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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!

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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


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
  • 23 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • 40 ounces candy melts or coating (or pure white chocolate)*
  • sprinkles


  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.


  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. (fingers crossed this gets seen in time!!) hey there! so I’m trying to get a bit complicated with this.

    for the idea I had in mind I want to do three cake balls stacked together on one stick and all three would be different colors so I’d have to dip them separately.

    first of all, does putting more than one cake ball on the stick work or am I trying to get too creative? I’m worried that since I would have to push the stick all the way through for two of them that they’ll just slide off.

    and second, if that is something I can do, how could I go about dipping the cake balls? can I dip them all separately, let them set, and then poke the stick through after the fact or do you have a different suggestion?

    let me know if you have any ideas or recommendations. thanks so much!!

    1. We’ve honestly never tried this before. If you use a longer lollipop stick it should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of three cake balls. If you let the coating harden first, it would be very difficult to put them on the stick. You could try dipping one color, pushing the cake ball down, adding the next and dipping that and pushing that down, then adding the top and dipping that last. Not sure how well it would work but let us know if you try anything!

    2. I would try with smaller balls. Then dip them all in the first. Dry it. Dip the two in the next, dry it and then the last one in the third colour. Unless you are going for different tastes as well, then that wouldn’t work.

  2. Hi Sally,
    I make cake pops frequently.
    Have been a cake designer for 32 years.
    Ever time I have chilled my cake pops and then dipped in chocolate they crack.
    So I just roll in balls and dip in chocolate at room temperature and they turn out great!
    Very important to add the vegetable oil to thin out chocolate.

    1. After you dip them, do you need to have them put in the fridge right after they harden?

  3. I always find the melts too thick and use a little canola oil to thin. Yummy pops – made them for Halloween and now Christmas.

  4. Can gluten free flour be substituted in the cake? Specifically Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 all purpose gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Leta, We haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour but let us know if you give it a try!

    1. Hi Kristi, You can tint it with food coloring after it’s been melted. Enjoy!

      1. I love your recipes! I’m looking to make Funfetti cake pops… if I were to use this recipe, how many jimmies would I use? Thanks I’m advance.

      2. Hi Britt, start with 1/4 cup of sprinkles. Enjoy!

  5. Hi Sally! I love all your recipes, they never fail me. I’ve never made cake pops before, for Christmas I got a cake pop mold kit and the baby cakes press. Is there anyway to incorporate them with this recipe?

    1. Hi Maria! We don’t have much experience with these products, but the cake pop mold kit may help with forming the cake balls. You may need a recipe specifically formulated for the baby cakes press. Let us know what you try!

    1. Hi, I am baking everything dairy free, I made these once swapping milk with almond milk and butter with mardrine and I used dairy free chocolate chips for the coating and it worked out great. However, I wanted to make a second batch with a vanilla coating and can’t seem to find any dairy free melts. Do you have any suggestions as to recipes for homemade candy melts?

      1. Hi John, I wish we could help more but don’t know of any recipes for homemade candy melts. We would do a quick google search to find one with good reviews.

      2. You can buy white chocolate chips that are Dairy free at the store. Nestle makes some chocolate chips that are allergen free including dairy.

  6. I want to make half vanilla and half chocolate.. do I use a smaller pan and less baking time? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lidiya! An 8 inch pan– regular cake pan, not a springform pan– should be large enough for a half batch. We’re unsure of the exact baking time, so use a toothpick to test for doneness.

    2. I made the vanilla cake but used a chocolate buttercream frosting. For the chocolate ones. Turned out great

  7. Hi there ! Really would love to make these for a friends birthday. I noticed also that you have a recipe for a lavender cake, have you tried making lavender cake pops ? If so, do you have any suggestions for how to modify this recipe to incorporate the lavender flavor ? Would I make a lavender milk like in your cake recipe ? Or incorporate the lavender into the frosting used to bind ? Please feel free to let me know your thoughts 🙂

    1. Just seeing your comment now and I’m glad to help! I’ve never made the lavender cake into cake pops. You could absolutely prep the milk needed for the cake pops (both the milk for the cake batter and for the frosting) with lavender the same way the lavender cake recipe instructs– steeping with the dried culinary lavender.

  8. I made these cake pops with this cake and the chocolate frosting from your chocolate cake pops and dipped in 1/2 milk chocolate 1/2 semi sweet and they were perfect! My toddler is obsessed and I’m glad we found this recipe to make the treats homemade!

    1. Hi Cathie, The coating can crack because of the temperature difference between the coating and the cake. 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. Hope this helps!

