How to Make Cake Pops

Brighten your day with these fun and festive homemade cake pops! Made completely from scratch, these vanilla and chocolate cake pops are an absolute treat! From baking to rolling and topping I am walking you through everything you need to know about making the perfect cake pop.

Vanilla and chocolate cake pops with bites taken out.

Today we are talking all things CAKE POPS!

These were all the Internet rage about a decade ago, with special machines and molds popping up at Target, and Starbucks sells a gazillion of them every day, so I think people are still in love with these little cake-and-frosting-balls-on-a-stick. Truly, what’s not to love? You get a combination of cake and frosting, rolled into a ball, covered in a chocolate-flavored coating, and it’s easy to eat since you hold it on a stick!

I’m going to take you through the ins and outs of how to go about making cake pops completely from scratch, using homemade cake and homemade frosting, and then how to assemble these for picture-perfect cake pops. While none of the components are inherently hard, they do take a bit of time to form into balls, chill, and do all of that dipping! If you are short on time you can go the route of boxed cake and canned frosting but I think the from-scratch cake and frosting tastes a million times better.

Let’s do this!

How to Make Them

Technically, cake pops require only a few ingredients:

  1. Cake (for this recipe, we use a single layer)
  2. Frosting (this amount is pared down from a full frosting recipe, as we don’t want soggy cake pops!)
  3. Candy Melts (to coat the cake pops in a smooth layer)

Cake pops follow a pretty simple formula:

  • The Cake – Bake a cake, let it cool, then crumble it into a bowl.
  • The Frosting – Mix frosting into the cake crumbs.
  • Forming – Scoop the mixture into balls, place on a baking sheet, and chill.
  • Dipping – Insert a lollipop stick into the coating (this first quick step helps the cake ball not slide off the lollipop stick!), then insert the stick into the cake balls and dip them into the coating.
  • Embellishments – After coating the cake balls, leave them as-is, or dip into sprinkles, crushed cookies, etc.

A photo collage of mixing together yellow cake and vanilla frosting, and showing it scooped into balls.

Step #1: Bake The Cake

  • Prepare for baking: Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan. Set aside.
  • Mix dry ingredients together: Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add liquid ingredients: Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
  • Stir in water: Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the boiling water. Th batter will be thin.
  • Bake: Pour into the prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
  • Cool: Allow the pan to cool for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Step #2: Make The Frosting

  • Melt chocolate: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals on 50% powder, stirring after each until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Beat butter: In an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
  • Add sugar + vanilla: Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, all the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  • Whip in chocolate: Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.

Step #3: Forming the Cake Pops

  • Break the cake: Crumble the cooled cake into a large bowl, leaving no large chunks of cake.
  • Mix with frosting: Add the frosting to the bowl and, using a rubber spatula, fold and stir in the frosting until it has evenly coated all of the cake crumbs.
  • Scoop + roll: Using a small cookie scoop (or 1 tablespoon), scoop out the cake mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  • Chill: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
  • Smooth the balls: At this point, you can smooth out the balls, if you’d like, If you smooth them out, return the balls to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 

A photo collage showing the mixing and assembling of chocolate cake pops.

Step #4: Assembling Cake Pops

  • Melt topping: Melt the coating in a tall cup (a 2-cup measuring cup or mason jar works well for this!) If using waters, follow the melting instructions on the package. If using chocolate and vegetable shortening, microwave on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted and smooth.
  • 🌟 Helpful Tip: Work with only a few cake balls at a time and leave the remainder in the refrigerator. 

A photo collage showing a chocolate cake pop being dipped in chocolate coating and rolled in crushed cookies.

  • Prep the stick: Dip a lollipop stick about 1/2 inch into the melted coating, then insert about halfway into the cake ball. This helps the cake pop stick without falling off the lollipop stick while dipping.
  • Coat the cake ball: Dip the cake ball the entire way into the melted coating, ensuring that the coating meets the coating on the lollipop stick, which will secure the cake pop. Allow excess coating to drip off. At this point, you can decorate with toppings, see suggestions below.
  • Cool completely: Insert the cake pop upright in a styrofoam block. Allow to set completely (about 1 hour at room temperature) before removing.

Vanilla cake pops standing up in a styrofoam block topped with sprinkles and cookie crumbs.

Mix-ins and Toppings

If you want to add a little crunch to your cake pop you can always toss some mix-ins into the frosting cake mixture before rolling into balls. Some fun mix-ins to try include:

  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles
  • Crushed oreo
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Mini M&Ms
  • Shredded Coconut

Once you coat the cake pops, you can roll them in anything you’d like! Some suggestions:

  • Sprinkles
  • Nonpareils
  • Crushed chocolate chip cookies
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Drizzled chocolate
  • Extra cake crumbs
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Coconut

Combo Ideas

This is where cake pops can go from delicious to fun and festive! From cake and frosting combos to mix-in and topping options there are unlimited possibilities for your cake pop creations!

  • Cookies and Cream: Vanilla cake + vanilla frosting + oreo cookie crumbs + chocolate dip
  • Reeses Cups: Chocolate cake + peanut butter frosting+ chocolate dip + crushed Reeses pieces on top
  • Lemon Cake Pop:  Lemon cake + vanilla frosting + white chocolate dip + sprinkles
  • Red Velvet: Red velvet cake + vanilla frosting + mini chocolate chips + white chocolate dip + red velvet cake crumb topping
  • Funfetti Cake Pops: Vanilla cake + vanilla frosting + rainbow sprinkles + white chocolate dip + nonpareils

 

A chocolate cake pop with a bite taken out on the counter with its stick up and a block of chocolate cake pops behind it.

