Easy rainbow cupcakes recipe

(1165 ratings)

Rainbow cupcakes
Preparation Time20 mins
Cooking Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories633 Kcal32%
Sugar69.3 g77%
Fat32.7 g47%
Saturated Fat16.4 g82%
Protein3.7 g7%
Carbohydrates81.5 g31%

These bold and colourful rainbow cupcakes not only look striking, but they also taste delicious too infused with vanilla. Perfect for kids’ parties and bake sales.

These easy rainbow cupcakes are coloured with six different food colourings including green, yellow, red, and purple. We’ve topped ours with a light vanilla buttercream but you could top with a squirt of whipped cream or serve simply as they are. Just like our rainbow cake (opens in new tab), these rainbow cupcakes are vibrant, bright, and sure to impress.


  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 30ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • OR 425g box of white cake mix (makes 16 cupcakes)
  • Purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red food colouring

For the icing:

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • Hundreds and Thousands sprinkles, to decorate

You will also need:

  • Deep muffin tray
  • Ice cream scoop
  • 6 small ziplock or sealable sandwich bags
  • Piping bag and Wilton 1M piping tip (optional)




  1. For the rainbow cupcakes: Preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas mark 3. Place 10 cases in your muffin tin (or 16 if you're using the box of white cake mix)
  2. Beat the sugar and butter with the vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg, 1/3 of the flour, and a splash of milk and beat until just combined and repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Or follow the box of white cake mix packet instructions.
  3. Add two ice cream scoops of the cake batter to each ziplock bag, then add food colour to each one, adding more if required, and massage until you have the desired colour. You could also mix the colours in individual bowls too if you don’t have ziplock bags.
  4. Starting with either red or purple, snip the corner of the bag off and squeeze a layer covering the bottom of the 10 cases. Or you’ve opted to mix in bowls, spoon the mixture in using a teaspoon. Then with the other colours, squeeze a layer of batter over the previous colour. Use a toothpick to move the batter around, so as to cover the previous colour.
  5. When you have completed all the colours, bake in the oven for 25-30 mins depending on your oven. Remove and cool in the tins for 10 mins before moving to a wire cooling rack. Or follow the box of white cake mix cooking instructions.
  6. For the buttercream: Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and beat until smooth and shiny.
  7. Once the rainbow cakes are cool, spread or pipe (Wilton 1M tip) onto the tops of the cupcakes. To pipe the swirl, start in the centre of the cupcake and work outwards to the paper, using this as a guide follow it round and build up into a swirl. To finish push down slightly and pull up quickly. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles.

Top tips for making rainbow cupcakes

For the best, brightest coloured sponge opt for the following amounts of food colouring:

Food colouring amounts:

  • Purple = 9 red and 6 blue drops

  • Blue = 12 drops blue

  • Green = 12 drops green

  • Yellow = 12 drops yellow

  • Orange = 12 yellow and 4 red drops

  • Red = 18 drops red

We would also recommend using food gel colouring over liquid as the liquid can sometimes alter the texture of the cakes and you may need more food colouring liquid to get the boldest colour.

You might also like…

Easy cupcake recipe (opens in new tab)

Chocolate cupcake recipe (opens in new tab)

The Hummingbird Bakery’s vanilla cupcakes recipe (opens in new tab)

Jessica Dady
Jessica Dady

Jessica Dady is Senior Content Editor at Goodto.com and has over 10 years of experience as a digital journalist, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the best food hampers to cookbooks, from the best cake stands to baking sets, Jessica has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to must-have food products. A passionate baker, she spends much of her time creating celebration cakes for friends and family - particularly for her two lucky children.