How was your weekend? We spent most of it celebrating my friend’s birthday. I made a whole mess of treats including chocolate zucchini cake (as cupcakes), these salted caramel dark chocolate cookies, and these peanut butter M&M 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.
See? Special occasions call for super special treats.
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.
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.)
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:
- Make homemade cake.
- Make homemade frosting.
- Crumble cake into homemade frosting.
- Roll into balls.
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!
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. ↓
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.
Just like when we make Oreo balls, the cake balls need to be super chilled before dipping, so this trick gets both steps done!
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.
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
- 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!
- 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.
- A 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup is the perfect depth for dipping the cake pops.
- Tinting the coating brings a fun POP of color! I usually stick to just white + one other color. Or two colors maximum. The teal color I use here is Americolor gel food coloring in teal.
- Sprinkles are necessary, of course. But you already knew that.
Besides lollipop sticks and the correct size cake pan, you don’t really need much else to get going!Print
Homemade Cake Pops
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 36 minutes
- Total Time: 7 hours
- Yield: 40 pops
- Category: Cake Pops
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Homemade vanilla cake pops with vanilla buttercream from scratch- no cake mix or canned frosting!
- 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)
- 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
- 32 ounces candy melts or coating (or pure white chocolate)*
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
- 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.
- 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.
- All the cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Melt the coating in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (best for dunking!). you can use a double boiler or microwave.
- 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!
- Coating will set within an hour. Store cake pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- 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.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Measuring Cup | Springform Pan | Silpat Baking Mat | Half Sheet Baking Pan | Lollipop Sticks | Americolor Food Coloring
- 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 Comments & Reviews
When does the milk go in for the cake??
Hi Erin, in step 3, add the dry ingredients and milk to the wet ingredients until combined.
I made these for my son and daughter-in-law’s rehearsal dinner and they were fantastic! I used the vanilla recipe for the “bride” and dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles and then I followed your chocolate cake pop recipe for the “groom” cake pops dipped in white and dark chocolate to decorate like a tux. They were so cute, but even better because they tasted amazing! I have been making cake pops for years, usually the quick way with a box cake mix and a can of frosting, but from now on I will only be using this recipe from homemade! Everyone loved them!!! I also made heart-shaped sugar cookies, again using your recipe, and they were amazing too! I will be checking your website first whenever I’m baking! Thank you!!!
These are amazing!! Was so happy with the outcome.
I was told that let the cake balls and chocolate come to room temp otherwise it will cause cracks if cold is dipped into warm chocolate
Hi Lillian, yes, the coating can crack because of the temperature difference between the coating and the cake. You can definitely help prevent it by making sure that the coating isn’t too hot before dipping (let it sit for a few minutes before dunking). You can also let the cake balls sit at room temperature for a few minutes before dunking for extra assurance. Hope this helps and that you enjoy the recipe!
I love this recipe and plan on using it to sell cake pops. I would like to make chocolate as well. Sense I like this recipe so much would you know how to adjust it by adding cocoa powder?
Hi Lacey, here’s our chocolate cake pops recipe.
My first time making cake pops and they were perfect! My kids and their friends loved them. This recipe is going to be a staple in our house for special occasions.
Super easy to follow directions and had a lot of fun making these with my kids. They turned out amazing!!!
I’ve always used the box cake mix to make cake pops as it doesn’t need frosting to bind it together (the cake is super sticky and rolls together so easily). However I love love love all your vanilla cake recipes and this one is great also but is there a way to bake the cake or adjust the ingredients or temperature so frosting is not needed? Any tips would be appreciated! Thank you!
Hi Gillian, we haven’t tried making a version of cake pops that does not require frosting to bind the cake crumbs together. If you decide to do any experimenting, let us know how it goes!
I am obsessed with these! They turned out perfect! Thank you for sharing.
Three stars for clear directions – successfully made beautiful cake pops. However, I did not find the flavor to be appropriately balanced, I found these to be way too sweet for my taste. I made rice krispie treats on the same day and these turned out even sweeter than those. Only recommend if you have a major sweet tooth. I even added extra salt to try to balance the flavor but it only helped marginally. Still love this website but this was a miss for me.
Sally…HELP! Lol I made the cake twice today and both times it turned out dense, didn’t rise and raw like on the inside even after baking FAR past the recipe time. The first time I thought maybe my baking soda was expired, so I tried again. Same thing happened again. Can you please offer any insight on what your expertise thinks it could be? I weigh all ingredients and follow your instructions implicitly. Your recipes are the ONLY I use or trust. The all come out perfectly! So I know this is something completely happening on my end lol And insight would be so appreciated. It’s driving me bonkers wondering what else it could be causing this. Thank you!
Hi Barb, check your baking soda AND baking powder. Could be an issue with the baking powder. Did you use a smaller baking pan by accident? Perhaps too much batter, and therefore the cake didn’t bake properly. Additionally, it may be helpful (if you try the recipe again), to slightly reduce the milk. Perhaps by 2-3 Tablespoons. Just in case it’s something with your brand of flour, butter, etc.
Can i use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?
Hi Angie, I recommend regular all-purpose flour. If you’d like to make the switch, I would slightly reduce the milk. Cake powder is so light, and there may be too much moisture in the batter for the cake flour to support.
What if we used salted butter
Hi Chrissy, if using salted butter, reduce the added salt to 1/4 teaspoon.
I’ve been making cake balls/pops for a few years now and I’m so excited to try your recipe, I always prefer things made from scratch. I only have a 10in-springform pan, what would be the time you recommend to bake for?
Hi Julie, we’re unsure of the exact bake time, but it will be slightly shorter since the cake layer will be thinner. Keep a close eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Hope you enjoy it!
I want to use this recipe to enter into a contest, do these cake pops have to be refrigerated?
Yes, we recommend storing them in the refrigerator for up to a week, although they can be displayed at room temperature for a few hours.
What kind of container do you freeze them in? Do you lay them down? Please telle more about freezing and transporting them to a party. Thank you!!
Hi Barb, any tupperware or storage container would be great. You can lay them down since the coating will be set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before you plan to bring them to a party!