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

266 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,

    I am planning on using your cake pop technique with your light pumpkin bar and cream cheese icing recipes…is that too daring? Would there be any reason why it wouldn’t work?
    I love that combination of cake and icing and figured it would be quite the treat for Halloween!

    1. Hi Elle! That should be just fine. Remember when making cake pops– you need less frosting than you think to get that cake pop consistency!

  2. Hi Sally
    So I baked the butter cake and omg the cake itself tastes amazing. THANK YOU !! I’ve got an issue though, I mixed the cake and frosting made the balls but running short of coating. Can i freeze the balls without the candy coating for a few days or is it going to crack when I need to make the cake pops with coating??

    1. I’m so glad you like them! It should be fine to freeze the cake balls until you are able to buy more ingredients for the coating.

  3. Hi Sally,
    I am making cake pops this week for my grand daughter’s Sweet 16. I have made them before but with a cake mix. I want to make this recipe you have shared. I know I read it somewhere above but can’t find it……when would I tint the cake mix if I want to make it pink?
    Also, have you used red velvet cake mix? Wondering how this would work and would you use this frosting or cream cheese frosting?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ceci, to make the cake pink you can add the food coloring to the wet ingredients before you mix them with the dry. You can also add the food coloring as the very last step after the batter is fully mixed together. I have not used my red velvet cake to make cake pops, but other readers have told me they used it with success! If you use cream cheese frosting just keep in mind that it should be stored in the refrigerator.

    1. Hi Eileen, I’m not sure I understand the question. If you follow the recipe as written it’s the proper amount of frosting for the entire recipe. Then for the chocolate coating you will melt all of the chocolate and simply dip each cake ball into the melted chocolate to coat it.

      1. I made these this weekend and they were a HUGE hit!!! I tried using Ghiradelli White Chocolate for the first batch. The only thing is it took me refrigerating them to harden. On the second batch, I used Vanilla Almond Bark and they harden almost instantly.
        They were delicious both ways!!!

  4. Hi!

    I absolutely love your vanilla cake recipe.. I use it whenever I need to make a cake! I will be making the cake this weekend for my little guys first birthday.. but will be making a tiny cake out of the recipe instead of what the recipe usually makes.. my plan was to make cake pops out of the leftover cake… do you know what the ratio of cake to frosting is to make these?

    1. Happy first birthday! Without knowing exactly how much cake you are using I can’t say a specific about of frosting – but it’s probably less than you think! I recommend adding it slowly to your crumbled cake, you want just enough to barely moisten those cake crumbs.

  5. Hey sally, great recipe. Os ot ok if i freeze the cake balls before dipping them? My baby got the flu and I had to cancel the party and I am hoping I don t have to throw them away like this 🙁

  6. Cómo se pronuncia
    Hello Sally!!! I’m thinking of making this cake pops for the 1st year of my niece, here in Argentina it’s starting to get hot (we’re in spring time), and my question is how will cake pops be kept at room temperature with this icing?
    I await your response … thanks!

    1. Hi Virginia, These should be ok at room temperature as long as it’s not super hot. But they can just as easily be stored in the refrigerator once the coating has set! The air temperature and what you are using as your coating (candy melts vs pure white chocolate) will all play a role in how to store them so just check to see if they are softening up, and if so move them to a cooler area or the refrigerator.

  7. Hi Sally! I love your cookbooks/recipes/blog. It’s so nice to have a trusted source for recipes. I know I’m not wasting my time and effort when I start baking one of your delicious treats.

    This is my first time with cake pops and I’m not a fan of candy melts. How much chocolate approximately do I need to buy to coat these? I bought a few Ghiradelli baking bars and melted/colored one as a test, but it looks like I will need a lot more.

    Thank you for any advice!
    -Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah, You will need about 40oz of chocolate. If you are using pure white chocolate be sure to read the recipe notes on how to melt it down with a bit of oil. Enjoy!

  8. I made this recipe this weekend for my 13 year old for his birthday. He specifically asked for cake pops. This recipe is fantastic. Easy to follow and way better tasting than any others I tried in the past.
    I did bake it on a 9×13 pan because it’s all I had. I reduced the baking time to 25 minutes and it was perfect.
    Thank you!

  9. Hi Sally! I am wanting to use this recipe for my gender reveal. Would it be possible to add either pink or blue food coloring to this cake batter? If so, do you have any recommendations on how to do so? I want the inside to show either pink or blue and the frosting on the outside to be white, for a surprise effect when you take a bite! Thanks so much!

    1. Yes, absolutely! You can add food coloring (I recommend gel food coloring) right to the cake batter before baking the cake. The amount you add depends on how dark/light you want the color to be. Have fun!!

  10. Hi Sally! Thanks for all the tips. I’m fairly new to large batches of cake pops and have a question. I’m making the pops for my Dad’s 90th birthday party and the cake pops will be displayed upright. After coating and sprinkling them, is it still okay to store them in a large plastic bag for a couple of days or do I need to store them upright? Thanks in advance for your advice.

    1. Hi Michele, Once the coating has set it’s perfectly fine to store them in a large bag or container until you are ready to put them in a display for the party!

  11. Do you have a chocolate frosting recipe for the same amount? The recipe posted was perfect. Looking to switch it up and make chocolate 🙂

  12. Hi Sally,I made these cake pops a year and a half ago for my grand daughter’s wedding and they were a big hit. I am now preparing them for her baby shower. I need to make 160 in total. Would I be able to double the cake and icing recipes so I can make 80 at a time. She also wants to have 80 in pink and 80 in blue sprinkles and have one of each in a bag tied with a pink &blue ribbon,would that work or should they be wrapped individually?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Lillian, For the best taste and texture I recommend making this one recipe at a time instead of doubling it. As long as the coating is fully set, it should be just fine to wrap two of them together.

  13. Hi! I would love to halve this recipe (I know you said they freeze wonderfully but I really don’t want to roll 40 balls because I have an injured wrist and 20 would be much better and it’s all I need for the small party that I’m making them for.) What size pan would you recommend baking the cake in if the recipe is cut in half? Many things in advance for your response, I love your recipes so much! Every one of them has been an absolute winner!

  14. Hi Sally!
    I made these for Halloween using white chocolate for the coating. I refrigerated the cake balls as you said, but I had a problem with the coating cracking once they dried. I read this could be due to the temperature difference between the cold cake and warm coating. Do you have any tips for how to avoid cracking? Do you refrigerate the cake to help the coating dry faster? Would candy coating have the same issues?
    Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes. They’re always a hit!

    1. Hi Olivia, Were you using pure white chocolate and not chocolate chips? And did you melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon of oil to thin out (see recipe note #3 if using pure chocolate)? I let the coating harden at room temperature which usually takes about an hour, before placing them in the fridge for storage.

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