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!

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Homemade cake pops

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

304 Comments

  1. 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!!

      1. Thanks so much for your quick reply, Sally!

  2. 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!

      1. Thank you Sally!

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

  4. Lillian Boudreau says:

    Hi Sally,I made these cake pops a year and a half ago for my grand daughter’s wedding and they were a big hit. I am now preparing them for her baby shower. I need to make 160 in total. Would I be able to double the cake and icing recipes so I can make 80 at a time. She also wants to have 80 in pink and 80 in blue sprinkles and have one of each in a bag tied with a pink &blue ribbon,would that work or should they be wrapped individually?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Lillian, For the best taste and texture I recommend making this one recipe at a time instead of doubling it. As long as the coating is fully set, it should be just fine to wrap two of them together.

  5. Hi! I would love to halve this recipe (I know you said they freeze wonderfully but I really don’t want to roll 40 balls because I have an injured wrist and 20 would be much better and it’s all I need for the small party that I’m making them for.) What size pan would you recommend baking the cake in if the recipe is cut in half? Many things in advance for your response, I love your recipes so much! Every one of them has been an absolute winner!

    1. Hi Amy! Happy to help. An 8 inch pan– regular cake pan, not a springform pan– should be large enough.

  6. Hi Sally!
    I made these for Halloween using white chocolate for the coating. I refrigerated the cake balls as you said, but I had a problem with the coating cracking once they dried. I read this could be due to the temperature difference between the cold cake and warm coating. Do you have any tips for how to avoid cracking? Do you refrigerate the cake to help the coating dry faster? Would candy coating have the same issues?
    Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes. They’re always a hit!

    1. Hi Olivia, Were you using pure white chocolate and not chocolate chips? And did you melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon of oil to thin out (see recipe note #3 if using pure chocolate)? I let the coating harden at room temperature which usually takes about an hour, before placing them in the fridge for storage.

  7. Hi Sally!

    I want to use about 6 homemade red velvet cupcakes for cake pops. About how much frosting should I use for that amount of cupcakes?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Teresa! It’s hard for me to say without knowing exactly how much crumb mixture you have. Always start with less frosting (maybe 1/4 cup) and add more to make a relatively moist crumb.

      1. Thank you!

  8. Do you have a chocolate cake recipe for cake pops?

  9. I found that the cake pops were a bit on the greasy side … I think it could have done with a bit less frosting. I recommend adding in frosting as needed rather than all at once. In a 13 x 9 pan, approx 26 mins was the perfect bake time.

  10. Hi Sally, Just finished a batch of cake pops using candy melts. Not a fan of the candy melts taste but love the quick dry . Looking for a more tastee option. I tried mixing in food coloring but i think it reacted because candy melts thickened instantly. Will pure white chocolate dry and harden as well as melts? Will it melt on your fingers or if left out during a party? Can I add food coloring to pure white chocolate?

    1. Hi Kay! Pure white chocolate is what I usually use. It sets and dries, so it won’t melt on people’s hands when they eat the cake pop. You can tint it with food coloring after it’s been melted.

  11. can’t wait to try these this weekend. You mentioned making the cake 1 day ahead of time, can I also make the frosting ahead of time, mix it together until I am ready to make them into balls the next day? or should the cake be made ahead of time without the frosting? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi, Nina! If you want to make the cake and frosting ahead of time, I would recommend keeping them separate until you are ready to make them into balls the next day.

  12. Jenni Barnett says:

    These turned out perfectly! We got lots of compliments on the cake itself and the finished pops. Made the first batch a couple weeks ago for my son’s going away party into the Navy. Today I’m making the second batch for our Christmas Eve party.

  13. wanted to let you know I made the cake pops (without the sticks) for a 2nd time now. A very bit hit. My cousin who is in from Italy visiting us is taking a batch home for the rest of my cousins to taste! Can’t wait to try your lemon blueberry cake! Thank you for sharing your recipes!

  14. These look amazing! I have never made cake pops before but I am excited to try these. I will be making them for my daughter’s birthday. Have you made them gluten and dairy free before? Do you have any tips for me? Thank you!

    1. Hi Madison, I’m glad you are excited to try these! I have not tried using gluten free flour or dairy free alternatives in this particular recipe but let me know if you try!

  15. Strongly considering making these for my daughters upcoming birthday, I was thinking of doing funfetti, any issues adding sprinkles to the cake batter? I’m just not sure how things would look crumbled up and if it would mesh well with the frosting. I haven’t made this before, is one cake pop per kid enough?

    1. Hi Adriane, You can add sprinkles to the cake for funfetti cake pops! The cake pops are a fun treat, but they are only a few bites each so it’s up to you how many you wish to serve.

  16. Used this recipe to make Baby Yoda cake pops for my granddaughters birthday. While I froze most of the undipped balls to use closer to her party, I was successful at creating his head and dipping in the melted chocolate without the cake pop falling apart! Thanks to your great recipe, I will be making more cake pops in the future!

