Sweet and salty has never been so darn tasty as this delicious gluten-free and dairy-free Salted Caramel Cake. I will always be that girl who goes for the decadent cake flavors that precariously walk the yummy line between a little bit salty and a little bit sweet. The best of both worlds, me thinks! And this amazing salted caramel cake is exactly that!
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Salted Caramel Cake (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)
Homemade salted caramel sauce that packs a heavenly punch of warm and scrumptious caramel flavor. Each fluffy gluten-free and dairy-free vanilla cake layer is marvelously marbled with the caramel sauce for a hit of deep caramel goodness in each bite. Whipped salted caramel buttercream made from that very same caramel sauce wrapped gloriously around each cake layer will leave you licking your plate clean and asking for seconds. This is a true salted caramel cake masterpiece.
How To Make Salted Caramel
Caramel, in all its tasty goodness, can often feel a bit intimidating to make. But I’m here to walk you through this easy homemade dairy-free salted caramel sauce so don’t start sweating yet. The key to caramel sauce is having everything measured and ready to go before you start. Therefore, you don’t have a mad scramble for ingredients and can focus on getting that perfect caramelization.
First, start by adding the granulated sugar to a medium pot and begin to cook over medium-high heat. Do not stir the sugar. Stirring will cause the sugar to crystalize and leave you with a grainy caramel sauce. No bueno! If needed, you can gently swirl the sugar in the pot by the handle but do so very sparingly. Allow the sugar to melt and begin to boil.
Next, continue to let the sugar boil until it begins to change color. This can happen quite quickly so keep your eye on it. Now is not the time to call your aunt Susan for a chat or take a bathroom break. As the color starts to change give the pot a gentle swirl but refrain from stirring or vigorously shaking it. It should start to smell like caramelized heaven.
When you get that deep amber color take the pot off the heat and slowly, very slowly, whisk in the room temperature dairy-free milk. Be careful at this point because the caramel will bubble up and might possibly spit. Once the milk has been incorporated, add in the room temperature dairy-free butter and again, whisk until combined. Return this mixture to the heat and allow to simmer for another 2 minutes.
Salted Caramel Sauce Vs. Regular Caramel Sauce
Now for the last step, after 2 minutes of simmering, take the caramel off the heat and stir in the salt. I’m a salty kind of gal and seeing as this is a salted caramel cake, I highly recommend adding the salt but if you prefer a plain caramel cake, skip this step. Pour the caramel into a heatproof container, I love me a mason jar for this, and allow it to cool to room temperature. As the salted caramel sauce cools, it will begin to thicken.
How To Store Caramel Sauce
I typically make the salted caramel sauce the day before and keep it covered at room temperature overnight but you can absolutely store it in the fridge for up to 14 days. Give it a quick little blast in the microwave to heat it back up slightly before you use it if needed.
How To Make Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cake Layers
This is my first gluten-free cake recipe since the celiac diagnosis my oldest daughter received late this past spring. I spent most of the summer getting comfortable with gluten-free flours and figuring out how to make a delicious cake that would fool even the most gluten and dairy-loving palettes. And I think I’ve finally got it.
Using my beloved reverse creaming method, I used a gluten-free all-purpose flour 1:1 baking blend (make sure it has xantham gum in it) and combined it with the dry ingredients. Second, slowly add the dairy-free butter piece by piece until a sand-like texture is achieved. The last step is to combine the wet ingredients and add them into the sand-like mixture in two separate additions. This is going to create a fluffy, smooth, and incredibly delicious gluten-free and dairy-free vanilla cake.
Hey, wait…I thought this was supposed to be a salted caramel cake?! Well, that’s what this fourth and final step is for! Divide the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon worth of salted caramel sauce on each cake batter layer. With a butter knife or toothpick, gingerly drag the point through the caramel sauce and cake batter creating a haphazard marbling effect. This is going to make the most beautiful salted caramel ribbons throughout each cake layer. Gorgeous and so totally scrumptious!
Dairy-Free Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Much like the salted caramel cake layers, this frosting begins as my regular go-to Dairy-Free Vanilla Buttercream, but with the addition of the glorious salted caramel sauce we just made, it becomes a smooth and sinfully delicious salted caramel frosting.
A quick word on salt…I said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a salty gal. It’s no secret and I am the first to admit that I favor a tad more salt than the average joe. I used a whole 3 teaspoons of fine sea salt in the salted caramel buttercream. That said, I highly encourage you to start with 1 teaspoon of salt and taste your way from there. No shame if you’re not as salty of a simpleton as I am. Salt the frosting according to your tastebuds.
