Starbucks cake pops are the perfect-sized treat any time of the day. But next time you have a craving, try homemade scratch cake pops. They are fast and easy to make. I like to make it a family activity where everyone can create their style!
But, when I was at Starbucks with my grandson, he wanted a birthday pink cake pop. I, of course, obliged. But then, later, we recreated his favorite cake into cake pops. The extra pops I stored in the freezer. Now he can have them anytime he comes over, and I am a little cool—just a little bit.
I know this post looks complicated, but do not let the length fool you. I documented 20 different Starbucks cake pops and how they made them. With this information, you can recreate your favorites anytime.
Consistent Size - Aim always to have the cake balls uniform. I recommend using a cookie scoop, kitchen scale, or a tablespoon. Anything works, as long as the size is consistent and the cake is small enough to stay on a lollipop stick.
Cake Pop Stick - Purchase on Amazon, Walmart, or a hobby store. I used these reusable sticks I purchased on Amazon.
Microwave or Double Boiler - Use a microwave or double boiler to melt chocolate.
Baking Sheet - Baking sheets are ideal for placing the cake balls to set in the refrigerator.
Styrofoam or Cardboard Box - After being dipped in melted chocolate, the cake pops will need to be upright to dry. I recommend using a large styrofoam block or cardboard box with tiny holes pre-poked.
Most Starbucks cake pops use vanilla or chocolate cake, but not all. Below I have listed 20 cake pops and the flavor of cake used. If the cake is particular, like peppermint chocolate, you might want to modify the recipe and use chocolate cake with peppermint frosting to bind it together. That modification is an easy workaround to complex flavors.
I recommend making the cake type you are most comfortable with (store-bought, a standard box cake mix, homemade or leftover cake). In the recipe card are instructions for a basic homemade vanilla cake.
The frosting is needed to bond the cake crumbles together. Use either store-bought or homemade frosting. I make a simple vanilla frosting with confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and a touch of milk.
A general rule, use two tablespoons of frosting for one box of cake crumbles (the equivalent of a 13x9 baking sheet). Adjust the amount of frosting according to the cake crumbles you are using. In the recipe card are instructions for an easy-to-make frosting.
Expert Tip - Use only a tiny amount of frosting. Too much frosting will make your cake pop greasy. To avoid that, start with a little and work it into the cake crumbles. It usually takes a minute or two of work before the cake crumbs bind together.
There are four shell types you can use. I have used these methods in the past, and they have their merits. I recommend adding 1 - 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the options below. The vegetable oil thins out the coating, making a lighter and smoother coating that is easier to dip.
- Candy Coating - Purchased melts are easy to work with and come in various candy colors.
- Chocolate Melts - Ghiradelli chocolate melts come in white, milk, and dark chocolate and are available at most grocery stores. Ghiradelli melts are made with cocoa butter and have a shine similar to tempering, which makes them my favorite chocolate to use.
- Ganache - Creates a sinfully rich coating. Click here for my ganache recipe.
- Homemade shell - Create a hardshell from scratch by combining 2 cups of baking chips and ⅔rds cup coconut oil (lower to ½ cup if using white chocolate). Microwave at 50% power in 30-second intervals. Stir between each interval. Repeat until smooth.
Prepare the Cake
Start with a baked cake or cake scrapes. Using a large bowl, break the cake into fine cake crumbs using your hands or a mixer. Add two tablespoons of frosting and mix well until the cake becomes a ball.
Note: This recipe assumes two tablespoons of frosting to one box of cake. If using a different amount of cake, adjust the frosting accordingly.
Shape Into a Ball
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon to measure each portion, then roll it into a truffle-like ball. Melt a small amount of chocolate or candy coating. Dip a cake pop or lollipop stick in the melted chocolate/coating and insert it into the center of the cake ball. Place the cake ball on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Prepare the stylophone block or cardboard box by poking small holes in the top. Melt the remaining coating in a measuring cup or another cup large enough to submerge the cake pop fully. Add a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil and mix.
Remove 2-3 balls out of the refrigerator at a time. Dip the cake ball in the melted chocolate or candy coating. Move the pop front to back and side to side, but do not swirl.
Slightly lift the pop hold downwards at a 45-degree angle. Allow the coating to drip off gently. Gently tap the cake pop on the edge of a measuring cup or glass to remove excess chocolate.
Add the sprinkles while the coating is still wet. Place upright into a styrofoam block or cardboard box. The coating will set in about an hour.
Starbucks generally keeps the decorations simple with white sprinkles. Being the sprinkle girl I am, I say, why limit yourself to only white sprinkles? I recommend having fun and using sprinkles to match the occasion. Below I describe 20 Starbucks cake pops and my decoration ideas for different occasions.
