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vanilla cake pops on a sprinkle plate

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.

vanilla cake pop with a bite taken out showing the center

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.)

vanilla cake batter in a glass bowl with a metal whisk

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!

2 images of vanilla cake in a cake pan after baking and vanilla frosting in a glass bowl with a paddle attachment

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. 

2 images of cake crumbled into glass bowl of frosting and cake and frosting mixed together in a glass bowl
2 images of cake pop balls on a baking sheet lined with a silpat baking mat

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!

2 images of cake pop balls on a baking sheet with a lollipop stick and melted white chocolate in a glass measuring cup and dipping a cake pop on a lollipop stick into a glass measuring cup of melted white chocolate

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.

vanilla cake pops stuck into a cardboard box to dry

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.
vanilla cake pops on a sprinkle plate

Besides lollipop sticks and the correct size cake pan, you don’t really need much else to get going!

Print
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vanilla cake pop with a bite taken out showing the center

Homemade Cake Pops

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 36 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours
  • Yield: 40 pops 1x
  • Category: Cake Pops
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade vanilla cake pops with vanilla buttercream from scratch- no cake mix or canned frosting!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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)

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.

Keywords: cake pops

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. “You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set.”

    Will this cause cracking? I want to make these for my wedding a few weeks ahead of time!

    1. Hi Asha, These freeze beautifully! We’ve never experienced them expanding or cracking in the freezer.

  2. My daughter and granddaughter are cake pop nuts. I made your recipe for them and they said it was the most flavorful and best they ever had !!! Bravo on you recipes. But I am having a small problem.
    My chocolate cracked after it hardened. How do I stop this ?

    1. Hi Amelia, We are so happy they enjoyed them! 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!

  3. Hi Sally!
    Love all your recipes and can’t wait to try this one! 2 questions:
    1) what is the best cake to frosting ratio if I want to use other recipes?
    2) is it ok to use your: cream cheese frosting, Nutella frosting, vanilla buttercream frosting, salted caramel frosting etc. With corresponding cake flavours to make cake pops as well? Looking for a flavour variety

    1. Hi Anita, you can use any of those frostings to make cake pops. The ratio really depends on the exact frosting and cake you’ll be using — you’ll want *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Have fun experimenting!

  4. Hello!
    I want to make cake pops for my daughters’ birthdays. If I make them ahead of time and freeze them fully decorated, what do I store them in? And do I deforest 24 hours before I want to hand them out? I will be wrapping them individually in cellophane so wasn’t sure of the best way to do this with the freezing defrosting etc!
    Or shall I make them, wrap them and then keep in fridge?! Thank you!

    1. Hi Verashe, see recipe notes for freezing instructions. You can store them in a tupperware or bag, but it might be easiest to wrap them individually and freeze, then put them in the refrigerator the night before you need them to defrost.

  5. Hello Sally!

    These sound great. I’m planning a desert table for my niece’s birthday and I plan on finishing all treats the day before. Do you think the cake pops would sweat if I leave them in the fridge and later thaw them out on the desert table? Any tips you can give to prevent this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Angelica, the cake pops should be fine stored in the fridge overnight, just make sure they are well covered to prevent any moisture from seeping in. Hope they’re a hit!

  6. Hi Sally. Thanks for the recipe. I’m planning to make some but I’m worried that the coating will melt. We will travel for almost 2 hrs with those pops. What can you recommend on how we can avoid them? Where should I store them?

    1. Hi Gab, if the coating has fully set, they should be fine for your car ride. For extra assurance, you could store them in a bag or box within a cooler if that’s available to you. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

    1. Hi Joan, you can use salted butter – simply reduce the added butter to 1/4 tsp. You can read more about salted vs. unsalted butter in baking in this post!

  7. Hi! I was wondering how much frosting to use if you don’t make your own. I know you said just enough to slightly dampen the cake crumbs but if you use a 13 x 9 inch pan for your cake is there a recommended amount?

    1. Hi Vivienne, this recipe yields about 1 cup of homemade frosting to go with the 9 inch springform pan of cake. The amount you’ll need should be similar, but will depend on the consistency of your frosting and cake.

  8. I have tried this recipe many times and every time it was a super duper hit with the entire family!! my husband loves this one and he says these are the best he’s ever had (and believe me when I say he’s tried cake pops pretty much everywhere)..but this time I’m going to have to make an eggless version for my guests -Can you please suggest me how to alter the cake recipe to make it eggless? I would highly appreciate any help with this Thanks Sally ❤️

      1. Thanks Linda for the reply! 🙂 Have you tried this recipe with Apple sauce instead of eggs? If so, what quantity of sauce works?

  9. I LOVE ITTTT the cake pops are a hit and there super YUM

  10. Hi! I already baked the cake and mixed it with the frosting. I’m wondering if I can add blue food coloring at this point by remixing for a gender reveal?

    1. Hi Erin, we haven’t tested that, but I fear that the make pop mixture may end up over-mixed and gluey if mixed again. Let us know if you give it a try!

  11. Hello,
    Once the cake pops have been dipped, how many days can they sit out without refrigeration? Can they be dipped ahead of time without refrigeration?

