Homemade Cake Pops

Cake Pops
PHOTO: CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Active Time:

45 mins

Bake Time:

30 mins

Chill Time:

2 hrs

Total Time:

3 hrs 15 mins

Yield:

32 pops

Cake pops have taken special events, celebrations, and bakeries by storm. You might be surprised to find that cake pops are not only fun to create, they use a boxed cake mix, a simple homemade frosting, and colorful candy melts, so they’re actually quite easy to make, too. Here’s how.

What You Need To Make Cake Pops

  • Boxed cake mix: Save time and hassle by using a quick and reliable boxed cake mix for the cake portion of these cake pops. For testing purposes, we used a Betty Crocker Super Moist Vanilla mix, but using a different brand of cake mix won’t affect this recipe in any way. You’ll also want to gather the ingredients called for on the cake mix, usually water, oil, and eggs.
  • Buttercream icing: This is a simple icing made with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a little milk. The amounts in this recipe are the perfect yield of icing to give your cake pop the ideal texture and flavor.
  • Candy melts: Candy melts are available at most grocery stores or craft stores and come in various fun colors. Candy melts make coating the cake pops a breeze with their ease in melting without needing to worry about tempering like regular chocolate. Alternately, chocolate melting wafers or almond bark can also be used in place of candy melts, depending on your preference.
  • Lollipop sticks: Different lengths of lollipop sticks are available (usually 4-, 6-, or 8-inch sizes), though all will produce similar results. These are also available at most grocery stores and craft stores.
ingredients for cake pops
CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

How To Make Cake Pops

The process to make cake homemade cake pops is easy—with one time-consuming aspect: letting the baked cake cool, and letting the rolled cake pops chill and harden.

Making cake pops begins with baking a cake; basic baking instructions and ingredients are included in this recipe, but be sure to follow the instructions on the box of cake mix.

Once it’s baked, allow the cake to cool completely. Hot or even warm cake will make forming the cake pops difficult.

Once cooled, crumble the cake into a large mixing bowl. Break up any large pieces, and try to make the crumbles equal size. A stand mixer makes this fast and easy.

batter in baking pan
CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Next, create a simple buttercream icing by mixing butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until well combined.

making buttercream icing
CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Cake-Crumbling Tip

Remove any hard, crusty pieces on the edge or top of the cake before crumbling it up. Those pieces tend to have a difficult time breaking down and could create unwanted texture in your cake pop filling.

Add the icing to the cake crumbles, and mix thoroughly until the mixture comes together and holds its shape when squeezed.

cake pop mix
CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Then, using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, portion out the mix, and roll each into a small round ball. Chill these cake pop rounds in the freezer for about 30 minutes; or chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This step is essential because if the cake pops aren’t chilled, they might be too soft to dip. They’ll fall off the stick and create quite the mess.

Next, melt the candy melts in a large bowl in the microwave. Dip one end of a lollipop stick into the melted candy, and poke the sticks into the center of a cake ball. Once cooled, this will reinforce the stick and help prevent the cake pop from sliding off as you are dipping the cake pops into the melted coating. Finally, dip the cake pops into the melted candy, and top with your favorite decorations.

dipping cake pops in melted candy melts
CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Are there any variations to this cake pop recipe?

Yes, there are plenty of ways to alter this cake pop recipe to make it unique and truly your own. For the cake, you can use any flavor of box cake mix interchangeably without any issue. You could also use a homemade cake recipe, but you would need to be aware that the cake and icing ratio would be different, which could require a little testing.

You can add different extracts or flavorings to the icing in place of vanilla extract. This is a great way to include some favorite flavors, like almond or lemon, without affecting the texture of the cake pop.

As mentioned above, for the cake pop outer coating, you can use almond bark or chocolate melting wafers instead of candy melts with similar results.

Do I Need a Cake Pop Mold to Make Cake Pops?

Traditional cake pops only require a round measuring tool, like a tablespoon or a small scoop. The shape of the cake pop is all thanks to rolling each cake pop round by hand. That said, different cake pop molds are available in specialty stores and online, and they create different shapes, animals, and objects, all of which would work with this cake pop filling.

The Best Way To Store Cake Pops

Once the cake pops have been dipped and decorated, they can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Once the candy coating has set, the cake pops can be stored on their sides without issue; make sure to consider any open space since they tend to roll around.

Cake pops can also be frozen; just make sure they are stored in an airtight container or wrapped well, and they will stay good for up to one month. Once you have frozen the cake pops, give them at least 30 minutes to return to room temperature before serving.

Helpful Tips and Pointers for Great Cake Pops

  • Be sure to consider the cooling time for the cake and the chilling time for the cake pop rounds. If the mix is too warm, the cake pops could have difficulty staying together, resulting in a messy situation.
  • After dipping your cake pops, you will need something to hold the cake pops upright while the coating hardens. This is essential. This can be done by poking holes large enough for the lollipop stick in a shallow cardboard box; poking the sticks into a piece of Styrofoam; or by filling a cup with uncooked rice.
  • Another option after dipping the cake pop is to place them on parchment or wax paper and let them dry with the stick facing upright. This will create a sturdy base for the cake pop, making it easier to transport and display.
  • If you are aiming for a specific color, feel free to add some food color to the candy melts. For best results, use food color gels, which are more concentrated, and not liquid coloring, which could thin out the consistency of the coating.
  • If you find that your cake pops are cracking after you’ve dipped them, this is like due to the temperature differences between the cake pop filling and the coating. If the coating is too hot and the filling is too cold, this could cause the cake pop coating to crack. To remedy this while dipping, ensure your coating isn’t hot when you dip the cake pop.
Cake Pops
CAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX

Ingredients

  • 1 (15.25-oz.) box vanilla cake mix, plus ingredients for making cake (typically oil and water)
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-oz.) bag candy melts (color of choice)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9- x 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mix cake batter per instructions on box. Pour batter into prepared pan.mixing cake batterCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COXBake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.baked vanilla cake in panCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX
  3. While the cake cools, make the icing. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened with hand mixer. Add powdered sugar in stages, followed by milk and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined, then set aside until needed.buttercream frosting in a bowlCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX
  4. In a large mixing bowl, crumble cooled cake into small crumbs. (You can do this quickly with a stand mixer.) Then, add the frosting to the crumbs. Mix until the mixture comes together and holds its shape when formed.cake crumbles with frostingCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX
  5. Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, portion out cake pop mixture, and roll into small balls. Line the cake pops on a sheet tray or pan, and let the them firm up by chilling them in the freezer for 30 minutes or a refrigerator for at least 2 hours.rolled cake bitesCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX
  6. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the candy melts according to packaging instructions. Working one by one, dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating, and place it in the center of a cake pop. Repeat for each cake pop.dipping lollipops into chocolate for cake popsCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLIST: TORIE COXOnce all the cake pops have a lollipop stick, move most of the cake pops in the refrigerator to stay cool; leave only a few to work with.Dip TipDoing the next step in stages will ensure that the cake pops don’t get too warm, which could cause the cake pop to fall off the stick during dipping.
  7. Working one at a time, dip each cake pop in the prepared melted candy coating, and allow the excess coating to drip off the cake pop. Put the cake pop in a prepared holder to harden.resting cake pops in sytrofoamCAITLIN BENSEL; FOOD STYLING: TORIE COXAdd your decorations (sprinkles, jimmies, sanding sugars etc.) before the candy melt covering hardens. Continue the process with the remaining cake pops.