These red, white and blue cupcakes are perfect for celebrating this memorial day or the 4th of July!
These red, white and blue cupcakes are made with a light, fluffy vanilla cake and topped with a vanilla whipped buttercream frosting. You can frost the cupcakes with one solid color and add some red, white and blue sprinkles, or, if you’re up for something a little more challenging, try frosting a multicolor swirl! Either way, these cupcakes are delicious, festive, and worthy of any patriotic celebration!
How to Make Red, White and Blue Cupcakes
- All-purpose flour: Measure the flour by lightly spooning it into your measuring cup and then leveling it off with the flat side of a knife.
- Baking powder and baking soda: Using both is what makes these cupcakes rise nice and tall during baking.
- Salt: Always for flavor, just make sure you’re using unsalted butter or the cupcakes will be too salty. If all you have is salted butter, reduce the added salt in the recipe by ¼ teaspoon.
- Butter: Unsalted and softened to room temperature. Leave the butter out at room temperature for at least 1 hour, it should be firm but easily pliable when gently pressed in. You can also speed up softening by cutting the butter into smaller pieces.
- Granulated sugar: Creaming the butter with granulated sugar whips air into the butter and helps make the cupcakes light and fluffy!
- Eggs: Room temperature. Leave them out at room temperature for 1 hour, or place them in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for about 5 minutes.
- Vanilla: Pure or imitation, whichever you prefer.
- Sour cream: Full-fat and room temperature. Sour cream is great for making the cupcakes moist without adding extra liquid to the batter. You can also substitute plain full-fat yogurt.
- Whole milk: For extra moisture insurance, don’t use reduced or low-fat milk or the batter will be too thin.
- Gel food coloring: Gel coloring is best because it’s concentrated so you don’t need to use as much of it. I don’t recommend using liquid food coloring because it can make the batter too thin.
Red, White and Blue Buttercream Frosting
- Butter: Unsalted and softened to room temperature.
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract: You can use clear vanilla to keep the color of the frosting white.
- Heavy whipping cream: Cold, whipped in a separate bowl until thick.
- Salt: Adjust the amount of salt added depending on how sweet you want the frosting to be. Start with ¼ teaspoon and add another ⅛ teaspoon at a time until you’re happy with the flavor. I added ½ teaspoon to mine.
- Gel food coloring: Add more until you’re happy with the color. Don’t use liquid food coloring or the frosting will be too runny.
Make the Cupcakes
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Lightly spray the inside of each liner with non-stick spray so the cupcakes don’t stick.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined after each. Add the vanilla extract, sour cream, and whole milk, and mix until smooth. Wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Add the dry ingredients in 2-3 additions and mix on low speed until combined and smooth with no pockets of flour remaining. Don’t overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly into 3 separate bowls. Leave the batter in one bowl white, dye one red, and dye the other blue. Add enough of each color batter to each liner to fill them ⅔ full.
- Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any trapped air bubbles in the batter. Use a toothpick to gently swirl the batter in the liners about 2-3 times (optional).
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan and then let them cool completely in the fridge before frosting.
Make the Frosting
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream to a completely clean and dry glass bowl and use an electric mixer to whip it for 2-3 minutes until thick.
- In a separate, large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, and mix on low speed until mostly combined. Add the vanilla extract, thickened cream, and salt, and mix until the frosting is smooth.
- Divide the frosting between three bowls. Leave the frosting in one bowl white, dye one red, and one blue. Tip: To get a deeper color blue and red frosting, try mixing in 1-2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.
How to Pipe a Multicolor Swirl Frosting
- 3 medium piping bags: 12-16″ long.
- 1 large piping bag: At least 16″ long.
- Extra-large piping tip: I recommend using a Wilton 1M piping tip. You can get one for under $2 at most craft stores.
- Extra-large piping tip coupler: Optional but highly recommended!
Cut the tip off of the large piping bag and place the extra-large coupler inside. Place the piping tip on the outside over the coupler and secure it with the coupler ring.
Add the red, white, and blue frosting into separate piping bags. Cut the tip of each bag off and lay them side-by-side inside the large piping bag.
Squeeze the frosting down towards the tip of the bag and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Start in the center of the cupcake, then pipe a circle around the outside and work your way back towards the center, building up the layers as you go.
Add some red, white, and blue sprinkles for decoration, and serve!
How to Store & Freeze Cupcakes
Frosted cupcakes taste best within 1-2 days after they’re made and stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To freeze the cupcakes (unfrosted): Once the cupcakes have cooled, arrange them on a baking pan in a single layer and set the pan in the freezer until the cupcakes are pretty solid. Add them to a large plastic bag and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and frost as desired.
To freeze cupcake batter: Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and add the cupcake batter to the liners. Set the muffin pan flat in the freezer until the batter is completely frozen. Remove the batter-filled liners from the pan and add them to a large plastic bag. Keep frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to bake the cupcakes, add the batter-filled liners to the muffin pan and bake in a 350° oven, a few minutes longer than the normal bake time, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
More Cupcake Recipes
Red, White and Blue Cupcakes
- 12-count muffin pan
- piping bag and piping tip
- 1 and ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
- ¼ cup whole milk, room temperature
- gel red and blue food coloring
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 and ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. salt
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners and lightly spray the inside of each with non-stick spray.
Make the Cupcakes:
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. In 2-3 additions, add the granulated sugar and mix until mostly combined after each. Once all of the sugar has been added, mix until well combined, light, and fluffy.
- Add the room temperature eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined after each. Wipe the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the vanilla extract, sour cream, and whole milk. Mix until smooth, don't overmix.
- In 2-3 additions, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined after each. Then mix until the batter is smooth once all of the dry ingredients have been added in.
- Divide the batter evenly between three bowls. Leave the batter in one bowl white, then add red gel food coloring to the batter in the second bowl, and add blue gel food coloring to the batter in the third bowl. Use a whisk to mix in the coloring and add a little more until you're happy with the color.
- Scoop enough of each color batter into the cupcake liners until each liner is about ⅔ of the way full. Gently tap the pan on the counter to get rid of any air pockets and use a toothpick to gently swirl the batter in the liners 2-3 times, if desired.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan, then let them cool completely before frosting.
Make the Buttercream Frosting:
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream to a completely clean and dry medium glass bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream until it's thick. About 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- Add the softened butter to a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and creamy. In 3-4 additions, add the powdered sugar and mix until mostly combined after each. Add the vanilla extract, salt, and thickened cream, and mix until the frosting is completely smooth.
- Divide the frosting between three separate bowls. Dye the frosting in one bowl red, dye one blue, and leave the other white. Add the frosting into three separate piping bags. Frost the cupcakes as desired, with solid colors, or try a multicolor swirl.
- To pipe a multicolor swirl: Flatten the three bags and lay them side-by-side inside a large piping bag fitted with a 1M open star tip. Squeeze the frosting from the top down towards the tip of the bag and frost the cupcakes. Pipe a dollop of frosting in the middle of the cupcake, then pipe a counter-clockwise circle around it, and once you complete a full circle, pipe in circles working your way back to the center of the cupcake. Finish with a peak of frosting and add some red, white and blue sprinkles.