    1. Hi Gina, we wouldn’t leave them out for more than a day. Best to store in the fridge for longer than that (or the freezer to make ahead of time!).

  12. Had horrible luck with this! All fine until dipping straight from the fridge and they all fell apart a few hours before a party 🙁

    1. We haven’t tested gluten free flour in these cake pops but let us know if you do!

    2. We are gluten-free and dairy free, so I used a different cake and frosting recipe, but followed the instructions from this website, and it worked great! (I use the vanilla cake recipe from the gluten free palate blog: https://www.glutenfreepalate.com/easy-gluten-free-vanilla-cake/)

  13. Cake balls tasted great! We managed with only half the recommended amount of belgian white chocolate on all 40 balls. After coating in white chocolate we simply put them on parchment paper instead of putting on sticks and they turned out like cute little truffles.

  14. Help! I accidentally used baking chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate in blondies and they’re bitter, I was hoping to turn them into cake pops maybe or something else if you have any suggestions. I hate to waste.

    1. Hi Anita, we haven’t tried using blondies for cake pops, but we fear the texture may be too heavy. You can certainly try, keeping in mind that the frosting to blondie ratio might be much different. Or, how about topping the blondies with a frosting to offset the bitter chocolate taste?

  15. Sally !!! I made these for my daughters 5th birthday party and they all turned out ! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I had been searching for a cake pop recipe that actually works ! All your tips and tricks -THANK YOU!

  16. Well I can’t recall if I’ve made these before and my results but I just made today. I’m very concerned I will have to redo as I found the dough mixture very moist and almost too wet. I followed directions exactly and added the crumbs to frosting and mixed. I did roll them and now in refrigerator but thinking for me the mixture was too much on the wet side. I probably should have done like I’ve always done and mix the frosting a little at a time into the crumb mixture. Will give them time in fridge to chill and see what happens. Mixture taste great though!

  17. My cake did not rise as high as the recipe indicates that it should. I double checked my ingredients and tested my baking powder and soda and everything looks good. Do you think it’s usable since it is getting mixed with the frosting anyway or do I need to redo?

    1. Hi Lauren, since the cake is going to be crumbled anyways, it’s likely okay. Give it a quick taste to make sure it’s not overly dense and if it tastes okay to you, go ahead and continue the recipe for cake pops. Hope this helps!

    1. You can find all this information in the gray recipe box just above this comment section!

  18. Can you half the recipe? I love how the normal recipe taste all time fav

    1. Absolutely! An 8 inch pan– regular cake pan, not a springform pan– should be about the right size to bake half of this cake batter.

  19. I melted white choc. wafers in my microwave. It was to thick to dip my cake pops. What can I do to thin it down without ruining the choc. ?

    1. Hi Pam, Were you using pure white chocolate? And did you melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon of oil to thin out (see recipe note #3 if using pure chocolate)? The oil will help thin it out a bit to make it a workable consistency for dipping the cake pops. Hope this helps!

  20. I made the pops tonight, and my goodness they’re delicious!! Tomorrow I’ll be dipping them, I’m curious to know if the 1/2 tsp oil is to be mixed with the whole 40 oz of white chocolate? Thank you!!

  21. Hi Sally I’m making these for my sisters baby shower . Can I double the recipe and bake in a 9×13?

    1. Hi Nita, 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. Hope they’re a hit at the baby shower!

      1. Thanks for the response! These were delicious and definitely a hit at the baby shower!!! I ended up doubling this recipe and putting half in a springform pan and splitting the rest into two 9 inch cake pans. They turned out perfect I made 80 of these and 80 of the chocolate ones. They were adorable and delicious

  22. Hey Sally! I just baked my cake, however it didn’t rise at all and is a bit overcooked. I checked all my ingredients and tested my baking powder and baking soda and they are all fine. I tasted it and it’s not the worst, but it could be better. Should I rebake the cake or should it be ok?

    1. Hi Jenni! The cake pops may be OK still since you’re mixing the cake with frosting, but for best results we would make the cake again. Careful not to over-mix the batter and use all room temperature ingredients to avoid a dense cake. Happy baking!

      1. I have a question instead of making your own frosting can you buy store bought frosting.

  23. Thank you for all of your delicious recipes!!
    I want to make these but add in some Oreo pieces. Do you think I’m better off baking them into the cake or mixing them in when I mix the frosting with the crumbled cake?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Hillary! We haven’t tested it, but I would think baking them into the cake would be best for texture. Let us know what you try!

  24. Hello
    My sons birthday and gender reveal are within two weeks of each other and I would love to make these however it’s only my husband and I. I’m not sure we could even eat half the recipe ! How do you suggest making a smaller batch?
    And how can we make them less sweet? We love cake pops because they require less cleanup but cake and icing are so sweet, it’s sickly sweet! Thank you!

    1. Hi Nissa, you can try halving (or more) this recipe for a smaller batch. Or, see recipe notes for freezing options if you want to make a full batch and save some for a later date. 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!

  25. Probably made 10 dozen or more cake pops and still haven’t perfected it. Began with ‘In the Kitchen with Matt’ and experimented from there. Your butter cream from scratch I’ll try next along with longer refrigerator times and reshaping cake pops after chilling.
    Great ideas, Thank you.

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