Dessert That’s a Ball to Eat! A Kid-Friendly Cake Pop Recipe You Can Make at Home
What do you do when the kids are craving something sweet and delicious, but a cookie seems too ordinary and a bowl of ice cream too much? Moist, tasty cake pops are perfect for such situations. They’re delightful and delicious, equally suited for special occasions like birthday or classroom parties and casual afternoons.
If you’ve never heard of them, cake pops are lollipop-sized, two-bite treats that combine cake and frosting into a ball enveloped in a shell of dark, milk, or white chocolate or a colorful candy coating. Topping them off with a hearty helping of colorful sprinkles never fails to up the fun quotient. These small indulgences are a breeze to make, a joy to decorate, and nearly impossible to resist—a combination that makes cake pops the perfect item to bake with your kids.
If you’re looking to spend an afternoon baking with your young pastry chefs, this easy-to-make cake pop recipe will give you the perfect excuse to do just that.
Fun on a Stick: An Easy Cake Pop Recipe
You can easily make cake pops using boxed cake mix from the store, but a batch of homemade ones has a charm of its own.
Get started by reading the recipe together. Then let your kids add and stir the ingredients, grease the cake pan, and pour in the batter. As head bakers, adults can blend the batter with a hand mixer, slip the pan into the oven, and melt chocolate or candy in a pan atop the stove.
This easy recipe has a two-hour prep time and makes approximately 40 delicious vanilla cake pops. From start to finish, they take seven hours to complete (including frosting and freezing time), so this is an activity well suited for a weekend.
- 1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 7 tablespoons unsalted, room-temperature butter
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2–3 teaspoons of milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 40 ounces (about 1 kilogram) of chocolate chips (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate) or candy melts
- Food coloring (optional)
- Colored sprinkles, decorating sugar, candy, chopped nuts (optional)
- Medium lollipop or cake pop sticks
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and help your kids grease a 9-inch springform pan or a 9-by-13-inch (22-by-33-cm) cake pan.
- Have your kids combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
- Help them mix the sugar and butter in a large bowl for about 2 minutes using a hand mixer or until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Adults can also use a stand mixer for this step.
- Next, have your kids add the egg and vanilla extract and help them mix again, scraping down the sides as needed until everything is combined.
- Let your kids add the dry ingredients to the batter, 1/2 cup at a time, while you work the blender. Blend on low until fully incorporated with each addition. The batter will be thick, but make sure there are no lumps.
- Work together to pour the batter into the pan, which an adult places in the oven for 30-36 minutes. When the top begins to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it’s time to pull the cake out and let it cool completely.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Now that the cake is cooling, it’s time to get started on the vanilla frosting.
- Adults can use a hand or stand mixer to beat the butter until creamy (about 2 minutes).
- Have your kids add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract and help them by beating the mixture for three minutes until light and fluffy.
Form the Cake Pops
- Once the cake has thoroughly cooled, instruct your helpers to crumble it into the bowl of frosting, ensuring there are no large lumps. You can also break up the cake using a food processor.
- With a mixer set on a low setting, or using a wooden spoon, work together to combine the crumbled cake and frosting until well blended.
- Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, help your kids spoon up portions of the cake mixture and roll them into 1-inch (2.5-cm) balls. Set onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or freeze for 1 hour.
- Pull the cake balls out of the fridge or freezer, and show your kids how to roll them again until the edges are smooth and the shape is uniform.
It’s time for you and your assistants to get creative. Place a tablecloth or a plastic sheet on your work surface to make cleanup easy, and get ready to dunk and decorate. (Note: Cake pops need to stay cold during this step, so only remove 1 or 2 from the fridge or freezer at a time.)
- Adults can take charge of melting the chocolate chips or candy melts in a double boiler or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring the contents frequently to avoid scorching.
- Show your kids how to dip a 1/2 inch (1 1/4 cm) of the lollipop stick into the coating mixture, then halfway into the cake ball. This will help keep the cake pop in place.
- Next, show them how to dip the cake ball into the mix and twirl until fully coated, making sure the base of the ball is fully covered where it meets the lollipop stick.
- Work together to dip the pops into colored sugar, sprinkles, or nuts and stand upright in a styrofoam block or a container filled with rice or dried beans until the coating is completely dried (about 1 hour).
- Once the coating has solidified, you’re ready to enjoy! You can store your cake pops in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week—but chances are they probably won’t last that long.
For many, the perfect base for homemade cake pops is a vanilla-flavored white cake made from scratch. Others may like to take the road less traveled. Here are a few suggestions to do things differently if your young bakers are on board.
Chocolate Cake Pop Recipe
Is chocolate a bigger hit at home than vanilla? A few simple additions and substitutions to the vanilla cake recipe will make everyone happier.
- Add: 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients
- Substitute: 1 cup of milk with hot water
- Substitute: 1/2 cup of butter with vegetable oil
You can stick with the vanilla frosting to make the cake pop or add a quarter cup of cocoa to the above buttercream recipe to make a chocolate frosting. Decorate as usual.
Birthday Cake Pop Recipe
Give your vanilla cake pops some festive birthday flair by adding 1/4 cup of rainbow-colored sprinkles.
Cake Pop Recipe without Frosting
Not everyone likes frosting. If that’s the case in your household, instead of using frosting as a binder, soak the cake crumbs in a mixture made of 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of milk. Pour it into the cake a little at a time, checking the consistency of the mix. You’ll know you’ve added enough when you can squeeze the mixture into a ball that holds its shape. Once they’re out of the freezer, you can shape and decorate as usual.
Store-Bought Cake Pop Recipe
If you’re short on time, use store-bought frosting and boxed cake mix to make your cake pops. Follow the instructions on the box to make a sheet cake. Allow it to cool before crumbling. Add the store-bought frosting, 1 tablespoon at a time, and combine until the mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Shape and decorate as usual.
Custom-Colored Cake Balls
If your kids want pops in a certain color, and candy melts aren’t doing the trick, try melted white chocolate and gel food coloring to produce just the right shade.
Why not try a red velvet mix with cream cheese frosting or a yellow cake with lemon frosting? Let your junior pastry chefs create their own flavor combinations for these delectable, two-bite treats.
Now that your kids have a taste of creativity in the kitchen, why not introduce them to other sweet projects like a cherry pie or churro funnel cake? If they’re interested in exciting global flavors, try making suman, a Filipino sticky rice cake, or create and taste recipes from Mexico, Germany, and India with our Food Truck Trio kit.
Do your children crave adventure and love discovering new foods, art, and cultures? Help them explore the world with our World Edition subscription box. Every month, they’ll enjoy new hands-on activities, stories, recipes, and crafts that take them on an exciting journey of discovery about people and places. For more fun DIY crafts and recipes, follow us on TikTok or Instagram.