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    How to make rainbow colored cupcakes

    Posted by  ·  May 18, 2010

    Today we  have a fabulous guest post from Angry Julie. I was lucky enough to meet Julie at Bloggy Bootcamp. Making friends with other bloggers is one of the biggest benefits of going to blog conferences!

    Julie is here showing us how to make beautiful rainbow cupcakes.  Make sure you stop by and check out her blog!

    Rainbow Colored Cupcakes Tutorial

    Angry Julie writes…

    After cupcake wrapper removed

    I think I shocked my family and friends last night when I posted pictures of the cupcakes last night on my Facebook account.  There was quite some shock and awe going.  I can pretty much follow a recipe, if I like it. As a toddler would say, “I just don’t want to.” But really, my friend Ruth summed it up best, “The cupcake looks so good. Kudos to you Jules…who knew?? All of these years you have been playing the “I can’t cook or bake” card.  What you really should have been saying was, “I DON’T WANT to cook or bake.”

    I’ve seen many people bake these rainbow cupcakes online.  I thought, “why not” and wanted to give it a try.  I rarely bake, maybe once a month. So I had to do some supply shopping before I even started.  I headed straight towards my local Sur La Table, which is way too convenient.  I also asked my friend, Kristin for some help.  Kristin has been a big help in this project.  She basically provided me with supplies, recipes, and advice.  Without Kristin, I would have nothing.  I would have had plain ole’ cake mix with frosting from a jar.

    Prepping to make cake mix

    Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcakes from Hello Cupcake

    Yield: 24 standard cupcakes

    18.25-ounce box cake mix (French vanilla, devil’s food or yellow)
    1 cup buttermilk, in place of the water called for on the box (the box will call for more water than the buttermilk you are using)
    Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
    4 large eggs (in place of the number called for on the box)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

    Using substitutions above, follow the box instructions to mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.

    Spoon half of the batter into a zip-top bag. Snip a ¼-inch corner from the bag and fill the paper liners 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from baking pans, place on a wire rack . Cool completely.

    I used Duncan Hines White Cake Mix for my cupcakes.  Kristin said that I need to use white cake mix as the color stands out better. I also adapted parts of this recipe to make rainbow cupcakes.

    Placing the cake batter in different bowls for colors

    After mixing the batter, I separated it into four different bowls.  I used four bowls, because I was going to use four different colors for my “rainbow effect”.

    After the colors were mixed in

    I used Wilton’s Icing Colors to get the desired effect. The colors that I used were Leaf Green, Violet, Pink, and Lemon Yellow. I was going for a more muted effect, but obviously they are quite bright. You just need to use a teeny tiny bit of the icing color for the batter. It was my first time so I got carried away.  Like I said, it was my first time. I had no clue on what I was doing.

    Getting ready to go in oven

    I didn’t take a picture of the filing the cupcakes phase. It was a complete mess and I had colored batter everywhere. My kitchen is small and there are only so many places to put stuff.  I pretty much layered the batter and it sloshed around.  I started by putting it into bags and trying to drip it into the baking cups. Yea, that was an epic fail.  I gave up and used a spoon. My theory is, “as long as it looks somewhat rainbow layered, it’s good enough.” Kristin told me that when you do rainbow cupcakes, you need to use a little less batter in your cups. She said that the layered colored batter rises differently.  I didn’t know how far to fill them up.  I filled them up someway between 1/2 and 3/4 full.

    Warm rainbow cupcakes

    These are how the cupcakes looked after popping them out of the muffin tin. They are on the cooling rack.  They were not as big on top as I would have liked.  I was a bit apprehensive when filing the baking cups.  Next time, I will fill them up a little more.

    I let the cupcakes cool for about 30-45 minutes before I started working on the icing/frosting.  I’m using a recipe that Kristin gave me for icing.

    Making cream cheese frosting

    Cream Cheese Butter cream Frosting

    Depending on how many cupcakes you are making, you might want to double or reduce by half.

    10 oz cream cheese softened
    10 oz butter unsalted room temp
    1.5 lbs of powdered sugar
    1 tbsp of lemon juice
    2 tbsp of cream (heavy or whipping)
    1.5 tsp of vanilla

    Beat cream cheese and butter on med until fluffy, about 3 mins. Add powdered sugar, then liquids. Beat on med-high/high for about 3 more minutes. Taste. If it still tastes sugary, beat for another minute.

    This makes about… 1.5 qts so I can usually frost about 2-3 dozen cupcakes depending on how much I pipe.

    I split this recipe in half because I was just doing a test batch.  I would have brought out my bigger mixer if I was making the whole recipe. It got quite fluffy when I added in the powdered sugar. I also used whipping cream for my recipe.  I added the Wilton pink icing color once again, to color my icing/frosting.  I could have done several colors, but I was only making a dozen.  I added the icing color into the bowl and used the hand mixer on low for about a minute to make sure it was thoroughly mixed.

