Cupcakes are perfect, portable desserts of deliciousness, and I love making them! I’m sure you do too, and I’ve got lots of fun and easy cupcake recipes for parties and celebrations, here on The Purple Pumpkin Blog.
I love making cupcakes because they’re quick to bake – usually around 15-20 minutes, and once cooled, they can be decorated quickly too. Even the simplest of cupcakes can make an impact at a party or celebration!
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Cupcake Recipes for Parties
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Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipe!
If you want to make your own cake for a party your throwing, or for celebrating a special time of year, but not quite confident in your cake decorating skills, cupcakes are a perfect middle ground!
Cupcakes are easy to make from scratch, and I’ve been using the same tried and trusted recipe for my cupcakes for many years now – get the BEST vanilla cupcake recipe!
However, I’m not shy about using boxed cake mixes to make things easy. There are so many awesome flavors of cake mix out there, that even if you don’t have a baking bone in your body, you can whip up a batch of cupcakes without a hitch.
And there is always the option of buying ready-made cupcakes that you can decorate yourself at home.
What I’m saying is, these cupcake recipes for parties can be baked from scratch according to the ingredients and instructions that I’ve given you – or using a box mix or ready-made cupcakes. You will have to decorate them yourself though! But that doesn’t have to be hard either…
Much like my cupcake recipe, my recipe for buttercream frosting is another tried and trusted one that I’ve been making the same way for years – and it’s really easy to whip up. But, of course, there is a cheat for that too… ready-made frosting!
So to make great cupcakes for any occasion, all you need are baked cupcakes, frosting, and some decorative toppings like sprinkles, sugar flowers, candy, printable cupcake toppers and more. You could also cut shapes, numbers, and letters from rolled fondant, or even have a go at sugarpaste modelling.
Nintendo (Super Mario Starman) Cupcakes
If you have to make cakes for a Nintendo fan, then why not a batch of Starman Cupcakes? I made them for my son’s 13th birthday with blue buttercream which I piped onto vanilla cupcakes and topped with stars that I cut from yellow fondant.
Camo Cupcakes for a Military Themed Party
I hit the double whammy of using a cake mix and store-bought frosting for these Camouflage Cupcakes that I made for my son’s army themed party.
I then added my printable cupcake wrappers and printable cupcake toppers to finish them off, and I think they ended up looking pretty awesome!
These Birthday Vanilla & Chocolate Cupcakes that I made for my husband, were the first cupcake recipe that I shared on my blog, way back in 2011! I used chocolate and vanilla frosting, that I spooned onto the cupcakes, so no need for a piping bag. I then topped the chocolate covered cupcakes with gold sprinkles, and the vanilla ones were finished off with gold food spray.
So if you want to make the most simple of birthday cupcakes, just add some frosting and sprinkles!
Cupcakes for a 1st Birthday Party
I am the cupcake maker in my family, and happily make them for all events! I made these 1st birthday cupcakes for my niece. She had an owl themed party, and naturally, that extended to the cupcakes. I used an owl shaped fondant cutter set to make toppers, and only one cupcake had a number 1!
18th Birthday Cupcakes
If you need to make 18th birthday cupcakes, (or any age!) just cut the numbers from sugarpaste/fondant (this set of number cutters are handy to have in your cake decorating kit – and so are the alphabet cutters too!).
Before I bought a set of number cutters, I used a technique called runouts to make numbers to pop onto cakes, as in these Pink Glitter Cupcakes.
Use the birthday person’s favourite colors when icing the cupcakes, then a complementary color for the number(s). I tend to stick to white because it saves me having to tint the fondant with food coloring! Although, you can buy ready-colored fondant too! It’s so easy to make cupcakes!
Cupcakes for a 21st Birthday
30th Birthday Cupcakes
The hot pink cupcakes were sprinkled with pink sugar crystals, and chocolate vermicelli strands (jimmies). Then the other 30th cakes had star sprinkles and glitter. In my opinion, glitter cupcakes are awesome!
Mermaid Party Cupcakes
These Pearl Oyster Cupcakes are the cutest things ever! They are just perfect for a Mermaid Party, or an Under the Sea Party, and so much fun to make!
40th Birthday Cupcakes
These 40th birthday cupcakes that I made for a friend, also had a glittery touch. I use some colored, rolled fondant and cut ’40’ for the cupcake topping, as well as piped on musical notes with black icing.
You can buy icing tubes in various colours, which is so handy because it saves you have to make a batch when you only need to use a small amount.
Cupcakes for a 60th Birthday
Orange & Yellow Cupcakes
I made Orange & Yellow Cupcakes for [another] friend’s 40th birthday – they are her favourite colours. I flavored some of the cupcakes with lemon, and all of the cakes were decorated with piped frosting and sugarpaste ’40s and flowers. The flowers were made from fondant, and cut using a daisy plunger cutter.
