These Starbucks copycat cake pops are made from vanilla cake mix and frosting, colorful candy melts, and fun sprinkles for the perfect bite-sized treats to celebrate any occasion!
There’s something so epic about Starbucks’ cake pops. They’re moist and sweet, with a crunchy candy coating and the cutest of cute sprinkles. To make them at home, semi-homemade is the name of the game (just like with my Chocolate Eclair Cake and Red Velvet Cookies). The only way to get close to the epic-ness of Starbucks’ pops at home is to use boxed cake mix and frosting. Yes, I said it! The “easy” way is the best way!
Let’s be honest, boxed cake mix and frosting have distinctive, nostalgic, truly addictive taste and texture. Plus using them cuts back on the time to make cake pops at home by half! It’s a win-win.
Looking to make birthday cake pops like Starbucks, or your own creations with vanilla cake and a rich chocolate coating? Either way, this recipe is poppin’.
What You’ll Need to Make This Cake Pop Recipe
Make over 2 dozen cake pops with just a few ingredients, that taste just like Starbucks’!
- Classic yellow cake mix (plus ingredients on back of box) – I find that your standard yellow cake mix works the best (not the ultra moist ones!). You’ll also need the ingredients to make them, like eggs and vegetable oil. You can use a different flavored cake mix like chocolate, funfetti, etc., but keep in mind the cake itself might be more or less moist, so you may need to adjust the amount of frosting.
- Canned vanilla frosting – look for a classic vanilla frosting. If you’re going the chocolate cake route, you can use chocolate frosting!
- Candy melts – candy melts are disc-shaped pieces of candy coating used for melting, dipping, and decorating sweets like cake pops. They are available in a wide range of colors and flavors. Candy melts are designed to melt smoothly and harden quickly. I highly recommend using candy melts instead of regular melted chocolate that is very difficult to work with and creates a too-thick chocolate shell! You can find candy melts at many grocery stores, party stores, and at Target.
- Sprinkles (optional) – you gotta make them pretty! Starbucks uses white, round sprinkles for their birthday cake and chocolate cake pops.
How to Make Cake Pops
Learn how to make copycat Starbucks cake pops! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!
Prepare cakes as directed on the box.
Allow cakes to cool in pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to wire racks for another 15 minutes.
Crumble cakes into fine crumbs using forks.
Mix in frosting until well combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls, yielding around 30 balls.
Chill balls in the freezer for 90 minutes or in the fridge for 3 hours.
Microwave candy melts in 30-second intervals until fully melted, stirring each time.
Set up an assembly line with popsicle sticks, melted candy, sprinkles, and a cake pop stand or Styrofoam block.
Take 3 cake balls from the fridge and dip sticks ½ inch into melted candy.
Insert sticks halfway into cake balls and let candy coating dry completely.
Dip cake balls entirely into melted candy, ensuring full coverage.
Decorate with sprinkles and place upright on cake stand or Styrofoam block.
Repeat process for all cake balls.
Allow candy coating to set at room temperature in under 10 minutes or in the fridge in 5 minutes. Enjoy!
Pro Tips for Making Copycat Starbucks Cake Pops
Make these cake pops like a pro! Here are some tips and tricks:
- Crumble cake finely: Make sure the cake is crumbled into very fine crumbs so the cake pops hold their shape and have a smooth texture.
- Adjust frosting amount: If you aren’t using a classic vanilla cake mix, you may need to adjust the frosting amount. The cake balls should hold their shape well without being too sticky.
- Chill thoroughly: Chill the cake balls according to the instructions. Chilling the cake balls will help them stay together when rolling them in the candy melts!
- Melt slowly: When melting the candy melts, melt in short intervals, stirring between each interval to avoid burning the chocolate!
- Dip and tap: When dipping the cake pops into the chocolate coating, rotate them gently and very carefully tap off any excess coating.
- Let them set: After decorating the cake pops, allow them to set completely before serving or packaging.
- Decorate like a boss: Get creative with decorations by using sprinkles, drizzles, or even crushed toppings to mimic the look of Starbucks cake pops…or make your very own creations!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Decorate your cake pops like Starbucks with pink, white or regular chocolate candy coating and fun sprinkles! For a special occasion or holiday, sprinkle your cake pops with crushed candy canes, Oreos, PB cups, etc.
It’s highly recommended to use candy melts instead of regular melted chocolate. Candy melts are easier to work with, provide a smoother finish, and dry more quickly. You can find candy melts at many grocery stores, most party stores, and Target!
There are a few potential culprits. The cake balls are not cold enough, the cake balls were too loosely rolled, or the most likely reason is that the candy coating was not allowed to fully harden on the stick/cake ball before dipping the whole cake pop in the coating.
Store cake pops at room temperature for 1-2 days or covered in the fridge for a week.
Yes, absolutely! Place them in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Let them thaw at room temperature for an hour before devouring.
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- 30 lollipop sticks
- Cake pop holder (or Styrofoam block)
- 1 box classic yellow cake mix plus ingredients on back of box
- 1 ¼ cups canned vanilla frosting
- 20 ounces candy melts white, pink, or regular chocolate
- Sprinkles to decorate (optional)
- Make cakes according to instructions on the back of the box.
- Let cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pans, before inverting onto wire racks to cool for another 15 minutes.
- Use 2 forks to crumble cakes completely, into a sandy texture.
- Add frosting. Mix well.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll 2 tablespoon-sized balls, compressing each so they hold their shape well. You should be able to roll roughly 30 balls. Place each ball on the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Place balls in the freezer for 90 minutes or the fridge for 3 hours.
- When balls are chilled, melt candy melts in the microwave, in increments of 30 seconds. Stir each increment until completely melted.
- Create an assembly line (popsicle sticks, melted candy, sprinkles, cake pop stand or Styrofoam block).
- Place cake balls in the fridge and remove 3 to work with at a time. Dip 3 sticks into the melted candy about ½ inch up each stick.
- Push candy-covered sticks about halfway through the cake balls. Very important: now let candy coating dry completely onto the stick/cake ball (about a minute).
- Then dip cake balls completely into the candy coating. Make sure the candy coating covers the entire cake ball, right to the stick. Let any excess candy coating drip off.
- Decorate with sprinkle and place the cake pops upright, on the cake stand or into the Styrofoam.
- Repeat for all of the cake balls.
- Candy coating will set at room temperature in 10 minutes or less, or in the fridge in 5 minutes. Enjoy!
- For birthday cake pops like Starbucks, dip them in pink candy melts and top with white sprinkles.
- Yes, you can use chocolate cake and chocolate frosting! Look for “classic” chocolate cake mix. If you choose to branch out and use funfetti, ultra moist, carrot, or some other cake mix, you may need to adjust the amount of frosting mixed in, since the cake itself may be more or less moist. You should be able to easily roll cake balls without them crumbling and falling apart.
- It’s best to look for classic cake mix instead of “ultra moist”.
- Want smaller cake pops? Roll into 1 tablespoon cake balls instead.
- If candy melts re-solidify, microwave for 20-30 more seconds.