While the fireworks are bursting in the sky this 4th of July, enjoy one of these fabulous Fireworks Cupcakes! The humble cupcake gets a sparkly flair with candy-coated pretzel sticks, and lots of star sprinkles – just the thing for celebrating Independence Day!
I’ve got lots of fun and easy Cupcake Recipes for Parties and celebrations for you to try out – right-click and open these other recipes in a new tab so that you can read them after this one!
I have included affiliate links to useful products and services related to the topic of this post.
If you purchase via the links I may earn a commission.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Read Full Disclosure Policy
I love cupcakes! I love making them, and I love eating them. To me, they are perfectly portioned, portable, and pretty desserts! They’re great for events, parties, and celebrations of all types, and these fireworks cupcakes for 4th of July are perfect to eat as you watch the rockets burst in the sky with sparkly color!
I personally prefer to make cupcakes over larger cakes because they are super quick to make, especially when I use the best vanilla cupcake recipe! That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy making regular cakes though, I totally do! I love baking, and cake decorating and even used to run my own cake making business from home – but for speed and simplicity, cupcakes are the way to go.
This recipe is more of a tutorial on how to decorate cupcakes for the 4th of July, rather than a recipe for the cupcakes themselves. Just use your favorite vanilla, chocolate, or any flavour cupcake recipe that you like. Even store-bought cupcakes or a boxed cake mix is absolutely fine! Similarly, for the frosting, just use the ready-made canned stuff.
I’m never ashamed to use ready-made components in a recipe like this – it leaves more time to decorate the cupcakes and more time for celebrating too!
These patriotic cupcakes are going to need a few special ingredients to make the fireworks burst out of them, including pretzel sticks (you’ll need around 12 for each cupcake); some candy melts wafers (in red, white, and royal blue); sprinkling sugar (also in red, white and blue); and finally, star sprinkles.
I’ve also suggested a couple of handy tools that will help when preparing the decorations for the cupcakes including an open star piping tip; a candy dipping scoop; and a candy melting pot (try this one if you’re in the UK, as the Wilton one is not available on Amazon.co.uk).
These are not vital – you can totally make these cupcakes without them! You could just use a plain piping tip, or spread frosting on with a knife; you could hand dip the pretzels and allow the melted candy to drip off – and just hide the plain end within the frosting, and you can melt the candy wafers in a microwave.
How do I make fireworks cupcakes?
Of course, you will need cupcakes and frosting – I already mentioned that you can use your favourite recipe, a boxed cake mix, or store-bought, ready-made cupcakes; but you will need to make the candy fireworks that “explode” out of the cupcake.
The fireworks are made by covering pretzel sticks into melted candy melts – red, white, and blue of course – and then sprinkled with sugar sprinkles, before being left to dry.
Start by melting the candy melts in a melting pot, or in a bowl in the microwave. Place a few pretzel sticks at a time onto the candy dipping scoop (if using) and pour the candy over them with a spoon – allowing excess to drip back into the bowl. When completely covered, transfer to wax paper and use a toothpick to separate them. Sprinkle immediately with matching colored sugar and leave to dry completely. Continue the process with the other colors.
You could use a fork to hold a few pretzels instead of the candy dipper scoop, or you could dunk each pretzel stick into the melted candy, and tap off the excess. If you do the latter method, make sure you hide the uncovered parts of the pretzel in the frosting!
Each cupcake has 10 – 12 fireworks in them, so that’s around 144 pretzel rods that you’ll need – allowing for some breakages which can happen! Divide between the three colors – that’s 48 of each color, I did the math for you. You’re welcome!
If you have any leftover melted candy, transfer to an airtight container, and you can remelt it for another recipe. And if you have any leftover candied pretzel sticks, they make a great snack.
Melting Tips for Candy Melts
If you use the Wilton Candy Melting Pot, you can check out Wilton’s demo video on YouTube which is really helpful. They also give tips on how to melt candy melts in the microwave, as well as using the double boiler method.