  17. Hi again. Sorry to keep asking questions. How do you keep the finished frozen cake pops from getting damaged when they defrost? I plan on making them completely a week before the party and would be so disappointed if they got wrecked due to something I did. Also why do you prefer chocolate over candy melts? Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Madison, After the cake pops are frozen, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. They won’t get damaged this way! I prefer the taste of pure white chocolate but candy melts work just as well (see recipe notes for exact melting instructions for each).

  18. Nancy L Timper says:

    Have you ever tried shipping these? Ideas? Thanks!

  19. I have made this recipe as well as the chocolate version many times now and they always turn out great! This is a tried and true recipe with all the right tips and tricks to follow to ensure a great cake pop! I have come to regard Sally’s baking addiction as one of the best on Pinterest and know that when I come across a recipe from this site that it will consistently turn out great and as expected too. Thanks for sharing this delight of a recipe!

  20. How easy would it be to turn this into a funfetti cake pop? Would you just add sprinkles into the cake batter? Or when you’re mixing the cake crumbles into the frosting?

    1. Hi Michaeline, you can either add sprinkles to the cake batter or work them into the frosting/cake crumb mixture. Either way would work just fine.

  21. Hi Sally,

    I am not sure whether I messed up something.

    I used a cookie dropper to measure the mix and made balls that look less than perfect… I left overnight in the fridge to chill and I was hoping to use your tip to fix the shape after cooling down. They now appear too hard. Do I leave them on the counter for a bit? Can they be saved :-(? Thank you

    1. I usually refrigerate them for 2 hours, so if you left them in overnight they will need to soften back up but they can be saved! Just let them sit at room temperature until they are softened up just enough to re-roll.

  22. Thank you so much. I was running behind and it got too late by the time the cake cooled down and I mixed them an put them in the fridge.

  23. Two of my friends and I made these for a class project. They turned out AMAZING! They were so delicious. I will definitely make these again.

  24. Hey, when I thaw the cake pops overnight in the refrigerator after freezing them, do I put them in a closed container or do I just leave them out in the open?

    1. I usually keep them in a container to keep them protected.

  25. I want to try this recipe, but have some leftover homemade frosting already. How much do I need to make the consistency just right?

    1. Hi Alona, you need 1 cup of fairly thick frosting. Confectioners’ sugar thickens frosting up. Make sure you use 1 cup.

  26. Hi Sally,

    I gave these a go today but it was a bit of a disaster – I left the rolled balls in the fridge for 2 hours and they were nice and cold when I took them out, I used pure white chocolate and added the vegetable oil (melted over a bain marie) but I found that the chocolate was still too thick for the balls which made them heavy so they either fell off the stick or slid off after a while. I’m also not sure if maybe my cake was undercooked (stick came out clean when I tested after 35 mins) but was still quite moist when I crumbled it, so perhaps the buttercream was too much? Also, I measured everything out based on the cups (except the butter) but the weights in grams comes out very different to what you state in the recipe (I usually work in Grams) so just an FYI. Anyway, any advice would be great as I’m hoping to make these for my cousins wedding! Thanks! xx

    1. Hi Francesca! It sounds like the cake balls were simply too moist and that there may not have been enough oil to thin out the white chocolate coating. Both are easy fixes– try adding the frosting only a little at a time until the mixture comes together. A little more oil in the white chocolate will thin it out so it’s much easier to work with when coating. I hope this helps!

  27. For pink cake pops, should I use pink candy melts or use food coloring in white chocolate?

    1. Either works!

  28. Hi,
    I also plan on making these but with store bought frosting. I really don’t want to freeze them because we will be eating them by Sunday so in 3 days. I was told I could keep them at room temperature if stored in container ??? Thanks !

  29. Hello,
    I was wondering about defrosting from the freezer after they’ve been dipped and if you’ve had any issue with the sprinkles ‘running’? I am hoping to pre-make these for my wedding but I have frozen truffle recipes with sprinkles and the colouring ran down the item. Any experience? I’m thinking this may be a better one to do the week of the wedding instead so they maintain a constant temperature.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Olivia! Sprinkles can bleed, but if you let them thaw outside of a container, the sprinkles aren’t as likely to bleed because nothing is trapping in the condensation. Use quality sprinkles or even naturally colored sprinkles.

  30. Hi,

    I made this recipe twice and both the times it was a big hit. This will be my go to cake pop recipe. Can I make cupcakes out of the same recipe? Will the frosting hold? Or should I change the frosting recipe?

    1. Hi Lubna! So glad you enjoy these cake pops. You can use this cake batter to make cupcakes. I recommend my vanilla buttercream for topping.

      1. I made it ., it was a hit.. but substituted the egg with mashed banana instead..

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