Angie Dudley, otherwise known as Bakerella, is credited as the first person to debut the idea of cake pops in 2008. But it sure didn’t take long for Starbucks to jump on the cake-on-a-stick trend, debuting their own pretty in pink version in 2011. And since then, the portable sweet treat has been kept on the bakery menu with the classic pink Birthday Cake Pop, along with seasonal and flavor variations over time.
If you’ve even munched on one of these petite sweets, or even had your child beg you for one every time you enter the Starbucks parking lot, you know they have a certain appeal. It’s the perfect balance of sweetness and vanilla flavoring. But what if you could replicate that at home? Cake pops take a few steps to make, but with this easy copycat recipe, you can certainly achieve it. With simple ingredients and a bit of patience, you can put together your own charming copycat Starbucks cake pops at home.
Gather the ingredients for this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe
To get started on making your own copycat Starbucks Birthday Cake Pops, it’s important to have all of the necessary ingredients on hand and ready before diving in on the process. Based on Starbucks’ website description, these cake pops are a simple combination of vanilla cake with frosting, which is then dipped in a pink coating. Of course, white sprinkles top them off for a splash of celebration. But that simple combination also comes with plenty of hard-to-pronounce ingredients in the mix. We chose to skip that part.
For this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe, you’ll need a baked vanilla cake, vanilla frosting, pink candy melts for the coating, white nonpareil sprinkles, and lollipop sticks. You can use a store-bought vanilla cake mix paired with a tub of frosting, or you can make these entirely from scratch. If you can’t find pink candy melts, vanilla almond bark with a few drops of red food coloring will work as well.
For the cake, you’ll need 1-¼ cups of sugar, half a cup of butter, two eggs, two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 1-¼ cups of flour, 1-¾ teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon salt, and ¾ cup milk. For the vanilla frosting, you’ll need an additional ¼ cup of butter, two cups of powdered sugar, an additional tablespoon of milk, and half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
Bake the cake for this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe
To start prepping the cake for these copycat Starbucks cake pops, first, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit to be sure it’s hot and ready once your batter is done.
To make the batter for your cake, start by combining the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Cream until fluffy, and then add the eggs one at a time. Add in the vanilla extract and mix.
Next, with the mixer running, gradually add in a third of the flour mixture and then pour in half of the milk. Continue mixing while you add in another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the milk, and then the remaining third of the flour mixture. Mix until your batter forms without over-mixing. Pour the prepared batter into a greased cake pan, and then bake the cake for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is fully set. Once the cake is baked, set it aside to fully cool, or put it in the freezer to speed up the cooling process.
Make the frosting for this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe
One of the crucial pieces of the puzzle for making these copycat Starbucks cake pops is the frosting. The frosting is essentially the glue that will hold the cake’s form. There are plenty of options to switch up the frosting flavor for unique combinations, but Starbucks keeps their cake pops pretty simple. A vanilla frosting will be your best bet for this copycat cake pops recipe.
While waiting for the cake to fully cool, get started on making the frosting. You don’t need much frosting for the cake pops, so this recipe has been cut in half to avoid having too much left over.
Start by adding ¼ a cup of softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Start mixing the butter, and then add in a cup of powdered sugar. With the mixer running, add in a tablespoon of milk and half a teaspoon vanilla extract, and mix. Mix in the remaining cup of powdered sugar and continue mixing until the frosting forms.
Crumble the cake for this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe
Cake pops are formed by utilizing crumbled-up cake. This can be leftover vanilla cake you’ve already baked, or, of course, you can use the freshly baked cake directed in this recipe.
To make the filling for your copycat Starbucks cake pops, start by crumbling the cake into a large mixing bowl. Be sure the cake is completely cooled before beginning this step. Crumble up the cake with a large fork, or even use your hands. Just be sure it’s broken down enough to avoid any large chunks from making their way into the mixture. Once crumbled, you should have four cups of cake crumbs in the bowl.
Once the cake is crumbled, add in three tablespoons of your prepared frosting. Use your hands to mix the cake crumbs and frosting together. Continue mixing until the cake crumbs and frosting come together to form a texture similar to dough.
Form the cake balls for this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe
Forming the cake balls for these copycat Starbucks cake pops is the next step. You’ll want to be sure you’re making balls of cake that are uniform in size. They shouldn’t be too small or too large. Too small, and they won’t be as fun to eat. Too large, and the cake may fall right off the lollipop stick. And nobody wants to be dropping their fun and festive cake pop on the floor.
Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper to avoid the cake balls from sticking. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop tablespoon-sized pieces of dough. If you don’t have a cookie dough scoop with a quick release, a tablespoon will work fine as well.
