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Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting

It doesn’t seem right to label these amazing mounds of deliciousness “butter pecan cupcakes” because they are (truly) so much more. They’re the stuff dreams are made of. 

butter pecan cupcake

No, really. I dream about them. I contemplate quitting my diet over them. Then I think of different ways to dress up these moist butter pecan cupcakes and take them out on a date.

Butter Pecan Cupcake Gift and Blessing

I ponder the joys of blessing my guests with them. And I give them a place of honor during the fall and winter months, because they have that distinct holiday feel about them.

In short, I’m hooked. And, diet or not, they’re worth the occasional tumble from the wagon. (I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!) Other people love them, too. In fact, some folks call them Pecan Pie Cupcakes. (Mmm! Pecan pie!)

So, what makes this particular cake different from the rest? They have a distinct nutty flavor, not just from the pecans, but from the brown butter frosting. 

“What is this brown butter frosting you speak of?” you ask. 

Oh, friends. Friends, friends, friends. Once you’ve added brown butter to your holiday frostings you’ll never go back.

decorated butter pecan cupcakes

You’ll burst into song after just one taste. Don’t believe it? I pause to offer a testimonial.

Yummy Testimonial

My good friend April came over yesterday to help me bake these cupcakes for a holiday event at my church and she literally swooned after tasting one teensy-tiny nibble of my brown butter maple-caramel frosting. I’m not even kidding. The woman was rendered speechless.

Then, just as quickly, she started singing the praises of what she’d just eaten. She couldn’t get enough of it! Six hours later, after the event, she returned to my house and (you guessed it) gobbled down another yummy cupcake.

Why?

That frosting, y’all! It’s to die for! (In some ways it reminds me of butter pecan ice cream, which is one of my all-time favorites!) These are great Thanksgiving cupcakes, but (honestly?) They’re perfect any time of year.

Secret to the Best Butter Pecan Cupcakes

Brown butter is a long-held top-secret culinary trick. Magicians chefs keep this little secret tucked away in their back pocket and pull it out whenever they want to cast a spell on their guests.  

I’ve used it in so many of my recipes over the past several months. My Brown Butter Pecan Cookies, for instance. And of course my Easy Brown Butter Frosting. One of my all-time favorite ways to use brown butter is in my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter. There are no words to describe just how good they are! Oh, and then there’s my Luscious Brown Butter Walnut Cake with Maple Glaze. I’m over the moon for that recipe.

When you add brown butter, you’re creating an experience for the person eating your baked goods. They will walk away asking, “What was it about those cookies–or that frosting–or those muffins–what was so delicious? I can’t put my finger on it, but those were some of the best I’ve ever tasted!”

You’ll feel the same way after trying this recipe. It has the nutty flavors of a pecan pie. You’ll want to whip up a batch in a hurry! So, let’s get to it! 

Butter Pecan Cupcake Ingredients

I’m starting with the ingredients for the cake part of the cupcake. It’s not complicated if you break it down in steps.

I’ve included a printable recipe card with the ingredients and detailed instructions at the bottom of this post for your convenience.

cake mix, caramel, eggs, pecans, water, and oil

Cake Ingredients

You’ll find a full printable recipe at the bottom of this post. For now, here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need.

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 box Butter Pecan cake mix (brand of your choice)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (or half cup butter, softened)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water (or milk)
  • ¼ cup caramel topping
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Caramel Mousse Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the Caramel Mousse: 

  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbl instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ¼ cup caramel topping
whipping cream, cream cheese, and vanilla pudding mix

Browned Butter Frosting Ingredients (with Maple Caramel)

Now for the Brown Butter Maple-Caramel Frosting:

  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • One block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 block Crisco (or other white shortening, equivalent of one cup)
  • One bag (7-8 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup caramel topping
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • 1 add’l stick of salted butter, browned (see instructions below)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Topping Ingredients

And the toppings: 

  • Caramel topping
  • Chopped pecans

How to Make Butter Pecan Cupcakes

You might look at the ingredients and think these are difficult to make. They’re not! The come together quickly and easily.

Before you begin: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter Pecan cupcakes:

Add cake mix to the mixing bowl, then work in the oil and eggs, mixing on low speed. Slowly work in the water (or milk), a little at a time.

Add the other ingredients, waiting until the end to add the pecans. You want to make sure your icing isn’t too runny. Mix at medium speed to make sure everything is fully incorporated but be careful not to over mix.

This recipe requires a slightly thicker cupcake batter, so gauge your liquids accordingly. Once you’re happy with the batter consistency, use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners. (You can use paper liners, but I usually go with foil liners because they don’t bleed through.) Use a pan with regular-size muffin cups.

Scrape down the sides of your bowl to get all of the batter! Use every last drop to fill your cupcake tins.

batter in cupcake tin

(Side note: I find that my cupcakes bake better in a firmer liner, such as a foil liner.) Place in the center of the oven and bake at 350 for 16 minutes, approximately, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Caramel mousse: 

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until creamy. Place in a piping bag. 

Brown Butter (for frosting):

Place the stick of butter in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for a few minutes until it turns golden. In fact, you’ll know it’s at the sweet spot when the foam rises and falls and you’re left with a nutty aroma.

Tiny kernels of goodness (brown bits) will form at the base of the pan and you will hear an angel choir begin to sing. No, really. Set the melted butter aside to cool. 

