Cotton Candy Cupcakes are the perfect dessert for your little one’s birthday, a gender reveal party, Easter or any occasion that warrants splurging on sugar! A dash of sprinkles and some fluffy cotton candy set the stage for the awesome cotton candy flavor in these easy to make cupcakes!
Cotton Candy Cupcakes
There’s just something so magical and enjoyable about a giant tub or cone of cotton candy. From fairgrounds to drive-ins to the backyard birthday parties of our childhoods, it’s just a quintessential part of being a kid.
Maybe it’s because it’s pure sugar in an “acceptable” form. Well, today I’m bringing you all the joy and sweetness of sweet cotton candy in perfectly baked cupcake form!
Why I Love These Cupcakes
- These cute cupcakes are so fun! Not only do they have such a unique taste, but they’re just too cute! The pink and blue colors are so pretty together but don’t stop there! Try teal and orange or purple! Maybe red and green for Christmas!
- They’re a total crowd pleaser. Children and adults of all ages will flip for this sweet treat! Who could deny a cupcake so picturesque and delicious?
- Cotton Candy has its own holiday! There’s an actual national Cotton Candy Day. Who knew?! What better way to celebrate than with a batch of colorful matching cupcakes!
Where To Find Cotton Candy
I find cotton candy and our local dollar store and frequently at Target and Walmart. You can also find it online at Amazon. The other option is to make your own cotton candy.
Candy Inspired Recipes
Nothing satisfies a sweet tooth like candy! These candy inspired desserts are so fun and are sure to be a big hit:
- Churro Toffee (Disneyland Copycat)
- Copycat Almond Joy Candy Bars
- No Bake Crispy Snickers Bars
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Fluff
- Almond Joy Cookies
What You’ll Need
The way these cupcakes are made is just like magic! As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Here’s what you’ll need…
For the Cupcakes:
- box white cake mix – Use your favorite mix or go the homemade route, your choice! You can use a vanilla cake mix as well, though the coloring might end up a little off with the extra yellow.
- lemon-lime soda – 1 can. Make sure the soda is fresh before you add it to the cake mix. The carbonation from the soda helps the cake to rise so it needs to be fresh.
- blue and pink food coloring – For that classic cotton candy color scheme, of course.
For the Frosting:
- butter – Salted and softened.
- whole milk – You can also use half and half or heavy cream, but the thickness of the frosting will change.
- lemon juice – Freshly squeezed.
- cotton candy extract – To sell that quintessential cotton candy flavor.
- salt – Just a tiny pinch to balance out the sweet flavors.
- powdered sugar – This is the base of our frosting.
- blue and red or pink food coloring – The frosting has to match the inside right? I like to use gel for the best results.
- optional toppings – Blue or pink cotton candy (or both!), sprinkles of your choice.
How To Make Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Make the Colored Cupcakes
- Whisk the cake mix and lemon lime soda together.
- Separate batter into two bowls.
- Add food coloring: blue to one, pink (or red) to the other.
- Fill cupcake liners ¾ full, alternating with pink and blue cupcake batter.
- Bake cupcakes for 18 to 21 minutes. Let cool completely.
When you’re finished mixing the cake mix, put the cupcakes into the oven as quickly as possible. If you let them sit for too long, the carbonation from the soda tends to decrease and you won’t get as much of a rise from your cupcakes.
Make the Frosting
- Beat butter until light and fluffy.
- Add milk, lemon juice, cotton candy extract and salt and beat until combined.
- Add powdered sugar and mix for 5 minutes or until frosting is light and fluffy.
- Separate frosting into two bowls.
- Add food coloring: blue to one bowl and pink (or red) to the other and stir to combine.
- Fill the piping bag by spooning in frosting, alternating colors, until the bag is filled.
- Frost the cupcakes using a star tip (or tip of your choice).
- Top them off with a finishing touch of sprinkles and/or puffs of cotton candy.