Starbucks Everyday Menu
Starbucks does rotate the menu. However, birthday and chocolate pops are always on the menu. To recreate the white sprinkles, I used Wilton's white nonpareils that I found on Amazon.
- Birthday - Bite-sized vanilla cake mixed with vanilla buttercream, dipped in pink chocolaty icing and topped with white sprinkles.
- Chocolate - Bite-sized chocolate cake mixed with chocolate buttercream, dipped in chocolaty icing and topped with white sprinkles.
Note: All descriptions come directly from the Starbucks website.
Starbucks Seasonal Cake Pops
The seasonal menu varies from year to year and season. Below are some of the adorable pops that Starbucks has stocked in the past. When decorating, use a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
- Bulls Eye - Vanilla cake with white chocolate melts. The blacktip of candy corn for the nose, chocolate sprinkles seeds for the eyes; life savors for the colors, and red bulls-eye drawn with an edible pen.
- Cat - Vanilla cake. Pinch the top to create ears. Place white chocolate chips on the ears by pressing them into the ball. Dip in white chocolate melts. Purple candy melts are pipped on to create eyes and mouth.
- Chocolate Cookie Dough: Cookie-dough cake, dipped in a light brown candy coating and topped with mini chocolate chips.
- Mix white and brown candy melts to achieve a light brown color.
- Confetti Hearts: Chocolate Cake dipped in red candy melts and topped with heart sprinkles.
- Doughnut: Vanilla cake is shaped into a doughnut dipped in chocolate melts, white or pink candy-coated melts ring, and ring topped with rainbow sprinkles.
- Earth Day: Chocolate cake dipped in blue candy melts and topped with green and white sprinkles.
- Fox: Vanilla cake, pinch the top to create ears. Place white chocolate chips on the ears by pressing them into the ball. Dipped in orange candy melts. Use white and black candy melts to create the face.
- Lemon: Lemon cake, dipped in a yellow candy coating and rolled in sweet and sour dusting sugar.
- Mummy: Vanilla cake dipped in white chocolate melts with white melts to create a zig-zag of wraps. Use candy eyes.
- Parrot: Vanilla cake decorated as a colorful parrot.
- Peppermint Brownie: Peppermint chocolate cake, dipped in white chocolate melts and rolled in coarse sugar crystals with broken candy cane pieces.
- Penguin: Vanilla cake dipped in black candy melts. White chocolate melts for the face, black melt for the eyes, and orange melts for the nose.
- Rocky Road: Chocolate cake dipped in dark chocolate melts and decorated with tiny marshmallows and chopped almonds.
- Snowman: Vanilla cake dipped in white chocolate melts. Decorated with chocolate melts for eyes and mouth—orange candy coating for the nose.
- Strawberry: Strawberry cake dipped in a red candy coating. Topped with green candy melts for the hat, white chocolate for the dots, and dark brown candy melts for the mouth.
- Tiramisu - Vanilla cake, espreso frosting. Dipped in light brown candy melts and topped with an espresso bean.
- Unicorn: Funfetti cake. Pinch the top to create ears. Place white chocolate chips for the ears by pressing the chips into the ball—dip in white chocolate. Decorate with melted black candy coating for eyes and horns—pink and blue pastel for accent.
Special Occasion Decoration Ideas
Little cake pops are perfect for any occasion, making a perfect little gift for a bridal shower, baby shower, a friend's birthday, or any happy occasion. See below for decorations ideas to create a unique cake pop experience at your next event.
- Baby Shower - Coat each pop in pink or blue, depending on the gender. Top with white sprinkles.
- Birthday - Candy coat each pop in the desired color and funfetti sprinkles.
- Christmas - Dip each pop in white, red, or green coating and roll in Christmas sprinkles.
- Easter - Melt white chocolate and pastel gel food coloring to create easter colors. Roll in pastel sprinkles.
- Fourth of July - Use a white chocolate coat and roll in red and blue sprinkles.
- Gender Reveal - Using food coloring, make the cake pink or blue. Coat in neutral color and roll in both pink and blue sprinkles.
- Hanukkah - Use white chocolate and blue food coloring to medium blue. Roll with Hanukkah sprinkles.
- Saint Patrick's Day - Use white chocolate and green food coloring to medium green. Top with Saint Patrick's Day sprinkles.
- Valentine's Day - Start with a red velvet cake. Coat with rich red chocolate using candy melts or white chocolate with red food coloring. Roll in white sprinkles.