Wizard of Oz Cupcakes
I made these Wizard of Oz Cupcakes for a friend’s son’s surprise birthday party. Definitely, a different way to decorate cupcakes!
If you have a friend who loves flowers, why not make Daisy Cupcakes? The topping is fondant, rather than the usual frosting.
Tips for Decorating Cupcakes
Wrappers & Liners
There are lots of colourful cupcake liners on the market – choose one to compliment your cupcake theme. Or use one of my free printable cupcake wrappers to wrap around your baked cupcake – I’ve got lots of different themes available. You could also invest in reusable silicone baking cups.
Adding color to frosting
Whether you make your own frosting, buttercream, icing (or whatever you call it!), or buy it from the store; you are probably going to want to add colour. This might be to complement a party theme or the cupcake recipient’s favorite color.
It’s easy to do – just add drops of food coloring to the frosting, and mix well. Don’t forget you can always add more coloring if you need a deeper shade – but can’t take it away! Over on the Better Crocker website there 17 beautiful hues that you could try out. Each one gives you the exact amount of food color that you need.
Food coloring is available in various forms. You’re most likely to find liquid coloring in your grocery store, and other types of coloring like gels, pastes, and powders in more specialised cake decorating shops. The cheapest option is liquids, but they can alter the consistency of your frosting and cake batter, so I prefer to use pastes or gels which don’t. A little goes a long way with food coloring gels and you can usually get a much deeper shade than you would with liquids.
Sprinkles and cupcakes are made for each other! I have a ridiculous amount of sprinkles in my store cupboard, and there are so many awesome sprinkles available! You’ll be able to find an assortment of cupcake sprinkles at the grocery store. And even more online, which is where I buy pretty much all of my sprinkles.
It’s good to have some basic cupcake sprinkles on hand like star sprinkles, nonpareils (hundreds & thousands), sugar strands/jimmies, sugar pearls, and confetti sprinkles. Then if you need a specific shape, have a search online and you’ll be surprised what shapes you can find!
I also really love sprinkle mixes because you get a mixture of different shapes, sizes, and colours – the best of everything in one little container!
And then there are lots of other things you can use as cupcake toppings, both edible, and inedible. Just make sure you let your guests know they can’t eat those inedible ones!
I have shared lots of free printable cupcake toppers over the years, and they always look great added to a batch of cupcakes! Other inedible toppers I’ve used include mini rubber ducks, green army men, and animal figurines. Plus of course birthday candles, and sparklers!
I’ve mentioned fondant models as a cupcake topper, but if you aren’t confident of your skills, you can buy them ready-made, or use a silicone mold. There are so many shapes styles available like mermaid tails, unicorn horns, and flowers. Or use cookie or fondant cutters to cut various shapes like stars, hearts, or flowers to name a few.
So that’s it for party cupcake recipes. But what about other celebrations?
Cupcakes for a Baby Shower
I threw a baby shower for my sister, and made two types of cupcake – Teeny Tiny Cupcakes which were baked in paper cases that you would usually serve ketchup in! And then there was Dinky Ducky Cupcakes which were store-bought cupcakes, that I topped with a swirl of pink icing and some small rubber duckies! They were so cute!
I also made Black, Red & White Heart Wedding Cupcakes for my sister’s big day to go with her colour scheme. My go-to cupcake recipe is so easy to scale up to make big batches of cupcakes for big celebrations.
Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day
Then if you’re looking for themed cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day, go green with the icing and sprinkles; or flavor the buttercream, and make Chocolate & Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes for a boozy twist.
Or why not make these Lucky Unicorn Cupcakes
Cupcakes for Easter
Or make these adorable Easter Bunny Cupcakes!
4th of July Cupcakes
Make use of boxed cake mix, and canned frosting for these super simple American Flag Cupcakes for the 4th of July.
Fireworks Cupcakes for 4th of July
The humble cupcake gets a sparkly flair with candy-coated pretzel sticks, and lots of star sprinkles in these Fireworks Cupcakes – just the thing for celebrating Independence Day!
Or why not try one of these trio of cupcakes:
- Amazing Brownie Cupcakes for the 4th of July!
- Pretty & Patriotic 4th of July Cupcakes!
- Patriotic Unicorn Cupcakes for the Fourth of July!
What about cupcakes for my favorite holiday and celebration of them all – Halloween? I’ve got your back for Halloween cupcake recipes too!
These full moon and black cat cupcakes look spooktacular do they not?! They would be perfect for a Halloween party and look amazing on the dessert table!
With their big wide candy eyes, you can’t help but fall in love with these cute bat cupcakes!
