Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

Delight your taste buds with delicious chunks of crunchy apple in a spiced cupcake. Using an apple pie filling, not only are there crisp chunks of apple, but the sauce is spiced and adds extra moisture to the cake. Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes perfectly compliment the tart apple, and the light and fluffy buttercream is infused with a stripe of smooth dulce de leche (caramel). Enjoy the sweetness of the frosting plain, or sprinkle some kosher salt on top, because we all love our “sweet and salty.”

Decorated cupcakes with caramel swirl in frosting.

The cupcake is scrumptious alone. Seriously. I know, because I ate the first one that was cool enough to eat. Ha! My excuse was that the side cracked a little when I pulled it from the muffin pan. You break it, you buy it. 

I tend to “break” a lot of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven, too, but I digress.

So the cake is a Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Spice Cake. Added to that is a can of apple pie filling, which gets diced up into smaller cubes. The sauce from the can of pie filling has been thickened and spiced with cinnamon. Together, the spiced cake mix and apple pie filling make a fantastic cupcake.

Bite from an apple spice cupcake.

Piping this frosting is fun. The caramel has been lightly swirled into the fluffy buttercream, so each cupcake will look different from the next.

On top of that, I used different Wilton piping tips: 1M and 864.

As shown in the pictures, the cupcakes were all decorated with the same bag of frosting. Some are light, some are dark, and some have that really cool stripe of caramel.

Three cupcakes frosted differently highlighting caramel stripes.

Putting the apple spice in your cupcakes

Start by preheating your oven to 350°, and line muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.

Then, chop the apples in the pie filling into little cubes. You can do this by pouring the pie filling into a medium-large bowl, then cutting the apples into small cubes using 2 steak knives crossing each other.

In other words, making the 2 knives work as though they were a pair of scissors. This technique, called “cutting in” is often used when mixing cold butter with flour.

You can also use a food processor, but be careful not to over-mix. The chunks of apple are part of the charm in this cupcake, and a food processor could easily make applesauce out of a can of pie filling.

Baking Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

So back to the cupcakes. In a large bowl, mix the eggs and oil with the cake mix. Note, water is not added per box instructions. This is because the apple pie filling will be adding the moisture in it’s place. 

Add the pie filling to the cake mixture and stir. All ingredients should be completely blended.

Pour the batter into 24 prepared muffin cups and bake for approx. 20 minutes, or when a toothpick comes out clean. See the chunks of apple in the baked cupcakes below? That’s what we’re going for here. The apple chunks give the cupcake a great texture with a surprise crunch.

Baked cupcakes in muffin pan.

Make the buttercream

Using an electric mixer, mix the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar in batches, then add the apple pie spice, cinnamon, and salt. Beat and scrape sides until well mixed. Add the vanilla extract and beat on high until the frosting is fluffy and thoroughly mixed.

Add the caramel

Stir the can of dulce de leche to loosen it up, it’ll be thick. If it isn’t thick, refrigerate briefly. Drop dollops of the caramel onto the buttercream, which is still in the bowl. Using the spatula, cut through the mixture a few times and watch it swirl together.

Don’t mix too much or you won’t get the stripes. In fact, leaving chunks of caramel creates great stripes. It’ll stripe itself out and continue to mix into the buttercream as you squeeze the bag while decorating. 

Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

Once the frosting is on, you have 2 choices to make: 1) which one to eat, and 2) whether or not to sprinkle some kosher salt on top. Yummy either way, just enjoy!

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4.22 from 41 votes

Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

Crunchy apple chunks in a moist spice cake topped with a fluffy buttercream striped with caramel.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apples, buttercream, caramel, Fall Favorites, Holiday Dessert, spice cake
Servings: 24 people
Calories: 311kcal
Author: Sweet Ordeal



  • 1 20 oz. can apple pie filling
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 15.25 oz. box spice cake mix


  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche (caramel), canned by Nestle
  • optional: kosher salt



  • Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin pan with 24 cupcake liners.
  • Chop or cut apples in pie filling to small cubes, approx. 1/2" in size. Set aside.
  • In large bowl, mix eggs, oil, and cake mix. Scrape sides and mix thoroughly.
  • Add pie filling and stir. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for approx. 20 minutes, or when toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from muffin pans and allow to cool on wire rack.


  • In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar in batches. Add apple pie spice, cinnamon, and salt. Scrape sides and mix thoroughly. Add vanilla and beat on high until light and fluffy.
  • Stir canned caramel to loosen it up, it should be thick. If it's not thick, briefly refrigerate. Drop dollops of caramel onto buttercream still in bowl. Briefly swirl caramel using spatula leaving streaks and chunks. Don't over mix; the caramel chunks make some of the best stripes in the frosting.
  • Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!
  • OPTIONAL: sprinkle cupcakes with kosher salt for salted caramel effect.


Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 190mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 384IU | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @sweetordeal or tag #sweetordeal!

Mix and Match with Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

Apple spice cupcakes are so delicious alone, that I wanted to list a few other frosting options for you to chose from:

Pumpkin Pudding Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Brown Butter Pecan Cupcakes

French Toast Cupcakes

The recipes listed also include the cupcakes themselves, but you can also have fun mixing and matching the frosting portions with the cupcakes. 

I love hearing from my readers, so please feel free to comment and rate the recipe. You can also follow me on Pinterest and post a picture of your own cupcake. Everyone is so clever, I love to see what you create.

Happy baking, my friend, and have a blessed day. 

Caramel Apple Spice CupcakesCaramel Apple Spice CupcakesCopyright © Sweet Ordeal. All content and images are copyright protected. Do not use any images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, make sure to re-write the recipe in your own words and only list ingredients making sure to link back to this post for the original recipe and directions.

4.22 from 41 votes (41 ratings without comment)

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    1. Hi Sidney. I haven’t made it into a cake, but I’m sure you could. Great idea, actually. If using 2 9″ pans, try baking for around 30-32 minutes. For 2 8″ pans it’s a little longer, maybe 35-37 minutes. I wish I could be more specific. Let me know if you try it.

  1. The recipe says to add vanilla in the frosting, but it does not state vanilla or the amount in the ingredients…..

  2. Hello..just a question. Do I pull the apples out of the van to cut them up and leave the goop behind. Or do I use apples and the goop?