Sunflower Cupcakes + Video

sunflower frosting design on cupcake

We’ve been lucky to live near a few breathtaking sunflower fields and at the end of every summer, I make a point to visit at least once. Sunflowers are the epitome of happy and, like I mentioned yesterday, the world needs a little happy comfort right now.

So let’s pipe some SUNSHINE onto cupcakes today!

overhead image of sunflower cupcakes on a gold plate

I challenged myself to something in particular this year: decorating cakes and cupcakes. Piping intricate designs has never been my forte, but I vowed to improve my skills (or lack thereof) in 2017. I started out easy with basic piping tips and you can read about how to use each of them in this post, along with a how-to video. I gravitate toward those 5 basic piping tips because they’re simple, inexpensive, and pipe beautiful designs. Back in April, we chatted about piping two-toned roses. In fact, that was April’s Baking Challenge recipe! Since then, I’ve really gotten my feet wet in cupcake and cake decorating.

What I’m trying to say is this: once I began playing around with different piping tips, my confidence immediately shot up. It all started with the courage to TRY. Once extremely intimidated by cake and cupcake decorating, I was pleasantly surprised with how EASY it was/is to create beautifully decorated confections. And I think you will be too!

Trust me, if I can pipe roses, swirls, and sunflowers– so can you.

sunflower cupcakes with yellow and green buttercream in piping bags

Sunflowers! Let’s do this.

Here are the tools you’ll need:

You only need 1 piping tip. The same tip produces the sunflower petals AND the cute green leaves!

Here is the break-down:

  1. Make a batch of cupcakes. Any cupcakes will do!
  2. Make a batch of vanilla buttercream. You want a very sturdy frosting that will hold the detailed petal shape. I strongly recommend the vanilla buttercream recipe below.
  3. Tint the frosting two colors. To get these exact colors, I used Americolor gel coloring. 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.”
  4. Add a circle of golden yellow frosting in the center of the cupcake. You can use a knife or just use the piping tip and swirl it around to get a circle.
  5. Dip the frosting circle into chocolate sprinkles. This is the center of the sunflower.
  6. Begin piping petals!

Let’s watch a quick video so you can see how to pipe the petals.

Easier than you ever thought!

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

Just dunk the center into chocolate sprinkles. Alternatively, you can tint some frosting brown to create the center 🙂

Always start on the outside edge. Adding layers of petals creates a realistic depth.

piping sunflower petals onto cupcake with yellow frosting

Like I mention above, use my sturdy vanilla buttercream recipe below. It’s similar to my regular vanilla buttercream, but I add a little more confectioners’ sugar to make it a bit thicker and more stable. The petals can be quite intricate and have a tendency to “wilt” if the frosting isn’t stable. I strongly encourage you to use my vanilla buttercream recipe below. As for the cupcakes, pictured here are my simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. You can use any cupcake you love most. For something different, how about spice cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, or apple spice cupcakes?

It definitely took a couple tries to find my rhythm. Cupcakes 1 and 2 appeared as though I was blindfolded while piping. By cupcake #3 I got into my groove! My 2nd batch was even better! Batch #3? Consider me a sunflower pro! Or something like that. (My neighbors ate a lot of sunflower cupcakes this past month, including the uglies. Oh my gosh the ugly cupcakes not ugly neighbors!!!!)

My #1 tip? Take your time. Pipe slowly. This isn’t a race!

And when it all comes down to it– just have fun. Each cupcake will look better than the last. Practice makes perfect.

sunflower cupcakes on a gold plate

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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


Here’s how to pipe the most beautiful flower design! These sunflower cupcakes are so 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 MixerCupcake PanCupcake LinersPiping Bags | Wilton #352 Tip | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Kit | Chocolate Sprinkles
  2. Food Coloring: To get the exact colors I have 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. These are so cute, can’t wait to make them!

  2. Mama V @ Snowflakes & Coffeecakes says:

    Sally, these are absolutely adorable! I think we’ll be making these as a family project to kick off our favorite season!

  3. These are definitely happy cupcakes & yes the world could use a whole lot more happy!

  4. Sharon K (The Farm Chick Bakes) says:

    Sunflowers are my absolute favorite and have come across several living out here at the Lake since I’m surrounded by Dairy Farms! These are absolutely gorgeous and the video makes the piping look super-simple….Thank you for the demo! Have a great and RELAXING Labor Day Weekend, Sally!

