Old Fashioned Caramel Icing Recipe

Are you looking for a new icing recipe that will be perfect for cakes, brownies, or other desserts? This Old Fashioned Caramel Icing is easy to make with only a few ingredients from your pantry.

Old Fashioned Carmel Icing

Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

I know that you are going to love this recipe! It’s the perfect topping for any special dessert but I won’t tell anyone if you simply want to spread some on a graham cracker and enjoy!

Sometimes you just need a sweet treat. And as much as I love chocolate icing and a good Cream Cheese Frosting, it’s fun for a change to have Caramel Icing too.

This recipe is amazing on Chocolate Cake and also tastes very good on Zucchini Brownies. (Of course, it tastes wonderful on Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies too!)

The best part of this recipe (in my opinion) is that it only takes a few ingredients to make that you already have in your pantry. Those types of recipes are always best!

You can leave this icing recipe un-whipped and use it as a drizzle for certain bars or cakes, or use the whipped version as you can see here in the pictures for an elegant and delicious frosting for layer cakes and other fancy treats.

Old Fashioned Caramel Icing Recipe

Ingredients for Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

  • Butter. You can use salted or unsalted butter in this recipe depending on if you want the salted caramel flavor.
  • Brown Sugar. Your brown sugar should be soft to work well in this recipe. You might be able to replace it with coconut sugar or another dark sugar but I have not yet tried.
  • Milk. Use whole milk in this recipe. If you don’t have whole milk, use cream or half and half instead.
  • Powdered Sugar. You can use store-bought powdered sugar or make your own. Find the recipe below.

Fudge Brownies Recipe

What to Make with Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

Caramel Icing

FAQs about Making Caramel Icing

How do you thicken caramel frosting?

If you need to thicken the frosting, add a little more powdered sugar. Keep in mind that it will thicken up when it’s being whipped so only add more powdered sugar after that point.

How do you keep caramel icing from getting gritty?

Make sure that you brown sugar is soft and that you cook it for the correct amount of time before whipping. Do not store the drizzle in the fridge.

How do you store leftover caramel icing?

You can keep the whipped version of this icing in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks while you use it up. The drizzle version does not store well and tends to get gritty when cold.

Vanilla Extract

Variations to Caramel Icing

Add in about a teaspoon vanilla extract to give the frosting more flavor. Do this after you remove it from heat but before you whip it.

Add in a pinch salt when you are boiling the caramel ingredients together for a salted caramel version.


Making Caramel Icing

How to Make Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

In a saucepan, over a medium heat, heat the butter and brown sugar together until boiling. Boil while stirring for 2 minutes. Add in the milk and stir until almost boiling. (About 208 degrees if you are monitoring with a candy thermometer.)

Caramel Icing Mixture

Remove the mixture from heat and place into a large bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer. Cool for a few minutes, add in the powdered sugar with a whisk and mix until incorporated.

Old Fashioned Caramel Icing Recipe

Place in a mixer or using electric hand mixers. Using the whisk attachment, whip the icing until light and fluffy. You can use this to frost immediately after whipping.


This recipe makes enough to cover a 9×13 cake, 2 dozen cupcakes, or one whole pan of Zucchini Brownies (plus some to spare), it’s very sweet like many treats so enjoy in moderation!

Homemade Powdered Sugar Recipe

In a blender mix 1 cup of sugar (can be any sugar) with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or tapioca starch or potato starch) until powdered.

Use in place of powdered sugar in recipes.

Old Fashioned Caramel Icing Recipe

Need to print this Old Fashioned Caramel Icing Recipe to keep in your Recipe Binder? Grab it below!

Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

How to make your own caramel icing.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword caramel icing, Old Fashioned Caramel Icing
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1 cake
Calories 2620 kcal


  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar


  1. In a saucepan, heat the butter and brown sugar together until boiling. Boil while stirring for 2 minutes. Add in the milk and stir until almost boiling.

  2. Remove the mixture from heat and cool for a few minutes, add in the powdered sugar with a whisk and mix until incorporated.
  3. Place in a mixer or using electric hand mixers, whip the icing until light and fluffy. You can use this to frost immediately after whipping.
  4. This recipe makes enough to cover a 9x13 cake, 2 dozen cupcakes, or one whole pan of Zucchini Brownies (plus some to spare), it's very sweet like many treats so enjoy in moderation!
Nutrition Facts
Old Fashioned Caramel Icing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 2620 Calories from Fat 846
% Daily Value*
Fat 94g145%
Saturated Fat 59g369%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 24g
Cholesterol 251mg84%
Sodium 819mg36%
Potassium 416mg12%
Carbohydrates 458g153%
Sugar 451g501%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 2935IU59%
Calcium 287mg29%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Gluten Free Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

This recipe is already naturally gluten free as written. Make sure and check your powdered sugar (if using store bought) to ensure there are no unwanted additives.

Dairy Free Old Fashioned Caramel Icing

Replace the butter with a vegan buttery spread. Replace the milk with coconut milk or your favorite full-fat milk alternative. In my opinion, the canned coconut milk works best in this recipe even though it gives it a bit of a coconut flavor.

More Caramel Treat Recipes

What are some of your favorite recipes to put icing on? What do you think you will use this Old Fashioned Caramel Icing recipe for?

Did you make this recipe and enjoy it? Be sure and leave a star review rating! Also, be sure and share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and through Email by using the sharing buttons below.

Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

This recipe for Old Fashioned Caramel Icing was originally published on Little House Living in March 2014. It has been updated as of January 2023.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This sounds yummy!! I am thinking chocolate layer cake very soon..too bad I already started doughnuts today. They won’t last long,tho’……..

  2. Looks fantastic! Does this have to be refrigerated after? I’ve been looking for a frosting that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. We don’t like the taste of gluten free cakes once they have been in the fridge.

      1. This is a family favorite. I have been making this recipe for over 30 years and we love it on spice cake. I have never refrigerated the cake after frosting it.

  3. Oh my goodness that looks good…. (salivating). 🙂 I wonder if I can make it sugar and calorie free? 😉

  4. homemade powdered sugar? I have tried it before, but never got the consistency I wanted. Going to try adding cornstarch next time!

    1. Cornstarch is the key! I always thought that powdered sugar was simply finely ground sugar too until I read the ingredients on the package 😉

  5. This looks delicious! It looks so easy to make too, I have never baked a cake or make any sort of desert, but I will give this a try.


  6. wow this looks delicious – I have badly failed at making caramel icing – caramel is my nemesis – but love baking chocolate cakes which would love to wear this

  7. I have used this recipe (same as my grandmas) for butter pecan cake… even makes the boxed kind delicious! 🙂

  8. I have tried several times to get the Carmel pudding and cake recipes. Each time no recipes just advertising!!! What’s with that??

    1. I’m not sure which recipes you are looking for? I don’t think we have a caramel pudding recipe posted. Which cake recipe were you trying to get to?

  9. I live at an elevation of 7000ft. Any high altitude baking recipe’s are appreciated. Love your site. I have gotten lots of great ideas from you. Thanks.

  10. Cannot wait to try this! Sounds delicious. Now that I am home all the time I can bake and cook better meals for my family! This looks so yummy! Thanks!

  11. The cake looks delicious!! I will give this icing a try!! For the powdered sugar…Will it ‘powder’ like store bought in a blender? I would very much like to make my own since we don’t use powdered sugar that often, it would be one less thing to have in the cupboards!! Thanks!!

    1. Yes it will. It’s not a perfect substitution in all recipes but it works really well in most of them. The key is adding in the starch.

