Turkey Cake

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Bake: 40 min. + cooling


16 servings

Updated: Nov. 24, 2023
Create a simple centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dessert table. This turkey cake comes together fast with the help of a mix, and melted candy coating keeps decorating easy. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen


  • 1 package dark chocolate cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 8 ounces each red, yellow and orange candy coating disks, melted separately
  • 2 black nonpareils


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 3 greased 8-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease paper. In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Transfer batter to prepared pans.
  2. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  3. For frosting, sift confectioners' sugar and cocoa together. In a large bowl, beat butter and vanilla until blended. Beat in confectioners' sugar mixture. Beat in enough milk to reach desired consistency. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.
  4. For decorations, place each color of melted candy coating in a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip; pipe various size circles of each color onto parchment. Drag the back of an offset spatula through each circle, creating oblong shapes for turkey feathers. Let stand until set.
  5. Arrange turkey feathers upright into top of cake. Using a small round tip, pipe melted white candy coating into two small discs, adding a black nonpareil in the center for the eyes. With another small round tip, pipe melted red candy coating into a comma shape for the wattle. Cut a yellow candy coating disc into a triangle for the beak. Attach eyes, beak, and wattle to the front of the cake using extra frosting.

Turkey Cake Tips

How else can you decorate a turkey cake?

First, make sure you’ve frosted the cake the way you like by following our guide on how to frost a cake. Then, give your turkey some personality by making it your own! Swap the chocolate feathers for your favorite wafer cookies, pipe on goofy eyebrows, or make a little Pilgrim hat out of an upside down cake cone dipped in chocolate. If you don’t have pre-colored candy discs, you can dye white chocolate different colors on your own with a few drops of candy coloring, but steer away from liquid or gel coloring that isn’t formulated for chocolate use, or you’ll end up with bowl of seized chocolate. To learn more about which kind of food coloring to use when, check out our Test Kitchen’s guide to types of food coloring.

How should you store this turkey cake?

Cakes can be such a challenging bake to store, and particularly decorated cakes like this one. The best way to store this turkey cake is under a cake dome, or in a cake keeper. After you’ve sliced a frosted cake, press plastic wrap on the exposed sponge, which will keep it from drying out. Be sure to eat the cake within three to four days! Learn the best ways to store baked goods, from cakes to cookies to cheesecake.

What is the best way to transport this turkey cake?

Taking this cake to go? Add the feathers once you get to your destination so they don’t break. Keep your cake in a domed cake carrier, and for extra security put a square of rubber shelf liner under your cake plate to keep it from jostling around during the car ride.

Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 slice: 736 calories, 40g fat (23g saturated fat), 82mg cholesterol, 440mg sodium, 91g carbohydrate (74g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.