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Candy Corn Cupcakes

Usher in the fall season with this recipe for fun and festive vanilla cupcakes with candy-corn-colored frosting.

If you are looking for a fun recipe to kick off the fall season, look no further! These cupcakes are topped with the iconic yellow, orange, and white candy-corn colors. But they are more than just a cute dessert because they taste great!

Tips for Making Cupcakes

Do Not Over-Stir

When making cupcakes, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, follow the recipe exactly as written. Be sure not to over-stir the batter. I used to ignore the word “sift” in recipes thinking I could just beat the lumps out with a mixer. But once I learned how important it is not to over-stir the batter, I started sifting all my dry ingredients. Yes, it is an extra step, but it means the batter is hand stirred, and there is no need for a mixer!

Do Not Overcook

The last tip for making great cupcakes is don’t overcook them. Cook them until they are light brown and no more, and they will be tender and delicious! There are two tests to help determine when they are done. One, gently press the center of a cupcake–if the center springs back into place when you remove your finger, the cupcake is done.

The other way to determine when a cupcake is done is to stick a toothpick into the center of it. Then remove it, and check for cake batter on it. When the cupcake is done, the withdrawn toothpick will be clean or only have a few crumbs. Ovens can vary in temperature, so check the cupcakes before the timer goes off just in case your oven bakes a little hotter.

Tips for Using Frosting

You will need a piping bag and round tip to make the frosting for these cupcakes. If you don’t have piping bags, use resealable plastic bags instead. Use large gallon bags if you need to pipe a lot of frosting, and use smaller sandwich bags for piping smaller amounts.

Use a Tall Cup to Hold the Bag

To fill the piping bag with frosting, use a large cup to hold the bag. Place the bag inside the cup and push it down to make it fit and smooth any folds. This will make it easier to fold the bag edges over the cup rim, which makes a good opening for the frosting. This tall-cup method will help prevent the bag from closing as you insert the frosting with a spatula.

Coloring the Frosting

The main thing to remember when you color the frosting is to keep the shades of orange and yellow similar. If you like a pastel look, use less gel coloring. For darker colors, use more. Just make sure one color isn’t a lot darker than the other. I mixed two shades of yellow gel coloring: Wilton Lemon Yellow and Golden Yellow. I also used Sunny Side Up Bakery Squeeze Gel Neon Orange. But feel free to use whatever yellow and orange colors you already have on hand. 

Cool the Cupcakes

Make sure the cupcakes are cool before you attempt to frost them. Hot cupcakes can melt the frosting and make it run.

Start with Yellow Frosting

Candy corn is yellow on the wide end, followed by an orange middle, and ends with a white tip (YOW). So start with the yellow frosting for the first layer. Hold the bag and tip straight up (perpendicular) over the middle of a cupcake. Squeeze the piping bag while holding the tip close to the cupcake. This will make the frosting spread horizontally to cover the cupcake top.

Then add a layer of orange frosting using the same technique. The width of this layer should be a little smaller than the yellow base layer.

Finally, add a small tip with the white frosting. I like to use a smaller round tip than the other two layers, so I don’t put too much frosting on top.

Garnish with Candy

You can place a piece of candy corn on top of each cupcake to garnish them. Be sure to wait until close to serving time to insert the candy because the frosting might break down the candy food coloring and cause it to run down the cupcakes. But it is not essential to add the candy corn garnish to remind people what these treats represent because I think these cupcakes speak for themselves! Enjoy!

Other Fall Cupcake Recipes you might enjoy:

Print Recipe
Candy Corn Cupcakes
Vanilla cupcakes decorated with candy-corn colors.
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Vanilla Buttercream
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Vanilla Buttercream
Votes: 2
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Vanilla Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, and vegetable oil into a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Then sift in the cake mix and stir until smooth--but not overmixed. Do not skip sifting the cake mix because the batter will be lumpy.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, place the cake batter into the cupcake liners. Fill them about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean or with a few small crumbs. Do not overbake. After 5 minutes of cooling time, move the cupcakes to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Vanilla Buttercream
  1. Use a mixer to beat the butter, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt until creamy. Add the cream and stir. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat between each addition. If the frosting is too stiff, add more cream. If too soft, add more sugar.
  2. Divide the frosting into 3 bowls. In the first bowl, place about 2/3 cup of frosting and set the bowl aside. Divide the rest of the frosting between the other two bowls. (Place more in one bowl than the other. You will need more yellow frosting than orange because it will be the color you use the most.)
  3. Add yellow gel coloring to the bowl with the most frosting and stir. Add additional color if needed until the desired shade is reached.
  4. Add orange gel coloring to the other bowl with a large amount of white frosting. Stir to make an orange-colored frosting. Add more orange if needed to reach the desired color.
  5. Prepare 3 piping bags for the frosting by placing a round tip in each bag and cutting off the bag tips.
  6. Add the white frosting to the bag with the small round tip. Add the yellow frosting to a bag. Finally, add the orange frosting to the last piping bag.
  7. Start with the yellow bag of frosting. Hold the bag perpendicular (straight up and down) to the center top of a cupcake. Squeeze out the frosting while barely raising the tip from the cupcake so that it makes a round disc of frosting on the cupcake.
  8. Repeat for each cupcake until all the yellow layers have been made. Next, add the orange frosting in the same manner as the yellow frosting. Make the orange layer a little smaller. Continue until all cupcakes have an orange layer. (If you run out of orange frosting, add a small amount of red gel coloring to the yellow frosting to make an orange color.)
  9. Finally, add a white top to the top of the cupcakes. Make this layer small to resemble the tip of a piece of candy corn.
  10. Garnish each cupcake with a piece of candy corn. Do not add the corn until just before serving the cupcakes because the frosting can break down the colors in the candy corn and cause the candy to drip on the cupcakes.
Recipe Notes

Measuring Powdered (Icing) Sugar

Use these tips to prevent adding too much sugar to the frosting:

  • Use a spoon to fluff the sugar before measuring it for the buttercream.
  • Do not pack the sugar in the measuring cup.
  • Use a knife to level the top of the sugar in the measuring cup.

Alternative Bags

If you do not have piping bags, you can improvise by using resealable sandwich bags. Place a tip into the sandwich bag and cut off one corner. Insert the tip into the corner hole, making sure it fits snuggly so the frosting will not escape when you pipe it.

Piping Tips

You can make these cupcakes with only 1 large round piping tip. (I suggest using 3 different round tips and 2 sizes to make it easy. ) However, there are 2 ways to frost these cupcakes with only 1 round tip.

Use a coupler for each bag. A coupler fits inside the bag and lets you attach the tip with a screw-on ring to the outside for easy removal. Just wash and dry the piping tip between colors.

Pipe 1 color at a time. Prepare a bag with a tip and add the first color of frosting to the bag. Frost all the cupcakes with the first color. Then cut open the bag and take the piping tip out. Wash it and place it into another piping bag. Add the frosting to the bag and pipe the second color to all the cupcakes. Repeat for the last color.

Gel Food Coloring

Recommended gels:


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