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vanilla cake pops on a sprinkle plate

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.

vanilla cake pop with a bite taken out showing the center

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.)

vanilla cake batter in a glass bowl with a metal whisk

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!

2 images of vanilla cake in a cake pan after baking and vanilla frosting in a glass bowl with a paddle attachment

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. 

2 images of cake crumbled into glass bowl of frosting and cake and frosting mixed together in a glass bowl
2 images of cake pop balls on a baking sheet lined with a silpat baking mat

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!

2 images of cake pop balls on a baking sheet with a lollipop stick and melted white chocolate in a glass measuring cup and dipping a cake pop on a lollipop stick into a glass measuring cup of melted white chocolate

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.

vanilla cake pops stuck into a cardboard box to dry

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.
vanilla cake pops on a sprinkle plate

Besides lollipop sticks and the correct size cake pan, you don’t really need much else to get going!

Print
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vanilla cake pop with a bite taken out showing the center

Homemade Cake Pops

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 36 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours
  • Yield: 40 pops 1x
  • Category: Cake Pops
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade vanilla cake pops with vanilla buttercream from scratch- no cake mix or canned frosting!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (209g) 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
  • 23 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coating

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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Measuring CupSpringform Pan | Silpat Baking MatHalf Sheet Baking Pan | Lollipop Sticks | Americolor Food Coloring
  3. Coating: 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.

Keywords: cake pops

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi! This recipe is a birthday staple in our household. We send a bunch to school with our girls. Any suggestions for an egg free version? I’m worried that our little one will notice flaxseed and won’t like that, if I go that route.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Anna, we haven’t tested an egg-free version, but let us know if you try anything. So glad your family loves these cake pops!

  2. Can you please let me know what I’d have to adjust to make this is an 8-inch cake pan (and not springform)? Also, I’ll be making it at 6,000 ft elevation, do I need to change anything? Thank you!

    1. Hi Nikki, An 8 inch pan– regular cake pan, not a springform pan– should be large enough for half of the recipe. Same temperature, and use a toothpick to check for doneness. We wish we could help with high altitude adjustments, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html Hope this helps!

  3. Hi! Love the tips and tricks, would you happen to know approx how much cake your recipe makes? I want to try with some leftover cake of my own and use your frosting/ coating recipes . Thanks!

    1. Hi Mimi, the ratio of cake to frosting really depends on the exact frosting and cake you’ll be using — you’ll want *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Have fun experimenting!

  4. Do the cake pops “sweat” at all after they’ve been frozen (like the make ahead tip you suggest)? Worried about condensation on the chocolate as they come to room temp

  5. Sally, do you have a cake to frosting ratio, based on the cake and frosting in your recipe? As in 400g cake to 200g frosting- I won’t hold you to the exact amount as I will be experimenting anyway. I had donuts get stuck in a pan and decided rather than tossing them in the bin, I’d try making them into cake pops! I’ll make my own frosting.

    1. Hi Lisa, the ratio of cake to frosting really depends on the exact frosting and cake you’ll be using — you’ll want *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Have fun experimenting!

  6. Any tips for preventing the white chocolate coating from cracking? They came out great, except about half of them had big cracks by the time they finished drying. I used a stand so they dried upright. Not a big deal for a practice batch, but would be disappointing if they were for a party.

    1. Hi Rachel, The coating can crack because of the temperature difference between the coating and the cake. You can definitely help prevent that next time. If you keep the shaped cake pops a little warmer– aka don’t put in the freezer or refrigerator for so long before dipping– the coating won’t crack. OR make sure that the coating isn’t too hot. Hope this helps!

    1. Hi Hazel, the recipe is actually written for a 9-inch springform pan, so no need to halve it!

      1. I think Hazel meant to ask if she *has* to use a springform pan. 🙂

      2. Well to answer that question, this recipe can also be made using two 8-inch cake pans instead of the springform pan. Hope this helps!

  7. I’ve done this recipe once but I’m wondering whether or not I could switch it out with another cake flavor such as Red Velvet?

    1. Hi Caroline, absolutely! Feel free to use other cake flavors for cake pops. Depending on the frosting you use, you may need to use more or less than with other flavors. You want the crumbled cake to be just slightly moistened. Have fun experimenting!

  8. Hi. Sally. making this recipe for the first time for my future daughter-in-law bridal shower
    Do I cut the edge off the cake before start making the crumb for the pops, or is it okay just to leave it in. This is my first time making cake pops . I am also using an Irish coffee cake recipe for this
    Thank you,
    Elizabeth

    1. Hi Elizabeth, no need to cut the edge off of the cake first! Enjoy!

  9. Hi, I was wondering if there was a weight ratio of cake to frosting for cake pops? Thanks

    1. Hi Nic, the ratio of cake to frosting really depends on the exact frosting and cake you’ll be using — you’ll want *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Have fun experimenting!

  10. Hi. I was wondering if I could not use the frosting because I have a cake pop mold and want to use that. If I can do you think I can for any cake pop recipe.

    1. Hi Pippa! We don’t have much experience with these products, but you may need a recipe specifically formulated for the cake pop mold. Let us know what you try!

    1. Correct — the recipe as written makes 40 cake pops.

  11. Hi Sally. I love this cake recipe and would like to use it to make 2 x 10 inch square cakes to cover with fondant afterwards. Can you please tell me how to change the ingredients measurement for that?
    Thank you

  12. Where does the cup of whole milk fit in? I have tried it with the milk and it doesn’t work, I am thinking the milk doesn’t belong

  13. Delicious recipe!! I am wondering, how long will these last in the fridge? About a week or less? Thank you for this wonderful recipe, my family loves these. (Can’t stop eating them tehe,might not last a week)

    1. So glad you love them! Store cake pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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