Cake Pops 101: Tips and Tricks

cake pops

I’m slightly obsessed with bringing these fun little treats to parties. There is something so whimsical about a little piece of chocolate-covered cake at the top of a stick. And they have some major advantages at dessert time…no cutting, no serving, no mess, and usually no left-overs! People can grab them and go without even having to sit down.

If you’re interested in making cake pops, the first thing to do is read Bakerella’s book called Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats.

I’ve read it from cover to cover and I still refer to it often when making pops. But in this blog post, I’ll break down the basic steps and provide some helpful tips of my own.

The Main Steps:
It is time-consuming to make cake pops. By dividing the work into three main steps, you can make it easier.

You can even do these steps on different days:

1. Baking the cake
2. Rolling the balls
3. Dipping the pops

 Step1: Baking the cake

For this step, prepare a 9 x 13 cake pan.  I like to spray mine with Wilton Bake Easy spray. This ensures that my cake never sticks to the pan.

cakepops2.jpg

Here is my prepared cake pan.

cakepops3.jpg

Use your favorite box or scratch cake recipe. I used a white almond sour cream cake which works well for cake pops. The recipe I used yields 7 cups of batter.

cakepops4.jpg

Once your cake is baked, allow it to cool. Score it into four equal parts with a knife. A box mix yields 12 cake pops from each quarter cake or 48 pops from the full cake. My batter is a little higher yield, so each quarter yields about 15 pops or 60 pops for the entire cake. Note the quantity that your own favorite recipe yields the first time you make them. This will help you plan in the future.

cakepops5.jpg

For this tutorial, I worked with one quarter of my cake. I removed it from the pan and let it finish cooling.

cakepops6.jpg

If you are not using the entire cake, wrap the other quarters tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. You can store them in the freezer for the next time you make cake pops.

cakepops7.jpg

Step2: Rolling the balls
For this step you will need:
Cake
Large bowl
Serving spoon
Creamy vanilla frosting (canned actually works best!)
Cookie sheet that fits in your refrigerator
Parchment paper
Small scoop for consistent sizing

cakepops8.jpg

One of the best tips for making consistent round cake pops is to find a small scoop. This one is a 3/4 tablespoon size and it works perfectly for cake pops.

cakepops9.jpg

Cut the outer edges from your cake because they can create hard lumps inside your pops.

cakepops10.jpg

Cut your cake into four pieces. Pick up two of the pieces at a time and rub them together over your bowl to crumble the cake into fine crumbs.

cakepops11.jpg

Continue the crumbling process with your hands or two forks until the pieces are very fine.

cakepops12.jpg

I always make homemade icing for my cupcakes and cakes, but canned icing actually works the best for cake pops! This vanilla cake is very moist so I add less than a quarter can of the frosting.  The amount you add will vary based on the moisture of your cake recipe. You want your mixture just moist enough to roll into balls. Tip: Be careful not to add too much icing or your mixture will be too moist. This can make for heavy cake pops with an unpleasant texture.

cakepops13.jpg

Distribute the icing evenly over your cake crumbs then mix it in. I use the back of my spoon for a smashing motion until the mixture binds together.

cakepops14.jpg

This is what the mixture looks like after mixing with the back of the spoon.

cakepops15.jpg

Use your scoop to get enough mixture for a well-rounded ball. Use your hand to round out the top of the mixture into the ball shape. This ensures your pops have a uniform size.

cakepops16.jpg

Place the mixture into your clean hand. Tip: Clean your hands frequently and keep them lightly moistened with water. This helps to get a smooth exterior on the cake balls.

cakepops17.jpg

Roll the ball between cupped hands applying firm and then gentle pressure. Do this until you are pleased with the shape of the cake ball.

cakepops18.jpg

Continue until your mixture is done. Place the cake balls on your parchment-lined cookie sheet as you go.

cakepops19.jpg

The finished cake balls look like this.

cakepops20.jpg

Cover them with plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate them for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. Tip: If you’ve had problems with your cake balls falling off the sticks, they may not have been firm enough. Build time into your schedule so they can refrigerate overnight. This will help them firm up before the dipping process.

