Our festive 4th of July cupcakes are filled with red, white, and blue sprinkles, and kids love them! The piñata cupcake is delicious and topped with buttercream frosting that’s also colored red, white, and blue.

These cupcakes are perfect for your holiday celebrations, and the sprinkles can be changed to suit any occasion.

Inside view of a 4th of July cupcake filled with red, white, and blue star sprinkles.

What’s more fun than 4th of July cupcakes that are actually piñatas? You take a big bite, and colored sprinkles come tumbling out of the center of the cupcake! (Funfetti cake is also a fun way to use sprinkles!)

There is so much fun hiding inside each of these little gems, and the vanilla cupcakes are easily customizable using different colors or even chocolate candies. These easy 4th of July cupcakes are going to become your favorite cupcakes!

Why you should make this recipe

  • Great for Fourth of July, Memorial Day, or birthday parties
  • Fun dessert to use as a gender reveal or for baby showers – use blue buttercream frosting and pink sprinkles or vice versa
  • Use as a fun cupcake for Cinco de Mayo

No matter the occasion, this piñata cupcake recipe will be a fun surprise for everyone! You can make these 4th of July cupcakes a day or so ahead of your event and store them at room temperature until ready to serve.

You can even mix it up and use chocolate frosting (this chocolate buttercream frosting is SO GOOD) or put the batter in a pan and make a piñata cake!

Summer parties are easy when you can serve finger foods, and this patriotic recipe is the perfect dessert to go with hot dogs and apple pie to celebrate America’s birthday. Throw in some vanilla ice cream, and you will have a great way to showcase your July 4th celebration.

You could round out your party with these fun Red, White, and Blue Jello shots—so fun and refreshing for a summer gathering!

Although we made these cupcakes from scratch, you can absolutely use the same technique with a boxed cake mix.

But do make your own buttercream frosting. It takes just a little bit of time and is just so much better!

Ingredients for 4th of July cupcakes spread out on the marble counter.

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour. I use White Lily flour for almost all of my baking recipes.
  • Baking powder. Check the date on your baking powder, and if it has been open for more than 6 months, toss it!
  • Baking soda. Same caveat as the baking powder, although baking soda has a slightly longer shelf life of 6 months to 1 year after opening. Here’s how to check it.
  • Kosher salt. Use regular kosher salt.
  • Unsalted butter. I use unsalted butter in almost all my cake recipes.
  • Granulated sugar. I typically stick with one brand, Domino’s, because it gives me consistent results.
  • Egg whites. Save the yolks to make a custard dessert like this amazing Banana Pudding.
  • Clear extract. Use imitation vanilla extract or coconut extract.
  • Buttermilk. I use whole milk buttermilk, not low-fat. And I never use the buttermilk substitute.
  • Red, white, and blue sprinkles. You can go crazy here and use colorful sprinkles, mini M&M candies, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chips, or any kind of sprinkle mix.
  • Buttercream frosting. Homemade frosting is so easy to make and tastes so much better than anything in the can.
  • Red gel food coloring. I used Wilton’s Red gel food coloring.
  • Blue gel food coloring. I used Wilton’s Royal Blue gel food coloring.

How to make 4th of July cupcakes

Step 1. Preheat oven and prepare pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 and place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. (These American flag cupcake liners are perfect!)

Step 2. Make the cupcake batter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients except for the sugar and set aside.

Step 3. Cream the butter.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar together on medium speed until smooth and free of lumps. (You can also use a regular electric hand mixer if you prefer.)

Step 4. Add additional ingredients.

Add the egg whites and vanilla extract to the butter mixture, and continue beating on medium speed until everything is well mixed.

Step 5. Mix the cake batter well.

Pour about a third of the dry ingredients into the egg and butter mixture and beat on medium-low speed. Then add the remaining dry ingredients along with the buttermilk and fold everything together until just mixed.

Some medium or small lumps in the batter are okay. (Be careful not to overmix, or the cupcakes may not rise well in the oven.)

Step 6. Bake the cupcakes.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners about two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to rest for about 20 minutes on a cooling rack, then use a sharp knife or apple corer to cut 1/2 inch deep holes out of the center of each cupcake. Save the cupcake centers.

Step 7. Add the surprise sprinkles!

Spoon 1 teaspoon of sprinkles into each little pocket in the cupcakes, and cover the top of the holes with the reserved cupcake centers. Set aside.

Step 8. Prepare the piping bag.

With a small paint brush (dedicated to baking and cooking), paint stripes of the red and blue food gel color on opposite sides of the inside of a large piping bag with a large star piping tip attached. (It helps if you place the piping bag into a large cup so you can free up your hands for painting.)

Scoop the buttercream vanilla frosting into the piping bag, and pipe it in a swirling motion onto the cupcakes. Make sure the hole cut out of the centers of the cupcakes is covered with frosting.

Storage tips

Serve the 4th of July cupcakes at room temperature, or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Variations

  • Try making fireworks cupcakes by using red frosting and some tall sparkler candles on the cupcakes. Your party guests will love your dessert table!
  • Make different colored piñata cupcakes by using red velvet cake and white sprinkles.
  • Make Funfetti cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and colored unicorn sprinkles.
Closeup of a cupcake with red, white, and blue swirled frosting.

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5 from 1 vote

4th of July Cupcakes

Our piñata cupcakes are filled with red, white, and blue sprinkles and kids love them! The cake is delicious and topped with buttercream frosting that's also colored red, white, and blue.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Save This Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons imitation vanilla extract, or another clear extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, or whole milk
  • ¼ cup red, white, and blue sprinkles

Buttercream Frosting

    Instructions 

    • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a standard muffin tin, place 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
    • In a medium or large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. Set aside.
    • In a separate large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth.
    • Add the egg whites and vanilla extract to the butter mixture, and continue beating on medium speed until everything is well mixed.
    • Pour about a third of the dry ingredients into the egg and butter mixture, and beat on medium-low speed.
    • Add in the remaining dry ingredients along with the buttermilk, and fold everything together until just mixed. Some medium or small lumps in the batter are okay. (Careful not to over mix or the cupcakes may not rise well in the oven.)
    • Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners about two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle cupcakes comes out clean.
    • Allow the cupcakes to rest for about 20 minutes on a cooling rack, then use a sharp paring knife to cut 1/2 inch deep holes out of the center of each cupcake. Save the cupcake centers.
    • Spoon 1 teaspoon of sprinkles into each cupcake hole, and cover the top of the holes with the reserved cupcake centers. Set aside.
    • With a small paint brush (dedicated to baking and cooking), paint stripes of the red and blue food gel color on opposite sides of the inside of the piping bag with a large star piping tip attached. (It helps if you place the piping bag into a large cup so you can free up your hands for painting.)
    • Scoop the buttercream into the piping bag, and pipe it in a swirling motion onto the cupcakes. Make sure the hole cut out of the centers of the cupcakes is covered with frosting.
    • Serve at room temperature, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 218kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 22mg, Sodium: 184mg, Potassium: 86mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 261IU, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 1mg
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: American
    Calories: 218
    Keyword: 4th of July desserts, cupcakes, pinata cupcakes
    Love this recipe?Mention @southernfoodandfun or tag #southernfoodandfun!
    Lucy standing behind a counter with a cheese board and glass of wine.

    About the author

    Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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