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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. Hey! I’ve made these and the chocolate many many times! Most recently for a gender reveal, it was reallly exciting. But every time I make them, I find that no matter what I do, the chocolate cracks. I’ve used the Ghiardelli chocolate melting wafers and the chocolate baker bars you recommended. I’ve tried adding some oil, no oil. But still half of them have a crack by the time I serve them. Any tips?

    Thank you for all the wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Emily! Cake pops are so much fun for a gender reveal! The cracking is from the COLD cake ball and the HOT chocolate. The solution is to allow the chocolate to cool down for several minutes before you dunk.

  2. What is the difference between candy melts and chocolate? How do the candy melts taste?

    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!

  3. 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?

  4. This is my second time making these cake pops! They are so delicious!!!

    Sally, do you think if I put two tablespoons of vanilla in the frosting, will it be too moist?? I may have accidentally put two tablespoons instead of 1 and I’m afraid they aren’t going to work out.

    1. Do you mean 2 teaspoons? Because that would be fine. 2 Tablespoons would be a lot of excess liquid. Let me know how they turn out!

  5. Hi Sally just wanted to say your cake pops look amazing! I’ve been doing cake pops for quite a while and yes I agree box cakes are not great they can be practical in a pinch yes but I find that they taste too artificial especially the frosting but I did notice when I started making homemade cakes they don’t roll as smooth I also noticed there are a lot more oily than the box cakes is there anything I can do to remedy this and some of them did fall off the stick when Dipping uggh! And I do after dipping them with the stick put them in the refrigerator so the little candy melt will set so they don’t fall off but with cakes from scratch I noticed sometimes they still do

  6. These were quite time consuming but delicious!! I would definitely recommend using this recipe. I did modify it a bit by using Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour to make them gluten free. I sifted the flour which helped with the texture. Everyone that ate them loved them!!

    1. Hi Taylor! Yes, those are a wonderful alternative to lollipop sticks.

  7. will try and post a picture =made for daughter 25th birthday . placed them in a styrofoam ring with green floral moss covered over the ring. added fake double knot out roses in the center. Recipe was exactly on point , and of course delicious. thank you for making me an amazing baker

  8. How much food coloring do you suggest I put in the frosting

    It’s the same amount of frosting in the recipe.

    1. It depends on the color. If you’d like to tint the frosting, which will be mixed with the cake crumbs for these cake pops, stick with a couple drops, then add more if needed to darken the shade.

  9. Hi Sally! In your notes you recommend to bake the cake a day ahead. Does it create a better texture when rolling the balls? I was hoping to make them in one day, but I won’t if it makes a difference. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Beth! You can definitely bake/cool the cake and make the cake pops all in one day. I just give the suggestion to make it ahead to save time, if desired. 🙂

  10. hello! Thank you for this recipe! It was delicious! I made them for a bake sale and they were a hit! I do have one question for you!:) Once my cake pops were finished and the chocolate hardened, most of my cake pop’s chocolate coating cracked. It didn’t fall off, but there would just be a crack around the side. Is there anything I can do to prevent that? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lauren! Yes, 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. The coating is cracking because it’s so warm and the pop is so cold.

  11. Hi, Sally! You’re such a saint to be answering questions two whole years later!

    I wanted to know if there’s a way to make the vanilla cake a yellow cake – I’m planning to do these as yellow cake pops with chocolate coating, very Betty Crocker cake mix-esque. Do I just add yolks? I appreciate the help!

    1. Hi Abigail! That would require some testing. You could try using my yellow cupcakes as the cake, but it may be too much batter for this size pan. Best to just stick with this recipe!

  12. Hi Sally! I have some leftover cupcakes from a pull-apart cake I made for my kiddo’s birthday, and thought it would be fun to make them into cake pops as an extended birthday treat! I know the cake-frosting ratio is key – any tips on the right amount of frosting to use for about 10 cupcakes? (The cupcakes AND frosting come from your recipes too…thanks for being my favorite inspiration & baking expert!)

    1. Hi Kelly, What a great use of the leftovers! Definitely go by feel for this one – you want them to come together easily without being too sticky 🙂

  13. Hello Sally,

    I know from your previous comments that your frosting recipe yields about 1 cup…that being said, how much did you actually put in the cake/frosting mixture for cake pops? Did you use all of it?

  14. Hi Sally: we are renewing our wedding vows and I chose to do a cake pop and wedding cake with 810 and 12 inch layers. How far in advance can I set that up at room temperature ( 65° ) Without the pops becoming sticky to pull off of the cake forms? I don’t want to be assembling the cake just before the service. Our event is September 21.

    1. I can’t even imagine that many cake pops! SO fun!! If you use candy melts and the room is cool they should be ok for a day or two! Keep in mind real chocolate will melt easier.

  15. Yes quite the daunting task/but a labor of love….200+pops!! Thank you so much for your quick response. I certainly didn’t want any surprises after putting it together have a great day Sally

  16. I’d never made cake pops before (some of my friends hadn’t even heard of them!) so these were a definite eye opener for me….they taste amazing and I got so many compliments on both the taste and how gorgeous and professional they looked. I didn’t tint the white chocolate that I dipped them into, but I tinted the frosting, so when you bit into them the filling was a pretty pink against the white coating❤

  17. Hi I just baked this in a Springform pan and noticed that the cake really didn’t rise! That if I used a 9″ regular cake pan it would have been the same height. What went wrong? Thanks! Really doesn’t look like I will get 40 balls out of it. 🙁

    1. Hi Laura, If your cake didn’t rise the first things I would suggest are to check to make sure your baking soda and baking powder are fresh, you can check your oven temperature with an inexpensive oven thermometer (most ovens are slightly off), and try not to open the oven door during the bake time. For more troubleshooting tips check out this post: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/cake-baking-tips/

  18. Hi Sally! I made this special treat for our concert choir. They were a hit! I specifically wanted a recipe made from scratch and yours met my expectations. Thank you for sharing and I will keep your site close for future creations.

  19. Ok Sally here is my question. I made your funfetti cake and I used 3- 8 in round cake pans. I didn’t spray one of the pans well enough so my cake fell apart coming out…not to fret tho because my wonderful husband said…don’t toss it just make cake pops! So…should I make one more 8 in layer cake to make sure my cake to icing ratio is accurate?? I’m already making another batch of funfetti for the replacement layer and cupcakes. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Emily! You could make another cake layer OR just use half of the prepared frosting. Frosting freezes pretty well!

      1. I went ahead and made another layer in a 6 in pan. It turned out perfect and everyone loved them. Thank you!!

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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!!

  26. 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!

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

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