    1. So much easier than you’d expect!

  5. Sharon K (The Farm Chick Bakes) says:

    Oh! What are your thoughts on the “parchment” liners? Better than the regular paper ones? Can you buy them at a craft store? I’ve never seen them before?

    1. They’re my favorite. Grease-proof and never stick to the cupcake or wiggle loose from the cupcake. They’re high quality for a nice price! I’ve seen them at most major grocery stores in the baking aisle. 🙂

  6. Beautiful as always Sally! Love from Houston.

  7. Love these,  I’m going to try a mini version since I’m hosting a high tea for charity and need sweet Lettie’s.  Hopefully they turn out just as pretty.

  8. Rebekah @ Speckled Dishes says:

    These look adorable! It’s a cloudy day – these sunflower cupcakes made the day feel brighter! I’m excited to take on the baking challenge!

  9. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    I’m so excited to try these.  I think I just need to buy the leaf piping tip.  

    Have you been to the Sunflower Fields in Baltimore?  I really want to make a trip and visit one this Fall.   And I always love your props, but NEED to know where you got that plate from, Pier 1?!?

    1. Hey Patricia! The plate is from the Pioneer Woman line at Walmart 🙂 I’ve been to a few sunflower fields all around Baltimore– absolutely stunning.

  10. My original comment autocorrected I need sweet petites not sweet Lettie’s, lol.  I am worried though a smaller version will be trickier to pipe

  11. These looks so pretty and happy. I’ve had piping bags and tips forever and I still haven’t mustered up the courage to try. This baking challenge might just be the thing to get me to it.

  12. Karl @ Healthy Kreation says:

    Wow! These sunflower cupcakes are absolutely beautiful. This looks a bit too technical for me to try but I love the creativity on display here.

  13. Alright, I’m obsessed. These just make me smile like an idiot just looking at them! The perfect little goodbye to sweet summertime!

  14. Adorable! Had sunflower cupcakes at a wedding last week- they used crushed Oreos instead of chocolate sprinkles in the middle. Delicious either way!

  15. Cindy @ The Sweet Nerd says:

    These are very cute Sally – I’ve had cupcakes on the brain lately too. Hope you have a relaxing long weekend!

  16. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    Sunflowers are the happiest flowers and these cupcakes are adorable! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  17. Malika A. Black says:

    These are absolutely beautiful Sally. Very creative.
    I need lots of practice to do this!
    Thanks for sharing!

  18. Hi Sally! I love it! The cupcakes look amazing. I want to try it with you Chocolate cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting. Do you think that would work?

    1. I’d say so, yes!

  19. These are super cute Sally! You’re so talented 🙂

  20. I got everything today to make these. I love sunflowers! I’ll let you know how it goes. 

    1. Please do! 🙂

  21. Can you use 115 tip in place of the tip that you used?

    1. The large leaf tip should work.

  22. I realllllly want to try this one but I’m not a big fan of vanilla.

    I figured something chocolatey would tie in well with the sprinkles but figured chocolate frostings can’t be dyed yellow? Choco-mint seemed thick enough but I’m not sure I can die it yellow?

    I looked over your recipes and I thought maybe the lemon butter cream was thick enough? But would it go with the chocolate sprinkles?

    Fruit based one seemed to creamy, same for pb? No clue if your cream cheese frosting would work?

    All the caramel and salted caramel frostings seems like a good match to a choc cake batter and sprinkles but I figured I would need to increase the powder sugar ratio and that seemed like overly sweet?

    I don’t suppose that the amazing wonder that is the cookie dough frosting could work as sunflower cupcakes?

    …so… please help? 😉 I’d love *any* suggestions please? 🙂

    1. Hi Melanie! This sturdy vanilla buttercream is your best bet, though you can use chocolate buttercream for the center.

  23. Barbara Varanka says:

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

    1. Definitely!

  24. 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.

  25. Made these for a cupcake competition at work. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  26. 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.

  27. LINDA PONZETTO says:

    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.

      1. LINDA PONZETTO says:

        Got it! Thank you for responding so quickly! ❤️ Your recipes!

  28. These looking amazing! I can’t wait to try them.
    Do I need the leaf tip specifically, or could a different skinnyish piping tip work haha?

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