cakepops21.jpg

Step 3: Dipping the pops
For this step you will need:
Chilled cake balls
Microwave-safe bowl
Spoon
Foil-covered foam block
Skewer for making guide holes
Lollipop sticks
Candy color
Candy melts (I use Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping & Enrobing Formula)

 

cakepops22.jpg

Remove the foil from the cake balls and place them in the refrigerator while you prepare the candy melts. I take them out one at a time from the refrigerator as I dip them.

cakepops23.jpg

Place enough candy melts in the bowl so you can submerge each pop straight down into the chocolate and it will be covered to the stick.

cakepops24.jpg

Follow the directions to melt your candy melts.  Unfortunately, the brand of chocolate I use is only available for shipping in the U.S. and Canada. It is a very thin dipping chocolate. It melts to a silky smooth consistency for easy dipping.  Chilling the cake balls and using this chocolate ensure that I never have a cake ball fall off the stick.

cakepops25.jpg

Dip your lollipop stick into the melted chocolate about one inch.

cakepops26.jpg

Push the chocolate-covered end of the stick into the middle of the cake ball.

cakepops27.jpg

Dip your cake pop straight down into the chocolate until it is submerged and the melted chocolate touches the stick. Hold it sideways over the bowl and rotate it slowly as it drips.  Tap the wrist that is holding the pop with the free hand to encourage the chocolate to drip off.

cakepops28.jpg

When it is done dripping, turn it upside down so that any excess chocolate stops dripping. Let it dry like this for a few moments.

cakepops29.jpg

Clean off the excess chocolate on the stick with your finger for a nicer look.

cakepops30.jpg

Pre-drill a guide hole with your skewer before placing each pop into your foam block to dry.

cakepops31.jpg

I added a tiny bit of candy color to the melted chocolate between dipping each cake pop to demonstrate an ombre-effect color palette from light to dark pink. (Tip: You must use candy colors for chocolate because they are oil based. If you use icing colors, which are water based, your chocolate will seize.)

cakepops32.jpg

Here are the finished cake pops. I displayed them in a low vase filled with decorative glass beads.

cakepops1.jpg

Tip for re-using chocolate: The chocolate I recommended in this post is rather expensive because of the high quality. Save left-over chocolate  for your next project. Pour the chocolate onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and let it cool for 20 minutes. Peel the solid chocolate piece off and break into large pieces for storage.

cakepops33.jpg

Place the chocolate pieces in a zip lock bag and label it with the date. It will re-melt perfectly for your next project!

cakepops34.jpg

I hope you found some useful tips in this post and I welcome you to add your own cake pops tips in the comments!

Happy Caking!

Renée

 

Comments

  1. Cindy says

    Hi,
    Would it be possible to freeze the cake pops AFTER they’ve been dipped and decorated? If so, would it still be wrap in plastic wrap and then foil?
    Thanks!

  2. Cassie says

    Hello,

    Thanks for this superb tutorial. I’m in London and making the cakepops for my son’s 5th birthday party tomorrow. I have one question just out of curiosity. Why do you cover the balls with plastic wrap AND foil before they go in the refrigerator?

    Many thanks,
    Cassie

  3. Susan says

    i have used these tips/instructions twice now for my grandkids birthdays and they have turned out perfectly everytime. I love being able to do it over several days as I work full time. Refrigerating them overnight works great. Thanks.

    • Renee says

      If you are preparing the cake balls to dip the next day, I would recommend overnight refrigeration. That will be perfect.

  4. Sophie says

    I love this tutorial! Super easy to follow and I’m excited to see if I can pull this off! The only question I have is how do you go about unfreezing the cakes when you want to make more cake pops? Just put them in the fridge? Can they be store in the fridge if you intend on making more cake pops the next day?

    • Renee says

      Great question. I leave the cake wrapped in the plastic wrap and allow it to thaw at room temperature. It takes a few hours.

  5. Masum says

    plz help me.

    can i make cake poops commercially to sell?
    how? which preservatives i will use?

