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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Homemade Cake Pops – Sally’s Baking Addiction

Learn how to make homemade cake pops completely from scratch, with no box cake mix or canned frosting. Combine homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream and dip in white chocolate for a sweet treat kids (and adults, too!) always go crazy for. Watch the video tutorial for all my best shaping tips.

See my chocolate cake pops recipe, too.

I originally published this recipe in 2015 and have since added new photos and a video.

vanilla cake pops with sprinkles on plate.

Have you ever seen a child peering into the food display case at Starbucks? I’m not an expert, but I’m willing to bet that 9 times out of 10, the child will ask for a cake pop. This is definitely the case with my own kids, anyway! There’s just something so irresistible about those Starbucks cake pops—a perfectly portioned treat on a stick in eye-catching colors and shapes, topped with sprinkles. It’s hard to say no to something this tempting!

I first began making homemade cake pops when I wrote Sally’s Candy Addiction. In fact, this recipe is published in that book. I wanted to share it on my website as well because I’ve received lots of questions about making from-scratch cake pops.

One reader, Debby, commented: “Made 160 vanilla and chocolate cake pops for my daughter’s graduation party! They turned out great! Many asked where we had purchased them. They looked amazing and tasted awesome, too! Thanks, Sally, for your rolling advice, tips, and techniques. It was nice that you could prepare them ahead of time and freeze them. ★★★★★”

One reader, Luisa, commented: “My first time making cake pops and they were perfect! My kids and their friends loved them. This recipe is going to be a staple in our house for special occasions. ★★★★★”

vanilla cake pop with rainbow sprinkles standing upright on white box.

Taste the Homemade

The difference between these cake pops and others you may have tried is that these are 100% homemade. There’s no box cake mix or canned frosting, which results in a totally unique cake pop experience. You can actually TASTE the homemade.

Today I’ll go over all my tips, tricks, and secrets to crafting the perfect pop as well as the homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream used inside. There’s lots of ground to cover so let’s pop right to it. (Couldn’t help myself.)

How to Make Homemade Cake Pops

Since we’re leaving the box cake mix and canned frosting on the store shelves, we’ll need to take extra time to prep both from scratch. Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Make a 1-layer vanilla cake and let cool.
  2. Make vanilla buttercream frosting.
  3. Crumble cake into frosting and mix.
  4. Roll the mixture into balls.
  5. Dip in melted chocolate.
  6. Top with sprinkles and let dry.
  7. EAT!

Make-Ahead Tip: You can make the cake in advance, because it needs to cool completely before you crumble it into the frosting. I always make the cake the night before, then finish the cake pops the next day.

vanilla cake batter in a glass bowl with a metal whisk

My recipe for vanilla cake is very straightforward. It’s basically a scaled-down version of my favorite vanilla layer cake. I encourage you to use the correct size pan for the cake. This cake is too large for a typical 9-inch cake pan. You’ll need to use a 9-inch springform pan because it rises quite high. Or you can use an 11×7-inch pan instead. A 10-inch springform pan would work as well.

Besides lollipop sticks, a mixer, and the correct size pan, you don’t really need much else to get started!

Then make the vanilla frosting. The difference between this and frosting out of a container is the TASTE; you can tell these cake pops are special and it’s because you started with from-scratch components.

This frosting recipe yields *just enough* to barely moisten the cake crumbs. Now it’s time to crumble the cake and mix with your frosting.

(Crumbling the cake into the frosting sounds super weird when you think about it and that’s exactly what cake pops are—super weird when you think about it. It’s cake and frosting mixed together to form a truffle-like ball. Pop a stick in it and dunk into coating. Yep, it’s weirdly delicious and awesome and you need to embrace it.)

process photo showing mixing crumbled cake with vanilla frosting.

Once the two are mixed together, it’s time to roll the mixture into balls.

cake balls on lined baking sheet.

3 Success Tips for Shaping & Dipping Cake Pops

Success Tip #1: It’s easier to roll the cake + frosting mixture into perfectly round balls if it’s cold. So what I do is roll the balls right after the two are mixed together. They’re pretty misshapen because the cake + frosting mixture is super moist—and at room temperature. Chill the balls in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. After that, give them another little roll to smooth out the sides. When they’re cold, they’re easier to smooth out and form perfectly round shapes.

Now let’s dunk! You can dip the cake balls in melted white chocolate, which is what I prefer for the best taste, but that stuff is pretty expensive. And you need a good amount for all 40 cake pops! If desired, you can use candy melts/candy coating instead.

