Homemade Cake Pops

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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.

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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.

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© 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.

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

151 Comments

  1. Can I use white chocolate panache for
    The coating?
    Also what is better? Inserting sticks
    Before putting in freezer or afterwards?

    1. Hi Rabia! I do not recommend using ganache as the coating– it is too thick and will not set properly. I recommend inserting the sticks before freezing so the cake ball freezes around the stick.

  2. Hi! I’m planning on making these for my daughter’s school birthday snack. Would it work to make them in the morning, freeze during the day and bag at night for snack the next morning? Or, would it be better to freeze overnight and let thaw at school?

    1. Either way will work– you could even skip the freezing and just refrigerate until she takes them to school. No need to freeze for just 1 day.

  3. Hey Julia! Congrats on your baby shower!! Store the prepared cake pops in the refrigerator until it’s time for the party/set-up for the party. They stay the freshest in the refrigerator.

  4. I followed the recipe but my cake balls are not keeping shape. They seem to be too moist. I had them in the freezer for an hour. And rolled them again and they went to mush. I put them back in the freezer I guess overnight to see if they harden. But Idunno what I did 🙁

    1. Hi Alisha, Was your cake the right consistency before you crumbled it up? If so perhaps your frosting was too thin and/or you used too much of it.

  5. I’m having family over for Halloween, i want to know if i can melt Hershey milk chocolate in the microwave and use it for the frosting?

    1. Hi Kimmy! Chocolate and white chocolate baking bars are pure chocolate/white chocolate made with cocoa butter. Candy melts are produced to emulate white chocolate– they’re made with vegetable oil. You can taste the difference between the real stuff and the candy coating stuff!

  6. Everyone loved them they had delicious taste. What I had trouble with was melting the chocolate. How can I melt it where I don’t burn it? That happened several times.

    1. Hi Ada! Using a double boiler and constantly stirring the chocolate will prevent it from burning/seizing. Or you can turn the power down on the microwave and start/stop every 10 seconds, stirring between each. Make sure you’re using pure baking chocolate such as Baker’s or Ghirardelli brands.

  7. Hello ! Is it ok if they stay for 1 day outside fridge.? I want to to them for schools Christmas festival but they want it from Friday.The party is on Saturday?Thwy look great !

  8. Hi Sally!! Your cake pops are beautiful!!! I am hoping to make quite a few of them for a Christmas party coming up. I know you had mentioned that they freeze quite well- can you also freeze the balls before the chocolate coating and decoration as well? If so, should I freeze with the stick already in?

    How would you suggest is the best way to store them in the freezer?

    Thanks so so much. I cannot wait to try them!!!

    1. Hi Kaylee! I’m happy to help. Yes, you can freeze the cake balls (before coating). I usually freeze them in a large tupperware. Let them thaw on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight. Then proceed with dipping/decorating. You can freeze for up to about 3 months.

  9. I wanted to use different Frosting recipe instead of yours. Since the ratio is so important- how many cups of frosting should I add to the cake crumbs to get the proportions right
    Or, in other words, how many cups does your frosting recipe yield?

    1. Do you mean baking chocolate, like the kind sold in the baking aisle? Because that’s best for melting/coating. You can mix it with coconut oil to thin out for dipping.

  10. These look delicious, and I have made a few of your truffle recipes which I (and my husband) adore! I wonder if you have any tips for the leftover dipping chocolate? I always have some leftover and have the hardest time figuring out how to properly dispose it.

  11. I am making these today, and in the cake ingredients it says to use 1 cup of whole milk or buttermilk, but in the steps to make the cake there is no mention of the milk. When do you add the milk in? Thank you!

  12. Hi! I’ve made both the vanilla and chocolate cake pops, and they turned out amazing! They are such a show stopper at get-togethers and they are so fun to make! I really would love to see more flavors of cake pops from you, all of your recipes that I’ve tried have been awesome. I can’t wait for more recipes in the future!

  13. Hi Sally my 8 year old son picked these for his birthday party so I am going to attempt them since I can always count on your recipes working out so perfectly! But his first & very important question was: How on earth would you attach a candle for singing happy birthday??????
    Any good ideas??? Thanks!!!!!!

    1. How about using a few Tbsp of the cake batter to make 1 cupcake alongside all the cake pops? Use the rest of the cake batter for the homemade cake.

    1. Hi Ben! Chocolate chips are not ideal for melting and coating candies/cake pops. Use pure chocolate or candy melts/candy coating.

  14. We need A LOT of cake pops for a party. Can I double this recipe and bake it in a larger pan? If so what size would you suggest? (Sorry if someone already asked this!) Also,
    I made a test batch and they were great. The only problem I had was they tasted floury. I followed the recipe exactly. Could it be I stirred the frosting and crumbled cake too much? Or, is this appeal of the cake pop? Before that cake pop I’ve never had one (gasp!), so I’m not sure if this is normal.

    1. Hi Daniella! For absolute best results, I recommend making the cake in the springform pan a few times in separate batches. If you taste dry flour-y bits, it sounds like the cake wasn’t crumbled up enough. Make sure it’s very crumbled and mix it well with the frosting.

    1. Hi Lexi, Bittersweet, white chocolate, or milk chocolate work as well. Coarsely chop and melt down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out and keep it warm over a double boiler.

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