Learn how to make homemade cake pops completely from scratch, with no box cake mix or canned frosting. Watch the video tutorial for all my best tips.
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-inch 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 about the top 1/2 inch of the stick into the coating first. Then stick into 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 vanilla cake pops with vanilla buttercream from scratch—no cake mix or canned frosting!
- 1 and 2/3 cups (209g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113g) 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.
- Add the dry ingredients and milk to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Give the thick batter a quick stir with a spatula to ensure there are no large lumps at the bottom of the bowl. Pour and spread 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 tent with a piece of aluminum foil.
- Allow 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.
- Scoop 1 Tablespoon of cake-frosting mixture and roll into a ball. Place balls on a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or freeze for 1 hour to set the shape. Re-roll the chilled cake pop balls to smooth out, if needed. Place the tray back into the fridge, as you’ll only work with a couple at a time.
- Melt the chocolate or candy melts in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (best for dunking!) in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each increment, until melted and smooth. You can also use a double boiler on the stove, if you prefer.
- Coat the cake balls: Remove only 2 or 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 of 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 a few 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 (affiliate links): 9-inch Springform Pan (a 10-inch springform pan or 11×7-inch pan will work, too) | Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Cooling Rack | Baking Sheet | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Glass Measuring Cup | Lollipop Sticks | Americolor Food Coloring
- Coating: You can use candy coating/candy melts, or chopped pure white chocolate. I typically use Ghirardelli brand white chocolate melting wafers. Semi-sweet, dark, bittersweet, or milk chocolate baking bars work, too. Coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl or glass liquid measuring cup, along with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to help thin it out. Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each 20 seconds, until melted and smooth. Keep warm over a double boiler.
Keywords: cake pops