These Haunted Halloween Ghost Cupcakes Recipe contain a spooky surprise inside!
I turned my hand to making some fondant/sugarpaste decorations and they were the topping for these Halloween Cupcakes. You don’t need specialist tools to make simple models, you can make models just using your hands, and some household objects like cocktail sticks, straws, and cutlery. But if you wanted to invest in some tool, a small rolling pin will be handy for rolling out fondant, and a set of sculpting tools will be handy.
These Scary-Cute Monster Cupcakes are awesome for a Halloween Party and they’re so much fun to make. I actually made them for my niece’s birthday because she wanted monster cupcakes. She even helped me to decorate! The monster fur was made using a grass piping tip (which is also handy for piping grass or bird’s nests) and several candy googly eyes!
Guy Fawke’s Night Cupcakes
For celebrating Guy Fawkes Night, why not serve Toffee Apple Cupcakes during the fireworks?
For Christmas cupcake recipes, you might want to make Gingerbread Cupcakes which are sprinkled with the cutest, and tiniest gingerbread men sprinkles. Then there are these Mint Choc Chip Cupcakes which are topped with mini candy canes.
I also used Mary Berry’s cupcake recipe for some Christmas spice and dried fruit cupcakes – so much less fuss than a traditional Christmas fruit cake, and great for Christmas parties. For even more festive cupcakes, I rounded up 11 Cute Christmas Cupcakes
And how adorably magically cute are these Unicorn Reindeer Cupcakes? Just perfect for the holidays!
Valentine’s Day Cupcakes
Make these adorable Valentine’s Day Cupcakes for your sweet love!
These Disney inspired cupcakes may fall under other categories too, but I’ve put them all here for convenience!
Minnie Mouse Valentine’s Day Cupcakes
These Minnie Mouse Valentine’s Day cupcakes are just adorable – make them for your Mickey or Minnie!
Haunted Mansion Cupcakes
An iconic Disney ride needs an iconic cupcake and these Haunted Mansion Cupcakes fit the bill perfectly!
If the Mistress of Evil is your favorite Disney Villain, you are going to love these Maleficent Cupcakes!
Jack Skellington Cupcakes
Make Jack Skellington Cupcakes for Halloween, Christmas, or parties!
You can’t have Jack without Sally – make these Nightmare Before Christmas Sally Cupcakes to complete the pair who are meant to be!
Oogie Boogie Cupcakes
Make these Oogie Boogie Cupcakes and eat him up before he catches you!
Star Wars Cupcakes
May the Force be with you! Make these Star Wars Cupcakes – Princess Leia & Chewbacca for Star Wars parties and movie nights!
And finally, flavored cupcakes. Most of the time I make either vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, but there are so many flavours to enjoy!
Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes
I don’t think you’ll find a more fall-flavored cupcake recipe than the one for these caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes! The spiced cupcakes are topped with a cinnamon buttercream frosting, and apple pie filling – made from scratch with fresh apples – and the final flourish is cinnamon sugar pie crust, a drizzle of salted caramel sauce, and sprinkled with crushed cinnamon crackers
Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes
These Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes are topped with a fresh raspberry. You could add more raspberry flavor by drizzling with raspberry sauce, or stuffing the cupcake with a raspberry filling. I made these for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and stuck in some shop-bought paper flags, but they’re very easy to make yourself too. I made some Postage Stamp Food Picks that would work in cupcakes.
Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
I added dried cherries and chocolate chips to these Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and finally drizzled with melted chocolate – yum!
Cherry Coca-Cola Cupcakes
These Cherry Coca-Cola Cupcakes actually use Cherry Coke as an ingredient. Of course, they had to be topped off with a cherry!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
I made some Carrot Cake Cupcakes for a friend as carrot cake is her favourite flavour. They were topped with little carrots that I made using candy melts, and are surprisingly easy to make. These cupcakes would be great at Easter too.
Black Forest Cupcakes
And if you love the flavours of black forest gateaux (like I do!), then these Black Forest Cupcakes hit the spot. In fact, turning your favorite flavours of cake into portable cupcake form is a good thing!
Fruit Salad Cupcakes
These Fruit Salad Cupcakes not only look awesome but taste delicious too! They are perfect for summer garden parties, or afternoon tea. Switch out the fruits to suit the season, for a yummy year-round fresh fruit cupcake!
Piña Colada Cupcakes
If you need a tropical or Hawaiian themed cupcake recipe, then why not base them on your favorite cocktail? These Piña Colada Cupcakes are based on my favourite tropical tipple! Don’t forget the cocktail umbrellas!
I hope you enjoy this selection of cupcakes for parties and celebrations! There will be more to come in the future, so make sure that you are part of The Pumpkin Patch so that you don’t miss a thing.