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How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion. These are always, always a huge hit!

slice of red, white, and blue tie-dye cake topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on a white plate with a fork

 Tie-Dye Cakes, Rainbow Cakes, Swirly Color Cakes, whatever you want to call them… I love them all! And they are super easy to make, too.

Dazzle your guests with this beauty on any occasion.

red, white, and blue tie-dye cake topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on a white cake stand

Let me show you the cake and also walk you through the steps.

Make your homemade sprinkle cake batter (leave out the sprinkles in the batter).

Divide the batter into three different bowls. Drop food coloring of choice into each bowl. The white batter has no food coloring. Drop spoonfuls of batter into baking pan. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty:

red, white, and blue tie-dye cake batter in a cake pan before baking

Bake the cake. Frost the cake. Sprinkle the cake. Cut the cake. Look at the pretty colors!

Devour the cake. –> That’s the best part.

slice of red, white, and blue tie-dye cake topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on a white plate

Happy 4th of July!

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slice of red, white, and blue tie-dye cake topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles on a white plate with a fork

How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: serves 10
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

How to make festive, colorful tie-dye homemade vanilla cakes and cupcakes for any occasion. These are always, always a huge hit!


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray 9×2 inch round cake pan (or 9-inch springform pan) with nonstick spray.
  2. Make the cake batter according to my directions (see link in the ingredient list). Divide the white batter into three separate bowls. Grab your food coloring and dye your batters any color you choose. I used 10 drops of red, 10 drops of blue, and left the third bowl plain. Place a separate spoon in each bowl. Scoop large spoonfuls of each batter and layer them into prepared baking pan. It does not have to be pretty. The colors will create a tie-dye effect. See photo above for how my cake looked prior to baking.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil (loosely to avoid the top from sticking to the foil). Bake for 13-17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  4. Make the frosting according to my directions (see link for frosting in ingredient list). Frost cooled cake and decorate as desired. Cake stays fresh covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Notes

  1. Layer Cake: You could: (1) Bake the cake as indicated and slice the cake horizontally to create two layers. Double the frosting if desired. (2) Double the cake recipe and bake in two separate 9-inch cake pans for 1 extra tall layer cake. Double the frosting recipe as well.

Keywords: tie-dye cake

I know what you’re thinking. Can I do this with cupcakes?

red, white, and blue tie-dye cupcakes topped with vanilla frosting and sprinkles

Make the batter for very vanilla cupcakes. Divide the batter into three bowls. Use a few drops of food coloring to dye your batters. Layer the batter into the cupcake liners and bake. Frost with my vanilla frosting. That’s it!

red, white, and blue tie-dye cupcake batter in a cupcake pan before baking

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Do you think this technique would work with your Cake Batter Blondies? I bought some Fourth of July Funfetti cake mix to make those for work, but I might see if I can try this out and make them even more festive. Also, what kind of food coloring do you use? I tried making a red cake for the Fourth last year and it came out super pink.

    1. I’m unsure – I’ve never tried it before. But I can’t see why not. I used store brand food coloring – liquid. I had to use a lot of drops to get it red.

  2. Hi Sally,
    I made this cake for my niece’s 4th of July birthday celebration. It was a HUGE hit. Seriously….the cake was light and moist and it was super cool when you cut into it.

    I also made your raspberry/chocolate skyhigh muffins and the strawberry cheesecake bars (except I made them with raspberry jam. Everything was awesome. Thank you for sharing your recipes. You are my go to website for baking ideas!

  3. Hi Sally!

    Would I need to change the baking time if I am planning to double the recipe and make a layer cake? I’m using this for my twins’ Cat in the Hat themed 1st birthday!!

    1. No need to change the baking time – just bake two separate cakes. I find that doubling the recipe actually makes a little more than you need for 2 cake pans. Fill them halfway with batter and then use extra batter to make cupcakes.

  4. Sally, 

    Can I bake the tye dye cupcakes in a mini muffin pan or will the colors not work out in such a tiny space??

  5. Hello Sally. I make a lot of your recipes but I have never commented. The recipes are wonderful and I love the detailed instruction. I made this cake for my daughter whom is turning 8 today. I actually made it with both my daughters last night as they wanted to have a piece for breakfast and in their lunches today. It is the best vanilla cake I have tasted. Our whole family enjoyed it and the birthday girl loved selecting the colors. She chose Barbie pink, light blue and yellow. She thought it looked like the 1980s and it did! Thank you for all the great recipes and info!

  6. How fun! These cupcakes would be great for a summer birthday party, too, not just for the Fourth!

  7. Hi Sally! I love your vanilla cake and would to give this a try as a birthday cake! I used a few more colors in my test run and my colors got muddy. Any suggestions for why this happened? Could my ingredients be too warm or is it a problem with my coloring (Americolor)?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Megan, sorry to hear your colors ran together too much! Happy to help troubleshoot. It could be that you’re just using too many colors–maybe scale back to just three or four? You could also try using gel food color instead of liquid drops, and see if that makes the colors swirl a bit better without mixing together too much. Best of luck with your next attempt!

  8. Would this technique work with the Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe?

  9. Made these cupcakes for the 4th of July and loved them! Biting into them was fun because every one was a little different.

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