Homemade Cake Pops

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: 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 (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.

424 Comments

  1. Hi, can I use extra virgin olive oil in my coating?
    Thanks x

    1. It will alter the taste of the coating. Don’t recommend.

  2. Excited to make these for a gift! Was wondering how much chocolate I’d need since I’m planning on using that instead of candy melts? Thanks so much!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria, you’ll need 40 oz. of chocolate for the full recipe. What a fun gift idea!

    2. Use the same amount for chocolate as it says for melts hope there good

  3. I had a lot of fun making these but I didn’t know weather to put in the fridge of leave on the counter so I put half in the fridge and left the other half out when I woke up this mornings ALL my sticks had fallen through and I have no clue why =( but other than that they taste great

  4. Will this recipe stay safe to eat and ship well without cooling? Any thoughts from anyone who’s had success with mailing this type of item? Thanks

    1. I made the Sally’s chocolate cake pops and mailed them recently and they arrived to their destinations perfectly intact! I live in the northeast, so it’s quite cold this time of year, and also did overnight shipping.

  5. Love these! So fun to make! I used 3 Ghirardelli white chocolate bars and 2 bags of Ghirardelli white baking chips. DELICIOUS! Not as rich as all white chocolate and just as yummy!

  6. I followed the recipe but these were greasy, odd texture and tasted awful. Wish i knew what everyone else did so different! So bummed 🙁

  7. Can I add sprinkles to this to make it a funfetti style?

    1. Yes!

      1. Amanda-Jane Carter says:

        Don’t know if this has been asked already but in the frosting recipe can I substitute the vanilla extract with something else like strawberry if I wanted to make strawberry frosting or is there something else I should do?

      2. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Amanda-Jane! Extract would work, or you could use our strawberry buttercream recipe instead.

  8. Hi! I was just wondering 40 cake pops is a lot, if I halved the recipe would it be different?

  9. Hi Sally,
    I’d like to make some red velvet cake balls for Valentine’s Day! Do you have any suggestions for altering your red velvet cake recipe to get the correct cake/frosting ratio for cake pops? Thanks!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rebecca, we have not used our red velvet cake to make cake pops, but other readers have told us they used it with success! If you use cream cheese frosting just keep in mind that it should be stored in the refrigerator. Would love to hear how they go!

  10. Do you really need that many candy melts? I have seen other recipes that only need 24 oz for this many cake pops.

    1. Hi Hatie, you can certainly use less if you want but it’s easier to fully dunk the pops when you have plenty of melted candy melts/chocolate to work with.

  11. Loved these! They worked so great! Any hints on if we want to make them red velvet flavor??

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sonam, we have not used our red velvet cake to make cake pops, but other readers have told us they used it with success! If you use cream cheese frosting just keep in mind that it should be stored in the refrigerator. Would love to hear how they go!

  12. this looks delicious, and I plan to make it for a welcome-back party. However, I have a couple of questions before I make this recipe:
    How many hours do you recommend I make this before the party?

    Also, is it okay to make these as cake balls? What do you recommend I use to dip them instead of the sticks?

    And, is it okay if I melt regular chocolate ( milk chocolate/dark chocolate ) and use it as a substitute for the coating?

    sorry for the multitude of questions, but this is a new recipe to me and I don’t want to mess up.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mika, happy to help! This recipe takes about 6-7 hours total from start to finish, so work back from there to determine when is best to make for your party. There are also make ahead instructions in the recipe notes if you’d like to get a head start. You can absolutely make them as cake balls, simply use forks or a truffle dipping tool (like the one we use in this video tutorial) to coat. You can also use milk chocolate or dark chocolate to coat, just make sure to read the recipe notes on this as well. We recommend pure baking chocolate or candy melts — not chocolate chips. Happy baking!

  13. Why does the chocolate crack when I dip the cake pops?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Steph, the coating is cracking because it’s so warm and the pop is so cold. 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. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks so much I appreciate the tips!!

  14. I’m trying to use up a couple of cakes in my freezer (used a Sally recipe of course!). Do you have weight measurements or even a ratio of cake to frosting?

    1. Hi Gina, I really don’t. I would start with a small amount of frosting (such as 1/2 cup) until you get a moist mixture that’s easily moldable for making the cake balls.

    2. Hi! Just curious- when storing them in the fridge do they need paper towels or napkins around them to keep them from getting mositure on the chocolate and causing the chocolate to discolour? Do you store them in something air tight?

  15. Rachael Thompson says:

    Hi. I want to make my boss and her son cake pops from scratch. But I see this recipe calls for a spring pan. I have a cake pop machine. Will that work? I’ve never used it so I wanted to ask before I do so not to waste things if it won’t work for this recipe.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rachael! You could use the cake batter in a cake pop maker – that bakes the cake in round shapes so no need to crumble the cake and mix it with frosting. Just bake the cake balls and coat.

  16. I made these as cake balls for a welcome-back party, and I gotta say, they were amazing! The kids went ham on them, and begged me to make more next time. Although they came out a bit too sweet for my taste, and mine were a bit too moist, they were wonderful!

  17. Amber Kroschel says:

    My living skills class is making these as a fundraiser and it will be a multi-day project. If making the cake the day before do you just store it at room temp or in the fridge? Same thing for the cake pop, we will be dipping one day and delivering the next so how should they be stored? Thanks! My students are so excited about this!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amber! See make ahead instructions the recipe notes. Hope they’re a hit!

  18. My cake didn’t raise much. Can I still use it to crumble it?

    1. Absolutely. Shouldn’t be a problem.

      1. Hi! They came out amazing!

  19. Can I half the recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janet, you can cut the recipe in half and bake it in a 6 inch round pan or even a loaf pan. The baking time would be shorter but we’re unsure of exactly how long it will take (same oven temperature).

  20. Texture was okay, but this was just too sweet. I would maybe cut down on the sugar.

  21. The recipe directions don’t mention when to add the milk. Luckily I remembered to add it, but some readers may have missed that.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jorda, see Step 3 (first sentence) for note on adding milk + dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Hope you enjoyed this recipe!

  22. As prepared the cake when mixed with the frosting was way too sweet and wet. I made a 2nd cake, reducing the sugar by 2/3 C and increasing the flour by 2/3C. Then I mixed that in with the first cake and frosting. They were exactly as I wanted – not overly sweet. My first time making cake pops. Adults and kids loved them. Thanks!

  23. Can I use almond milk.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, You can use any unsweetened nondairy milk you have on hand. Just keep in mind the lower the fat, the less “rich” the baked good will taste.

  24. Love this recipe! They came out perfectly.

  25. 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!!!

  26. Peggy Padden says:

    Where do you get the sticks?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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.

  27. 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?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You bet! See make ahead instructions in the recipe notes for more details.

  28. If I were to half this, how do I half the egg properly? Beat it in a measuring cup and just use half?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shannon, correct. Our general rule for halving an egg is to crack it open, beat the yolk and white together with a fork, measure the volume (should be a few Tbsp), then use half. Hope this helps!

  29. Hello
    Can I leave out the baking soda? I always find my cakes have a funny taste when using this .
    Thankyou !

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Becca, we don’t recommend it. The baking soda is necessary to give this cake the proper rise. Make sure you are using fresh, aluminum-free baking soda if you’re finding the final baked goods to have a funny taste. Hope this helps!

  30. Great recipe, although if you want to make the “non-american” version, add half the suggested sugar and vanilla 😉

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