Shelf Life, Storage, and Making Ahead

  • Storing: Keep cake pops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: Finished cake pops can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
  • Making Ahead: I like to make the cake and frosting the night before I plan to assemble cake pops to save on time. Alternatively, you can make your cake pops up to 2 months in advance and simply store in the freezer.

Occasions for Cake Pops

These are such a fun addition to any party or celebration. Switch up the cake and frosting flavors (red velvet and cream cheese for Valentine’s Day, for instance!), use different colors for the candy melts, and you can go all out for whatever you want to celebrate… some ideas:

  • Baby showers
  • Bridal showers
  • Christmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Birthdays
  • Baptisms
  • Graduation parties
  • Sports parties

Tools for Cake Pops

There are only a couple of special things you’ll need to purchase in order to make cake pops:

  • Lollipop Sticks – You need these to insert into the cake balls to make them official cake pops!
  • Styrofoam Block – This makes it so easy to allow the cake pops to dry without smudging – simply push the sticks into the styrofoam block and they can dry upright. If you don’t have one or don’t want to buy one, you can always poke small holes in a cardboard box.
  • Small Cookie Scoop- This will help you make evenly sized cake balls with roughly 1 tablespoon of dough.

An overhead shot of tons of cake pops dipped in white and milk chocolate and coated with toppings laying on a surface.

Try These Recipes Next:

Delicious, made from scratch, cake pops have never been easier! Homemade cake mixed with sweet frosting is rolled and dipped into your favorite chocolate coating and sprinkled with delicious toppings. These fun and festive treats are an absolute delight!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Cake Pops

Servings 48 cake pops
Prep 2 hours
Cook 30 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

Learn how to make delicious chocolate and vanilla cake pops from scratch with this easy to follow guide!

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 3/4
    cup
    + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3
    cup
    unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4
    teaspoon
    baking powder
  • 3/4
    teaspoon
    baking soda
  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 1
    egg
  • 1/2
    cup
    milk
  • 1/4
    cup
    vegetable oil
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • 1/2
    cup
    boiling water

For the Chocolate Frosting

  • 4
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (room temperature)
  • 2/3
    cup
    powdered sugar
  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • 2
    ounces
    semisweet chocolate
    (finely chopped)

For the Vanilla Cake

  • 1 1/2
    cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoons
    baking powder
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 4
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (room temperature)
  • 1/4
    cup
    vegetable oil
  • 3/4
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 2
    eggs
    (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • 2/3
    cup
    buttermilk
    (room temperature)

For the Vanilla Frosting

  • 6
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (room temperature)
  • 1
    cup
    powdered sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • 1
    teaspoon
    heavy cream

For the Coating

  • 24
    ounces
    candy melts

Directions:

  1. Make Chocolate Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the boiling water (the batter will be thin). Pour into the prepared pan.

  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, the remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

  4. Make the Chocolate Frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments on 50% power, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

  5. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

  6. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.

  7. Make the Vanilla Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

  8. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  9. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugar until creamy and well-combined, 2 to 3 minutes.

  10. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined.

  11. Using a rubber spatula, alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture, and mixing until just combined.

  12. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

  13. Make the Vanilla Frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

  14. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the heavy cream and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Assemble the Cake Pops

  1. Crumble the cooled cake into a large bowl, leaving no large chunks of cake. Add the frosting to the bowl and, using a rubber spatula, fold and stir in the frosting until it has evenly coated all of the cake crumbs.

  2. Use a small cookie scoop (or 1 tablespoon) to scoop out the cake mixture and roll into a ball; place on a lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 to 3 hours. At this point, you can smooth out the balls, if you’d like. If you do so, return them to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Melt the coating in a tall cup (a 2-cup measuring cup or mason jar works well for this!). If using melting wafers, follow the melting instructions on the package. If using chocolate, combine the chocolate and vegetable shortening and microwave on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted and smooth.

  4. Work with only a few cake balls at a time and leave the remainder in the refrigerator. Dip a lollipop stick about ½ inch into the melted coating, then insert about halfway into a cake ball. Dip the cake ball the entire way into the melted coating, ensuring that the coating meets the coating on the lollipop stick, which will secure the cake pop. Allow excess coating to drip off (at this point you can decorate with sprinkles, if desired), then insert the cake pop upright in a styrofoam block. Allow to set completely (about 1 hour at room temperature) before removing.

  5. Cake pops should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Finished cake pops can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes:

  • Equipment: Lollipop SticksStyrofoam BlockSmall Cookie Scoop
  • Semi-Homemade Option: If you want to save time and/or ingredients, you can use a box cake mix and canned frosting. Just follow the same directions for assembly!
  • Mix-Ins and Toppings: See the post above for tons of mix-ins and topping ideas.
  • Combo Ideas: See above for how to make the following - Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, Lemon Pops, Red Velvet, and Funfetti.
  • Storing: Keep cake pops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: Finished cake pops can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
  • Making Ahead: I like to make the cake and frosting the night before I plan to assemble cake pops to save on time. Alternatively, you can make your cake pops up to 2 months in advance and simply store them in the freezer.

Nutrition:

Calories: 103kcal
Fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 13mg
Sodium: 25mg
Potassium: 23mg
Carbohydrates: 12g
Sugar: 9g
Vitamin A: 90%
Calcium: 12%
Iron: 0.2%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Ari Laing.