How to Make Rainbow Cupcakes: A DIY Tutorial

Saturday, March 16, 2024
If  you're wondering how to make rainbow cupcakes, you've come to the right place! I've been experimenting with this for a while now and I think I've finally come up with the best combinations of colors and methods. It's not as hard as you think!

Be sure to Pin this image for later if you don't have time to read this post now!

Follow along with these easy steps and you'll have some pretty cupcakes worth talking about, I assure you!

What You'll Need:

-white cake mix (white works best- if you use yellow your colors might change)
-vanilla frosting
-food coloring
-cupcake liners (I prefer foil or white)

You can use any cake mix recipe you like for this, but white cake works best so that you get true colors.  If you use a yellow cake mix, then your cupcake colors are going to be a little, well, yellowy.  I usually use a basic white cake mix like Pillsbury or Betty Crocker.  You'll also need food coloring and some type of white frosting (again, I just use Pillsbury), and my food coloring was basic food coloring from the supermarket.

What You Need To Know

If you're a perfectionist, you might want to make these without the kids' help, and just present them as a surprise.  If you seek their help in the process, just know that the colors might get mixed together and the cups might overflow.  If you don't care about any of that, then dive in with the little ones! They can be time consuming to make, but to me, the end result is always worth the effort.  I mean, how cool is this?

The Process

After you make your cake mix, divide the batter evenly into 6 bowls, one for each color.  Dye each batter bowl according to this chart:

Purple:  9 red and 6 blue drops
Blue :  12 drops
Green:  12 drops
Yellow:  12 drops
Orange: 12 yellow and 4 red drops
Red: 18 drops

This will give you the brightest colors.  When you're done it will look something like this:


-Line 16 muffin pan wells with wrappers.

-Fill each baking cup with a little bit of purple batter to start (roughly a tablespoon or so), filling each cup evenly. Then blue, then green, and so on, until you've worked your way backwards up the rainbow, ending with red.  You're working with small spoonfuls of batter each time.

-As you go, try to spread each color evenly over the other with the back of a spoon (this is the time consuming part).  If you don't totally cover each color with the next, then when the cupcake bakes, the color will bake upwards and you'll get more of a "u" shape of color inside the cupcake instead of colored flat layers.  The colors might also mix together - you can kind of see that in the photo below.  See how the blue color half crept up the sides of the cupcake?  That's because I didn't spread the color evenly to the edges; (the green dye didn't completely cover the blue).  Some people don't care about that (it still looks cool either way), but if you're a perfectionist and want straight layers, do your spreading!

Bake according to your cake recipe or your package directions.  Top with vanilla frosting if desired.


Last year I just didn't have it in me to do all of that spreading and dividing of batter!  So I made a rainbow bundt cake instead.  I just kind of spread the colors in the pan but didn't worry about spreading them evenly or covering each color with the last.  It was significantly faster and looked just as cute:

Those cute little leprechaun plastic rings are from Candyland Crafts in Raritan, New Jersey. They have everything you could ever want for baking and cake decorating!

I've also used the rainbow batter method for Easter. This time I dyed a bundt cake batter using only three colors:  yellow, purple and pink, to get somewhat of an Easter egg effect:

And finally, I made Angry Bird cupcakes for The Jersey Momma's Boy's fourth birthday party, which had an Angry Birds theme. I dyed the cupcakes red, yellow and blue to match the colors of the birds. I used my cupcake decorating gun to make the frosting look so nice:

Other Tips:

  -I have had friends tell me that if you use a thicker cake batter (one using yogurt or sour cream), then it is a little easier to spread the colors before baking.  But I have not tried this myself so I can't attest to it.

- If you use a white cupcake wrapper you will see the colored layers through the wrapper after baking.  If you don't want this to happen, try doubling up on the wrappers or using foil wrappers instead.

Although time consuming, this is a recipe that's worth trying at least once because they turn out so amazing looking.  My son is always so excited to eat them and share them with friends!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!! 

And if  you're looking for some other fun St. Patrick's Day posts, check out my Simple Shamrock Angels, Paper Plate Rainbows, or Rainbow Rice Sensory Bins. And here are some affiliate picks from Amazon for rainbow cake happiness!


  1. Wow, that's such a great idea. So pretty too.

  2. So cute! I LOVE the bundt cake!! I'll have the kids help me with this one. Pinning!

    1. Aw, glad you like them! I hope the kids enjoy making them! Thanks for visiting.

  3. Awesome ideas! These cupcakes look so yummy!

  4. Those look amazing! I love that element of surprise when they are unwrapped and the rainbow appears.

    1. I agree, that's my favorite part! Thanks for visiting, Theresa!

  5. Just need a pot of gold to go with it.

  6. You're right, Tamara, I could use a REAL pot of gold! Ha! Thanks for visiting.

  7. These cupcakes look yummy my daughter would love making them!

  8. Pinning to make next week. Love this idea <3

  9. These are awesome! So bright and colorful! Good for so many occasions!

    1. Thanks, T! Yes, we've altered them for many different holidays and parties!

  10. I absolutely love these! My kids would go crazy. Definitely going to try making these.

  11. Those are so cute! Perfect for my daughters Care Bear birthday on Sunday, I may have to try and see if I can make a rainbow cake too.

    You should come link this up at our 3bloggerspotlight party

  12. Absolutely beautiful, but I worry about all that food dye.

  13. Thanks, Aileen! Funny you mentioned that, I've actually been looking into more natural methods of food coloring. I'll post my results if I find anything worth sharing! For now, one special rainbow treat for the holiday couldn't hurt. ;)

  14. These are awesome! Thanks for linking up to the Creative K Kids' Tasty Tuesday, I look forward to seeing what you come up with next week!

  15. I'm always so impressed to see Rainbow Cupcakes! Great tutorial! Thanks for linking up with us for Friday Favorites. I'm featuring you this week.


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