How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake. (and Cupcakes!)

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion. These are always, always a huge hit!

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!

 Tie-Dye Cakes, Rainbow Cakes, Swirly Color Cakes, whatever you want to call them… I love them all! And they are super easy to make, too.

Dazzle your guests with this beauty on any occasion.

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!

Let me walk to through the steps.

Make your Homemade Funfetti Cake batter (leave out the sprinkles in the batter).

Divide the batter into three different bowls. Drop food coloring of choice into each bowl. The white batter had no food coloring. Drop spoonfuls of batter into baking pan. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty!

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!

Bake the cake. Frost the cake. Sprinkle the cake. Cut the cake. Look at the pretty colors!

Devour the cake. –> That’s the best part.

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!

Happy 4th of July, America!

*You may absolutely make this tie-dye cake a with box cake mix. However, why use a box when my homemade vanilla cake recipe is just as easy? I promise. You’ll be thankful!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake

Print Recipe

Serves 10.



Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 9x2 inch round cake pan (or 9-inch springform pan) with nonstick spray.

Make the cake batter according to my directions (see link in the ingredient list). Divide the white batter into three separate bowls. Grab your food coloring and dye your batters any color you choose. I used 10 drops of red, 10 drops of blue, and left the third bowl plain. Place a separate spoon in each bowl. Scoop large spoonfuls of each batter and layer them into prepared baking pan. It does not have to be pretty. The colors will create a tie-dye effect. See photo above for how my cake looked prior to baking.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil (loosely to avoid the top from sticking to the foil). Bake for 13-17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Make the frosting according to my directions (see link for frosting in ingredient list). Frost cooled cake and decorate as desired. Serves 10. Cake stays fresh covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Additional Notes:

Interested in making a layer cake? You could: (1) Bake the cake as indicated and slice the cake horizontally to create two layers. Double the frosting if desired. (2) Double the cake recipe and bake in two separate 9-inch cake pans for 1 extra tall layer cake. Double the frosting recipe as well.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.



I know what you’re thinking. Can I do this with cupcakes?

I got ya covered…

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!

Make the batter for vanilla cupcakes.  Divide the batter into three bowls.  Use a few drops of food coloring to dye your batters.  Layer the batter into the cupcake liners and bake. Frost with my vanilla frosting. That’s it!

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!


Easy, right? Hope you enjoy. 

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How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion!





116 Responses to “How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake. (and Cupcakes!)”

  1. #
    Eileenposted June 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I’m thinking of adding this cake to my 4th of July BBQ menu. It is definitely looks like a great cake for a celebration like that!


    • Sallyreplied on June 28th, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Definitely! Enjoy, Eileen!


  2. #
    Ari @ Ari's Menuposted June 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    So fun and pretty!!! I want to play!! I love anything multi colored and sprinkled. Obviously. 😉


  3. #
    Mimi @ Culinary Coutureposted June 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    LOVE THIS! So perfect for July 4th!


  4. #
    Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchenposted June 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    So perfect for ‘kids’ of all ages, right Sally? 🙂 I’m seeing so much potential for color combinations…


    • Sallyreplied on June 28th, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      “kids” – yeah right 😉 thanks Loretta!


  5. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Deliciousposted June 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    This is so stinking cute and so festive! My niece and nephews would go CRAZY over these.


  6. #
    Betty Jacksonposted June 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    It looks fun & the recipe sounds tasty, but I want to know where you found the cutwork (pierced) plates for the photos! My favorite !!!


    • Sallyreplied on June 30th, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Thanks Betty! It is from Pier 1.


  7. #
    Amyposted June 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    This is such a cute idea! I love all of the bright colors… If it weren’t so close to the 4th of July, I’d use purple (my favorite!), pink, and green. Or maybe yellow. Or maybe… Just divide the batter into 7 bowls and make a rainbow. I’m too indecisive Sally!!


    • Sallyreplied on June 30th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Rainbow cake! Loving it Amy!


