Sunflower cupcakes recipe

(155 ratings)

These sunflower cupcakes take 23 minutes to bake and look very impressive once you’ve finished the icing.

Sunflower cupcakes
(Image credit: Future)
  • healthy
Preparation Time20 mins
Cooking Time23 mins
Total Time43 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories420 Kcal21%
Fat17.7 g25%
Sugars56 g62%
Protein2.8 g6%
Carbohydrates63.4 g24%

These sunflower cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate summer but can be enjoyed at any time of year. 

Before you make these sunflower cupcakes you’ll need 12 plain cupcakes. You can use our cupcake recipe or use shop-bought cakes if you prefer. We think you’ll be impressed with how easy it is to achieve the sunflower design. For the best results you’ll need a piping bag and a leaf nozzle attachment.


  • 12 plain cupcakes, shop bought or homemade

For the sunflower decoration:

  • 110g butter, softened
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • 60ml milk
  • Yellow food colouring
  • 4tbsp dark chocolate sprinkles, vermicelli or small chips




  • Put the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to combine then switch to an electric hand mixer and beat for 5 minutes until smooth.
  • If the mixture is very thick, loosen with a little milk. You may not need it all.
  • Add the food colouring until you reach the desired colour then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a leaf nozzle.
  • Spread a thin layer of icing onto each cupcake to give you a good base for your piping design.
  • Sprinkle some chocolate sprinkles in the centre of each cupcake to replicate the centre of a sunflower.
  • Pipe a layer of petals around the outside of the cakes up to the paper case. Then repeat with another layer inside to give a double row of petals on each cake. Try not to pipe the petals so that they hang too far over the edge of the paper case otherwise they could fall off or get damaged.

Top tips for making sunflower cupcakes

If you’re new to cake decorating you might like to read our guide on how to ice cupcakes. It includes how to pipe swirls, flowers and more with buttercream. For more tips and tricks relating to this recipe, continue reading below.

What tip do I use to make sunflower cupcakes?

We recommend using a petal or leaf nozzle. We have used the large leaf No52 nozzle from PME. There are lots of alternative brands and options available online and in specialist cookery stores.

How do you make cupcakes look like sunflowers?

You will need to colour your buttercream yellow and pipe the petals using a suitable attachment. For the perfect finishing touch we recommend using green paper cupcake cases but this isn’t essential. Instead of chocolate vermicelli you can use chocolate chips for the centre but you should aim for the smallest chips possible and dark are best.

How to make sunflower yellow frosting?

We recommend colouring your own buttercream rather than buying a yellow frosting. This enables you to achieve the perfect shade of sunflower yellow. We recommend using gel or oil based food colouring as it has a more intense colour. Food writer Jessica Ransom recommends the Colour Mill brand.

She says: ‘I have used Colour Mill food colourings on several food shoots and have been impressed with how little you need to achieve an intense colour. They are oil-based and work especially well when colouring buttercream or chocolate.’

For this recipe you need to use yellow food colouring. Food writer Jessica Ransom recommends using Colour Mill.

Colour Mill Edible Food Paint Colouring Liquid Yellow - View at Amazon 

Colour Mill Edible Food Paint Colouring Liquid Yellow - View at Amazon 

This oil-based colouring is excellent when used in buttercream, chocolate, cake batter, ganache, fondant and more. Shake well before use and add carefully as the colour develops over time.

If you’d prefer a lower maintenance recipe that requires less decorating, try our vanilla cupcake recipe instead. You might also like our chocolate cupcakes recipe or our mini cupcakes look adorable and take no time at all to ice. 

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.