Microwaving Chocolate/Candy Melts - Chocolate can quickly go from melted to burned. To avoid this, microwave at 50% power in 30-second intervals. Stir between each interval until the chocolate is 80% melted. Continue to stir until the other 20% melts. The warmth will melt the remaining chocolate.
Remove the Top Layer of Cake - The top or outside layer of the cake is dryer than the interior. The dryness can cause the pop to crumble. This is easily avoided by using a knife to remove the top layer.
Finely Crumble the Cake - The finer the cake is crumbled, the smoother your cake pop will be. So take that extra minute to crumble by hand or place the cake in a stand-up mixer with a paddle attachment. The mixer will do all the work for you!
Chocolate Melts - Ghirardelli melts are made with cocoa butter, which results in a tempered-like shine. This chocolate is very easy to work with.
These fun little treats are made from crumbles that have been tightly packed together using frosting. The pop is then dipped into a chocolate or candy shell and topped with sprinkles.
They will last up to seven days in the refrigerator or four weeks in the freezer when stored in an airtight container.
This could be because of three reasons:
1. The cake pop is too big for the stick. The solution is to re-roll into a smaller pop.
2. There was too much frosting added to the cake crumbles. Either add more cake or dust with a light amount of flour.
3. The pop did not sit long enough in the refrigerator. Allow at least 30 minutes for the pop to set up.
This often happens when there is a sudden change in temperature from the freezer to the counter. Instead, try moving the cake pops from the freezer to the fridge to thaw and then to the counter.
Make-Ahead, Storing, and Packaging
Make-Ahead Instructions: I recommend making cake pops at least one day in advance. Always plan on making a few extra just in case.
Countertop Instructions: Store at room temperature on your countertop for one day.
Refrigerator Instructions: Lay flat in an airtight container and store for seven days.
Freezer Instructions: Lay each cake pop flat in the bottom of an airtight container. Place a layer of parchment paper on top of the first layer and then lay a second layer. Continue until the container is full. Then place the lid on and store it in the freezer for four weeks.
Packaging: Amazon has clear plastic bags with colorful bow ties.
Did you make this? Please leave a comment or tag a picture and tag me on social media.
Starbucks Cake Pops
- 1 and ⅔ cups (209g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240mil) whole milk
- 2 tablespoons store bought frosting
Coating and Decoration
- 40 ounces of candy coating or chocolate melts
Cake (If cake is already made, skipped to step 6)
- Preheat the oven to 350f/175c. Grease a 9-inch cake pan or a quarter baking sheet.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside1 and ⅔ cups (209g) all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix Wet Ingredients: Use a large bowl and a mixer on low to medium speed (hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment) cream the butter and sugar together. About two minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until combined. About two minutes. While mixing, scrape down the sides as needed to ensure all ingredients are fully combined.½ cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, 1 cup (200g) sugar, 1 large egg, room temperature, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Combine Ingredients: Using a spatula or wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients and milk to the wet ingredients. For the best result, the batter should be just barely mixed for a fluffier cake.1 cup (240mil) whole milk
- Bake: The baking time can vary depending on the size of the pan, generally the cake will bake in 30 - 35 minutes. Remove when golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to fully cool before moving on to step 3.Note: Oven temperatures can vary, and always keep a close eye on the cake to ensure it does not burn.
- Cake Pops
- Prepare Cake Crumbs: Start with a baked cake or cake scrapes. Using a large bowl, break the cake into fine cake crumbs using your hands or a mixer. Add two tablespoons of frosting and mix well until the cake becomes a ball.Note: This recipe assumes two tablespoons of frosting to one box of cake. If using a different amount of cake, adjust the frosting accordingly.2 tablespoons store bought frosting
- Shape and Set: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon to measure each portion, then roll it into a truffle-like ball. Melt a small amount of chocolate or candy coating. Dip a cake pop or lollipop stick in the melted chocolate/coating and insert it into the center of the cake ball. Place the cake ball on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Coat: Prepare the styrophone block or cardboard box by poking small holes in the top. Melt the remaining coating in a measuring cup or another cup large enough to fully submerge the cake pop. Add a tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil and mix. Remove 2-3 set cake balls out of the refrigerator at a time. Dip the cake ball in the melted chocolate or candy coating. Move the pop front to back and side to side, but do not swirl. Slightly lift the pop hold downwards at a 45-degree angle. Allow the coating to drip off gently. Gently tap the cake pop on the edge of a measuring cup or glass to remove excess chocolate.40 ounces of candy coating or chocolate melts, sprinkles
- Sprinkles: Add the sprinkles while the coating is still wet. Place upright into a styrofoam block or cardboard box. The coating will set in about an hour.