Salted Caramel Cake
And there you have it my sweet and salty friends, a gluten-free and dairy-free salted caramel cake that will knock your salty (or not so salty) boots off! Seriously! My kids ate their “Sunday Family Cake” slices in a ravenous manner that would lead a stranger to believe I had not fed them all week. On a special occasion, a family dinner, or a cozy weekend baking project, I promise that this amazing gluten-free and dairy-free salted caramel cake will not disappoint you!
Delicious Sweet & Salty Baking Recipes
If you’re like me and can’t get enough of that splendid sweet and salty combo, check these recipes out!
- Salted Bubblegum Funfetti Cake
- Salted Caramel Peanut Fudge
- Salted Maple Coconut Cake
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Sea Salt Granola by Lovely Baking Co.
- Easy Caramel Popcorn by Baked by Blair
Salted Caramel Cake (GF & DF)
- Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
- Yield: 12 Slices 1x
- Diet: Gluten Free
Fluffy vanilla cake layers marbled with homemade salted caramel sauce and smothered with whipped salted caramel buttercream that will knock your socks off. The best part: everything is gluten-free and dairy-free. But even the most discerning palette won’t be able to tell because this Salted Caramel Cake is 100% delicious.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (83ml) dairy-free milk, room temperature
- ¾ cup (180g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Salted Caramel Cake
- ¾ cup (180ml) dairy-free milk, room temperature
- ¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cup (280g) gluten-free flour 1:1 baking blend *
- 1 ½ cup (300g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅔ cup (160g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 1 cup (240g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (240g) all-vegetable shortening
- 6 ¼ cups (750g) icing sugar
- 1 cup (347g) salted caramel sauce
- 1–3 teaspoons fine sea salt **
- optional: cookies for decor
Salted Caramel Sauce
Place the granulated sugar into a medium pot and begin to cook over medium-high heat. Be careful not to stir as this will form sugar crystals.
Cook the sugar until it turns a deep amber color and immediately remove it from heat.
Very slowly pour in the milk while whisking. Be careful as the mixture will bubble up and may spit.
Add in the butter and whisk together until fully melted and smooth.
Return the caramel to the heat and allow it to simmer gently for 2 minutes while whisking continually.
Remove the caramel sauce from the heat, stir in the salt, and let it cool to room temperature. As it cools it will thicken.
- Store the salted caramel sauce at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Salted Caramel Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF degrees and spray and parchment line four 6-inch round cake pans.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer and with the flat beater attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and give it a quick mix together for approximately 1 minute.
- Add in the butter, in small pieces, to the dry ingredients and mix on low until it looks like coarse sand.
- Slowly pour in approximately half the liquid mixture from step 1 and mix on low for 2 minutes.
- Add in the remaining liquid mixture and mix on medium for another 2 minutes. Scrap the sides of the bowl when necessary.
- Divide the cake batter into the four prepared cake pans and drizzle on approximately 1 tablespoon of salted caramel sauce in each cake pan. With a butter knife or toothpick, swirl the two together.
- Bake for approximately 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs and the cake edges begin to pull away from the cake pans.
- Allow the cake layers to cool for 10 minutes and then invert them on a cooling rack to fully cool.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and shortening on high speed until light and fluffy. Approximately 10 minutes.
- Add in the salted caramel sauce and mix on high for another 2 minutes. ***
Add the icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low until combined. Continue to add salt according to your taste preference.
Turn the mixer up to high and let mix for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl when necessary.
Level each fully cooled salted caramel cake layer with a cake leveler or knife if needed.
Place one leveled layer of cake on a cake board, plate, and/or cake turntable and top with approximately 1 cup of salted caramel buttercream.
Repeat with the remaining layers and apply a thin coat of buttercream all over the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Cover the cake with another layer of salted caramel buttercream and smooth the sides with a cake smoother. Refrigerate the cake while you prepare the salted caramel sauce for the drip.
- Warm the remaining salted caramel sauce in the microwave until smooth and pourable. Be careful it is not hot though.
On a well-chilled cake, with a spoon or a piping bag, drip the warm salted caramel sauce over the edges of the chilled cake and put it back in the refrigerator to cool. ****
Decorate the cake as you please. I used a Wilton 1m piping tip and piped swirls around the top and placed a cookie between each swirl. Enjoy!
- Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
* I use and love Kinnikinnick gluten-free all-purpose baking blend. Results can vary depending on what gluten-free flour blend you use.