      • Amyreplied on June 30th, 2013 at 5:28 pm

        Thanks Sally! 🙂 My brother’s favorite color was “rainbow” while we were growing up. He decided that it wasn’t fair to the other colors to pick a single favorite, so he loved all colors equally! His birthday is coming up in August; maybe I should make him a rainbow tie-dye cake…

  8. #
    Margauxposted July 1, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Do you think this technique would work with your Cake Batter Blondies? I bought some Fourth of July Funfetti cake mix to make those for work, but I might see if I can try this out and make them even more festive. Also, what kind of food coloring do you use? I tried making a red cake for the Fourth last year and it came out super pink.


    • Sallyreplied on July 1st, 2013 at 4:42 am

      I’m unsure – I’ve never tried it before. But I can’t see why not. I used store brand food coloring – liquid. I had to use a lot of drops to get it red.


  9. #
    Brittany @ DulceVieposted July 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Lovin’ this idea! I wonder if it would work with cookies… 🙂


  10. #
    Jess @ On Sugar Mountainposted July 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    DUDE I shared this on FB as soon as I saw it in my feed. Sally this is such an awesome idea for the 4th of July! Cute and scrumptious – what more could you want? 😉


    • Sallyreplied on July 1st, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Ha! So glad you shared it. Thanks Jess!


  11. #
    Alexis @ deliciousfoodideas.netposted July 2, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Such a cute cake and a great idea. My niece and nephew’s birthday is at the end of the month and I was wondering what to do for them. And thanks for the rainbow layer cake idea, that one might come out for my little fella’s 1st birthday.


    • Sallyreplied on July 2nd, 2013 at 6:19 am

      I hope you make it Alexis! Such a cute idea with kids.


  12. #
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreatposted July 2, 2013 at 8:16 am

    What a gorgeous cake! 🙂


  13. #
    Jodieposted July 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

    So Glad I discovered your website, your recipes are amazing! I am just getting into cupcake making at the moment and will definitely be giving most of your recipes a try!


    • Sallyreplied on July 4th, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Let me know what you make first! Thanks Jodie.


  14. #
    Nutmeg nannyposted July 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Oh how pretty is this 🙂 I love this idea!


  15. #
    Teresa Dposted July 4, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Hey Sally! I just wanted to thank you for another awesome dessert to make 🙂 I made the tie dye cupcakes for some close friends that were coming over to celebrate the 4th with me and they absolutely loved them! I can’t speak highly enough about these; nothing makes me happier than making other people happy with baked goods! hahaha 😛 Hope you had an awesome holiday! Happy 4th of July! 😀


    • Sallyreplied on July 5th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Hey Teresa! So glad the cupcakes were a huge hit! They are so festive. Hope you had a great 4th!


  16. #
    Anneposted July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I made this cake for my niece’s 4th of July birthday celebration. It was a HUGE hit. Seriously….the cake was light and moist and it was super cool when you cut into it.

    I also made your raspberry/chocolate skyhigh muffins and the strawberry cheesecake bars (except I made them with raspberry jam. Everything was awesome. Thank you for sharing your recipes. You are my go to website for baking ideas!


  17. #
    Anneposted July 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    P.S. I did have a question. Your vanilla buttercream was to die for….do you have a recipe for chocolate buttercream?


  18. #
    JILLposted July 2, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Hi there! I just ran across your blog and I was curious if you can do this tie dye/marble technique on box cake mixes? Thank you!


    • Sallyreplied on July 2nd, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      You can definitely use cake mix for this tie-dye cake if that is what you prefer!


  19. #
    Tracyposted July 2, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Not sure if my comment posted, so sorry for asking twice. I was wondering how you store your cupcakes? Whenever I make them the papers peel off the cupcakes overnight. I store them in a cupcake holder, air tight. I have purchased cheap papers, expensive papers and gislane lined papers and same thing… I want to make these, mini cupcakes for the 4th the night before. Any tips? Thanks!!


