Homemade Cake Pops

How to make CAKE POPS from scratch with no cake mix! Homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream cake pops! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How was your weekend? We spent most of it celebrating my friend’s birthday. I made a whole mess of treats including this cake (as cupcakes), these cookies, and these cookies too– it’s been way too long since I made a batch of those in particular! The birthday girl loves chocolate and peanut butter and caramel so these 3 were a no brainer.

There’s no batter time (get it? batter?) than a happy occasion to indulge in your favorite treats whether that’s a birthday, shower, wedding, you name it. My mom and sisters threw my baby shower last month and one of the treats they surprised me with was a HUGE display of cake pops. I love cake pops, but hardly ever take the time to make them. Though I did whip up a batch for both of my sisters’ bridal showers in the past few years. (Remember the green and pinks cake pops? They were for a bridal shower!)

See? Special occasions call for super special treats.

How to make CAKE POPS from scratch with no cake mix! Homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream cake pops! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The difference between these cake pops and others you may have tried is that these are 100% homemade. There’s no box cake mix or canned frosting, which results in a totally unique cake pop experience. You can actually TASTE the homemade. The love, the passion, and the care that goes into creating each adorable pop.

And guess what? Want to see the whole process from start to finish? Tune in on Facebook or Instagram LIVE on Weds at 1pm ET. (I’m LIVE every week at that time!) I’ll make a batch and answer all cake pop questions as we go along together!

So anyway! I first began making homemade cake pops when I wrote Sally’s Candy Addiction. In fact, this recipe is published in the book! I want to share it on the blog as well because I’ve gotten lots of questions about making from-scratch cake pops.

Today we’ll go over all my tips, tricks, and secrets to crafting the peeeeerfect pop as well as the homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream used inside. There’s lots of ground to cover so let’s pop right to it. (Can’t stop with my nerdiness right now.)

Homemade vanilla cake batter on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Since we’re leaving the box cake mix and canned frosting on the store shelves, we’ll need to take a little extra time to prep both from scratch. I always make the cake the night before, then finish the cake pops the next day. Here’s the general process:

  1. Make homemade cake.
  2. Make homemade frosting.
  3. Crumble cake into homemade frosting.
  4. Mix.
  5. Roll into balls.
  6. Dip.
  7. EAT!

Super basic recipes for both the vanilla cake and frosting, but I do encourage you to use the correct size pan for the cake. This cake is too large for a typical 9-inch cake pan. You’ll need to use a 9-inch springform pan since it rises quite high. Or you can use an 11×7 pan instead. A 10-inch springform pan would work as well.

Cake ingredients are straightforward. The basic crew like flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, milk. Same goes with the vanilla frosting: butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk (or cream). The difference between this and what you get out of a box is the taste. You can totally tell these cake pops are special and it’s because you started with from-scratch components. WORTH IT!

How to make homemade cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Now it’s time to crumble the cake up and mix with your frosting.

(Crumbling the cake into the frosting sounds super weird when you think about it and that’s exactly what cake pops are– super weird when you think about it. It’s cake and frosting mixed together to form a truffle-like ball. Pop a stick in it and dunk into coating. Yep, it’s weirdly delicious and awesome and you need to embrace it.)

Left photo: cake crumbled into bowl of frosting. 

Right photo: the two mixed together. 

How to make homemade cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make homemade cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Once the two are mixed together, it’s time to roll the mixture into balls. And here’s my trick for doing so.

My Rolling Trick

It’s easier to roll the cake + frosting mixture into perfectly round balls if it’s cold. And what I do is roll the balls up right after the two are mixed together. They’re pretty misshapen because the cake + frosting mixture is super moist– and at room temperature. So then I chill the balls in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. After that, I give them another little roll to smooth out the sides. When they’re cold, they’re easier to smooth out and form perfectly round shapes.

So (1) roll (2) chill (3) roll again to smooth out the sides.

The cake balls need to be super chilled before dipping, so this trick gets both steps done!

How to make homemade cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Now let’s dunk. You can dip the cake balls into pure white chocolate, which is what I prefer for best taste, but that stuff is pretty expensive. And you need a good amount for all 40 cake pops! You can use candy melts/candy coating instead. I give both options in the recipe below along with notes for each choice.

Another trick: to ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip it slightly into the coating first. Then stick in the center of the cake ball. See photo above!

And another trick: the best way to allow the coating to dry and set– without ruining the perfectly round cake pop– is to place them right side up in a large styrofoam block or even a box. I used a box, as pictured below, for this batch. I just poked super tiny holes into it. Easy and cheap.

Cake pops will be dry within an hour or so.

How to make homemade cake pops on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cake pops are a genius celebration-worthy treat to make ahead of time because they freeze beautifully. I simply freeze them in a large zipped-top freezer bag after they’ve fully dried. They’re great for up to 6 weeks, then just let them thaw overnight in the fridge.

I have a few more tips for ya! I went over these in Sally’s Candy Addiction because they’re pretty important to review before you get started.

