30 Creative Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas
Say see ya to simple cakes. These birthday cake decorating ideas will take your celebrations over the top.
Confetti Drip Cake
A list of birthday cake decorating ideas isn’t complete without a confetti cake. That’s why we’re putting this extra-fun cake front and center. This cake has confetti inside and outside. Plus, it gets one final finish with a candy-colored drip design.
Sprinkles, Sprinkles and More Sprinkles
But you don’t need to stop there! You can swirl sprinkles right into your buttercream frosting. You can also press sprinkles onto the side of the cake for a truly fantastical confetti masterpiece. That’s what our Test Kitchen did for its best-ever vanilla birthday cake.
A naked cake is completely bare (or nearly so) on the outside. Without the typical outer coat, the interior of the layer cake is exposed to showcase all the yummy frosting and fillings inside—like what you’ll find with this strawberry mascarpone cake or red velvet cake.
Can’t decide between frosting colors or just want to switch up your classic frosted cake? Try an ombre effect.
Divide your favorite frosting into three batches and dye each in various shades of the same color. Pipe a wide band of each around the cake and use a wide spatula to blend and smooth out the frosting. With a few swipes, they’ll gracefully blend together.
Planning for a 50th birthday? Check out these recipe ideas for the big bash.
Not all birthday cake decorating ideas involve piping bags and heaps of sprinkles. For the chocolate fanatic in your life, top a chocolate cake with creamy chocolate frosting and plenty of chocolate curls.
Look no further for a truly magical birthday cake idea. It doesn’t get any better than this unicorn cake. Brush an ice cream cone with edible gold dust and then use various pastry tips to create the unicorn’s mane.
And this cake is just the start; find more unicorn recipes from our Test Kitchen.
Bundt pans are naturally decorative, so why not use them as the foundation for your celebratory cake? Top these cakes with an easy glaze and a splash of sprinkles. You can also finish them off with a hefty dose of frosting—we call that a copycat Nothing Bundt Cakes cake.
A simple white layer cake can transform into a showstopper birthday treat with plenty of colorful icing. Fill a piping bag with multiple colors to create streaked swirls. You can also use a small spatula to add paint-like daubs to the sides of your cake.
Cover in Ganache
Sure, frosting is delicious, but a cake covered in ganache can be over-the-top decadent. Birthday cake decorating ideas like this are perfect for the chocoholics in your life. Try it with this four-layer chocolate mousse cake or some of our other favorite chocolate cakes.
This birthday cake decorating idea looks complicated, but it’s very easy to cover your favorite layer cake in a galaxy of stars.
To make, trace star shapes (or really any shape) onto waxed paper or parchment paper. Then pipe melted white chocolate over the outline. Once dry, spritz the shapes with edible gold paint and press them onto the side of the layer cake—as we did with our princess-style cake.
Birthday cake decorating ideas often start with a traditional layer cake. But what if you turned this cake on its head and made a vertical layer cake? Vertical cakes are made very similarly to a cake roll. If you’ve made a cake roll or yule log cake in the past, this is a fresh technique you’ll be able to tackle.
Impressive to look at but easy to make, this old-fashioned cake gets an instant upgrade with sparklers, a petite bunting and a chocolate figurine. Check out our favorite edible cake decorations to add to your bake.
Take inspiration from board games to make a birthday cake. For little ones, try a literal Candy Land cake. For grown-ups that love games, try your best to match the design of Settlers of Catan or Trivial Pursuit.
This is one birthday cake decorating idea that’s perfect for spring birthdays. Finish any cake—be it a homemade carrot cake or even a grocery store cake—with a few edible flowers like pansies or rose petals.
A New Way to Upside-Down
Pineapple upside-down cakes are a perennial favorite. But you can switch up the finish by slicing the pineapple in a different way. Create a scallop pattern by slicing the rings in half and nestling cherries under each arc.
And pineapple is just the start. Be sure to check out 40+ more upside-down desserts.
Cover It in Cookies
Don’t have any special frosting tools on hand? You can still create a gorgeous themed design for your birthday cake using shaped cookies. Use storebought to save time. Simply place them on top of the cake, or adhere them to the sides with extra frosting as we did with this darling carrot layer cake.
Want to take your favorite person’s birthday to the next level of sweetness? Make a KitKat cake. This cake starts with two layers of your favorite cake and then gets finished carefully with a ring of KitKats. Don’t forget to fill the top with plenty of candies like M&M’s or Reese’s Pieces.
Chocolate fanatics seem to have all the fun with birthday cake decorating ideas, but they don’t have to! You can go over the top with colorful fruit decorations. Slice up citrus and sprinkle coconut over your favorite fruit-forward dessert, such as this Hawaiian sunset cake.
Pull out all the stops with birthday cake decorating ideas! This rainbow cake uses smooth buttercream frosting as a base (here’s how to frost a cake cleanly). Then use all kinds of pastry tips and food coloring to create the designs you see. Rainbows, clouds and sun rays are just the start!
If you want the cake to look like a rainbow inside, check out this rainbow Bundt cake recipe.
Need birthday cake decorating ideas for the outdoorsy person in your life? Turn to nature for some inspiration! This chocolate truffle cake is finished with chocolate leaves.
To make these, brush leaves (wash and pat dry first) with melted chocolate. Pop them in the fridge or freezer and peel away the leaves. The chocolate will take on the texture of the leaves.
Go for Fancy Candles
A fancy candle or two can go a long way in making any cake feel special. It’s an easy way to even make a simple 13×9 cake feel extra special. Give it a go with our homemade confetti cake.
Harry Potter Cake
Whether you’re a Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Hufflepuff, you’ll be able to appreciate this Harry Potter birthday cake. This recipe (and its signature decorations) takes inspiration from the cake Hagrid makes for Harry on his 11th birthday—the birthday where Hagrid also reveals “yer a wizard, Harry!”
Know a candy fiend? Then the best birthday cake decorating ideas we can give you are candy, candy and candy. Crush up their favorite candy bar or sprinkle their favorite sweet over the top. That’s what our Test Kitchen did with this chocolate malt layer cake.
This birthday cake decorating idea is super fun—and relatively fuss free. For this cake, you only need to make a single round cake. Then top with red frosting, shredded cheese (AKA white chocolate curls) and candy versions of your favorite toppings. Our Test Kitchen cut up fruit roll-ups for pepperoni.
If you have a little mermaid in the family, your birthday cake decorating ideas might take some hints from under the sea. This cake uses a plain pastry tip and an offset spatula to create a scale-like pattern. You can also use the same technique on sheet cakes.
Puppy Dog Cake
This cake is so doggone cute you may not want to slice into it—though you definitely should! This puppy dog cake uses some artful piping to create that adorable face.
Make your birthday cake look like a bouquet of roses when you use a star tip to pipe dozens of floral swirls. You can use this technique with any tip on any cake.
For one that looks like this, opt for a larger star tip and spirals (these each measure about 1.5 inches across).
Baby Shark Cake
You already can’t get the song out of your head, so why not use that as cake-decorating inspiration? This cake uses premade fondant as a shortcut to make this Baby Shark cake.