    • Sallyreplied on July 3rd, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Tracy – I’ve never had the issue of my cupcake liners falling off of any of my cupcake recipes. That’s so strange. You could try silicone cupcake holders. I know they come in mini size. I found mine at a craft store.


      • Tracyreplied on July 3rd, 2014 at 12:23 pm

        Thanks… How do you store your cupcakes?

  20. #
    carlyposted July 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I love these!!! You finally broke my vanilla cupcake curse!!!!! 🙂 I was starting to think I’d never find a vanilla cupcake from scratch that compared to the boxes. These will be my go to vanilla cupcakes! Thank-you!!!


  21. #
    Ameliaposted July 8, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Hey Sally,
    I have a question about what I might have done wrong with my cupcakes. The flavor was good, but the cupcakes turned out a little too dense. I was hoping they would be more light and airy. Do you think I mixed the batter too much, or maybe because I didn’t sift the flour? Would you suggest mixing with a whisk or just a spoon or something? And also, if I sift the flour, do I measure out the amount before or after I sift? I feel like sifting it will give me less flour. Thanks for all your recipes. I’m a huge fan 😀


    • Sallyreplied on July 9th, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Hi Amelia! Yes, I suggest two things. Do not over mix (only a few strokes with your whisk, a few small flour lumps are ok) and measure 1 and 2/3 cup of sifted flour. Measure before. That will help!


      • Ameliareplied on July 9th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        Great! Thank you so much! I’m excited to try again 🙂

  22. #
    Katie @The Semisweet Sistersposted July 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Love these! Made the cupcakes for the 4th of July! They turned out cute but I think next time I make them I need to buy gel food coloring because my red turned out pinkish using regular food coloring drops.


  23. #
    Jessieposted July 15, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Hi Sally!

    Would I need to change the baking time if I am planning to double the recipe and make a layer cake? I’m using this for my twins’ Cat in the Hat themed 1st birthday!!


    • Sallyreplied on July 15th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      No need to change the baking time – just bake two separate cakes. I find that doubling the recipe actually makes a little more than you need for 2 cake pans. Fill them halfway with batter and then use extra batter to make cupcakes.


      • Jessiereplied on July 16th, 2014 at 6:09 am

        Perfect! Those can be the cupcakes for the twins to eat! Thanks a lot!

  24. #
    Annieposted June 25, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Hey Sally! When I frosted my cupcakes, the frosting began to sag. I noticed in your pictures that you had the frosting piped high and not saggy at all. My cupcakes cooled all night in the fridge. I also made sure to add exactly as the ingredients said. Do you know what might be the problem? I also appreciate how much time you put in to  this website. You are doing a very good job! 🙂


    • Sallyreplied on June 26th, 2015 at 7:01 am

      Annie, thank you! For the frosting, do you think you added enough confectioners’ sugar? That provides structure to the frosting. Maybe add a little more– and a pinch more salt to offset the sweetness.


  25. #
    Aliciaposted June 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Hi Sally,

    Just wondering what brand of food coloring you use? I always have a hard time making red, my baked goods/icing always turn out a shade of pink! Do you have any suggestions?


    • Sallyreplied on June 28th, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Alicia! I always use McCormick. Simply keep adding until you are happy with the red color of the batter.


  26. #
    Jennifer Deanposted July 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Hey Sally,

    This looks beautiful!

    I was thinking of doing this tie-dye style, but arranging the top like a flag using blueberries and strawberries. Similar to this: (

    I was wondering if the vanilla cake/ vanilla butter cream cake and frosting combo would work well with the fresh fruit? 

    Or could I do the same tie-die effect with your Strawberry Shortcake Recipe with Whipped Cream Frosting? – I’m just trying to think of what would taste better (and be portable to my friends house)

    Let me know what combo you think would work best!  As I highly value your opinion and am a HUGE fan of your blog.  I’m on my way to making every recipe in your baking book, and will do the same when your Candy book comes out! 

