How to Make Homemade Cake Pops

Cake pops will satisfy everyone's sweet tooth. Learn how to make cake pops that are easy and delicious for any occasion.

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When it comes to trendy treats, we’ve seen cute cupcakes, flashy sugar cookies and naked cakes. But don’t forget about the cake pop! These trendy desserts—essentially a blend of cake and frosting, shaped and dipped in a candy or chocolate coating—are surprisingly simple to put together. Cake pops are easy to customize and you can even take some easy shortcuts to make assembling these treats a cinch. Here’s how to make cake pops for your next celebration, party or even just a for-fun activity with the kids.

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How to Make Cake Pops

One of the great things about cake pops is that you can use your favorite cake recipe or your favorite boxed cake mix paired with your go-to buttercream or premade frosting. The method and flavor are all up to you!

To make cake pops, you’ll need a few ingredients and some supplies:

  • Cake of your choosing—a boxed cake mix works just fine here
  • Buttercream frosting—store-bought works, too!
  • Candy melts or chocoalte for dipping
  • Decorations—sprinkles, shredded coconut, crushed cookies, candies, etc.

Step 1: Bake Your Cake

The foundation for any cake pop is, of course, the cake. You can make your cake from scratch if you’re feeling ambitious—we’ve got plenty of homemade cake recipes—but you can also use your favorite boxed cake mix. If you use a cake mix, just bake it in a 13×9 pan—you’ll be crumbling it up so no need to get fancy.

If you’re looking for a good cake mix, check out our editors’ favorite yellow cake mix, chocolate cake mix and confetti cake mix (this last one is pretty shocking!).

On average, a box of cake mix or 13×9 cake recipe will yield about 48 cake pops. If you don’t want a batch that large, you can freeze cake leftovers.

Step 2: Whip Up the Frosting

While your cake is cooling—yes, you need to wait for it to cool entirely—take time to whip up a frosting.

A basic buttercream frosting works perfectly for cake pops. You can flavor this buttercream with your preferred extract or even add a bit of cocoa powder.

If you need a shortcut, store-bought frosting also works. And, here’s how you can make store-bought frosting better.

Step 3: Crumble the Cake and Make Your Mix

How to Make cake pops breaking cakeShutterstock / Agnes Kantaruk

Now it’s time to make the cake pop mix. Start by crumbling the baked and cooled cake in a mixing bowl. Don’t over-crumble your cake—coarse crumbs (think the size of peas) works fine.

Then slowly add your frosting a quarter cup at a time until the mixture holds together well when pressed. The amount of frosting will vary based on your cake (some cakes are dryer or lighter than others). Don’t go overboard on the frosting—you simply want the mixture creamy enough to be able to roll it into balls.

Step 3: Shape the Cake Pops

Making cake pop rolling cakeShutterstock / Agnes Kantaruk

Once you’ve got the right consistency, you’ll want to roll the mix into that trademark cake pop shape. You can use a cookie scoop to measure for uniform size (pssst… did you know this is the best place to find them?) or just scoop with a tablespoon.

Once scooped, just roll them in your hands to make a (near) perfect sphere. Once that’s done, refrigerate for at least four hours to let harden or stick them in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This is a very important step—if you try to dip your pops before they’re firm, they can easily fall off the stick or just crumble apart.

If you’d like, you can even make the cake pops in advance and refrigerate them overnight before dipping. After they’ve firmed up, just pop them in an airtight container so they don’t dry out.

Step 4: Coat the Pops

Coating cake popShutterstock / Agnes Kantaruk

Melt chocolate or candy melts in the microwave until smooth. A handy gadget to have on hand for dipping cake pops (or chocolate-covered strawberries or candies) is one of these melting pots which keeps candy melts and chocolate at the right temp for coating.

Gently press a stick into each ball, then dip into the sugary sweet coating and swirl until completely covered. Make sure you lightly tap the pop on the edge of the bowl to remove any excess coating. You can also use your finger or the back of a spoon to smooth out any drips or rough edges. While the chocolate is still tacky, add any sort of sprinkles or decorations you’d like.

Pop the finished pops into a styrofoam block to let them cool completely and harden before digging in.

How to Decorate Cake Pops

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Cake pops are a great vehicle for decorations. Dipping them in sprinkles is a great way to finish them off but there are plenty of other ways to decorate them:

  • Sprinkles, sprinkles and more sprinkles to suit the occasion (holiday colors, school colors, etc.)
  • Contrasting chocolate drizzle
  • Cookie crumbs
  • Crushed candies
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chopped nuts

Cake Pop Flavor Ideas

When it comes to cake pop flavor combos, the options are nearly limitless. Think about your favorite desserts and riff off those pairings. Here are some of our favorite cake pop flavor ideas:

These combos are just the tip of the iceberg! Play around with mix-ins, extracts, decorations and types of candy coating.

How to Store Cake Pops

When it comes to storing cake pops, you can go two routes: the fridge or freezer. Place cake pops in an airtight container or zip-top bag and store them in the fridge for up to a week. Wrap them up the same way and keep them in the freezer for a month.

Cake Pop Troubleshooting Tips

While cake pops are a fairly simple treat to make, there are some common issues that pop up. Here’s how to tackle these cake pop problems.

Why are my cake pops falling apart?

If your pops are falling apart, they might just need an extended stay in the freezer. Keep them in there until they set up. Also, be mindful not to overdo it when adding the frosting.

What can I use instead of sticks for cake pops?

You can grab a package of hard, paper sticks made especially for candy and treats at most craft shops and cake stores. You can also use a thick wooden skewer or straw in a pinch.

How do you keep cake pops from falling off the stick?

Even when you make cake pops just right, you might run into this issue. Keep the cake pops chilled in the fridge until it’s time to serve. Cool cake pops hold their shape and stay on their sticks better than ones that are a little too warm.

Amanda Tarlton
As both a freelance lifestyle writer and editor for a national teen magazine, Amanda spends most of her time creating #content. In those (rare) moments when she's not at her desk typing furiously, she's likely teaching a hot yoga class, reading the latest chick-lit or baking a batch of her famous scones.
Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.