Cake Pop Tips

  1. Frosting is the best part of cake, right? Well that doesn’t apply to cake pops. Too much frosting produces a super wet and greasy cake pop– not the deliciously moist pop you were expecting. This frosting recipe yields *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Proper ratio is imperative here!
  2. The cake balls need to be extremely cold before dipping. Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator or freezer for them. I always chill them on a large lined baking sheet.
  3. A 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup is the perfect depth for dipping the cake pops.
  4. Tinting the coating brings a fun POP of color! I usually stick to just white + one other color. Or two colors maximum. (Like these.) The teal color I use here is Americolor gel food coloring in teal.
  5. Sprinkles are necessary, of course. But you already knew that.

How to make CAKE POPS from scratch with no cake mix! Homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream cake pops! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Besides lollipop sticks and the correct size cake pan, you don’t really need much else to get going. Here are all the products I used in case you’re missing some!

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Measuring CupSpringform Pan | Silpat Baking MatHalf Sheet Baking Pan | Lollipop Sticks | Americolor Gel Paste Kit

Homemade Cake Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 2/3 cups (208g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk (or buttermilk)

Frosting

  • 7 Tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coating

  • 40 ounces candy melts or coating (or pure white chocolate)*
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients and milk to the wet ingredients until combined. Manually whisk the batter to ensure there are no large lumps at the bottom of the bowl. Batter will be slightly thick. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-36 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top begins browning too quickly in the oven, loosely place a piece of aluminum foil on top.
  4. All the cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  5. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes.
  6. Crumble the cooled cake into the bowl on top of the frosting. Make sure there are no large lumps. Turn the mixer on low and beat the frosting and cake crumbles together until combined.
  7. Measure 1 Tablespoon of moist cake mixture and roll into a ball. Place balls on a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 1 hour. Re-roll the chilled balls to smooth out, if needed. Place back into the fridge as you'll only work with a couple at a time.
  8. Melt the coating in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (best for dunking!). you can use a double boiler or microwave.
  9. Coat the cake balls: Remove only 2-3 cake balls from the refrigerator at a time. Dip a lollipop stick about 1/2 inch into the coating, then insert into the center or the cake ball. Only push it about halfway through the cake ball. Dip the cake ball into the coating until it is completely covered. Make sure the coating covers the base of the cake ball where it meets the lollipop stick. Very gently tap the stick against the edge of the measuring cup to allow excess coating to drop off. Decorate the top with sprinkles and place upright into a styrofoam block or box (as explained above). Repeat with remaining cake balls, only working with some out of the refrigerator at a time. The cake balls must be very cold when dipping!
  10. Coating will set within an hour. Store cake pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make ahead tip: I always make the cake 1 day ahead of time. Cover and keep at room temperature. You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 6 weeks. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator then continue with step 9. You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

*You can use candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or pure white chocolate. If using almond bark or pure white chocolate, chop it up before melting. Melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out so it's easier to use as a coating. Semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate work as well. Coarsely chop and melt down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out. Keep warm over a double boiler.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© 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.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

How to make CAKE POPS from scratch with no cake mix! Homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream cake pops! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SaveSave

54 comments

  1. Oh my gosh, these cake pops are so pretty! And those sprinkles on top are everything! I love all the tips you provided. It makes this whole process so much easier. I tried making cake pops a couple years ago and it was such a mess. But all your tips would definitely help. And I love that you used a box to hold them up. I remember mine kept falling over and the coating got messed up. I have plenty of Amazon boxes I can use for cake pops. =)

  2. Sally, these are gorgeous!!!! So so pretty and I bet they taste like a million bucks too 😀

  3. Hi Sally,
    I guess you know “the devil is in the details”. Thank you for this post. This recipe is MUST TRY!

  4. OMG I can’t wait to try these!  I remember when my husband and I first started dating and I made him homemade cupcakes, he was shocked by how much better they tasted than store bought.  Homemade is always the way to go!  

  5. I am SO EXCITED to try this! I have loved cake pops since the first time I tried them. Making them has always seemed so intimidating. Thank you for breaking it down for us!

    • You’re so welcome! I know they can be a little overwhelming at first, but as you go along– you’ll be relieved they’re not at all. Just a little time consuming.

  6. Sally,
    Your pops are lovely. And you are so right-homemade cake and buttercream make a HUGE difference both in taste and rolling. I think homemade cake rolls better!  The tips you gave will make them so easy to make as well.
    It’s still about 4 weeks to baking…guess I’ll have to be baking vicariously through you! I am, however enjoying the baked goods in my new home town of Rennes!

  7. Cake pops are life! We haven’t made these in ages though! Totally need to get on that!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  8. I love making cake pops with my nieces and nephews! They’re so fun.

  9. These look amazing and I bet they taste amazing too!
    Quick question: where do you get those golden star sprinkles from?

  10. I made the cake pops in Sally’s Candy Addiction a couple of months ago and they were yummy…they just weren’t pretty. Every time I try to dip something in chocolate, it just doesn’t turn out well. I don’t know what I did wrong, but only a handful of the pops came out looking like yours. 

