Satisfy your sweet tooth with these stuffed dulce de leche cupcakes. They are fluffy and moist with a luscious buttercream frosting. It’s the perfect dessert for Cinco de Mayo!

stuffed dulce de leche cupcake with a bite showing filling inside.


 

Dulce de leche is a unique flavor that lends itself well to desserts. I thought it would pair perfectly with brown sugar cupcakes! Each one is filled with the sweet and salty sauce and topped with a dulce de leche buttercream. This dessert tastes as good as it looks!

What Is Dulce de Leche?

Dulce de leche (translated to “sweet milk”) is a creamy caramel-like substance that is made by simmering milk and sugar together. Alternatively, it can be made by simmering sweetened condensed milk on the stovetop too!

Originally from Latin America, the sauce has a sweet and salty taste (almost like toffee), which makes it a popular filling or topping for desserts, such as alfajores.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make. This recipe is adapted from my simple vanilla cupcakes and buttercream recipe. All you need is a can dulce de leche from the store!
  • Distinct flavor. The caramel-like taste is unique and complements desserts beautifully.
  • Delicious texture. You can expect a moist and tender crumb in each bite and a creamy frosting thanks to the richness of the sauce.
  • Perfect for celebrations. Make these cupcakes for celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo, birthdays, Christmas or other parties. It’s also a sweet gift to share with a friend!

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to make dulce de leche cupcakes.
  • Dulce de Leche: I used store-bought sauce, but you can also make it from scratch if you prefer.
  • Sour cream: This adds moisture to the cupcakes. Use full-fat for best results.
  • Milk: I prefer whole milk for baking because the extra fat guarantees the baked goods don’t turn out dry and crumbly.
  • Brown sugar: Use light brown sugar for the best texture. Dark brown sugar may create a grainy texture.
  • Butter: Make sure your butter is room temperature for easy mixing. Unsalted is best since salt needs to be measured and added separately.
  • Vegetable oil: A combination of butter and vegetable oil makes a light and fluffy that is also rich and flavorful. I use this method in my vanilla cupcakes recipe.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this is used to make buttercream frosting.

Recipe Variations

Try chocolate cupcakes instead! Use my chocolate cupcake recipe, then add the filling and frosting as directed in this recipe. Another option is vanilla cupcakes, which is simply substituting the brown sugar in this recipe with granulated sugar.

Make cream cheese frosting. Substitute 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup block-style cream cheese. Make sure it’s softened, but cool to the touch for a stable frosting.

Add some spices. For some more flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and a pinch of nutmeg or allspice to the dry ingredient. This is a great option if you’re baking during the fall or winter months!

Add some garnish. Fresh fruit, such as strawberries, apples or bananas, pairs well with this dessert. Add a few slices of fruit on each cupcake before serving. Toasted coconut would also be a tasty garnish!

Use a different size pan. This recipe makes enough batter for two 6-inch round pans or one 9×5-inch loaf pan. Baking time will be 20 to 25 minutes and 45 to 55 minutes, respectively.

How to Make Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

photo collage demonstrating how to make dulce de leche cupcakes.
  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
  3. Add the vanilla, sour cream and vegetable oil. Mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, starting and finishing with the dry ingredients.
photo collage demonstrating how to make cupcakes stuffed with dulce de leche and topped with buttercream.
  1. Transfer batter to a muffin tin and fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Make the frosting. Beat butter until creamy, then mix in the confectioners’ sugar. Add dulce de leche and a pinch of salt and mix again. Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip.
  3. Core the cupcakes. Make a hole in the center of each cupcake, about an inch deep and wide. Fill each hole with about a teaspoon of fulce de leche.
  4. Frost cupcakes and serve.

Expert Tips

There are different dulce de leche varieties. I used a thicker sauce that I had in the pantry. Other varieties work, but keep in mind thinner sauces will be a more difficult to handle when filling the cupcakes and eating them. Alternatively, you can make homemade dulce de leche from scratch!

Be sure to use room temperature ingredients. It makes it easier to mix and create a smooth and consistent batter. This ultimately affects the texture of the cupcakes! I also suggest using full-fat sour cream and whole milk. This guarantees moist cupcakes with plenty of flavor.

Core the cupcakes to make room for the filling. You can use a cupcake corer, a paring knife or the large end of a frosting tip!

Cool the cupcakes completely before coring them. It’s also important that they are cooled before storing in an airtight container otherwise they will get soggy.

tops of dulce de leche cupcakes with frosting and swirl next to a glass of milk.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Make ahead: The cupcakes taste best when they are served the day they are made. However, the cupcakes may be baked and frosting made one day in advance. I suggest storing both in the refrigerator to keep them fresh before bringing to room temperature, assembling and serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days. If you’re in a warm or humid climate, I suggest the refrigerator so the frosting doesn’t melt.

Freeze unassembled cupcakes for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container or freezer bag. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and adding the filling and frosting. Frosting may also be frozen for up to 1 month. I do not suggest freezing assembled cupcakes because the dulce de leche filling will not defrost well inside the cupcakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between caramel and dulce de leche?

Caramel is made by simmering sugar and a little bit of water while dulce de leche is made by simmering milk and sugar.

Why did my cupcakes sink?

Either they were under baked or the baking powder and baking soda were expired. To make sure your cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick in the center of one and make sure it comes out clean or with very few crumbs.

Why is my frosting thin?

Most likely the butter was too soft, which can happen if you’re baking in a warm environment. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, then give it a few stirs. If it’s still too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.

Where can I buy dulce de leche?

It’s available in most grocery stores either in the baking aisle or in the international foods aisle. It can also be purchased online.

dulce de leche cupcake with frosting and swirl of dulce de leche on top.

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stuffed dulce de leche cupcake with a bite showing filling inside.

Get the Recipe: Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these brown sugar cupcakes stuffed with dulce de leche and topped with buttercream frosting. It's the perfect dessert for Cinco de Mayo!
5 (18 ratings)

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 ¾ cups (220 g) all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (57 g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • cup (75 g) full-fat sour cream (or Greek yogurt), room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • cup (160 ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (85 g) dulce de leche, (for filling the cupcakes)

Frosting

  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cup (226 g) dulce de leche
  • 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • Pinch salt

Instructions 

Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, sour cream and vegetable oil. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  • Gradually add in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk (So it goes flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Mix until batter is uniform and smooth (do not over mix).
  • Fill baking cups about 3/4 full and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter using the paddle attachment (whisk attachment works too) until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the confectioners' sugar until completely incorporated.
  • Add the dulce de leche and pinch of salt. Mix until combined. If the frosting is too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk. If it’s too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip.

Assembly

  • Use a cupcake corer or the large end of a frosting tip to create a shallow hole in the center of the cupcakes. Fill each hole to the brim with about 1 to 2 teaspoons of dulce de leche.
  • Frost cupcakes and garnish with an additional drizzle of the sauce if you have extra. Serve.

Notes

Dulce de Leche: You will need one 14 ounce can. It’s usually found in the baking aisle near the sweetened condensed milk or in the international foods aisle at your local grocery store.
Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Freeze unassembled cupcakes for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and frosting.
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 374kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 145mg, Potassium: 134mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 37g, Vitamin A: 594IU, Vitamin C: 0.05mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 1mg

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