Brown Butter Maple-Caramel Frosting:

In a separate bowl place softened cream cheese and mix until all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth. You can use an electric mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

Add the two sticks of butter and whip until incorporated. Now add the shortening and continue to cream.

frosting in a bowl

When you’re happy with the look and feel of the mixture, slowly work in the full bag of confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time (on low speed).

Add the caramel and maple into the frosting. Now comes the good part.

Pour in the cooled brown butter and whip until the entire batch of frosting smells like heaven on earth.

You will be tempted at this point to dive face-first into the bowl. However, you need to resist the temptation. Instead, put the frosting into a piping bag with a 1M tip. (Cream cheese frostings are the bomb!)

Frost cupcakes!

Finally, it’s time to put it all together. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, core them (basically, dig a hole/make a little well in the top of the cupcake).

frosted cupcakes

Fill the holes with the caramel mousse.

It’s Time to Frost Cupcakes!

Then swirl the brown butter maple-caramel frosting onto the cupcake, making a beautiful design. Drizzle caramel sauce over the cupcake and add chopped pecans. (Or, if you prefer, add pecan halves.)

In addition to sending the flavor to a whole new dimension, they look pretty!

decorated butter pecan cupcakes

Delicious and Beautiful Cupcakes

And then, my friends, you will do the only thing that makes sense. As a matter of fact, I bet you’ll dive in for what is sure to be one of the top ten bites of your life. 

Above all, you and everyone who tries them will have a whole new favorite flavor of cupcakes.

For added flavor, drizzle maple syrup over your cupcake instead of caramel. (Yum!)

Fun Variation on this Recipe: Use browned butter in place of oil for the cupcakes. (You can thank me later!)

Hint: Toasted pecans will further enhance this already-delicious recipe!

Note: Store in an airtight container.

More Desserts to Enjoy

I’ve got lots of other cupcake recipes, y’all! If you really want a tasty treat, try these Cookie Butter Cupcakes. They’re different from anything you’ve ever eaten!

And if you’re into warm flavors, you’ll go nuts (pun intended) over my carrot cake cupcakes. Aren’t they cute?

Crazy about brown butter? (Me too!) As I mentioned above, you’ll find all sorts of brown butter offerings on my blog, including Brown Butter Pecan Cookies, Brown Butter Walnut Cake, Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter, and (of course) my Brown Butter Frosting.

If you like sweets, you’ll love some of these delicious treats from my food blogging friends:

Eggnog Pound Cake – This delicious pound cake from Back to My Southern Roots is easy to make but impressive! Above all, it satisfies on so many different levels.

3-Ingredient Lemon Bars – When you’re in a time crunch but you need a dessert, these yummy lemon bars from Southern Home Express are the ideal treat.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you love this recipe.

butter pecan cupcake

Butter Pecan Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 16 minutes

These delicious cupcakes are perfect when you want a delicious dessert or treat that will impress everyone.

Ingredients

  • 1 box Butter Pecan cake mix (brand of your choice)
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup caramel topping
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbl instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ¼ cup caramel topping
  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 block Crisco (or other white shortening, equivalent of one cup)
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup caramel topping
  • ½ tsp maple extract
  • 1 add’l stick of salted butter, browned (see instructions below)
  • Caramel topping
  • Chopped pecans

Instructions

Butter Pecan cupcakes:

  1. Add cake mix to the mixing bowl, then work in the oil and eggs, mixing on low speed.
  2. Slowly work in the water, a little at a time.
  3. Add the other ingredients, waiting until the end to add the pecans. You want to make sure your icing isn’t too runny.
  4. Cupcakes require a slightly thicker batter, so gauge your liquids accordingly. Once you’re happy with the batter consistency, use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners. (Side note: I
  5. find that my cupcakes back better in a firmer liner, such as a foil liner.)
  6. Bake at 350 for 16 minutes, approximately. 

Caramel mousse: 

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix until creamy.
  2. Place in a piping bag. 

Brown Butter (for frosting):

  1. Place the stick of butter in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat and simmer for a few minutes until it turns golden.
  3. You’ll know it’s at the sweet spot when the foam rises and falls and you’re left with a nutty aroma. Tiny kernels of goodness will form at the base of the pan and you will hear an angel choir begin to sing. No, really.
  4. Set the brown butter aside to cool. 

Brown Butter Maple-Caramel Frosting:

  1. Place softened cream cheese in mixing bowl and mix until all lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth.
  2. Add the two sticks of butter and whip until incorporated.
  3. Now add the shortening and continue to cream. When you’re happy with the look and feel of the mixture, slowly work in the full bag of confectioner’s/powdered sugar, a little at a time (on low speed).
  4. Add the caramel and maple into the frosting. Now comes the good part.
  5. Pour in the cooled brown butter and whip until the entire batch of frosting smells like heaven on earth. Y
  6. ou will be tempted at this point to dive face-first into the bowl, but resist the temptation. Instead, put the frosting into a piping bag with a 1M tip. 

Decorate the cupcakes! 

  1. It’s time to put it all together. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, core them (basically, dig a hole/make a little well in the top of the cupcake).
  2. Fill the holes with the caramel mousse.
  3. Then swirl the brown butter maple-caramel frosting onto the cupcake, making a beautiful design.
  4. Drizzle caramel sauce over the cupcake and add chopped pecans. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 534Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 529mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 1gSugar: 34gProtein: 5g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

Randi Morrow

Wednesday 28th of September 2022

These look incredible!

booksbyjanice

Wednesday 28th of September 2022

Thank you!

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