    • Did you thin out the chocolate? Oil helps! And make sure the balls are super duper smooth. Use my trick for smoothing out AFTER chilling.

  11. YAY!! My younger stepdaughter has been asking to make cake pops since she tried them at Christmas time last year. I told her you were going to be posting this recipe (saw it on FB live), she was so excited. Already text her the link. Glad to have your recipe, I know that it will be a solid recipe and love that I won’t have to guess how much frosting to use. I never liked that about other cake pop recipes I have read in the past. Sprinkles are a must. Will be making these VERY soon! 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful baby shower and got lots of cute outfits (plus some necessities).

  12. Hello Sally! I’m THRILLED to see this recipe on your website!! I’m a huge lover of the birthday cake pops at Starbucks. Does this recipe taste like those? I’m not sure what exactly makes the Starbucks ones taste like birthday… but they do some how

  13. OMG Thanks so much for your step by step detail of the “HOW TO”. My daughter does these and I have always had a problem with the dipping, they seemed to be falling off of the stick and did not get a nice smooth finish on them, Yours are beautiful. I must try them again soon.

  14. Beautiful! Do you custom blend your sprinkles? I love the mix of colors.  Any suggestions for where to buy would be appreciated.  Thank you.

  15. Sally, can I used semi-sweet chocolate chips with a little oil added as my coating? Will it work?

  16. Hi Sally! Do you have any tips on how to keep the candy melts from getting too thick? This is something I’ve struggled with for over 10 years whenever I try to dip or cover anything in chocolate or with melts. I continually warm and also add shortening or oil. No matter what I do the first few come out great but then they just start to get lumpy and dull. The coating is too thick for my taste on the end product as well once this happens. Help!

    • Shortening is definitely not the right way to go because I find it makes the melted mixture thicker! But I find vegetable oil helps. Maybe you aren’t adding enough?
      Or you can try half candy melts/half pure white chocolate with a 1/2 teaspoon of oil.

  17. Is there a way I can use dark chocolate as a coating? I don’t like the taste of white chocolate or the candy melts (Wilton) 
    Any help here would be nice! I will be making these Saturday!!!! All for myself of course… 

    • Chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate would be delicious– just follow my notes in the recipe about adding a little oil.

  18. Hi Sally,

    Have you ever made chocolate cake pops? If not, do you have a suggestion of which chocolate cake recipe and chocolate buttercream recipe to use?
    Thanks,

    Katie

  19. I just made your delicious and super easy Good Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookies!  They are a healthy option for my hubby to take to eat on the way to work!  I passed some on to my daughter whose is vegan, and she immediately wanted the recipe.  Her family is hooked!  Thanks for the great recipe Sally!  It was a big hit as all your yummy ideas are!

  20. What about cracking? Cakepops will crack if they are too cold, once dipped in the chocolate. Also, do you ever have issues with small bubbles in your chocolate melts once dipped?

  21. Your pops are so pretty! I am so glad you posted a recipe for homemade ones. Frankly, I have never had a cake pop I liked and I love cake! But I think it is because the pops are from boxed mixes, canned frostings and candy melts. I just can’t love those melts! Also, I so appreciate that you listed how much frosting to use. Besides using good ingredients, I think the amount of frosting needed is key! They are on my list for the weekend!

    • Trish, if you have never had a homemade cake pop you will definitely be able to taste the difference! Hope you love these!

  22. Years after their debut and cakepops still have a way to my heart. I LOVE this homemade recipe! So many ways to customize!

  23. hey girl- these look so yummy!

  24. Hi Sally!
    I can not wait to make these cake pops and decorate with fun sprinkles. I absolutely love the plate that you have pictured, where did you get it from? 
    Thanks! 

  25. I am wondering how much cooled cake and frosting would end up in my mouth in the process…

  26. Hi Sally! I instagrammed your cakepops yesterday! The feedback I got was that they taste too moist like cookie dough and not so much cake – any tips? Also , that the candy melt outside was too sweet, any tips there? Thanks!

    • Moist is what makes cake pops different from actual cake! Was it a bad moist?
      Unfortunately, candy melts are pure sugar. I don’t know how to avoid the super sweet flavor unless you went with pure chocolate instead 🙂

      • I thought they were delicious! I’ll try chocolate, I’m glad they’re supposed to be moist! Thank you Sally!!

  27. I just printed the recipe and plan to make these when the grandchildren are back in school. Definitely think they’ll appreciate them when they get home (if I didn’t eat them all). Thanks for another great recipe.

  28. These are so cute! I love cake pops so I definitely have to try this recipe 🙂

    xoxo
    justthattallgirl.com

  29. Hey Sally! I love testing your recipes, and I was wondering which cake and frosting recipes you would recommend for making chocolate cake pops instead of vanilla.

    • Hi Brooklyn! I wish I had an answer for you but would hate to steer you in the wrong direction. Is there a recipe elsewhere you can use for a chocolate version? I’d have to do some testing.

      • I’m sure I can find a good one somewhere else, but I always come to your website first when I want to try making something new 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *