Apple cider cupcakes with caramel frosting are fall cupcakes using cake mix, apple pie filling, and dulce de leche to give a delicious caramel apple flavor with very little effort.
One of the best treats to enjoy every year is caramel apples, and while there's always a great pumpkin vs. apple debate on which flavor is better, we all know that both are worthy of the season.
My husband is team pumpkin, and I'm team apple, but we make sure to enjoy all the treats every year, and sometimes we even compete to see who has the better idea.
These caramel apple cupcakes were my better idea, but don't forget to try and compare them to these Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes and see which team you'd prefer.
For more caramel apple goodness, make sure to check out my Caramel Apple Cider Cookies too!
🍯 Why This Recipe Works
- Minimal ingredients, maximum flavor. You can't have an apple flavor without actual apples, right? With a few storebought ingredients, we can get all of the best flavors in every bite, with real chunks of apple too.
- They're easy to make. From a little chopping to some mixing and baking, this recipe uses very simple and basic steps that even novice bakers and kid chefs should have no problem completing. (My 4 year old enjoyed helping me make these cupcakes).
- They aren't too sweet. I know it sounds like a lot of sweetness thanks to the dulce de leche, but the frosting is actually more flavorful than it is sweet, so you don't have to worry about them tasting too rich or too sugary. This also means you may enjoy more in one sitting, so be careful, or the cupcakes will disappear too soon!
Apple cider drink mix- You can find these instant drink packets at your local Walmart or Dollar Tree. They're pretty great for adding warm apple tastes without using actual liquid.
Apple pie filling- For chunks of apple throughout the cupcakes, using apple pie filling works best.
Dulce de leche- You can find a can of this at your local grocery store. It's basically canned caramel, and it's thick, rich, and so fabulous!
Cream cheese- Use some softened cream cheese to give the frosting a rich and creamy consistency. This will also help it to remain stable enough that you can pipe it onto the cupcakes.
Whipped topping- We use thawed whipped topping to make the frosting fluffy and lighter in consistency.
For specific ingredients and measurements, please see the recipe card below.
Whipping cream. If desired, you can swap out the whipped topping for homemade whipped cream. To do this, beat 1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Use in place of the whipped topping.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set it aside.
Step 2: Open the can of apples and place onto a large cutting board. Dice or chop the apples into smaller pieces. You want them to be ½ an inch in size or smaller. Set them aside.
Step 3: Add the dry cake mix, apple cider drinking mix, and apple pie spice to a large mixing bowl.
Step 4: Whisk together until combined.
Step 5: Stir in the eggs and oil.
The batter will be thick.
Step 6: Add in the chopped apple pie filling.
Step 7: Stir to combine.
Step 8: Scoop the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup ⅔rds full.
Step 9: Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
Step 10: Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
Step 1: Add the cream cheese and dulce de leche to a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Beat together until well mixed.
Step 3: Add in the whipped topping, 1 cup at a time.
Step 4: Continue to mix until incorporated.
Step 5: Pipe or spread the frosting onto the cupcakes.
Serve immediately, or keep the cupcakes stored in the fridge until ready to eat.
🍴 Recipe Tips
Apple pie filling
There are a lot of different types of canned apple pie filling, and you can use any of them. You can even use homemade canned apple pie filling if desired. Just make sure to have the right amount added to the batter, or else it may end up too stiff or too wet.
I went with a sweeter apple pie variety, but when I make this recipe again, I'll use a more tart filling (like one made with Granny Smith apples) because I love the sweet-tart contrasts.
Still have apple cider leftover?
After you've finished these caramel apple cupcakes, try these Caramel Apple Cider Cookies! They use the same apple cider drink mix packages as the cupcakes, so you'll already have some on hand!
Where to find apple cider drink mix
If you don't wish to buy a box of 10-count apple cider drink mix, I have had great luck finding a smaller count box at the local Dollar Tree (While this means fewer packets on hand, it will be a higher cost per package than if you bought the larger box at Walmart or another store).
These cupcakes can be kept stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. I recommend eating them while they are freshest because that's when they taste best!
These cupcakes can be frozen in a single-layered airtight container for up to 3 months. To thaw the cupcakes, place them on the counter for a few minutes or in the fridge for about one to two hours before eating.
These cupcakes would be a great addition to any Autumn themed party or event. They're also great for just keeping some sweets around the house. Try serving them with some festive Fall sprinkles, and they'll look great!
I prefer to make my cupcakes and cakes with vegetable oil and my cookies or "chewy" textured baked goods with butter, but that's a personal preference. You can use either vegetable oil or melted butter, depending on what you would like.
We make these apple cider cupcakes with yellow cake mix, but you can use white cake mix or spice cake mix, depending on what you have on hand. Other cake mixes could be used instead, but they may not taste as great.
❤️ More Delicious Cake Recipes
If you tried this Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting, please leave a ⭐️ star rating and share your feedback in the 📝 comments section below. I would truly appreciate it!
Apple Cider Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
- 1 can Apple pie filling (20oz) ($1.98)
- 1 box Yellow cake mix (15.25oz) ($1.58)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Apple pie spice ($0.15)
- 1 packet Apple Cider Drink Mix ($0.20)
- 3 large Eggs ($0.24)
- ⅓ cup Vegetable oil ($0.16)
- 1 block Block cream cheese, softened (8oz) ($1.98)
- 1 can Dulce de leche (13.4oz) ($3.48)
- 1 tub Whipped topping, thawed (8oz) ($0.98)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set it aside.
- Open the can of apples and place onto a large cutting board. Dice or chop the apples into smaller pieces. You want them to be ½ an inch in size or smaller. Set them aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake mix, apple cider drinking mix, and apple pie spice, using a whisk.
- Stir in the eggs and oil. The batter will be thick.
- Add in the apple pie filling and stir to combine.
- Scoop the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup ⅔rds full.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
- Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
- Beat the cream cheese and dulce de leche in a mixing bowl until combined.
- Add in the whipped topping, 1 cup at a time, and continue to mix until incorporated.
- Pipe or spread the frosting onto the cupcakes.
- Serve immediately or keep the cupcakes stored in the fridge until ready to eat.