  9. Do you have any recommendations on preventing the sticks turning yellow from the oil from the cake?

  10. How does the coating stay thin if it’s not kept warm on the stove? I’ve made these only once and found the frosting (even though I added some coconut oil) got too hard for dipping if it didn’t stay warm. Thank you.

    1. Hi Charlotte, you want to dip the cake balls while the coating is still warm – you can re-heat it if you find it’s getting too hard!

    2. To thin frosting, I use gulf wax( household paraffin wax). I’ve used it for years in my bon bons at Christmas. You don’t need very much and it hardens with the frosting also leaves a nice shine.

  11. This cake recipe is absolutely perfect! The taste and texture are excellent.
    I was wondering if this cake batter could possibly be cooked in a Bundt pan for pound cake. Thoughts or suggestions ?

  12. This recipe was a fun challenge for me. A few things to share: next time, I will freeze the pops instead of refrigerating them (a few of my pops fell off the sticks). It is so much easier to work with the pops when they’re firm and cold. I think I will use a cookie scoop next time to get a smoother, rounder shape to the pops. My pops would not stand up straight in the cardboard box–not sure what I did wrong. Next time I will use a thick styrofoam block, as it will support the whole stick. Make sure to tap the excess candy coating off the pop, otherwise it will drip down the stick/onto the counter. I also might wait a *few* minutes after dipping the pops into the candy coating before dipping in the sprinkles. I found the sprinkles started to pour down the side of the pop with the frosting (which reinforces how important it is to tap off excess coating). The directions to keep the candy coating warm on a double boiler were very helpful–make sure to do this. I saw a few other recipes that suggested using fondue pots, which I think would work well. These pops were SO delicious. I’ll definitely be making them again.

  13. Hiya, hope you see this quickly. I’ve made the cake pops and have gone to make the icing but I don’t have heavy cream and I can’t go get any? Is there a substitute for it??

  14. This recipe and the chocolate recipe are just perfect. Thank you so much! Are there other flavors you have that would work well with cake pops or cake balls? Thanks again for always having dependable recipes!!

  15. Hello,

    I am hoping you can help! When making my cake pops I have always made the cake allowed cake to cool in fridge, used icing with crumbled cake mix and then formed my cake pop balls. I’ve never chilled them before adding my stick, after I let it set either at room temperature or in the fridge then for 30 minutes is when I melted my candy coating/chocolate onto my cake pops. Majority of them would stay on the stick. My issues was a few days afterwards is when the cake pops would either fall off the stick or while eating will fall off the stick. CAN YOU PLEASE HELP??

    1. Hi Brooke, To ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip the stick slightly into the coating first. Then stick in the center of the cake ball. We also do recommend keeping them chilled until you are finished dipping them in the coating.

  16. First off, Sally’s rocks! Can these be stored in the freezer so that they last longer than a week? If so, any recommendations for letting them thaw (e.g. leave in fridge overnight, or let thaw at room temperature, etc.)

    1. Hi Patrick! See recipe notes for freezing instructions 🙂

  17. May I inquire how to incorporate cocoa powder for chocolate cake pops?

  18. If I were to halve the recipe, how long do I bake the cake and at what temperature?

    1. Hi David, An 8 inch pan– regular cake pan, not a springform pan– should be large enough for half of the recipe. Same temperature, and use a toothpick to check for doneness! Enjoy

      1. Hi David, yes – this recipe uses a 9 inch springform pan (see step 1).

  19. Can I halve the recipe using a 9 inch springform pan? What temperature and time, thanks!!!

    1. Hi Jessica, An 8 inch pan– regular cake pan, not a springform pan– should be large enough for half of the recipe. Same temperature, and use a toothpick to check for doneness! Enjoy

  20. I just made these for my Grandson’s and I used a box cake mix. Turned out really
    good, except for the consistency of the white chocolate. I double dipped them, and
    then covered with sprinkles. Turned out excellent. I got about 30 cake pops from a
    regular box mix. I’ll definitely be doing these again.

    1. Hi Melissa, we don’t at this time, but let us know if you find one you love!

  21. I loved this recipe!! Pretty simple and tasted great! My friends loved them! We did realize the coating was kinda thick. Any way to thin it down? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mercy, I like thinning out the coating with a little vegetable oil. It works particularly well when using white chocolate.

  22. Hi, after dipping the pips in melted wafer, do we let then sit outside or put them back in the fridge?

    1. Hi Maheem, let the cake pops set at room temperature after dipping.

  23. OMG, I LOVE THESE THANK YOU SO MUCH SOOOOO GOOOOD My family loved them thank you for turning a boring party FUN.

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