** Begin with 1 teaspoon of salt and increase according to your preferred taste. I used the entire 3 teaspoons.
*** If the caramel sauce is too firm or has been refrigerated warm it up in the microwave (short 5 second bursts) until it reaches a slow but pourable consistency.
**** Caramel drips will never fully set like a chocolate ganache drip. If you want the drip to firm up like a ganache add some white chocolate chips to the sauce when warming it up and stir until fully melted and smooth.
- Prep Time: 80 Minutes
- Cook Time: 25 Minutes
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 Slice
- Calories: 952
- Sugar: 74 Grams
- Sodium: 301 Miligrams
- Fat: 65 Grams
- Saturated Fat: 41 Grams
- Unsaturated Fat: 12 Grams
- Trans Fat: 3 Grams
- Carbohydrates: 95 Grams
- Fiber: 3 Grams
- Protein: 7 Grams
- Cholesterol: 222 Miligrams
Keywords: salted caramel cake, caramel cake, gluten free caramel cake, gluten free salted caramel cake, dairy free caramel cake, dairy free salted caramel cake, salted caramel cake recipe, caramel cake recipe
This is an incredible recipe for an incredibly delicious cake! The texture of the cake was amazing, and my caramel turned out perfectly by following the directions (so thank you for walking me through it! I’ve made caramel before, and I’ve tried a couple different methods and probably have a first time success rate of 75%). My frosting was a bit too soft, but I’m not convinced it isn’t my shortening. I used 3 tsp of sea salt, and it tasted just perfect. Adding more powdered sugar might help my issue, but I didn’t want to mess with the amazing taste. Everyone that had a slice raved about how delicious the cake was. I will definitely be saving this recipe to make again!
Thank you so much for giving this recipe a shot Danielle! I love that you’re a salty fan like me!
Looking forward to baking this tomorrow. I don’t have a stand alone mixer just a hand mixer or a blender. Would either work as well?
I would use an electric handheld and allow to cream on high instead of medium.
Didn’t have 6 inch cake pans so I used 2 8 or 9 inch pans…I am going to buy the 6 inch pans tomorrow and making it again, lol. The batter alone was awesome and the cake itself was fabulous, cant wait to get it all together! This was perfect for the girls only daughters team who either vegan, vegetarian, celiac or whatever, all in one cake!
I am thrilled to hear you made this one Stacey! Thank you for sharing.
I have never made fabulous caramel sauce until now. Thank you x 1000
Woohoo for caramel sauce success!
Can this recipe be made with regular milk, all purpose/cake flour and regular butter?
Yes, absolutely. I recommend cake flour.
Hi darling! Do you think I could use regular flour and regular butter on this recipe? Thanks for share
Yes, you totally can. I would suggest using regular cake flour though. It will keep the crumb nice and fluffy.
BEST caramel cake ever! WHAT kind of cookies are on top in the pictures though?
I’m so glad you liked it Allie. They are CinnaBunn Kinnitoos.
If using cake flour must I omit the baking powder and baking soda?
No, cake flour should not contain either of those things. Perhaps you are thinking of self-raising flour?
Can the cake be made in advance and defrosted day before decorating? Thanks
Yes, it absolutely can be! I do that with most of my cakes.
Hi Katie, this is the second recipe I follow of your page and I loved both of them so much. The instructions of making the most delicious home made caramel sauce and cake was so easy to follow. Thank you for sharing your recepies with us.
I am so glad you found the caramel steps helpful Shatha!
I made this for my sister-in-law who is a celiac and she said it was the best gluten-free cake she has ever had. Thanks for the recipe.
I am so glad you gave this cake a shot and your sister-in-law loved it.
Made this, and with Katie’s help, made it totally vegan too. It was sooo good and easy! I added some apple compote between the cake layers and it tasted just like apple pie. Got rave reviews from my coworkers
I loved figuring this one out with you Casey! And apple compote filling…omg yum!!!
This cake looks incredible, I’ve been baking vegan cakes for a number of weeks now and have had positive feedback so far 🤞🏽. It is my mother in laws birthday this weekend and I would love to make this vegan by replacing the eggs in the recipe, can you share how you and Casey got it right ? Method and substitute etc. thank you 🙏🏽
Hi Matt, you can replace the eggs with 1/4 cup of vegan yogurt or sour cream. Incorporate it exactly as the recipe does with the eggs. The cake will be a touch denser but vegan and so totally scrumptious. Happy baking!
