Sunflower Cupcakes

Pipe some happy sunshine on your cupcakes. You can make these sunflower cupcakes with any flavor cupcake, but use the vanilla buttercream detailed below. Piping the sunflower design is much easier than you expect– the right tools and a little practice are all it takes.

sunflower frosting design on cupcake

I started making these sunflower cupcakes when I decided I wanted to improve my frosting decoration skills. Piping intricate designs has never been my forte, but I vowed to improve my abilities. I had been extremely intimidated by cake and cupcake decorating but once I began, I was pleasantly surprised with how EASY it was/is to create beautifully decorated confections. And you will be too! It all started with the courage to TRY.

Trust me, if I can pipe frosting roses and more buttercream flowers, so can you.

Tell Me About These Sunflower Cupcakes

  • Flavor: The pictured cupcakes are vanilla cupcakes and we recommend the vanilla buttercream detailed below. It’s creamy, but sturdy enough to hold the detailed sunflower shape. If you’re looking for other cupcake flavor options, try pumpkin cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, or apple spice cupcakes.
  • Ease: I promise buttercream sunflowers are nothing fancy or complicated. Just make sure you have the right tools (listed below) and that the butter is brought to room temperature before you begin making the frosting. Room temperature butter is imperative for the consistency and success of the buttercream.
  • Time: After you have baked and cooled your cupcakes, set aside a little over 30 minutes to make and pipe the frosting.

sunflower cupcakes with yellow and green buttercream in piping bags

Tools You Need

  • Gel Food Coloring: To replicate the same colors pictured, use the following as your guideline. For the golden yellow, 3 drops of the “lemon yellow” color and 1 drop of the “orange” color. For the green, 1-2 drops of “leaf green.”
  • Piping bag: You can use a disposable or reusable piping bag. 12, 14, or 16 inch size works, but I prefer the 16 inch because it gives you a little more room.
  • 352 Leaf Piping Tip: You only need 1 piping tip. The same tip produces the sunflower petals AND the cute green leaves!
  • Chocolate Sprinkles or Brown Gel Food Coloring for the center.

Overview: How to Make Buttercream Sunflowers

  1. Bake & cool about 12 cupcakes.
  2. Make a batch of vanilla buttercream. You want a sturdy frosting that will hold the detailed petal shape. We strongly recommend the vanilla buttercream recipe below.
  3. Tint the frosting two colors. The gel food coloring listed above is best. Liquid food coloring works in a pinch, but it can change the consistency of the frosting if you use too much.
  4. Make the yellow center. Add a circle of golden yellow frosting in the center of the cupcake. You can use a knife or just use the leaf piping tip and swirl it around to get a circle.
  5. Add the sprinkles. Dip the frosting circle into chocolate sprinkles. This is the center of the sunflower. Alternatively, you can tint some frosting brown to create the center.
  6. Begin piping petals. Let’s watch a quick video so you can see how to pipe the petals.


toppings for sunflower cupcakes including chocolate sprinkles on a plate and yellow and green frosting in piping bags

piping sunflower petals onto cupcake with yellow frosting

Success Tips for Buttercream Sunflowers

  1. Take your time. Pipe slowly because this isn’t a race! It definitely takes a couple of tries to find your rhythm.
  2. Begin outside. Always start piping the sunflower petals on the outside edge. Adding layers of petals inside creates a realistic depth.
  3. Have fun. This is the main thing– just have fun. Each of your sunflower cupcakes will look better than the last. Practice makes perfect, I promise.

sunflower cupcakes on a gold plate

More Fun with Piping Tips

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sunflower frosting design on cupcake

Sunflower Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Learn how to pipe the most beautiful flower design using a leaf piping tip. These sunflower cupcakes are much easier than you’d expect!


  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • yellow, orange, & green food coloring (I use Americolor gel coloring)*
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • 1214 baked and cooled cupcakes


  1. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add 5 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. Add another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I like 1/8 tsp salt.)
  2. Spoon 3/4 cup of frosting into a separate bowl. Stir in green food coloring. This will be for the leaves.
  3. Tint the remaining frosting with yellow and orange food coloring to obtain desired sunflower color. See my note below for what I used.
  4. Fill piping bag with leaf tip + yellow frosting. If you have a second leaf tip, fill a 2nd bag with leaf tip + green frosting.
  5. Pipe or spread a circle of frosting in the center of the cupcake. My cupcake centers are about 1.25 inches in diameter. Dip into chocolate sprinkles.
  6. See video above for a visual of this step. (It’s hard to explain perfectly!) Start on the outer edge of the cupcake. Pipe yellow petals all the way around, lifting the piping tip in an upwards direction. Pipe a second layer closer to the center/on top of the first layer. Pipe a third layer of petals right against the center of the sunflower. Pipe any additional petals to fill any gaps, then pipe a couple green leafs on the edges.
  7. Refrigerate cupcakes until ready to serve. Cupcakes are fine at room temperature for a few hours, as long as they have been refrigerated for a couple hours after frosting/assembling. (The time in the refrigerator helps the petals hold their shape before serving.)
  8. Cover leftover cupcakes and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Disposable Piping Bags or Reusable Piping BagsWilton #352 Tip | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Kit | Chocolate Sprinkles
  2. Food Coloring: To get the exact colors in these photos, use Americolor gel coloring. For the golden yellow, use 3 drops of the “lemon yellow” color mixed with 1 drop of the “orange” color. For the green leaves, 1-2 drops of “leaf green.”


  1. Barbara Varanka says:

    Hi Sally! Do you think these would work as mini cupcakes?

    1. Definitely!

  2. If I want to decorate these a weekend before or a night before eating would they keep up okay?

    1. Yes, definitely. You can keep at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.

  3. Hi Sally,
    I’m making these with your pumpkin cupcakes. Have you ever added cinnamon to this buttercream? Would that taste and look ok? If so, how much cinnamon should I add?
    Thanks so much. I’m excited to try this piping technique.

    1. Hi Cindy! I have, yes! Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Taste, then add more if you’d like more.


    Hi Sally,
    I need to double this recipe cause I need at least 50 cupcakes. Would I just double every ingredient? How about your vanilla cupcake recipe, just double every ingredient in that as well for 50 cupcakes?? Thank you! Going to take them to work tomorrow.

    1. Hi Linda, I recommend simply making the recipe two times instead of doubling! When we work with too much batter at once we run the risk of over mixing the ingredients which can lead to a dense cake.

  5. Is it possible to make this buttercream in orange flavor? If i add orange juice, the buttercream consistency desired for piping might change. please help!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Garima, for an orange buttercream we recommend using this recipe, replacing the lemon juice and lemon zest with fresh orange juice and orange zest. Enjoy!

      1. Awesome! Thank you! One more question – Can i pipe flowers using russian piping tips with this recipe?

      2. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        We haven’t specifically used Russian flower piping tips, but we can’t see why they wouldn’t work. You can use half butter and half shortening for a buttercream frosting that is more stable / stiffer if desired.

  6. I’m making them for a birthday party. Should I frost them the day of the party? I’m worried if I wait to do that I will mess them up and they won’t be pretty because I will be rushed. OR should I frost the day before? With that I’m worried the frosting will harden or the cupcakes with dry..
    What do you suggest?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bailey, you can really do whatever you are most comfortable with. You can frost them the day before and either store them tightly covered in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Hope they’re a hit!

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