  6. StefZero says

    Wow, thanks for sharing this recipe to me. The steps are so details, complete with pictures, and I fully understand how to make it. Thanks

  7. Samantha says

    Thanks for this tutorial!
    I just finished a practice batch for my daughters 1st birthday this weekend. They worked out well and now I’m so excited to make the rest! Best tips and advice ever 🙂

    • Renee says

      I would try to make the chocolate cake crumb/ vanilla frosting mix in one bowl and the vanilla version in another bowl. Take some of each to roll the ball. It should come out marbled.

  8. emily waters says

    This did not work at all. I mixed the icing into the crumbled cake and it turned out all goopy. Nothing like the photo.

  9. says

    Omg! Thanks! Bookmarking this rightnow. I thought I’d be needing cakepops maker which costs around 25CAD then I saw this. Sweeeeet! Thank you. Been dying to make one for my kids

    • says

      Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for cake pops to crack. You have to try and control the temperature of all the components so there are no drastic changes. I’ve had great luck with the chocoley.com chocolate that I use in the tutorial. Also, if they crack you can re-dip them which hides the cracks. Don’t give up. Just keep trying 🙂

  10. Carol says

    Thanks so much for the great tutorial! Am thinking about making the cake balls ahead of time at home and freezing them. Then I could travel with the frozen, plain balls of cake across the state, and put the sticks in and decorate them when I arrive at destination for holidays! Have you tried freezing the cakeballs and decorating them at a later date?

    • says

      I think it would work fine if you freeze them and then allow them to almost thaw (so they are still pretty firm). That is the best consistency for dipping! Good luck 🙂

    • says

      I broke the tutorial into three main steps so you can plan for three work sessions. You will have to judge how long those work sessions may take based on the number of cake pops you plan to make 🙂

  11. Jasmine says

    What an easy step by step process. I usually don’t comment on articles but I am really pleased to find this easy cake pops recipe. Sure will be trying them for my son’s birthday. Very kind of you for sharing the tips too.

  12. Andrea says

    Hi,
    Do you think I can freeze the cake balls until I dip them in chocolate? Should I unfreeze them before or just dip them frozen?
    I would like to prepare them in advance and I don’t want them to go bad!
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Renee says

      Hi. I think you can freeze the cake balls. When you are ready to dip them, let them almost that’s so they are still nice and firm. This will help them hold their shape and stay on the stick during the dipping process.

    • Renee says

      I bought the lollipop sticks at my local craft store. Or any major store with a baking aisle should carry them. I don’t think toothpicks will work unfortunately.

  13. momiof3 says

    I tried making these cake pops for the first time I think they turned out pretty good I think! Question, I finished the dipping of the pops last night and left them in room temp (about 68-70degrees indoor) when I woke up this morning to finally taste them and see how the chocolate coating would breakup when you bite into it, I noticed there is a moist coating in between the cake pop surface inside and the candy coating. Dry on the outside though. Its only when biting into the cake pop when you notice it moist in between. Is that normal?

    • Renee says

      Perhaps you can use a little less icing in the mix next time to achieve a drier consistency inside. I have experimented a lot with the ratio of icing to cake in order to find a pleasing consistency inside. You want it just moist enough to hold it’s shape when you roll the balls but not so moist that they are unpleasant.

  14. Lindsey says

    Renee, Wonderful tutorial!! You mentioned one 9X13″ cake could make roughly 48 cake pops, how many lbs of candy melts might it take to cover them? (I will order the melts you suggested) Thank you in advance!!

    • says

      Sorry I’m not exactly sure because I usually buy a 5 pound bag which lasts for several projects. Perhaps start with 2 pounds just to be safe? That should be plenty. Good luck!

  15. Marian Wong says

    Hi, if I were to make the Cake pops the night before my party, should I store the completed Cake pops in the fridge or can I leave them in room temperature? I’m staying in a very humid country.

    Thank you.

    • Renee says

      Hi. If you live in a warm, humid climate, it is probably safest to store them in your refrigerator overnight. Take them out a while before serving so they come to room temperature.

  16. Lizzy says

    I love your recipe! I used it to make cake pops for the first time and they were a hit. I’ve made them a half dozen times now with no issues – they always turn out adorable and delicious. Thanks for the photos and clear instructions!