Scoop the pieces of dough, and then roll each into a smooth ball with your hands. Once formed, place the ball of dough on the prepared baking sheet.
Dip the sticks for this copycat Starbucks cake pops recipe
Once the cake balls for these copycat Starbucks cake pops are formed, it’s time to add the lollipop sticks. But you’ll want to have something to secure the sticks into the cake first. Don’t just push the sticks into the cake balls. They’re likely to fall off during the dipping process.
Start by melting the candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Stir the candy melts, return the bowl to the microwave, and continue heating in ten-second intervals. Be sure to stir in between each heating, and only heat until melted and smooth. Be sure not to overheat.
Once the candy melts are ready, dip the end of a lollipop stick into the melted coating and push the stick into the cake ball. Avoid pushing the stick all the way through and piercing the other side of the cake ball. Continue this step until all of the cake balls have dipped sticks. Then, place the full baking sheet in the freezer on a flat surface and allow the candy melt coating to harden and set for at least 15 minutes.
Dip and decorate these copycat Starbucks cake pops
After at least 15 minutes in the freezer, the lollipop sticks should be set into the cake balls. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, and prepare a station for dipping.
Set up somewhere to prop the dipped copycat Starbucks cake pops to set. Using a glass with rice in it, or even a cardboard box, will work well to keep the dipped cake pops from touching while the candy coating sets.
While the cake pop is cold, dip it into the melted candy coating. Be sure to allow the excess candy coating to drip off the cake pop, or gently scrape it against the bowl or tap it to assist the process. Once dipped, sprinkle the cake pop with white nonpareil sprinkles, and then prop it up and set it aside to set. Let the cake pops sit for at least one hour to be sure the outer coating hardens.
How long can you keep these copycat Starbucks cake pops?
Walking into Starbucks and seeing those cute little pink cake pops in the bakery display case evokes a certain emotion. It’s fun! They’re festive! And you can totally make these ahead of time to keep plenty on display at home for the same experience.
Since cake pops are just a mixture of cake crumbs and frosting dipped in a candy coating, they have quite a bit of sugar in them. Of course, that sugar gives them great flavor, but it also helps to preserve them in this case.
These copycat Starbucks cake pops can be kept at home at room temperature, in the fridge, or even in the freezer. At room temperature, be sure they’re left away from anything that will heat them up and cause the candy coating to melt. Otherwise, they’ll be good at room temperature for up to five days. Or, you can keep these cake pops on hand in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to one month. Just be sure to individually wrap each cake pop in plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container to keep them fresh in the fridge or freezer.
- 1-¼ cups sugar
- ½ cup butter (plus ¼ cup for frosting)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (plus ½ teaspoon for frosting)
- 1-¼ cups flour
- 1-¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk (plus 1 tablespoon for frosting)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (for frosting)
- White nonpareil sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until incorporated and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Cream until fluffy.
- With the mixer running, add in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
- Mix in the dry ingredients by alternating them with the milk. Add in a third of the flour mixture, and then add in half of the milk. Mix in another third of the flour mixture, the other half of the milk, and then finish with the remaining flour mixture. Mix until a smooth batter forms.
- Prepare a cake pan with cooking spray to prevent the cake from sticking. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake the cake for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven once the top is lightly golden and set.
- Set the cake aside to fully cool on the counter, or speed up the process by placing it in the freezer.
- Make the frosting while the cake cools. Add ¼ cup of softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add in the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar, and continue mixing until a smooth frosting forms.
- Break up the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. Crumble it well to avoid any large chunks in the mixture. This should amount to 4 cups of cake crumbs.
- Add 3 tablespoons of prepared frosting into the mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix the cake crumbs and frosting. Mix until the mixture resembles a soft dough.
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop tablespoon-sized pieces of dough from the bowl of cake pop filling. Roll each section of dough into a smooth ball. Place the cake balls on the prepared baking sheet.
- Melt the pink candy coating. Put the candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and then continue heating in ten-second intervals. Stir in between each heating to make sure the candy coating is fully melted and smooth.
- Dip one end of the lollipop stick into the candy coating, and then push it into the cake ball. Be sure it only goes through to the center. Repeat this step with all of the cake balls, and then put the full baking sheet in the freezer to allow the candy coating and lollipop sticks to set for at least 15 minutes.
- Once the lollipop sticks are set, dip each cake pop into the pink candy coating to fully cover it. Allow the excess candy coating to drip off of the cake pop. Gently scrape it against the bowl or tap it gently to assist.
- Sprinkle the cake pops with white nonpareil sprinkles, and then prop the lollipop sticks by using a glass filled with rice or a cardboard box to allow the cake pops to fully set without touching.