Refrigerator: Any leftover cotton candy cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
Freezer: Store cupcakes, frosting and all, in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Just don’t top with the additional cotton candy until ready to enjoy.
How Do I Frost The Cupcakes?
There are a few different ways to frost these cupcakes. Use a piping bag or a plastic baggie with a hole cut out of the corner, and a star tip. I like the Wilton 1M tip. If you don’t know how to frost a cupcake, this how to frost cupcakes post is a great resource.
The easiest way to frost these would be by alternating colors per cupcake. Frost one cupcake blue, and the next pink. If you want to include both colors on one cupcake, use two small piping bags, or ziploc baggies, and one large piping bag with the large star tip.
TIP: If you are having trouble with alternating the frosting colors to get the marbling effect or want cleaner lines, place the colored frosting in the two small bags, then cut a hole out of the ziploc baggie’s corner, and place them into the large piping bag with the large star tip.
Trish’s Tips and Tricks
- Once finished mixing your cake mix, get the cupcakes into the oven as quickly as you can. If you let the batter sit for too long, the carbonation from the soda will start to decrease and fizzle out and you won’t get as much of a rise from the cupcakes.
- You don’t have to stick to the pink and blue color scheme of traditional cotton candy if you don’t want to. This day and age cotton candy comes in a myriad of colors and flavors so feel free to switch it up!
- If you’re having trouble when it comes to icing your cupcakes, stick the piping bag in the fridge for a few minutes. This will help the frosting reset and keep from melting from the heat in your hands.
- If you aren’t serving this adorable dessert right away, it’s best to wait to top with the cotton candy. When left for too long it will begin to melt on top of the cupcakes.
More Cupcake Recipes
- Caramel Apple Cupcakes
- Cherry Almond Cupcakes
- Polar Bear Paw Cupcakes
- 4th of July Cupcakes
- French Vanilla Cheesecake Cupcakes
Cotton Candy Cupcakes
For the Cupcake:
- 15.25 ounces white cake mix 1 box
- 12 ounces lemon-lime soda 1 can
- Blue food coloring
- Pink food coloring
For the Frosting:
- 16 tablespoons salted butter softened
- 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk or half and half or heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cotton candy extract test for flavoring and add more if needed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- Blue food coloring
- Red or Pink food coloring
- Blue cotton candy
- Pink cotton candy
- Preheat the oven to instructed temperature on the cake mix box for baking cupcakes. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
- Prepare the white cake mix by whisking together the cake mix with the lemon lime soda. Mix everything thoroughly.15.25 ounces white cake mix, 12 ounces lemon-lime soda
- Separate the batter into two bowls. Add the blue food coloring to one bowl and the pink to the other bowl. Fold the food coloring into the batter until combined fully. Add more food coloring if needed to reach the desired colors.Blue food coloring, Pink food coloring
- In each cupcake liner, pour both the blue and pink batter, alternating, until the liner is ¾ of the way full.
- Bake cupcakes in the oven for 18 to 21 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then carefully transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and cool completely.
- To make the frosting, use a mixer to beat the salted butter until it becomes light in color, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the whole milk, lemon juice, cotton candy extract and salt until combined.16 tablespoons salted butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon cotton candy extract, ½ teaspoon salt
- On low speed, add in the powdered sugar, gradually increase the speed to high and beat for 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy.5 cups powdered sugar
- Divide the frosting into two separate bowls and add the blue food coloring to one bowl and the pink to the other. Stir until the color is completely combined and the desired color is reached, adding more coloring as needed.Blue food coloring, Red or Pink food coloring
- To get a multi-colored marbling effect for your frosting, place both frosting colors in a piping back. Alternate placing large spoonfuls at a time of each color until the piping bag is filled.
- Use a piping bag and star tip to frost the cupcakes with the pink and blue frosting.
- Top the cupcake by adding sprinkles and some pink and blue cotton candy, optional. Serve and enjoy!Blue cotton candy, Pink cotton candy, Sprinkles