    • says

      Thanks for letting me know about your great results! They really are a fun party dessert that always get a big reaction. I’m glad you are making them often 🙂

  17. Julia says

    Okay so I finished them but the party isn’t for a few hours so should I leave them out of put them in the fridge?

    • Pam says

      Hi. I’m going to use frosting to coat my cake pops; you should too. I feel I might like the taste better.

      • says

        That is an interesting idea. Did you warm the frosting to make it dipping consistency? Did it dry firm like the melted chocolate does? How did it taste?

    • says

      Hi. They will store for a few days. I like to store mine in the fridge but that is not necessary as long as they are in a cool place.

  18. says

    These look so easy and delicious – I didn’t expect it. I am considering doing this for my son’s 2nd birthday party, themed Sesame street – and I was going to make them into Abby Cadabby’s wand!

    I feature this on my blog’s one month birthday post, in a list of desserts I want to try!

  19. Chloe McNair says

    Hi, I was wondering if you could freeze the cake balls instead of refrigerating them.

  20. Dudez says

    I tried making cake balls last year with my 7 year old daughter but found it to be a tad bit messy. I recently bought a cake pop mold from Keetzen in Amazon and found it easier to use. I think it’s healthier (?) coz it’s not as packed so you’re not eating as much cake as you’d think. 🙂
    I bought the pink one and my daughter loves it! they have blue too 😀

  21. Sasssuila says

    Ja wiet! Cake pops deset mue samatja! Zacue oug ke cake pops tyo reh feriasti, qui tamas mues fruimes guiste! Teque tyo ya mueja! Che lau!

  22. sana says

    hey well in my countrey no one knows about pop cakes so i would love to be the first person to serve them to my friends in school so in my countrey there is no such thing as canned iceing and bakerys usually use sweated cream so what can i replace insted of canned iceing???

    • Amol says

      You know that there are other recipes online for icing right? just search up a recipe on Google or something. The whole Idea is to get the cake to stick together to keep its ball form. It doesn’t matter what type of icing you use, as long as it doesn’t crumble apart when you try to make it into a ball. (I’m sorry if I sounded like a jerk in te beginning of the comment. No hard feelings)?
      p.s. Happy Baking!

  23. Emma says

    Hello! This is probably one of the best tutorials I have ever come across, but I noticed in one of your replies you said you’ve used white chocolate before. Would any white choc. work? (ex: melted Hershey’s or other brands of that sort) or is there one you can buy at a local grocery store that’s fairly cheap?

  24. eillen says

    I’ve read that if your pops and in the fridge and you take them out and dip them the chocolate will cracked due to the difference in temp.

    • Renee says

      Yes, that’s true to some extent. Cracking is always an issue with cake pops. But the chocolate i recommend in this post melts quite thin and does not feel steaming hot. It feels room temperature or cool but maintains its thin consistency. So I don’t think there is a drastic temperature change when you take the cake ball from the fridge to the dipping chocolate. I’ve also noticed I experience more cracking when I color my chocolate with the candy colors than when I work with plain white chocolate (practically no cracks at all!) If you have a few cracks in your batch, they will appear pretty quickly. Just re-dip those pops at the end of the process and it will hide the cracks. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone has come up with a full proof solution for cracks 🙂

  25. Linda S. says

    Great tips! Thanks. I saw another tutorial where they said after rolling the balls you should put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then place them in the refrigerator while you melt the chocolate. And then take one out at a time from the refrigerator to dip them. Would this be the same as refrigerating them overnight if I want to make them and dip them the same day?

    • Renee says

      Linda. Yes you can dip them the same day. If you do not have time to let them firm up in the fridge overnight, just pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes while you melt your dipping chocolate. Then you can take them out one at a time as you dip them, If you notice they are getting too cold on the bottom (starting to freeze) transfer them to the fridge and pull them from there one by one to dip them. I’m glad you asked because this is a good way to get the right firmness!

  26. Melissa says

    Hi,
    I will be making cake pops for Thanksgiving. How long should I wait for the cake to cool before crumbling the cake? If I place it in the freezer how long after I take it out of the oven for it to be put into the freezer and how long would I need to freeze it and how long to thaw?

