Rainbow Cupcakes with fluffy cloud-like vanilla frosting that is guaranteed to make anyone who sees them smile. No cake mix, still EASY.
Rainbow Cupcakes have been a looooooong time in the making for this blog. They are one of my absolute favorite desserts to make which most people who know me would immediately guess. When I would make surprise cakes or birthday cakes for my favorite clients I would usually make them towering rainbow cakes. In fact, these rainbow cupcakes have been on the calendar for me since before I even started this blog 10 whole months ago (I can’t believe it has been 10 months already!) and I can’t think of a better way to toss aside all the hearts, pink and cupid and celebrate the month of March.
Let’s just get this out of the way ahead of time… yes, these cupcakes have food coloring. No, I don’t normally use food coloring in recipes and yes, I know it isn’t healthy/good for you/GMO free/it kills baby seals and kittens around the world I’m sure. 99% of the things I make/bake in our house are made with whole foods, not processed or minimally processed and be it important or not, organic. Which is exactly why I have no qualms about making these gorgeous cupcakes for us to enjoy the one time a year that we do. And yes I gave them to the little ones too. But c’mon, if you were a kid, wouldn’t this make you smile? I’m not even a kid and I am grinning as I am typing up this post. Brace yourself for more photos than I normally include, I loved so many of these photos!
When we had our oldest we made the nursery a rainbow theme, the first birthday party was rainbow sprinkles themed and I am proud to say I’m raising rainbow obsessed little kids (one of whom sleeps in a rainbow-ed out four post bed with rainbow curtains and a soon to be added rainbow duvet, pillows and a giant cloud headboard. So like I said, our house, rainbow friendly and definitely rainbow cupcakes friendly.
The other part of this recipe that I adore is how easy it is in spite of the lack of cake mix. The batter is a delicious white vanilla cake base with gel food coloring to brighten things up and the cloud-like frosting is made with clear vanilla and lots and lots of butter.
A few tips/tricks for these awesome Rainbow Cupcakes just to make your lives a bit easier since there’s quite a few little bowls of batter:
- Don’t bother weighing out the batter to ensure it is evenly dispersed. Use a 1 cup measure and any little bit left over can be extra of your favorite color. This isn’t a cake, so if one layer is a bit more prominent in some, no big deal. 🙂
- If you would like to bake these without the cupcake wrappers, I highly recommend a silicone muffin tin.
- Ziploc bags! I pipe them into the muffin tins with ziploc bags to make life SO much easier than spooning and spreading each layer.
- Clear vanilla keeps your frosting a bright white! If you want blindingly white frosting swap out your butter for shortening. Butter tastes better though.
- Don’t overbake, you don’t want the tops turning brown.
- Use a large closed star decorating tip for your frosting.
- 1 cup butter , softened
- 2 1/3 cups sugar
- 5 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk , warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
- Rainbow colors of Gel food coloring
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar , sifted
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla (if you use normal vanilla it will not be as white, but will be just as delicious)
- tiny pinch salt
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In your stand mixer cream the butter and sugar together until much lighter in color, like a easter-y spring yellow (2-3 minutes).
- Add in the egg whites and vanilla until totally combined.
- Add the salt and baking powder to the flour.
- Add in the dry ingredients and the milk alternating 1 cup of flour and ½ cup of milk at a time.
- Add one cup of the batter to 6 different bowls.
- Color each bowl with your gel food coloring in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
- Mix until the colors are fully combined.
- Your choice here: Spoon or ziploc bags.
- Either add the batter to 6 sandwich size ziploc bags and pipe just enough to make a thin layer of each color (maybe ¼ inch tall batter layers)
- with a small spoon, spoon just under a tablespoon of batter into each cup.
- Start with purple, then blue, then green, then yellow, then orange and finally red.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- To make the frosting:
- Whip the butter in your stand mixer with your paddle attachment(I LOVE LOVE LOVE this one with a built in scraper) until you see the butter is lighter in color (1 minute).
- Add in the vanilla.
- Add in the powdered sugar in 1 cup increments with the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, ending with powdered sugar.
- Mix on high for 1 minute after each addition.
- Your frosting should be SUPER light and fluffy, just like a delicious vanilla cloud.
- Using a closed star tip and decorating bag, pipe your frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
Thank you for this cupcake recipe! I’ve included it in my roundup of fun rainbow desserts over at ohshecooks.com and thanks again!
I was wondering if these cupcakes could be frozen please let me know. Thank you.
Yes. You can arrange them in a single layer in an airtight container and store them for up to 3 months.
These were great! But they only made about 20.
Amazing recipe and i love the taste and the fact that is made without cake mix everyone eat my cupcakes ????for top i only made it with butter cream . Thanks ?
Great fun recipe! Used “basic” food coloring rather than gel because I’m on a budget, colours still came out cute and kind of pastel ?
Saying that though, just barely had enough batter for 18 cupcakes rather than 24, but that happens sometimes ????
Hi, is this salted or unsalted butter?
I used unsalted for both the cake and frosting, came out lovely for me!
Hi, sorry to bother you again but I already regret posting that aggressive comment under the same name a few minutes earlier, I’m very sorry if this comment section/website is run by an individual person, I probably messed up the recipe myself and I’m just having a very bad week. I’d appreciate if you’d consider deleting the two of these comments and not post them (I don’t think I am able to delete them) and again I’m very sorry.
I followed this recipe very precisely (for a frame of reference I’m autistic) and it didn’t work at all, the layers all combined. I’m afraid this picture is not at all accurate and I was very disappointed. Don’t use this recipe if you want clean layers.
Hey! I’ve made these before and the layers always got muddy. I am currently making some now and they seem to be staying separate. My batter has been really runny in the past but I had to melt the butter(long story) and I added the flour all at once and then the milk and it’s thicker this time. I’ll let you know if it worked. (I’m autistic too and these cupcakes are always super fun) 🙂
Are these mini cup cakes
this is so great but can you add the cooking tools
I made these a couple of years ago for my daughter’s 3rd birthday and they were AMAZING! A big hit with the kids & adults alike. She loves baking and requested them again for her upcoming 5th birthday. I am so excited to make them with her! ??????
This is great! so happy it was a hit with everyone! I hope you enjoy baking with your daughter!
Hi! My niece has an egg and nut allergy. Is there an egg substitute we can use for this recipe? I have used plain greek yogurt before but am not sure how it would translate here. Im going to make the recipe for my daughter’s birthday and would like everyone to be able to enjoy them because they look so awesome. Thanks!
I am not completely positive nor well versed in allergies and would hate to lead you in the wrong direction. Sorry!
Hi!! I made the cake part last night in preparation for my daughter’s daycare birthday party tomorrow. I was wondering would the frosting be just as fluffy if I halved the sugar? Thanks!!
I’ve not tested it that way so I’m not sure. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Good luck!
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