    I did not get a picture of myself icing the cupcakes because well it’s pretty hard to ice cupcakes and take photographs at the same time. Plus, Angry Husband went to the store while I was doing this.

    I purchased a Wilton 12-Piece Cupcake Decorating Set to pipe on the icing.  I used the 1M Star Tip on my cupcakes. Seriously, it was so easy. I just tossed some icing into the bag with the tip and swirled it around on the cupcake.  I swear, I have never ever done this before.

    Iced Cupcakes 2

    Not bad for a first timer, right? I’m pretty impressed with myself.  I even let Angry Kid help me out.  He thought that it was the coolest thing ever.  He kept wanting to eat the cupcakes also. I told him that he had to wait.  Angry Husband came home from the store after I had finished icing them. He was rather impressed.

    But you know I’m not finished, right? I had to add some sugar to the tops of my cupcakes.  I used a pink sugar the Kristin bought for me, at a baking supply store.

    Sugaring the cupcakes

    Here’s a close-up of a cupcake after being sugar-dusted.

    Cupcake Close-up

    By the time I finished everything, it was almost 11pm. I’m such a night owl.  But Angry Husband wanted to see the center, so I cut one open.  I let Angry Kid eat the actual cake, and no frosting. I have no clue why he was up that late. Probably because he wanted to see the middle of the cupcakes also. Like I’ve always said, “I’m mother of the year!”

    Center of rainbow cupcakes

    I tasted one this morning. It was yummy.  This was my practice run for Easter.  I’m going to try to make the colors a little lighter for this weekend.


    Thanks Julie! I am going to give this a try.

    SOON you will be able to get all your baking and candy making supplies online from my new shop Sweet!. Will you give us a follow on twitter and a like on facebook to help us get started?

    Filed Under: Recipes

    Leave a Comment


    1. Thursday, June 24th, 2010
      I love the bright colors and the sugar crystals. I'm not a baker myself, but I would like to try these sometime. Thanks for the tutorial.
    2. Carol S-U
      Saturday, June 12th, 2010
      Just pulled them out of the oven - they smell SO GOOD! I'll fess up to tasting the batter and it was tasty! Can't wait for them to cool so we can frost them for our party tomorrow! My girls are very excited! The color mixing/adding to the cupcake cups was a little more time consuming, but so far they look great!
    3. Carol
      Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
      I finally made these for my son's birthday. They were a hit! He loved them. The kids loved them. And I loved them. Thanks for the inspiration.
    4. Andrea
      Friday, May 21st, 2010
      Made these yesterday and they were so pretty! But, really, I have to comment on the taste ~ they were so moist and dense and had such a great flavor ~ all due to the changes in the box recipe!!! They were a hit with my son's class!!! Thanks for the recipe!
    5. Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
      I love these! So bright and fun. I will be attempting these sweet treats. Thanks for sharing! Great job!
    6. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I love the bright colors! I think I will be making these for my daughters last snack day at school coming up...
    7. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I did this once. Its so much fun! I also did red and black cupcakes for a football tailgate.
    8. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      Wow! Awesome... and super bright colors! :) Thanks for posting this.
    9. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I love how vibrant the colours are, and the hot pink icing! *swoon* I made these some time ago and they really are so easy! I used just a couple of drops of colour for a more pastel effect.
    10. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I'm gonna try making these tonight. My kids will love, love, love them. Thanks for the fun recipe!
    11. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I absolutely love these cupcakes, unfortunately I can't eat them because I'm off the sugar. But they made me laugh when I saw them. You go, girl!
    12. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      You can add just a little flour to your cake batter (to make it a little thicker) and then it might be easier to use the bags and put it in layers (instead of it dripping out of the bags in a mess). Either way it looks great and I can't wait to try it.

      Add 1/4 C all purpose flour to dry cake mix for each 18.25 oz. cake mix. Be sure to beat the cake mix according to pkg. directions (under beating will cause the batter to be thinner). Hope that helps!
    13. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I just did these for my son's birthday party--but I did single colors, and made mini cupcakes. And, of course, a boxed cake mix. They turned out awesome and were so easy! It will be my new go-to dessert for any kids party! Here's my link:
    14. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I this is just fabulous. Love the colors and how vibrant they stayed :)
    15. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      OMG, those look SO great! I can't wait to make these with my kiddos. My girls will love them. Going to go put a link to them on my blog right now!!
    16. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      Why do you substitute buttermilk for water in the batter recipe? Won't it work as is?
    17. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      Wow! These look awesome. We might just have to try this.
    18. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      Thank You so much Cindy for posting my cupcakes!!! You rock!!!! I heart your sparkly white teeth too!
    19. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      I love making rainbow colored cake and cupcakes, such a festive and fun way and always gets laughs and smiles!
    20. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      this is like the most festive and fun-looking cupcake ever! I'd love to make these for my family soon.
    21. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      LOVE. WANT.
    22. Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
      Oh... We have done these before and our kids absolutely love them. This is a great how-to and some wonderfully colored treats! Thanks!