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!

Print
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

208 Comments

  1. Hi, Sally

    My husband and I are trying to make these for our date tonight and the frosting is really sandy. Is that normal? If it’s not how do I make sure it doesn’t happen next time?

    1. Hi Martina! The frosting or the coating is sandy? For the frosting, try sifting the confectioners’ sugar before using in the frosting.

  2. I made these for our bake sale, to benefit our park’s yard sale. They were very easy. I didn’t have vanilla so I used almond extract and everyone loved the flavor. It’s the first time I made cake pops, but won’t be the last. Thanks for all your tips. They really helped.

  3. Please help!!!! Need to know if I can substitute coconut oil for the butter called for in the cake batter recipe?!!! Looking to cut calories where we can and need to know if this is even possible… PLEASE HELP!

  4. 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

    1. Made them last night and I agree, they were very oily. I have them in the freezer for now so hopefully when it comes time to dip them, they’ll taste fine!

  5. 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!!

  6. 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

  7. I made these twice and they were really tasty and looked great, but the cake did not rise a lot and had a strange texture but was not noticeable after crumbling and mixing with icing. Not sure what I am doing wrong.

    1. Hi Cara! Perhaps the baking powder and baking soda weren’t fresh? That’s my first guess. Regardless, I’m glad the cake pops turned out wonderfully!

  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. DO NOT DIP THE COLD BALLS INTO HOT CHOCOLATE. Sally says to make sure the balls are extremely cold. If you dip extremely cold balls into warm/hot chocolate your chocolate will crack upon drying. The balls should be room temperature.

  10. 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. 🙂

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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 🙂

  14. Hi Sally, I’m wanting to make ‘wooden blocks’ for my nieces birthday cake. Can I use cake pops and cover them in fondant instead of chocolate. Thanks

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. I didn’t use this recipe, but Devils food and chocolate frosting. I did follow the tips here.
    After one try, I discovered an important thing – use good chocolate or good quality melts. I used Giradelli on 1/2 and Tollhouse white chocolate chips. No comparison between the two. Giradelli melted, mixed, dipped and tasted better. Next time, I’ll spend the extra money and get Giradelli.

    1. Yes, it’s important to use real chocolate or something made for melting! If you want to do white chocolate use a real white chocolate baking bar. Chocolate chips (white or regular) are made with stabilizers that help them keep their shape so they are not ideal for melting!

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