    • Renee says

      Hi Melissa. You don’t have to freeze the cake unless you are breaking up the steps to make the process easier. If you decide to bake well in advance of making the pops, freezing is a good option. You can let the cake cool for an hour before wrapping and freezing it. You can also wrap it while still warm. This traps the moisture in the cake. Let it thAw for three hours at room temp before crumbling. Good luck!

  27. Caitlin says

    Thank you so much for postings this info, surprisingly just finding how much cake is need for x amount of cake pops is difficult! Thank you for the quantities of cake pops per box! This was so informative and helpful, great pics!

  28. Patrica Basan says

    helow i like the sweets cakes and foods in this website.Can you gave tips and tutorial for halloween cupcakes or how to make it?

    hope you recieve this …. 🙂

    • Renee says

      I’m sorry but I’m not sure exactly how many pops one pound would make. I usually buy a 5 pound bag and it lasts through several large projects. I’d guess one pound would make 3 or 4 dozen cake pops.

    • says

      Hi. I have not tried freezing them yet. I often bake the cake ahead of time and freeze it as a short cut in the process. Then I let it thaw slowly before the crumbling step. For that reason, I avoid re-freezing. If you are going to experiment with freezing them, I would individually wrap them first to avoid freezer burn.

  29. Angie Young says

    Do you ever have problems with the cake pops cracking after dipping or oozing from where the stick was stuck in? I have had cake pops fall off sticks (know what caused that), crack, ooze and also be perfectly cooperative. Not sure what I did wrong when I got the cracking and oozing. Any ideas?

    • Renee says

      Hi Angie. Yes, I have experienced those problems. If I have a small air bubble in my chocolate shell, it has resulted in the oozing that you refer to. I try to touch up any air bubbles before they dry with my finger or a toothpick. Perhaps you have openings where your pop meets your stick. After you dip the first time and push the cake ball on, be sure that the second (fully submerged) dip goes in far enough that the melted chocolate meets with the chocolate on the stick. This should make a strong seal. Secondly, I do experience a small amount of cracking…about 1 in 10 pops. I try to avoid drastic temperature changes with my pops.

  30. Rumbie says

    Thank you for sharing – didn’t know you could make these without those special rounded cake tins! Will give this a try!

    • Renee says

      Rumbie…you’re welcome. Yes, this is the original way for making them that Bakerella shared with the world. I think they taste much better this way than when made in those tiny pans 🙂

    • Renee says

      Thanks Sugar Baby. What part do you think you were doing wrong? Let me know if this method helped next time you try them 🙂

  31. says

    Very interesting, I guess this is the “traditional” US recipe? Any suggestion for making them less sweet? Maybe using bitter chocolate? Or and alternative to the mixing ingredient?

    Ciao
    Alessandra

    • Renee says

      Good point…yes, they are very sweet. You could experiment with a moist, but not-too-sweet muffin recipe as the cake. Then add the tiniest bit of icing needed to bind it, then dip in dark, bitter chocolate? Let me know how it goes 🙂

  32. says

    The candy melts from Wilton and Mercks don’t seem as smooth as the brand you use…..I often add vegetable oil to get the smooth consistency. Chocoley Bada Bing Bada Boom Dipping & Enrobing Formula looks really smooth…too bad shipping is expensive too Canada. Thanks for the tutorial….

    • renee says

      Trust me this chocolate is totally superior. It is such a pleasure to work with. You can contact the company and ask if there is a coupon code. I did this last time I bought and it eliminated the shipping costs. Good luck.

  33. Martha T says

    Great tutorial – thanks for sharing! I love Chocoley and their candy and molding formula makes amazing modeling chocolate. 🙂

    • Renee says

      Martha, thanks for the tip. That’s great to know for when I try modeling chocolate for the first time 🙂

  34. says

    Ahh thank you for this! It’s been super helpful. I’ve only made cake pops a couple of times and both times I’ve had trouble with them staying on the sticks. And, it was real painful to have to throw away the excess chocolate – but now I know what to do with it! 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *