Sprinkle Cupcakes with Purple Buttercream

funfetti cupcake with purple frosting and sprinkles

There’s a unicorn craze happening right now. Everything colorful, rainbow, sparkly, and exploding with happiness is labeled “unicorn.” I made these soft & fluffy cupcakes last month for our friend’s birthday and I can’t help but smile when I look back at the pictures. That’s the thing about colorful, rainbow, sparkly unicorn treats– they tug at your heartstrings in just the right way. And always bring a smile to your face.

overhead image of funfetti cupcakes with purple frosting and sprinkles

The base recipe for these homemade cupcakes should look familiar to you. We’ve visited it many times:

And, of course, where it all began: simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. The reason I love it so? These are the softest, fluffiest cupcakes to ever come out of my kitchen. They’re as soft and moist as box mix cupcakes, but have that distinct flavor you only get from homemade. If you take a look back on that post, I go into hefty detail about how that cupcake recipe came to life– and why I use certain ingredients and ratios. Cake flour, you’ll read, is a must. (If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make this homemade cake flour substitute.)

Sour cream is important too and you can read why I prefer it over yogurt. There’s also creamed butter + sugar and egg whites. No joke, zero yolks. 🙂

Today’s sprinkle cupcake recipe differs from my older 2012 recipe for the same cupcake. To be honest, I love that recipe because it’s unbelievably simple. You don’t even need a mixer. They’re soft and fluffy cupcakes, for sure, but they’re not quite as cakey and light as today’s version.

funfetti cupcake batter in a glass bowl with a rainbow colored whisk

2 images of funfetti cupcake batter in a glass bowl and in a cupcake pan

So what’s the difference between the vanilla cupcakes and today’s rainbow sprinkle version? Rainbow sprinkles, for starters. But I also add a little something special. This is completely optional, but I highly recommend it if you can spot it in the baking aisle: butter extract. WOW! That extra oomph of buttery goodness paired with a little sweetness from sprinkles separates these cupcakes completely from the plain vanilla version.

I like adding vanilla bean to these cupcakes, just like how we add it in the vanilla cupcake– but that’s optional. Oh! I almost forgot… if you leave out the butter extract, no need to add anything in its place. Although a splash of almond extract would be great. I’ll add that as an option in the recipe notes below.

overhead image of funfetti cupcakes without frosting

Here’s what I love most about these cupcakes: they’re so moist that they’re almost creamy. In a good way!

purple buttercream frosting in a glass bowl

Purple Tinted Buttercream Frosting

Of course you don’t have to tint the buttercream purple, but isn’t it such a gorgeous shade? I used 2-3 drops of “violet” gel color by Americolor. I prefer using gel food coloring in buttercream frosting because the color is quite concentrated, so you need a very small amount. With liquid food coloring, you usually need a lot of it and if you begin adding too much liquid to your buttercream, it will thin out and could separate.

Other than that it’s just my basic vanilla buttercream frosting. Light, creamy, and perfect for piping. Sprinkles on top are a must.

funfetti cupcake with purple frosting and sprinkles on a sprinkle plate

Happy Friday! PS: I got this ↑ sprinkle plate ↑ off Etsy but it looks like no more are available!

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funfetti cupcake with purple frosting and sprinkles

Soft & Fluffy Cupcakes with Sprinkles

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 14 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


These are the softest, fluffiest from scratch homemade cupcakes. They’re moist and flavorful topped with creamy vanilla buttercream!


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter extract*
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean*
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles*

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • optional: 2-3 drops purple food coloring, sprinkles


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners – this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla + butter extracts, and vanilla bean. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. Fold in the sprinkles– careful! Do not overmix as this could cause them to bleed color.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  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 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes, then beat in the food coloring. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Frost cooled cupcakes. I used the Ateco #849 closed star tip.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: 5qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Mixing BowlsRainbow Whisk | Cupcake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Americolor GelFrosting Bag | Ateco Tip #849
  3. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  4. Vanilla: For best flavor, pure vanilla extract is strongly recommended. If using imitation, increase to 1 Tablespoon (3 teaspoons). You can leave out the vanilla bean if you can’t get your hands on it.
  5. Butter Extract: You can find butter extract with the other extracts in the baking/spice aisle. If you can’t get your hands on it, you can simply leave it out. But the flavor is outstanding here! In its place, you can use almond extract.
  6. Whole Milk + Sour Cream: I strongly recommend using both for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.
  7. Sprinkles: Avoid using nonpareils (the little balls) as they bleed color in the batter. I used Rainbow Sprinkles and Pastel Star Quins from Sweetapolita.
  8. Mini Cupcakes: For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.


  1. Beautiful cupcakes! I love the purple color. For the frosting using that tip, did you apply pressure and held at the middle of the cupcake? Also, do you get your sprinkles from anywhere special? I was wondering if you get yours from like Fancy Sprinkles or Sweetapolita.

    1. Hi Lari! 1) Yep, that’s exactly how I pipe this frosting. And 2) Yep, see recipe note!

  2. Hi, Sally! I’d love to make these for my daughter’s bake sale, but I’ll need more than 14. Can I just double the recipe, or do you recommend I make 2 separate batches? 

    1. I’d make 2 separate batches. 🙂

  3. Hi Sally, thanks for the recipe! I’m going to make these for a coworker’s birthday. I could only find butter flavor, not butter extract, in the baking aisle. Can I use that instead? If so, would I use the same amount? Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Yep you can use that and I would use the same amount.

  4. Sheila Roldan says:

    Hello! For all my high-altitude bakers: I made this recipe and, not only did it work, it was DELICIOUS! I didn’t change anything. It yielded 24 cupcakes, but that’s because I filled the pan with very little batter to prevent the overflow I experience in this altitude (5,280).  The frosting is also delicious, but I already knew that. 
    Sally, do you use the same ratios on the Funfetti Layer Cake? That’s next on my list!

    1. Hi Sheila! So happy you enjoyed the cupcakes and reported back about them, thank you! The frosting for the funfetti layer cake is essentially the same, just a much higher yield. Is that what you’re asking?

  5. I made these for a birthday party and they were the hit of the party! I used about 3 cups of powdered sugar for the frosting and they were sweet enougg. I will probably actually use only two and a half next time but that’s just my preference. Very good recipe!

  6. This recipe is off the charts!! The texture and taste rivals the popular cupcake shop in my town! I no longer need to keep trying vanilla/funfetti cake recipes. The search is over. Awesome job sally! Keep em comin’! 

  7. Could I just put blackberry purée in this frosting like your lemon blackberry cupcakes instead of food coloring?

    1. Yes! You can top these with the blackberry frosting from the lemon blackberry cupcakes!

  8. Thank you Sally! I baked the funfetti cupcakes for my sons birthday and everyone loved them! My grandson asked me to bake some more for him tomorrow

  9. Can I leave out the whole milk and replace it with more sour cream? If so how much do you recommend putting in?

    1. Hi Nicole! No, I don’t suggest it. This batter needs liquid.

  10. These look so delicious, Sally! The beautiful, enticing photos alone make we want to make these! I was wondering whether I could full these with caramel or something? I’ve got leftovers from your recipe (that stuff is soooo good!). Do you think the cupcakes would be too delicate and break apart? Thanks!

    1. These cupcakes should hold up to being filled!

  11. Heather M. Whipple says:

    What brand of cake flour do you use?
    Please let me know.

    1. I like Swans Down cake flour.

  12. Taylor Sommer says:

    Hi, Sally! If I can’t get my hands on vanilla beans, should I add any extra vanilla extract?

    1. Hi Taylor! You can simply leave out the vanilla bean. There’s plenty of vanilla flavor even without it!

  13. Hi! I was wondering if you had any suggestions for cooking time if I decided to do batter for 2 9-inch cake pans?

    1. Hi Luna! I recommend using my white cake recipe (which is almost double this batter). You can add 2/3 cup of rainbow sprinkles to the batter.

  14. Susan M OBrien says:

    Can I double the frosting recipe? I’m making 24 cupcakes and will bake those in two separate batches, but I’m wondering if I can just go ahead and double the frosting.

    1. Hi Susan! Yes, you can double the frosting.

  15. The cake is so soft and fluffy – just as the recipe says. My four year old had lots of fun helping to make this recipe. They were fun to make and even better to eat!

  16. Hi Sally! I want to make these cupcakes and use a little extra batter to make a small smash cake for my (almost) 1 year old. The cake smash pan is about 6 inches. I saw in another comment that you recommend your white cake recipe rather than this one for a layer cake, but I don’t really want to make two separate batches or two separate recipes. Do you have any recommendations for something that will work for cupcakes and cake? I have a lot of cake flour, so hoping for a cake flour recipe 🙂

    1. Hi Lindsey, The white cake recipe was for someone looking for 2 9-inch layers. You can absolutely use this batter to make a 6 inch cake. In fact, it makes a 3 layer 6 inch cake perfectly but you can just make one layer of cake and use the rest for cupcakes. Enjoy!

  17. Hi Sally! Do you ever use vanilla bean paste as a vanilla bean substitute? I’ve come across it for the first time this weekend while shopping to make this recipe! If yes, how much should I sub? Thanks!!

    1. I have used it before and I love it! Most brands are usually a simple 1:1 swap for extract in most recipes.

  18. Could I use lemon extract in place of the butter extract? If so, should I add vanilla too or just the lemon flavor? Thx!

    1. You certainly can! I recommend keeping the vanilla with the lemon for the best flavor.

  19. Firstly I love all of your recipes. I started baking in the last couple of years and I only use your recipes because they are fail proof! Thanks for always sharing tips. How do you feel about vanilla yogurt or creme fresh in the place of sour cream? I was experimenting and find that if I use cake flour always with cakes, the vanilla yogurt works great. I asked about creme fresh because I’ve never used it

    1. Hi Brittnie, I haven’t tried using creme fresh but I did test it with yogurt. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead of the sour cream, though the cupcakes may not be as light.

  20. Thank you, Sally, for another delicious cupcake recipe! I didn’t have any cake flour so I followed your substitute recipe and the cupcakes turned out delicious. I tinted my frosting pink as it’s my friend’s favorite color and I made these for her birthday. The frosting has a wonderful, silky smooth texture!

  21. Hi Sally, I was hoping to make this recipe as a smash cake for my daughter’s 1st birthday on Thursday. I saw that you can convert to 3, 6 inch cakes, but I do not have 6 inch cake pans. I do have a 7 inch thought? Can I do 2, 7 inch layers?

    1. Hi Neha, You can visit my post on Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions to figure out the capacity of different size pans and how much batter you would need.

  22. Any tweaks if doing ice cream cone cupcakes?

    1. Hi Sarah, I have never tried baking these in ice cream cones but let me know if you do!

  23. Erin R Rankin says:

    This is a fantastic recipe. Very easy to follow. I experience a single issue: the tops of the cupcakes were hard. Any idea why? I am using a dark muffin pan.

  24. These were so yummy and definitely moist and flavorful! I did whip the egg whites and added them in last but otherwise followed the recipe exactly! Thanks again for another delicious recipe, Sally!

  25. I’m sorry but these cupcakes did not turn out. They were very dense and didn’t have great flavour- I double checked that I followed the recipe. Sadly these were a flop. Don’t recommend.

  26. I tried both Funfetti recipes and both are great but this is my go to, it’s got great flavor and texture, I made 24 gender reveal cupcakes using pink and blue jimmies only and they turned out super cute. I topped them with the whipped vanilla buttercream but cut the powdered sugar in half and came out perfect!

  27. Hi Sally,

    I am making these for my son’s bday, and was wondering if I could use buttermilk instead of whole milk?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  28. Noranda Arnett says:

    I followed the recipe, omitting the butter extract and vanilla bean because we didn’t have it, and they turned out so nice and soft! They were the perfect height thanks to your tip about only filling the cups 2/3. I ended up with 21 cupcakes rather than 14, but whose going to complain about more cupcakes?
    Overall it’s a great recipe and I’m glad you shared it with us, thanks!

  29. I just made these and they are SO good! Easy to follow recipe. I couldn’t find butter extract, so I just added more vanilla instead (I made my own so it’s a better quality). I’m not usually a fan of Funfetti but these were amazing! Made them with Swiss meringue buttercream and so so good!

  30. Hi Sally, can I use buttermilk instead of whole milk?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ray, you can use buttermilk to replace both the whole milk AND the sour cream (so you would use 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk).

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