Success Tip #2: To ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip one end of the stick into the coating first (just about 1/2 inch down). Then stick the coated end into the center of the cake ball. This helps the cake ball adhere to the lollipop stick.

dipping cake ball into white chocolate.dipping cake ball into white chocolate.
cake ball on lollipop stick coating in white chocolate.cake ball on lollipop stick coating in white chocolate.

Success Tip #3: The best way to allow the coating to dry and set—without ruining the perfectly round cake pop—is to place them right-side-up in a large styrofoam block or even a box. I used a box, as pictured below, for this batch. I just poked little holes into it.

Easy and cheap:

cake pops with white coating and light pink coating.cake pops with white coating and light pink coating.
homemade chocolate, vanilla, and pink cake pops.homemade chocolate, vanilla, and pink cake pops.

If you’re topping with sprinkles (always recommended!), add them now before the chocolate sets. I used rainbow sprinkles on the white chocolate and white sprinkles on the light pink-tinted white chocolate (like Starbucks!).

Cake pops dry/set within an hour or so.

Cake Pop FAQs

Can I Freeze Cake Pops?

Cake pops are an ideal celebration-worthy treat to make ahead of time because they freeze beautifully. I simply freeze them in a large zip-top freezer bag or freezer-safe container after they’ve fully dried. They can stay in the freezer for up to 6 weeks, then just let them thaw overnight in the fridge.

Can I Color the Coating?

Tinting the coating brings a fun POP of color! I usually stick to just white + one other color. Again, you can use colored candy melts for the coating or you can tint the white chocolate with gel food coloring. Then of course you can mix up what sprinkles you use!

Can I Make Them Another Flavor?

Check out my recipe for chocolate cake pops here. You can also switch up dunking in white or dark chocolate.

How Do I Keep the Chocolate Coating From Cracking?

If your cake pops have some cracks on them, the melted chocolate could have been too hot. Let the melted chocolate or candy coating sit for 5 minutes to slightly cool down before dunking the cold cake balls into it. That usually helps!


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cake pops with white coating and light pink coating.cake pops with white coating and light pink coating.

Homemade Cake Pops

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4.7 from 140 reviews

  • Author:

  • Prep Time:
    2 hours

  • Cook Time:
    36 minutes

  • Total Time:
    7 hours

  • Yield:
    40 pops

  • Category:
    Cake Pops

  • Method:

  • Cuisine:


Homemade vanilla cake pops with vanilla buttercream from scratch—no cake mix or canned frosting! Follow my thorough instructions, tips, and video tutorial for best results.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Give the thick batter a quick stir with a spatula to ensure there are no large lumps at the bottom of the bowl. Pour and spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30–36 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the top begins browning too quickly in the oven, loosely tent with a piece of aluminum foil.
  4. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  5. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and mix on low speed to combine. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes.
  6. Crumble the cooled cake into the bowl on top of the frosting. Make sure there are no large lumps. Turn the mixer on low speed and beat the frosting and cake crumbles together until combined.
  7. Scoop 1 Tablespoon (about 20g) of cake/frosting mixture and roll into a ball. Place balls on a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or freeze for 1 hour to set the shape. Re-roll the chilled cake pop balls to smooth out, if needed. Place the tray back into the fridge, as you’ll only work with a couple at a time.
  8. Melt the chocolate or candy melts in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (best for dunking!) in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each increment, until melted and smooth. You can also use a double boiler on the stove, if you prefer.
  9. Coat the cake balls: Remove just 2 or 3 cake balls from the refrigerator at a time. Dip the end of a lollipop stick about 1/2 inch into the coating, then insert the coated end into the center of the cake ball. Only push it about halfway through the cake ball. Dip the cake ball into the coating until it is completely covered. Make sure the coating covers the base of the cake ball where it meets the lollipop stick. Very gently tap the stick against the edge of the measuring cup to allow excess coating to drip off. Decorate the top with sprinkles and place upright into a styrofoam block or box (as explained in the blog post). Repeat with remaining cake balls, working with just a few out of the refrigerator at a time. The cake balls must be very cold when dipping!
  10. Coating will set within an hour. Store cake pops in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: I always make the cake 1 day ahead of time. Cover and keep at room temperature. You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 6 weeks. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator, then continue with step 9. You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): 9-inch Springform Pan (a 10-inch springform pan or 11×7-inch pan will work, too) | Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Cooling Rack | Baking Sheet | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Glass Measuring CupLollipop SticksAmericolor Food Coloring
  3. Coating: You can use candy coating/candy melts, or chopped white chocolate. I typically use Ghirardelli brand white chocolate melting wafers. Semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate baking bars work, too. Coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl or glass liquid measuring cup, along with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to help thin it out. Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each 20 seconds, until melted and smooth. Keep warm over a double boiler.

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