The two most important things are
- Do not overheat – use an even melting temperature
- Do not add water – it makes the candy seize up and become unusable. Make sure the equipment used is completely dry, and avoid using utensils that retain moisture like a wooden spoon.
If you find that the candy is too thick, add vegetable shortening or (solid) coconut oil in 1 teaspoon increments, up to 1 tablespoon, and stir well.
Another reminder – do not add water. The very first time I used candy melts I managed to get water in the bowl and it was ruined. Learn from my mistakes! Additionally, do not use vegetable oil, butter, milk, or any other liquids as this will also make the candy seize up.
If you are using your microwave, test melt a small amount of candy melts first, to see how it works. You may need to adjust the temperature and time to suit your machine. Heat in 15-30 second increments, stirring the candy melts each time. They may not look melted, but they might have started melting from the inside. Stirring helps to distribute the heat.
Frosting the Cupcakes
Place your frosting in a piping bag with a star tip, and pipe swirls from the outside edge in.
If you don’t have a star-shaped tip or even a piping bag for that matter, don’t worry… you can use a plastic food bag in place of a piping bag, and snip the corner to pipe out the frosting. Or you can simply slather on some frosting with a knife – just make a thick enough layer to insert the candy fireworks!
Decorating the Fireworks Cupcakes
Now it’s time to add the candy fireworks and turn them into red, white, and blue cupcakes!
Place 10-12 of the candied pretzel sticks you made earlier into the frosted cupcakes. Make sure you use all the colors! Use the photos in the post as a placement guide – but there really is no wrong way to do it.
Then for one final patriotic flourish, add some star sprinkles! And that is your fun and fabulous fireworks cupcakes, done! Enjoy!
- 12 cupcakes in your flavor choice
- Vanilla frosting (2-3 cups)
- Pretzel sticks (10-12 per cupcake)
- Candy melt wafers in red, white, and royal blue
- Sprinkling sugar in red, white, and blue
- Star sprinkles
- Divide pretzel sticks to dip in three colors.
- Place candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on high heat, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. Do not overheat. If the candy is too thick, add vegetable shortening or coconut oil in 1 teaspoon increments, up to 1 tablespoon, and stir well. Do not add water.
- Place pretzel sticks on candy dipping scoop, (or you could use a fork). Pour candy melts over the pretzel sticks, allowing excess candy to drip back into the bowl.
- Transfer pretzel sticks to waxed paper and use toothpicks to separate the pretzels. Immediately sprinkle with colored sugar. Leave to dry completely.
- Pipe frosting over cupcake in a circular direction working from the outer edge of the cupcake towards the center.
- Press 10 to 12 candy covered pretzel sticks into each cupcake in alternating colors.
- Top each cupcake with star sprinkles.
You will also need a piping bag and star piping tip for adding the frosting.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 914Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 841mgCarbohydrates: 146gFiber: 3gSugar: 107gProtein: 6g
This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself. This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 6/24/2019
I would love if you shared this on Pinterest – just use the button below. Your shares are how I grow and I am sincerely grateful every time you share something from my blog. You are welcome to follow me on Pinterest too where I share tons of great ideas and inspiration!
More Cupcake Recipes!
Once you’ve made these 4th of July cupcakes I know you’ll be wanting more cupcake recipes – here are some for you to check out:
- Easy American Flag Cupcakes
- Camo Cupcakes for a Military Themed Party
- Nintendo Super Mario Starman Cupcakes
Make It A Meal!
Need some inspo to create a meal before devouring these awesome cupcakes for dessert? I got you covered!
- Main Dish: Flank Steak with Potato Rosti & Tomato Sauce
- Vegetable Side Dish: Village Salad
- Beverage: Watermelon Breeze – cocktail and mocktail versions included
- Dessert: Fireworks Cupcakes of course! But if you want to try another patriotic sweet treat, try these Red White & Blue M&M’s Cookie Bars
There are 500+ Recipes including more cupcake recipes, on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy! Please feel free to check them out too.