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Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting

Dulce de leche cupcakes are your favourite vanilla cupcakes with dulce de leche filling topped with creamy dulce de leche frosting. It’s so good! And very easy to make too. Check out the recipe with lots of tips, step-by-step photos, and FAQs for perfect dulce cupcakes every time.

(Love making cupcakes? Check out this collection of the best and the most unique cupcake recipes.)

A batch of freshly made dulce de leche cupcakes.

According to Wikipedia, dulce de leche (pronounced dool-seh deh leh-cheh) or caramelized milk or milk jam in English, is a confection from Latin America prepared by slowly heating sugar and milk over a period of several hours.

The simplest way to make it at home is to heat prepared sweetened condensed milk until brown and golden.

I usually just buy a jar from the store though and lemme tell you, it’s one of the most delicious things ever.

We spread it on bread, drizzle it on pancakes and waffles, I love baking with it too. 

And these dulce de leche cupcakes are one of my favourite ways to get my dulce de leche fix. Let’s bake!

Why this recipe works

Vanilla cupcakes with dulce de leche filling.
  • Easy to make. While this recipe has 3 components, it’s really very easy to make: classic vanilla cupcakes, your favourite dulce de leche from the store, the easiest frosting ever.
  • Not too sweet. What’s more, these cupcakes have just the right amount of sweetness with that delicious dulce de leche flavour shining through in every bite.
  • Smooth, creamy buttercream. But I think the real star of this show is the dulce de leche frosting. With only 3 ingredients, it’s a breeze to make, velvety smooth, and a dream to pipe. It’s less finicky than cream cheese frosting, not as sweet as buttercream made with powdered sugar, delicious.

How to make dulce de leche filled cupcakes

Ingredients to make dulce de leche cupcakes.
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This is a simple, no-fail recipe and you’ll only need pantry staples to make it.

Ingredient notes

It takes less than 10 ingredients to make both the cupcake and the frosting:

  • All purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk — I use 1% or 2% skim milk
  • Dulce de leche — you can make your own but like I mentioned, I just buy a jar from the supermarket. Just make sure it’s a brand you enjoy eating on its own.

Baking tools

I usually use my handheld electric mixer to make the cupcakes and my stand mixer to make the frosting. You’ll also need the following:

  • 12-cavity cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners — I love these non-stick liners from Amazon
  • Cookie scoop — very useful so you get even-sized cupcakes
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons

I also always recommend using a kitchen scale and an oven thermometer.

Easy recipe with step-by-step photos

I make the cupcakes first. 

Cupcake recipe

Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare you pan by lining with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Photo collage - dry ingredients in a bowl.

Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy

Photo collage - butter and sugar in a bowl.

Switch to low speed and add an egg. 

Photo collage - egg added to creamed butter.

Once incorporated well, add vanilla extract and an egg white from a large egg and continue beating until incorporated.

Photo collage - egg and vanilla added to wet ingredients.

Still on low speed, add a third of your flour mixture then half of your milk. Add another third of your flour, the rest of your milk and finally the rest of your flour. Do not over-beat; just mix until each addition is incorporated and no significant traces of flour can be seen. Remember to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl.

Photo collage - cupcake batter in a bowl.

Scoop the batter into your cupcake liners (no more than 3/4 full) and bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a few cakes comes out clean.

Cupcake batter in a pan.

Take out of the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. 

Then take out of the pan and cool the cupcakes on the wire rack completely. 

In the meantime, you can make your frosting.

Cupcake frosting

In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy (about 10 minutes).

Photo collage - creamed butter in a bowl.

Add dulce de leche and a pinch of salt. Beat until incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl.

Photo collage - dulce de leche frosting in a bowl.

Continue to beat until the frosting is light, fluffy and you get the consistency you like. At the last 2 minutes of beating, switch to high speed then chill the frosting if not using immediately.

Assembly

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, you can begin assembly.

To fill cupcakes, you can use a cupcake corer or simply use a thin sharp knife to carve a small hole in the middle of your cupcakes about an inch in diameter.

Fill with a dollop of dulce de leche. Top with frosting and decorate as desired. 

Cupcakes filled with dulce de leche on a wire rack.

To frost, you can use a piping bag or simply transfer the frosting into a large Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. 

For this batch of cupcakes I used a large Atteco French star pastry tip.

Expert baking tips

Dulce cupcake on a plate.

Easy and straightforward, right? Here are more tips for perfect cupcakes every time.

For light and fluffy cupcakes 

  • Use room temperature ingredients. They will be easier to beat and incorporate.
  • Measure ingredients correctly. Too much flour will result to a dry cupcake. To make sure you’re always adding the right amount, I suggest using a kitchen scale. It’s an inexpensive but worthwhile addition to any kitchen. 
  • Don’t over mix the cupcake batter. Over-mixing can also result to a very dense cake. Mix just until incorporated.
  • Bake at the correct temperature. We always hear and read about how each oven is different and it’s true! Some ovens run hot, others run cold. To make sure you’re baking at the correct temperature every time, best to buy an oven thermometer. I have 2 hanging in my oven at all times.

Perfect dulce de leche frosting for cupcakes and cakes 

  • Ensure the butter is cool to the touch. While the butter needs to be softened, it must not get to the point where it gets to room temperature. When you gently press a finger on it, it must give easily but still feel cool.
  • Cut the butter into portions. This makes beating them easier.
  • Did your mixture curdle? Don’t worry, just keep beating and your frosting will come together.
  • Chill if not using immediately. Best to chill your frosting if you’re not using it immediately. You may need to re-whip it if it’s gotten a little too hard.

