesn’t sound mean!!!

      1. The frosting looks delicious, like everything else you girls post!! I would love to try this on cinnamon rolls!!

  2. So I am guessing you are going to put this on pumpkin cookies…cause thats my OTHER super-secret-family-recipe that-is-not-secret-and-apparently-didn’t-originate-with-my-family-recipe. Sheesh you guys. The apple cake and the russian cream were bad enough. Now this? lol. Though my russian cream recipe is different than yours. I will find a pinch of solace in that.

  3. Looks yummy! Do I stir the caramel as it simmers for three minutes, or just let it simmer without stirring? I know caramel is sensitive to stirring and may get grainy. Thanks!

  4. Hi Sara
    I see thus was posted awhile ago but I’m just seeing it. Have you ever tried making the penuche frosting into fudge? I have been looking for this fudge for years and nobody has any clue what penuche is. Oh if they only knew. I will definitely be giving this a try.

    1. Now I’m the one just barely seeing YOUR comment, haha! I haven’t used this particular frosting for penuche, but there are tons of recipes online for it! Just google “Penuche Fudge Recipe” and you’ll see lots. Yum!

  5. Hi! Question on this recipe. I made it, and it tastes amazing. But it’s crystal-y. Gritty, if you will. Where did I go wrong?
    Thanks for the insight!

  6. This is the Very Best Brown Sugar Frosting I have ever had! Easy & delicious! It’s a keeper and a pass it on!

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