15 Beautiful Birthday Cake Ideas
Birthday cakes are celebration cakes that tell the world: this is your day. Serving birthday cake, especially to children, is a tradition that reportedly goes back to the Middle Ages. Even today, nothing quite says "it's your birthday" like cake.
While classic sheet pan or layer birthday cakes might have a birthday message and candles, that's not the only way to go. A birthday cake should surprise and delight the recipient so it can be something playful and fun like a caterpillar cake or a colorful piñata cake, or just a good old fashioned chocolate cake. If your favorite cake is cheesecake or a pineapple upside-down cake, by all means, have that. If you're looking for easy to make cakes, ice cream cakes and icebox cakes don't require baking but are sure to impress. Other no-bake options include stacked crepe cakes and a cake made from ice cream sandwiches.
Here, we collected 15 of our best and most beautiful birthday cake ideas so you can treat a friend or loved one (or just yourself) to a fantastic sweet treat.
These adorable cupcakes are decorated to look like frogs thanks to marshmallows, chocolate chips and a bit of green sugar and green food coloring. Using a cake mix and packaged frosting makes this birthday cake idea super easy. Reviewer Cookies recommends using various gummy candies to give the frogs different expressions.
Extreme Chocolate Cake
This recipe is so good that over 2500 reviewers give it five stars. You'll need plenty of buttercream frosting to coat all four layers, which are made from splitting two layers in half. You can decorate the finished cake with chocolate curls made with a vegetable peeler and a slightly softened chocolate bar.
Chef John's Strawberry Crepe Cake
This cake is made from many crepes stacked on top of each other with a thin filling between each layer. Chef John was going for a lighter style, but says this technique really shines if you use a more traditional cake filling like buttercream. Once chilled, you'll get even more gorgeously defined layers.
This fun cake is made in a bundt pan. The cake is cut in half to form an "S" shape. Recipe creator Heather Walker recommends having kids help decorate it using licorice whips for antennas, and gumdrops. She also says you can use any flavor cake mix or any bundt cake recipe.
Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
Ice cream sandwiches are a nostalgic favorite. This cake combines all the ingredients of an ice cream sundae — ice cream, fudge sauce, caramel sauce, nuts and plenty of creamy whipped topping. Recipe reviewer Canadian recommends using low fat products to keep it "less sinful."
Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes
Everyone gets their own personal pineapple upside down cake with these crafty cupcakes. Recipe reviewer Catlover 1952 recommends using the pineapple juice in place of water in the cake mix and using pineapple tidbits and rings in place of crushed pineapple for a firmer texture.
Banana Cream Cheesecake
Banana cream pie meets cheesecake in this luscious recipe. Be sure to plan ahead; while the cake doesn't take long to make, it bakes for 45 minutes, rests for an hour and then needs to cool to room temperature, and finally is refrigerated until chilled, at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
If strawberries and chocolate are appealing, you'll love this layered shortcake. Use the freshest strawberries and homemade whipped cream for the best results. Recipe reviewer Pamela Ziegler Lutz says it's easy to make and adds a teaspoon of almond extract to the batter to enhance the other flavors.
Rainbow Piñata Cake
This bright colorful cake is made with one batter, but each of four layers gets a different hue thanks to just a couple drops of gel food coloring. Colorful sprinkles and candies make this cake as exciting as a real piñata.
Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
Nothing could be cuter than these cupcakes that look like ice cream cones. You'll need flat bottomed cones, and be sure to fill the cones quickly before baking so the batter doesn't melt the cones. Decorate each one differently or make it a project for the kids.
Mocha Chocolate Chip Icebox Cake
Another cake that combines many favorite flavors, thin chocolate chips cookies are layered with a rich and creamy combination of heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, espresso, and vanilla extract. Once chilled, the cookies and cream meld together to magically form a cake.
Cranberry Ice Cream Swirl Cake
This light ice cream cake is made with a crust of chocolate wafers and filled with saucy cranberries, vanilla ice cream, and plenty of whipped cream on top. While not difficult to make, it does take some time to chill, so plan on making it a day before serving it.
No Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake
Another icebox style cake, this one is made with layers of graham crackers, vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and cocoa. Recipe reviewer Crystal made the pudding using half and half instead of milk for an even richer and creamier filling.
Birthday Cake Watermelon Pizza
When is a cake not a cake? When it's a watermelon decorated to look like cake! Slices of watermelon get the full on birthday cake treatment with a slathering of melted chocolate and colorful candy sprinkles. Be sure to cut the watermelon sliced into pie shaped wedges before decorating to make serving easy.
Donut holes are the "cakes" in these ingenious cake pops. The work is all in the decorating. You'll need to find lollipop sticks, then use colored candy coating melts and sprinkles to make the cake pops into edible works of art.