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
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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: 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

309 Comments

  1. hi there! if I want to make a version of these with chocolate cake inside, how do i turn the cake mix/frosting into chocolate? from recipe’s online, I’m seeing that you just add cocoa powder, but i’m not sure how much to add for this portion of the recipe? i’m making these for a family party and i’m on a strict diet so I can’t try out the cake/ frosting while making – so it’s critical that I get all the measurements right! thanks. alexa

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alexa, Here is our Chocolate Cake Pop recipe. Enjoy!

  2. Hi Sally,

    Does the cake need to be on the drier side so when the frosting is added they aren’t too wet or is it fine to use any homemade vanilla cake recipe? I have a favourite cake recipe that uses buttermilk and lots of egg yolks so its really yellow.

    Also if the cake tastes sweet will it be too sweet as a cake pop or do you think if the cake is perfect it’ll be perfect as a cake pop?

    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ella, You can use your cake recipe, but 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.

  3. Hi Sally,

    Cake pops were amazing. Only thing was I struggled with getting the candy melts to melt. Wished there were more notes on this. I had to search online for solutions and added shortening and kept popping in the microwave for 30 sec at a time to no avail. The mixture was thick and not easily dunkable.

    1. Hi Rosa,

      Try using paramount crystals the next time you melt chocolate for cake pops. Paramount crystals thins the chocolate/candy melts.

    2. Can I use two 8-inch cake tins

  4. this cake do not need sugar?

    1. The frosting already has so much powdered sugar, I would think it would be too sweet if the cake had sugar in it as well.

  5. Jennifer Wight says:

    Thank you for this amazing recipe! This was first time I made cake pops! My family and I enjoyed them! They were delicious!

  6. Shelby Nicholas says:

    I want to make these for my friends daughters b-day but she’s lactose intolerant. If I wanted to use a milk substitute which type would you suggest? Almond, coconut, oat or lactaid milk?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shelby, You can use any unsweetened nondairy milk you have on hand. Just keep in mind the lower the fat, the less “rich” the baked good will taste.

  7. Hi! If I wanted to tint the cake/frosting a pink/blue for a gender reveal would that work?! My family doesn’t really like cupcakes but they love cake pops!

    1. Yes, absolutely. You can tint the frosting a color with liquid or gel food coloring. I recommend gel.

  8. This was so helpful! I was so Confused until I read this. It tells you step by step by step how to make cake pops it also gives you tips to make them even better I recommend this if you need help with cake pops

  9. Hi, I am making these now — can you refrigerate the balls of cake/frosting for longer than 2 hours before coating?

    1. When you put sprinkles on do you dip them in a plate of sprinkles or lightly sprinkle on top? Can you store them in freezer individually wrapped?

    2. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, you can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. See recipe notes for details.

  10. Hi Sally,

    Can I use swiss meringue frosting instead of a buttercream?

    Best,

    Theo

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Theo, We haven’t tested these with Swiss Meringue Buttercream but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Let us know if you try them!

  11. Hello! Can I use powdered food coloring for tinting the coating? And please can you recommend a good white chocolate to use?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Twinkles, powdered food coloring should be fine. I like using Bakers or Ghirardelli brand pure white baking chocolate as the coating.

  12. Miracle Purvis says:

    Hello, How many cake pops can you make using your recipe ?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      This recipe makes 40 cake pops.

  13. Hi, is there a way I could make the cake pop balls at night and then coat them in the morning?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely! You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. See the make ahead directions in the recipe notes for details.

  14. Hi sally I love your recipes! You’re my go to for everything. I made these last year and they are amazing one isssue I had was the coating kept cracking. Also as someone mentioned before the candy melts took so much effort to melt on stove top(I do not own a microwave) is there any tips for the cracking and the melting on the stove? Making them for my daughters birthday tomorrow

    1. your cake pops are too cold before dipping into the chocolate. Have them come to room temp first

  15. Love the recipe by the way! Is there any way to make the recipe less? like half the amount it would usually make? Thank you in advance!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Madison, You can cut the recipe in half and bake it in a 6 inch round pan or even a loaf pan. The baking time would be shorter but I’m unsure of exactly how long it will take (same oven temperature).

  16. Jennifer Guerrero says:

    Mine turned out amazing!! I’ve tried to make cake pops before and I have tried over and over to dip things in chocolate with no success, except this time! I’m so happy, the missing ingredient was the vegetable oil! I had tried coconut oil, and lard in the melting chocolate but it never worked right. Thank you so much for this recipe, life changing for all my treats!!

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