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.
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.
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.
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
- Bake & cool about 12 cupcakes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Begin piping petals. Let’s watch a quick video so you can see how to pipe the petals.
Success Tips for Buttercream Sunflowers
- Take your time. Pipe slowly because this isn’t a race! It definitely takes a couple of tries to find your rhythm.
- Begin outside. Always start piping the sunflower petals on the outside edge. Adding layers of petals inside creates a realistic depth.
- 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.
More Fun with Piping Tips
- How to Pipe a Two-Toned Frosting Rose
- Piping Tips 101
- Cupcake Bouquet
- 6-inch Cake with Easy Buttercream Flowers
Learn how to pipe the most beautiful flower design using a leaf piping tip. These sunflower cupcakes are much easier than you’d expect!
- 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.)
- Spoon 3/4 cup of frosting into a separate bowl. Stir in green food coloring. This will be for the leaves.
- Tint the remaining frosting with yellow and orange food coloring to obtain desired sunflower color. See my note below for what I used.
- Fill piping bag with leaf tip + yellow frosting. If you have a second leaf tip, fill a 2nd bag with leaf tip + green frosting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Cover leftover cupcakes and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Disposable Piping Bags or Reusable Piping Bags | Wilton #352 Tip | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Kit | Chocolate Sprinkles
- 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.”