  12. Hi Merissa. This frosting looks sooo yummy! I make a version of this (it’s a little different and was my Grandma’s recipe). Sometimes the old-fashioned recipes are still the best. I pinned yours to try later:) found at inspire me wed. Have a great week.

  13. love your blog and how you display your social media, so creative! This chocolate cake looks so good, i love the chocolate caramel combo! Checking this sweetness out from the pinworthy projects party! I am now following you on pinterest and twiiter 🙂

  14. This looks absolutely delicious. I don’t know that I’ve ever had caramel icing, but the next chocolate cake I make, this is going on it. Thanks so much for sharing on Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in next week’s issue.

  15. This looks so good, tempting! I just made my Mocha Walnut Cake and the next time I bake them, Im gonna use this frosting for sure! oh yumm!


  16. Yum! This looks so good. I am pinning now. Came over from the Pin it Monday Hop!

  17. Your photography is gorgeous and this cake looks incredible! I will be featuring this on Saturday Night Fever this weekend! Thanks for linking this up 🙂

  18. I love caramel! I can’t wait to make this yummy sounding frosting! I’m glad I found your link through the Titus 2 Tuesday link party.

  19. Oh this looks dangerous! Pinned! Awesome recipe 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up at Thursday STYLE! Have a great week!

  20. Oh my! What a decadent frosting. Thanks for sharing at Simple Supper Tuesday.

  21. I’m a sucker for any kind of caramel, and the fact that you added it to ICING makes me so incredibly happy, Merissa! This sounds amazing, and I cannot wait to try it.

    Also, this was one of my favorite recipes featured on last week’s That’s Fresh Friday link-up! I’ll be featuring it at my site tonight as we launch this week’s link-up. Thanks so much for participating, and keep up the great work!

  22. Looks yummy! Too bad I’m off refined sugar. …sigh! (Thanks for visiting Happiness is Homemade, hope to have you link up next week!)

  23. Wow, this looks dangerous! 😉 I love the use of brown sugar! Thanks for sharing at Savoring Saturdays. 🙂

  24. Can I say Yumm?! This icing looks amazing, and I’m loving the pair with chocolate. Just pinned your fabulous recipe!

  25. Oh delicious! I’m sure it is good on everything lol
    Thank you for linking up for Sunday Brunch, nice to see you

  26. Thank you so much for this recipe, I just love caramel and this will go brilliantly with my favourite chocolate mud cake recipe x

  27. Delicious! Stopping by from the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop to say hi and thanks for linking up!

  28. Oh my gosh, this sounds delicious!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  29. I am going to make this! I never knew you could make your own powdered sugar. I’ll give it a try.

  30. Forgot to mention, I used cream instead of milk, added a dash of sea salt, and Mexican vanilla. Fabulous frosting! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  31. I made this frosting last night, and while it was very simple & delicious, I didn’t get a “whipped” texture? I used the wisk attachment on my kitchen aid mixer & whipped it for 3-4 mins. Suggestions? Also, if I double to recipe for a layer cake, are there any alterations that should be made?

  32. My grandmother used to make caramel icing. I had nearly forgotten that. Thank you for sharing. I am pinning to try soon!!

  33. Frosting was delicious but the photo is deceiving. This is not enough frosting to make a layered cake. I had to make two batches

  34. Hey there! I tried the caramel icing. The flavor was fantastic, but the texture was kind of grainy. I did take your advice and make my own powdered sugar. Any ideas of where I might have mixed something up?

  35. I just made this icing and WOW it is delicious. It is very simple and easy to make. The only thing I added was a little vanilla extract because I love baking with that.

  36. Simply wanna remark on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the articles
    is rattling wonderfcul :D.

  37. You are so right. I love chocolate frosting, too, but sometimes you just need some caramel in your life. 🙂 I must share the deliciousness. 🙂

  38. Years ago when I was in high school, I had a waitress job at a small cafe. The owner’s mother would bake a homemade banana cake and frost it with caramel frosting. Yum, it was so good.