Substitutions

This recipe is best made as described. However, if some of the ingredients are not available or you want to customize, here are some ideas:

  • If you can’t find dulce de leche, you can use caramel or salted caramel for the cupcake filling and the frosting.
  • Of if you want to make salted dulce de leche cupcakes, simply add more salt to your dulce de leche.
  • This recipe can also be made into chocolate cupcakes instead of vanilla cupcakes.

FAQs

Dulce de leche filled cupcakes on a plate.
Is dulce de leche the same as caramel?


While they look a lot alike and taste similar, dulce de leche and caramel are different in that dulce de leche is made from condensed milk (milk and sugar) while caramel is made from sugar and water.

Does dulce de leche taste like condensed milk?


It’s thicker, richer and wonderfully creamier. It tastes closer to caramel than condensed milk.

Storage and shelf life


Frosted cupcakes can be stored in a covered container in the fridge and will keep for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, best to allow the cupcakes to come down to room temperature.

Dulce de leche cupcakes with dulce de leche frosting on a table.

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Author: Jolina
Dulce de leche cupcakes are your favourite vanilla cupcakes with dulce de leche filling topped with creamy dulce de leche frosting. It’s so good!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Latin American, North American
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 363 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the cupcakes

For the frosting

  • cups unsalted butter softened but still cool to the touch
  • 12 oz dulce de leche room temperature
  • pinch salt

Instructions
 

For the cupcakes

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare your pan by lining with cupcake liners and set aside.
    Cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    Photo collage - dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Using a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
    Photo collage - butter and sugar in a bowl.
  • Switch to low speed and add the egg. Once incorporated well, add the egg white and the vanilla extract
    Photo collage - egg and vanilla added to wet ingredients.
  • Still on low speed, add a third of your flour mixture then half of your milk. Add another third of your flour, the rest of your milk and finally the rest of your flour. Do not over-beat; just mix until each addition is incorporated and no significant traces of flour can be seen. Remember to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl.
    Photo collage - cupcake batter in a bowl.
  • Scoop the batter into your cupcake liners (no more than ¾ full) and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a few cupcakes comes out clean.
    Cupcake batter in a pan.
  • Take out of the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Then take out of the pan and cool the cupcakes on the wire rack completely. In the meantime, you can make your frosting.

For the dulce de leche frosting

  • In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer or using a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter until very light and fluffy (about 10 minutes).
    Photo collage - creamed butter in a bowl.
  • Add dulce de leche and a pinch of salt. Beat until incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl.
    Photo collage - dulce de leche frosting in a bowl.
  • Continue to beat until the frosting is light, fluffy and you get the consistency you like. At the last 2 minutes of beating, switch to high speed then chill the frosting if not using immediately.

Assembly

  • To fill cupcakes, you can use a cupcake corer or simply use a thin sharp knife to carve a small hole in the middle of your cupcakes about an inch in diameter.
  • Fill with a dollop of dulce de leche. Top with frosting and decorate as desired. 
    Cupcakes filled with dulce de leche on a wire rack.

Video

Notes

See post for lots of baking tips, complete step-by-step photos and FAQs.

Nutrition

Calories: 363kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 3gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 66mgPotassium: 98mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 920IUCalcium: 47mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information are estimates only.

Keyword Easy, Russian Buttercream, Summer, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Tag @iamtheunlikelybaker I’d love to see your creations!

Happy baking!

Did you make dulce de leche cupcakes? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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Rate the Recipe




Tara

Sunday 17th of April 2016

These look so good. Unfortunately I am trying to cut out sugar. My mixer is making weird noises. I hope it hangs in for a while longer. I have had it about 15 years. Stand mixers are priceless!

Jolina

Monday 18th of April 2016

Thanks Tara! I have been trying to cut down my sugar intake for years but it has been a losing battle! I just try to compensate by being healthier in other things. Is that cheating? Haha. Sorry to hear about your mixer. Mine is making weird noises too. 15 years is a very long time. Wow. Hope it hangs in there!

Dylan Cutler

Sunday 17th of April 2016

Your frosting skills are so impressive. I have so much fun frosting cupcakes but it is harder than it looks! Also love the salted aspect, a little more interesting than caramel alone.

Jolina

Monday 18th of April 2016

Thanks Dylan! If you can only see behind-the-scenes...the kitchen is a compete disaster whenever frosting is involved.

Lauren

Friday 15th of April 2016

These look sooooo good! I'd love to try the frosting and salted caramel with a chocolate cupcake too. If I ever experiment I will definitely let you know how it comes out :-)

Jolina

Monday 18th of April 2016

Oh absolutely. That would be fantastic. Thanks for stopping by Lauren!

Tess

Thursday 14th of April 2016

These look so tasty! haven't had anything salted caramel in a long time and after seeing these I have a craving!

Jolina

Monday 18th of April 2016

These will definitely satisfy your craving :) It's salted caramel in and out! Let me know how it goes if you ever try it out :)

Amanda

Thursday 14th of April 2016

These look amazing, and I love salted caramel. I need to try these!

Jolina

Monday 18th of April 2016

Thank you Amanda! Let me know how it goes :)