Let them eat cake — on a stick!

By Vanessa Greaves and Allrecipes Editors
Updated February 25, 2021
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It's common knowledge that everything tastes better on a stick, and cake is no exception. Cake pops are all the rage for all the right reasons: They're adorable and adaptable; they don't require serving utensils and plates; and they're just the right size for tiny hands (or anyone trying to keep themselves from eating a whole cake). Why, then, are people nervous to make them?

As it turns out, cake pops are a fairly easy project, landing somewhere in between cake-mix cupcakes and a fondant-covered wedding cake in terms of time and baking expertise. Here are simple step-by-step instructions and a video to get you started, and plenty of inspiration for creating these cake cuties.

cake pops dipped with pink, yellow, and white frosting and embellished with crushed cookies and candies
Credit: Meredith

4 Ways to Make Cake Pops

There's more than one way to make cake pops or cake balls, in fact we'll show you four. For the first method, you'll start with a baked cake (either made from scratch or using a cake mix), and the second and third methods start with unbaked cake batter. And for the fourth method? No-bake cake pops!

1. How to Make Cake Pops Without a Mold

To make the easiest cake pops ever, start with a boxed cake mix instead of baking a cake from scratch. Or you could make a cake from scratch if you'd like. The point is, you can easily shape these cake pops by hand — no special equipment needed.

Easy Cake Pops

three chocolate covered cake pops drizzled with glitter icing
Credit: Buckwheat Queen

Use this top-rated recipe as a guide and switch out the cake mix, frosting, and icing to create endless variations. And don't underestimate the wow-factor of biting into an iced cake pop to discover red velvet or funfetti cake hidden inside.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) package cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • lollipop sticks
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag chocolate confectioners' coating, or try this homemade Hard Chocolate Glaze
  • Candy sprinkles, crushed candies, crushed cookies (optional)
crumbling cake into a bowl
Mixing frosting into cake crumbs in a bowl
Rolling cake and frosting mixture into small balls to make cake pops
Left: Credit: Meredith
Center: Credit: Meredith
Right: Credit: Meredith

Directions

  1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. When cake is done, let it cool for 30 minutes then crumble into a large bowl, and stir in the cream cheese until well blended. For best results, chill the mixture in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight.
  2. Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the cake mixture about 1 inch in diameter. Insert a lollipop stick into each cake ball. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and freeze for one hour.
  3. Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or in a glass bowl set over in a small saucepan of hot water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Or make Hard Chocolate Glaze.
  4. Dip each cake ball into the melted chocolate, spinning the cake ball slightly to get an even, smooth coat. Cover the entire ball and about ¼ inch of the lollipop stick. Place on waxed paper to set. Repeat with remaining cake balls
  5. Dress up your cake balls with melted chocolate, sprinkles, and more. Place the decorated cake balls in the freezer and let them set for at least an hour.
homemade cake pops on a tray
Credit: Meredith

2. How to Make Cake Pops Using a Cake-Pop Pan

Making cake pops with a mold like this cake-pop pan (like this Amazon best seller from Nordic Ware) will guarantee perfectly round cake pops every time. For this method, you'll start with cake batter either from a boxed cake mix or made from scratch, and bake it in the special pan.

cake pop baking pan
Credit: Meredith

Ingredients

  • Cake batter (use your choice of cake mix or cake recipe from scratch)
  • 1 (24 ounce) package vanilla almond bark, or try this homemade Hard Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 package paper lollipop sticks

Directions 

  1. To use a cake-pop pan, first spray the pan with cooking spray.
  2. Make a cake batter and spoon it into the bottom pan (no frosting "binder" needed), filling to the top.
  3. Secure top half of pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove. When completely cool, use a sharp knife to gently cut off the raised edge around the middle so balls are perfectly round. The final result should look something like the photo below. Follow the manufacturer's directions to insert the lollipop stick and dip the cake pops. Chill again, and decorate with wild abandon.
cake balls baked in a cake pop mold
Credit: Meredith

3. How to Make Cake Pops Using a Cake-Pop Appliance

If you're into gadgets, check out this video on how to use a special cake-pop appliance, the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker (it's available on Amazon for just $23), which works much like a waffle maker. For this method, you'll start with the cake batter of your choice.

Video: Using the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker

4. No-Bake Cake Pops

You know how I said the cake mix cake pops were the easiest ever? Well, these no-bake cake pops take the, um, cake. Crushed cookies get mushed up with mascarpone cheese and Irish cream liqueur, coated with white chocolate and drizzled with dark chocolate. To turn them into cake pops, just add lollipop sticks before chilling and dipping.

No-Bake Baileys Cheesecake Balls

No-Bake Baileys Cheesecake Balls
No-Bake Baileys Cheesecake Balls
| Credit: Allrecipes

How to Decorate Cake Pops

When it comes to decorating these tasty little treats, the sky's the limit. You can make anything from birthday cake pops to holiday cake pops, and cake pops just because. Here are some ideas to inspire your creativity:

It doesn't take much to decorate cake pops. Raid your pantry for easy embellishments like cookies, nuts, and candies. Fry up and crumble a slice or two of bacon. And if you want to get fancy, track down or make candied flowers or citrus curls.

cake pops dipped in icing and decorated with crushed cookies, chopped candies, bits of bacon, nuts, and candied flowers
Credit: Meredith

Cake pops all dressed up for the holidays with crushed peppermints, toasted coconut, chopped nuts, and candy sprinkles.

cake pops dipped in chocolate and vanilla icings and decorated with candies
Credit: Meredith

Christmas cake pops for kids — and who are we kidding — grown-ups love them, too!

Christmas cake pops decorated to look like snow person, reindeer, Santa's tummy, and a Christmas tree ornament
Credit: Meredith

Cake pops threaded onto lollipop sticks and decorated to look like fun-loving snow people.

cake pops threaded on lollipop sticks and decorated with shredded coconut, candies, pretzel sticks, and icing to look like snow people
Credit: Meredith

All your little ghosts and goblins will love these Halloween cake pops. You know what would be fun inside? How about pumpkin cake pops!

Halloween-themed cake pops dipped in icing and decorated to look like ghosts, witches, and spiders
Credit: Meredith

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