Firework Cupcakes

Happy Fourth of July!  and Happy 240th Birthday, America!

firework cupcakes

We celebrate many things on the Fourth of July – political independence, cookouts, parades, fireworks, and eating.  While these star-spangled cupcakes only celebrate three of the five, they’re the perfect choice for cookouts and parades.

firework cupcakes

I had initially planned on making lemon blueberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting.  My son, however, had another idea.  These cupcakes were actually his idea and he helped me make them.  Not too bad for an 8 year old, huh?

The best part is that these adorable cupcakes are super easy to make.  They start with a regular vanilla cake (made from scratch or a box mix), then you color the batter red and blue, bake the cupcakes, and bada bing, bada boom, you’re ready to decorate.

I don’t know why I just said that.

Okay, back on topic.

Start by making regular vanilla cake batter.  I used egg whites instead of whole eggs to make the white layer actually white.  It also makes the red and blue truer to color.

coloring tools

Before you get started, these are the tools you need: 3 medium bowls, 2 butter knives, a whisk (I used an OXO 9 inch whisk), and your food coloring

colored batter

I use Wilton Icing Colors, which are concentrated gel food colorings. I used Royal Blue for the blue and a combination of Red (no taste) and Christmas Red for the red, in roughly a 3:1 ratio. I used about 3/4 teaspoon of the blue color, and about 1 teaspoon of the red color to make the vibrant shades you see in the pictures.

Next, line your muffin tin with baking cups (I use these parchment paper baking cups) or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Carefully layer the colors into each baking cup.  I layered mine with the blue on the bottom, white in the middle, and red on top.

filled baking cups

Filling the baking cups

After the cupcakes finish baking and have cooled completely, you’re ready to frost.  I couldn’t decide how I wanted to frost them at first, so I made some decorating tip demos.

tip demos

Top to bottom, left to right: Wilton 1M swirl, Wilton 2D swirl, Wilton 6B swirl, Wilton 2D rosette

tip demos

Top to bottom, left to right: Wilton 6B ruffled cloud; Wilton 4B “firework” stars, filled in with “firework” stars made with a Wilton 32 tip; 6B “firework” stars; 4B “firework” stars

I thought the 4B, 6B, and 32 tips looked kinda like fireworks exploding in the sky.  I ended up using the 1M swirl; and the 4B “firework” stars, filled in with smaller “firework” stars made with a 32 tip.

I used red, white, and blue sparkling sugar on the “firework” stars to make them look more like festive fireworks, exploding in the night sky.

firework cupcakes

I used red, white, and blue classic, cylindrical sprinkles on the 1M swirls.

firework cupcakes

Look at how vibrant these colors are!


Firework Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Star-spangled vanilla-blue raspberry cupcakes that are perfect for any Fourth of July celebration(s) you may be attending.



  • 3 cups (345g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
    • Note:  For a whiter color, use 6 egg whites instead of 4 whole eggs.
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • red and blue food coloring


  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • one 2-pound bag (7 1/2-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) raspberry extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon extract
    • Note:  If you choose to use lemon juice instead of lemon extract, use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and reduce the amount of heavy cream to 3-5 tablespoons.
  • blue food coloring


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes:  In a large bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder, whisking together to combine.
  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer (with a paddle attachment), cream together the butter and sugar on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and beat the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Beat the vanilla into the mixture.  Note:  It might look like the mixture has separated, but don’t worry.  I promise it will all come together in the end.
  4. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating together on a medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, beating until combined and just smooth, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  5. Divide the batter into 3 medium bowls.  Add blue food coloring to one bowl, red food coloring to another bowl, and leave the third bowl plain.
  6. Fill the baking cups with 2-3 teaspoons of each of the colors of batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the centers are set and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  7. Make the frosting:  Beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing on a medium speed for hand mixers and low speed for stand mixers.  Add the cream 1-2 tablespoons at a time.  Add the raspberry and lemon extracts, beating until thick and creamy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the blue food coloring a little at a time, until you reach your desired shade.
  8. Frost the cooled cupcakes.  I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes with three open star tips – Wilton 1M, 32, and 4B.

Additional Notes:

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