    Thanks Sally!


    • Sallyreplied on July 1st, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Hey Jennifer! You are so sweet, I’m glad you love my recipes and book! I love your idea for the fresh fruit on top. That is adorable. I might have to try it too!! Arranging fresh fruit on this vanilla frosting works. I’ve done it before with just strawberries. The whipped cream frosting doesn’t hold up well at room temperature after awhile, so this vanilla frosting is better suited for travel/a party.


  27. #
    jamiposted July 2, 2015 at 9:45 pm


    Can I bake the tye dye cupcakes in a mini muffin pan or will the colors not work out in such a tiny space??


    • Sallyreplied on July 3rd, 2015 at 6:41 am



  28. #
    Lisaposted October 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I’m making one of those gender reveal cakes and just made a practice one using this recipe. I found my pink turned out lovely but the blue ended up green because of the yellowish tinge to the cake. Do you have a recipe for a white cake at all? Like pure white? I can’t find a nice one online that is moist and tastes yummy like this. I LOVE and trust all of your recipes – they’ve all turned out amazing!! 


    • Sallyreplied on October 6th, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      This is the whitest cake recipe I have on my blog. You can leave out the sprinkles if you’d like!


  29. #
    Lisaposted October 6, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Oh .. And if I want to make 2 – 8″ rounds – how much batter do you think I would need and bake time? I don’t have two 9″ pans 🙁 and don’t want it too big 


  30. #
    Meherposted December 12, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Hi Sally,
    When it comes to baking i prefer your blog.
    All of your recipes which i tried were the best.
    I baked tie dye cupcakes for my daughters bake sale in school they were a huge hit.Thank you for sharing your recipes with us.♡♡♡


  31. #
    Amandaposted February 5, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Hello Sally. I make a lot of your recipes but I have never commented. The recipes are wonderful and I love the detailed instruction. I made this cake for my daughter whom is turning 8 today. I actually made it with both my daughters last night as they wanted to have a piece for breakfast and in their lunches today. It is the best vanilla cake I have tasted. Our whole family enjoyed it and the birthday girl loved selecting the colors. She chose Barbie pink, light blue and yellow. She thought it looked like the 1980s and it did! Thank you for all the great recipes and info!


  32. #
    Darylposted May 25, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Hi Sally – I LOVE your website – your recipes are my go-to, never fail choices! My dad is an ice cream fanatic, but his cardiologist recently told him to lose weight. For his birthday, I made your frozen lightened up peanut butter ice cream pie instead of a cake and he LOVED it! I know it’s not exactly health food, but what’s a birthday without a little something sweet? This worked out great as a slightly better choice, because every little bit helps!

    On to my questions! I think I am going to make this tie dye cake for 4th of July, but I was curious if you thought it could be made in a bundt pan? Also, when I made the ice cream pie, it leaked out of my springform just a little bit (not enough to hurt anything!). Have you ever had that problem? Do you think since the cake batter is thicker I wouldn’t have that same issue? Then again maybe I just bought a less than stellar pan!

    Thanks again for all your awesome content, keep on doing what you’re doing!  


    • Sallyreplied on May 26th, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Hi Daryl! That ice cream cake will always be one of my favorites. Leakage can be caused by thin batter or a cheap-ish pan. And sometimes you just can’t avoid it. I’ve never had that problem with the ice cream cake. You can make this in a bundt pan, but the cake will be short. Maybe make two batters and see how much you need to fill 2/3 full. Then you can use any extra to make cupcakes.


  33. #
    deannposted June 29, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I have made tie dye cakes before with no problem.  My sister tried one for July 4th.  Her batters were the right colors but after she baked it, it came out red, green, and purple.  She used a name brand of food coloring.  What made the colors separate and change?


  34. #
    Dawn D.posted July 4, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    How fun! These cupcakes would be great for a summer birthday party, too, not just for the Fourth!


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