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!

Print
Homemade cake pops

Homemade Cake Pops

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 36 minutes
  • Total Time: 6-7 hours
  • Yield: 40 pops
  • Category: Cake Pops
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


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

388 Comments

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  1. Just made your vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream icing for a 4-Layer Harry Potter cake, your recipes are awesome! (It called for spice cake but your vanilla cake is my kid’s preference).I have about 2-3 cups of cake off cuts left that I want to try and turn into pops with my kids. How much buttercream do I need? Or, could you best describe what it should look/feel like if I just start adding the buttercream.
    Also, thank you for putting metric weights for your recipes, weighing ingredients is way easier for me.
    Cheers!

    1. Hi Darren! It’s really hard to say, but I would make this full recipe of frosting and you can freeze any extras. The mixture shouldn’t be too wet or too crumbly– just moist enough to mold into a ball.

      1. What if I forgot to put sugar in the cake recipe, would the frosting make up for it or should I add sugar to the frosting?

  2. I don’t usually comment on recipes, but this was fantastic. I made a chocolate batch too that came out very good, but my chocolate loving husband liked these even better. I made them pink to look like the a Starbucks ones that my son was missing. I used Merkin white chocolate for dipping and it was perfect. Thanks!

    1. You can, I have and no problems at al, just use smaller cake pan or the cake is too crusty (too much crust and not enough soft cake crumb, the crust doesn’t crumble that well). Also, sometimes I make a full batch of cake, then crumble half with half batch icing for cake pops and have the other half with coffee /for breakfast /whatever.

  3. This recipe was amazing and most of all delicious! Even with its extraordinary taste, the recipe was quite simple and easy! Definitely recommend this!

  4. Hello 🙂 I am planning on using this recipe for my moms birthday, but wanted to decorate the outer cake pops with a cheetah/ leopard design. I was thinking to pipe coloured royal icing to make the patterns, but I worry that it wont turn out right. Do you have any suggestions/ recipes on how to do this? Thanks a bunch!

    1. How fun! I have never tried this but you can try making a paint with gel food coloring and a few drops of clear alcohol (or even clear vanilla) and paint the design on the set chocolate. Or try food color markers if you have them!

  5. Hi. I’m thirteen years old and kind of new to baking. I wanted to make these cake pops for Easter and I had two questions
    1. Instead of pure white chocolate can I use white chocolate chips?
    2. To help dry the coating after applied to the cake pops would freezing them for 5-10 minutes work?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi! I don’t recommend white chocolate chips as they will not melt down smoothly. Use candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or pure white chocolate and see the recipe notes for details. The coating does set pretty quickly but you can certainly use the refrigerator or freezer to help speed them along if you have the space.

  6. Your recipes was amazing .My boy birthday was April 6, 2020. His request to make cake pop and i saw this . I did vanilla and chocolate and both cakes are perfectly delicious and moist. First time ever to make cake pop from scracth.Thank you so much for sharing your talent. Next I’m looking if you a recipes for cheesecake, my other boy request for his birthday!

  7. Can I make these cake pops with other cake/frosting recipes on your site? Is the frosting/cake ratio the same as with a regular cake, or is it different? My daughter wants red velvet pops with cream cheese frosting. I didn’t see a recipe for that on your site. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sally,
      I have some left over smbc frosting, is it okay to use that for cake pops? also is candiquik the same as almond bark? Thanks so much.

  8. Hi Sally,
    I have some left over SMBC frosting, is it ok to use that for cake pops? Also is candiquik the same as almond bark? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Rosalinda, I haven’t tested these with Swiss Meringue Buttercream but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Candyquick is not the same as almond bark. If using almond bark or pure white chocolate you will want to thin them out with oil – see recipe notes for details.

  9. They are super rich and delicious. Yum! The whole family loved it! Would definitely recommend.

  10. Thanks so much Sally.
    My kids loved them.
    I love your recipes. Can’t wait to try out another one.

  11. I do not have the cake pop sticks. Do you have a recommendation for dipping without a stick? Can they just be cake balls?

    1. Definitely! I usually use candy dipping tools to dip truffles, candy balls, etc: https://www.amazon.com/Ateco-1374-Spiral-Dipping-Stainless/dp/B00BJ5DIDQ/
      A fork works too. Slide the dipped cake ball off with a toothpick.

  12. I have been making these cake pops for about a year and they are a huge hit! I do a few things different (like use almond extract instead of vanilla), but this is by far the best recipe I’ve found! Thank-you

  13. These were the most amazing cake pops EVER. I used to buy my cake pops from a local bakery because they were absolutely divine, but this recipe tastes exactly like it, I’m never buying them ever again! This recipe got me started on my baking journey this quarantine season and I love your website. I’m going to be baking from your recipes, Sally! Thank you!

  14. Hi!
    Is there a way to make the frosting for the cake pops without butter?
    (I’m not vegan, I just ran out of butter)

    Thank you.

  15. I’m going to make these today and I have everything except for candy melts or white chocolate. Is there anything else I can use?

  16. I don’t know if anyone already asked this but could I use a cake box mix instead of the cake recipe from scratch? Will it mess up the cake pops?

    1. I am making them right now and was wondering that also! is the cake equivalent to the amount of flour and sugar and everything to a box mix?

    2. Hi Elizabeth, I recommend finding a recipe with the proper frosting to cake proportion for using store-bought cake mix. This may be too much or too little frosting (as well as coating). But you can use this dipping method and all my success tips, of course.

  17. You forgot the step of adding the cup of milk into the wet ingredients in your instructions for baking the cake.

  18. Hi, I’m 11 and the only other things I made was peanut butter cookies and sugars cookies . And, they weren’t that good . I’m hoping that this will turn out great . But I have one question do you have any neat tricks or sum hacks that would help me bake this

    1. Hi Corryn, I recommend that you read through the entire blog post before beginning. Pay special attention to the section called “Cake Pop Tips” and have fun!

  19. Hi! Ive been wanting to try out this recipe for a long time now. I was just wondering which one would be better to use, heavy cream or milk for the frosting? And what would be the outcomes if I use heavy cream or if I use milk?

    1. Either work and won’t make much of a difference either way since you’re mixing the frosting with cake crumbs.

  20. I made these for my sisters gender reveal and they were absolutely perfect!! Everyone loved them so much that I was asked to make more. I am now going to try the chocolate ones!! Thank you!

  21. Great Recipe!! One question- does it matter if the egg isn’t room temperature? Will it affect that cake pops? Thanks!

  22. Really want to try it!
    But, how much frosting will it be in total ( ex. 1 cup, 2 cup), because I am using pre-made frosting!

    1. You could use the cake batter in a cake pop maker – that bakes the cake in round shapes so no need to crumble the cake and mix it with frosting. Just bake the cake balls and coat!

  23. Yummy stuff! Im never paying 2.95 at starbucks for my kids cake pops ever again!

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