Fantastic, thanks Kate, can’t wait to bake, just for clarity, do I replace each egg with 1/4 cup (in essence 1/2 a cup) of dairy free yoghurt or the 2 large eggs are replaced by 1/4 cup as a whole. Sorry for being a pain but cannot wait to try your recipe and thank you for your no doubt tireless effort spent creating such a masterpiece 🙏🏽
Never a pain! I should have clarified better. You will want 1/4 cup vegan yogurt total. Can’t wait to hear!
I made this cake for my best friend, it just screamed her name so naturally I had to make it for her bday. Friggin D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. We ate it all before she could take any leftovers. I’ll definitely be making this again. Thank you for the recipe!
Haha, oh that is too good! Salted caramel screams my name too! 😂
I finally had caramel success with this recipe. Thank you!
That’s awesome to hear! It can be tricky so I’m glad you found this helpful.
Made this cake today turned out delicious. I just used cake flour ,reg butter and Almond milk. YUM
There is something so incredibly yummy about salted caramel, right?!
I made this cake for my best friend’s birthday because he is obsessed with caramel! I used regular ingredients and it turned out so so good! Really loved it!
Woohoo! I am thrilled to hear that Charlotte. Thank you for sharing.
Best gluten free cake I have ever made. I can’t wait to make this again. Thanks Katie
Yay! Thank you so much for giving this cake a shot!
Okay wow. So if you are on a journey of testing recipe after recipe in an attempt to find your new go-to gluten-free cake, SERIOUSLY look no further. I have been a pastry chef for 11 years and am always trialling and testing new recipes to find the perfect one that is versatile and especially in the field of gluten-free baking: forgiving. This was the 3rd gluten-free cake I tested this week and after all others failed, this one hands down is the best cake I’ve ever tasted!
No floury texture, No gumminess and not dangerously delicate when in the oven.
I will say after testing many recipes, a super important note is to let your batter rest for 30minutes after mixing to allow the starches to absorb all the moisture for a better texture and mouthfeel. also if you arent having success, the type of GF blend you use is key!
for example, the “white wings” blend that’s available here in Australia is rubbish, so I always make my own. you want a blend that has a protein and 2 starches. eg. rice flour+potato starch+ tapioca/cornstarch.
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Katie! it’s one for the arsenal.
Yay! I can’t tell you how darn excited I am to hear this Brooke. I am totally going to try your tip for letting the batter rest. I’ve never heard of that before and am super excited to test. Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi! I really want to make this cake for a birthday at the weekend – I only have 2 8 inch cake pans though. Could I make two wider layers instead of four smaller ones? Do you know how much I’d need to adjust the cooking time and temperature? Thanks!
Yes, you can absolutely bake this in two 8-inch pans. Keep the same oven temperature and baking time will increase a bit.
Hey Brook, what ratio of flours do you use for you gf blend? And do you use xantham gum as well? Cheers.
So good! Really great caramel flavour, especially the buttercream! I also made it with regular cake flour not gf and it turned out great!
I made the mistake of putting the cake layers in plastic wrap and assembling it the next day, but buttercream came to the rescue.
This is going in the make again pile 🙂
That is so wonderful to hear Heidi. Caramel cake is good year-round, right?! 😉 Thanks for sharing!
Can you make these into cupcakes?
I haven’t tried this recipe in cupcakes yet but in theory yes, it should work! I recommend only filling the cupcake liners 2/3 full max.
Hi Katie. This cake looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, and all the reviews just make me want to eat it right now. 🙂
Is there anything you would change, or maybe some decoration tips, to make this suitable for a wedding cake?
I guess that depends on how the couple wanted it to be decorated.
I am so excited to try out this fantastic recipe! It has been so hard to find a cake recipe with literal caramel swirls in it.
Is it possible to make this in 3 – 8in pans? And if so what is the recommended baking time?
You can but the layers will be quite thin. I would probably go with 2 8inch pans instead and the bake time will increase.
I made this recipe for my husbands birthday and for my uncle’s wedding cake. It was fantastic and such a huge hit!!!
That’s so awesome to hear Talia. Thank you for sharing that with me.
Madrie this as a naked cake This past weekend and it was nothing short of perfect
That’s so awesome to hear Irene. Thanks for letting me know!
It seems lots of people are having luck with the caramel sauce, but I followed directions exactly and both times my sugar was too dark by them time all the granules even dissolved. I wanted it to work but I had to try a different recipe for the sauce… going to try this cake with it though.
If you are wanting to try again, I recommend turning down the heat.