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
Hi! I adore this recipe. I need to double …have you ever? Any tips? Was thinking 9×13 pan at 350 for 42 min would be ok but I don’t want to brown as i know that will affect texture. Thx for thoughts!
Hi Allyssa! We don’t recommend this cake as a 9×13 cake. Instead, you’ll enjoy our white cake recipe. See the recipe notes for a 9×13 inch pan. Enjoy!
Your recipes have been a Godsend everytime. I faced one problem with my cake pops, I take out the frozen ones and dip them in warm-medium melted chocolate and they coat beautifully but tend to crack once dry. Any idea what I’m doing wrong here?
Hi Merlin, 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 of the temperature difference between the two. Hope this helps!
Hi. If I will decorate my cake pops with fondant, how far ahead I can do it and fondant topper can still hold its shape? What do you use to stick thw fondant decors?
Hi there, we don’t decorate with fondant, so unfortunately we can’t give you a confident answer here. Might be best to search for a quick fondant + cake ball decorating tutorial online to see what is recommended. Would love to know what you decide to try!
My daugter (5) and i bake every Sunday. Today she requested cake pops and im so thankful this was the recipe I chose. There recipe explains every step in detail and although its a time consuming process its easy enough for a child to make with assistance. We loved making your cake pops and they taste amazing.
I would like to make these for my daughters wedding and put in gift bag for hotel guests. so I need to cover each one and put into the bags. what do you recommend to cover them with so they don’t melt. Also, where do I get candy melts?
The recipe was delicious but each of the elements were definitely too sweet, even for my sweet tooth kids.
I love this recipe! I haven’t tried it yet someone want me to make them for a baby shower. I’m going to experiment first but I will let you know how they turned out. Thank you for sharing.
I love this recipe! Making cake pops for the very first time, I tried your recipe exactly as written and it turned out absolutely amazing. Everyone (all adults) loved the cake pops and called the next day asking if I had any more! They really had the ‘homemade’ taste Sally mentioned. I did not think these were too sweet at all, and I used the candy coating. I will definitely make these again and try different flavors for the cake. Thanks for the great recipe!
Can you mix in mini chocolate chips to batter?
Yes, absolutely! I’d start with 1/4-1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.
Would I be able to add strawberry extract to this recipe to get a strawberry cake pop or is that not advised?
Hi Amber, you can certainly add strawberry extract to this cake recipe. Or, you can use our strawberry cake recipe instead (you’ll want to scale it down a bit, but our cake pan sizes and conversions guide can help). Enjoy!
Love your recipes, Sally! Would I be able to cut this recipe in half and then bake the cake in a regular 9 inch cake pan?
Hi Jane, that should be fine, just keep a close eye on it as it will bake much faster being a thinner layer. Use a toothpick to test for doneness.
Hi! I really want to make these but my fear with cakepops is the sweetness. I don’t want them to end up too sweet.
Hi Jess, these cake pops are sweet, but we don’t find them cloyingly so. You can reduce the confectioners’ sugar in the frosting but that will create a much thinner frosting. It shouldn’t make a huge difference in the texture of the cake pops, though. (Or you can very slightly reduce the sugar in the cake.) Let us know if you give them a try!
This was a great recipe with wonderful explanations for a first-time cake pop baker. I loved the base cake, probably more than the end result. I used pure white chocolate for half of the cake pops, and candy melts for the rest. The candy melts were a bit too sweet for us, so lessons learned. But other than that personal preference, it’s a great recipe!
I’ve made this recipe twice now and it is PERFECT. They go like hot cakes at all events!!!
A couple of tips…it really does make 40 cake pops. I use the larger pop-cycle sticks as opposed to the narrower, shorter ones. I find it easier to manage them (they are pretty top heavy!)
I used a combination of pure white chocolate bars (two Lindt 4.4oz bars) and one 12oz bag of Ghiardelli White Chocolate Chips. I melted in the microwave and they turned out great. (Not sure where 40oz came from? I always have had more than enough for all 40 cake pops.)
I can confirm that the water based food dye doesn’t work! LOL.
My process is this: Bake the cake as directed (which is DELICIOUS, btw). Cool completely. Make the frosting. If the edges of the cake are a little crunchy, I trim them off. Mix cake and frosting together to directions. I use my little Pampered Chef scoop (melon baller size? perfect size) to measure the cake pop balls. Roll and put on parchment paper covered jelly roll tray (it has an edge, they won’t roll off! LOL) Cover and refrigerate overnight. Reroll to smooth in am. Put cake balls back in fridge. Break up the chocolate bars into pieces and put into 2 cup measuring cup along with bag of chips. Melt chocolate on 50% power 2 mins, stir. Back in for a minute @ 50% power. There will still be little bits unmelted, but they will fully melt as you stir. Let cool a little bit (otherwise your cake balls may get gooey and not stay on the stick.) 2 Cup measuring cup works great for dippiing… Use a cardboard box with small holes in it to put dipped cake pops in. I put the box on a jelly roll pan, so that any sprinkles get caught on the pan instead of all over the counter! I have also used dried flower foam to put cake pops in and that worked great too! I lightly tap the side of the cake pop on the measuring cup to allow excess chocolate to drop off so it doesn’t drip down the stick.) Add sprinkles IMMEDIATELY after finished dipping or else they won’t stick. Let set at room temp before moving, for an hour, then refrigerate to set solid. These are SOOOO good.
If you’re transporting them (which I’ve done twice) you can CAREFULLY put chilled cake pops into a ziplock bag. Be aware, you’ll loose a few sprinkles… OR you can use the dry floral foam block thing (you can squeeze 40onto two blocks, but three is easier) and put them in a bigger box to transport. JUST MAKE SURE, that the floral blocks cannot slide or tip in the box. I also covered the floral foam in tissue paper and put some cute ribbon on it as a decoration for the cake table, since I didn’t have a cake pop stand!
Did the people saying it’s a bad recipe actually try bake it? This is my go to cake pop recipe. Turns out right everytime!!
im nervous about freezing these when they are done! will the chocolate expand and crack?
Hi Kristin, These freeze beautifully! We’ve never experienced them expanding or cracking in the freezer.
My first cake pop recipe used and it will be my only! I’ve tried several times with no adjustments. They are always a hit wherever I bring them and I usually am asked to share recipe. Thank you!
Love this recipe Sally!!! Turned out exactly how it was supposed to be
What candy melts can be used with the gel food coloring? I’ve read that you can’t use gel food coloring for candy melts. Did you use it with the pure chocolate?
Hi Stephanie, Candy melts are oil based so sometimes adding a water based color will cause them to seize. We prefer to use pure white chocolate for best taste and you can color that with no problems. If you would like to use candy melts without coloring them you can purchase them in many different colors!
What is the proper ratio of cake to frosting?
Hi Lauren, we find the cake to frosting ratio as written is just enough to barely moisten those cake crumbs, which is ideal for cake pops. That ratio can change depending on the type of cake and frosting you use, but you want just enough that will allow the cake to be easily rolled and stay firm, but not be too greasy or wet. Hope this helps!
If using 8 or 9 in pan what would ge the cooking temp and time?
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.
this is sooo good!!!!!!! my whole family loves it sooo much and are constantly requesting it!! thank you sally 🙂
This was an absolutely delicious recipe. I’ll be using this vanilla cake as a base for some of my other flavors.
Is there any other alternative to a 9-in springform pan or 13×7? Or how can I adjust the recipe for a regular 8 or 9-in cake pan? Thank you!
Hi Li! You could split the batter between two 8 or 9 inch pans – the bake time will be shorter.
Hi Sally! Just tried out this recipe and I must say… IT. IS. AMAZING! The frosting is nice and thick, but not too thick so you can not fold in the batter nicely. The cake recipe is personally amazing and is nice and moist. When blending it in, it only took 1-2 minutes to fully incorporate the frosting into the crumbled cake. I let them freeze for around 1 hour and 20 minutes, and then used the coating recipe to coat them! (Obviously) The coating is perfect to me, and not too sweet or bland! This is my new go-to recipe for cake pops, and I can not wait to make them again! Thank you for the great recipe, Sally! I Will be using this recipe often, and I love your website! It is filled with amazing recipes, and just the other day I used your sugar cookie recipe! I made my own homemade frosting to go with it, and it chilled very nicely on the cool cookies. (Also with the cookies, they make so many! I made a ton of my own designs including mickey mouse, some printed designs and just some shapes) **ALSO THESE RECIPES ARE VERY EASY TO FOLLOW ESPECIALLY FOR ME BECAUSE I AM ONLY 13 YEARS OLD LOL** Thank you so much Sally! Ok bye now sorry for the long review…..
Hi there, wonderful blog! Quick question – is it possible to use melted chocolate chips for the coating as well?
Hi Krystel, for best results, we recommend using pure baking chocolate or chocolate candy melts. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers which prevent them from melting properly, making it pretty difficult to dip the cake pops. Hope this is helpful!
Did anyone experience the chocolate cracking? Any tips on how to prevent this? I froze the cake balls without chocolate, took them out a week later, and coated with melting chocolate. All but a few cracked within 24 hours. Help!
Hi Cheryl! 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 of the temperature difference between the two. Hope this helps!
I’ve tried this twice and the cake always comes out disgusting! I think it’s the whole cup of milk! Much prefer bbc good foods version
Great recipe, although if you want to make the “non-american” version, add half the suggested sugar and vanilla 😉
Hi! I am making a large quantity of pops for a baby shower. I plan on making the balls in advance and freezing them until ready to dip a few days before. Can I freeze them without the stick and put the stick in when defrosted and ready to dip?
You bet! See make ahead instructions in the recipe notes for more details.
Where do you get the sticks?
Hi Peggy! We link to the ones we used in the helpful tools section of the recipe notes – they’re called lollipop sticks. You could get them online or from most craft stores.
Excellent recipe and step by step instructions. I made these for a kids party and they were a hit!! A little too sweet for me, I think I will try to reduce the sugar in the cake batter to 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup next time but honestly the kids loved the sweetness!!! And the cake and frosting recipe was just absolutely perfection. Thank you again for this recipe!!!