Rainbow Cupcakes

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No need for a pot of gold when you’ve got these cupcakes around! These colorful rainbow cupcakes are perfectly moist, topped with the most amazing buttercream. They’ll light up any party!

You can’t go wrong with cupcakes. Churro, cannoli, and lemon blueberry cupcakes are just a few of my other favorites that you need to try!

Rainbow cupcakes on a marble serving platter.

Rainbow Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting Recipe

If you’re looking for the most magical dessert around, this is it! Make these rainbow cupcakes for St. Patty’s, birthdays, or just when you want to add a pop of color to your day! My youngest is obsessed with anything rainbow, so as you can imagine these are pretty common at my house. The good news is, they’re actually really easy to make! All it takes is a little bit of layering to make the magic happen.

The cupcakes are vanilla flavored and made with buttermilk to be extra moist and tender! All you’ve got to do is separate your batter into bowls, break out your food coloring, and then layer! The homemade buttercream frosting is the cherry on top. So smooth and creamy! Rainbow cupcakes are so easy to prepare but will impress everyone. Let’s get baking!

Rainbow Cupcake Ingredients

These cupcakes use a lot of standard baking ingredients to make your life a little easier. They’re the perfect last-minute treats for a party! You’ll find most, if not all of the ingredients in your pantry! Measurements for each ingredient can all be found in the recipe card below.

  • Cake Flour: I love using cake flour because it gives my cakes a fine, tender crumb.
  • Granulated Sugar: Added for sweetness.
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: Both are crucial for a cake that rises properly!
  • Salt: To keep the cake nice and flavorful.
  • Buttermilk: My secret weapon! The acidity in buttermilk helps to make your cupcakes super moist and tender.
  • Milk: Adds fat content and helps the batter to mix together smoothly.
  • Clear Vanilla: Clear vanilla is a must here! Regular vanilla extract adds a yellow hue to your rainbow cupcakes and will mess up the vibrancy of the colors.
  • Vegetable Oil: Adds moisture and works to bind ingredients together when baked.
  • 4 Egg Whites: The key to a light and fluffy batter!

Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter: The foundation of your frosting. Let this come to room temperature before using so everything mixes together smoothly.
  • Powdered Sugar: For sweetness and a smooth texture.
  • Vanilla Extract: Used to give your buttercream frosting a deeper flavor.
  • Salt: Add a pinch of salt to enhance flavor!
  • Milk: Milk is added to the frosting for creamy flavor and moisture.
  • Rainbow Ribbon Candy: I used Airhead Extremes!

How to Make Rainbow Cupcakes

  1. Preheat Oven, Prep Pan: First, preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a muffin tin with pan spray before lining with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Whisk Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Mix in Wet Ingredients: Next, add the buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and oil to the dry ingredients and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer just until fully combined. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until you get medium stiff peaks and gently fold into the batter. Separate the batter into 6 small bowls and color each bowl a different color, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
  4. Layer: Scoop the colored batter into the cupcake liners by layering 1 teaspoon of each color until they are ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed.

Making the Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat Butter: In the bowl of a mixer, add the butter. Use the paddle attachment to beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until it is smooth and creamy.
  2. Mix in Sugar, Vanilla, and Salt: Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until most of the sugar has been absorbed by the butter. You may need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium high for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add Milk: Next, add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time on medium low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium-high for 2 minutes, or until the frosting is looking quite white and fluffy.
  4. Add Food Coloring: Reserve about a cup of frosting in a small bowl to keep it white and use 1 or 2 drops of blue food coloring to tint the remaining frosting light blue.
  5. Create Clouds and Rainbow Shape: Use a large round piping tip to frost the tops of the cupcakes. Cut the rainbow ribbon candy into 3-inch strips. Form the candy into a rainbow shape on top of the cupcakes. Use a small round piping tip to pipe the white frosting around the bottoms of the rainbow to be clouds.
Process shots of layering cupcakes with different colored batter.

Tips for Making the Best Cupcakes

Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll be baking like a pro! This rainbow cupcake recipe is one of my new favorites. It’s so bright and fun! I know you’ll love how they turn out as well!

  • Preparing Egg Whites: Egg whites are crucial to light and fluffy cupcakes. Only mix until you reach medium peaks. If you mix more than that, they will deflate. Also, use a gentle hand when folding them into your cake batter.
  • Don’t Overmix Batter: If you overmix your cake batter, gluten will develop. Instead of light and fluffy rainbow cupcakes, they’ll be dense and rubbery.
  • Avoid Overfilling: You only want to fill your liners ⅔ of the way full. This can be tricky since we’re layering different colors, so only add a little batter at a time so you don’t fill them too high. If they’re above the ⅔ mark they may overflow in the oven.
A rainbow cupcake cut in half.

Storing Your Cupcakes

Rainbow cupcakes are great for storing and enjoying later! You’ll love having them on hand when a sweet craving hits.

  • At Room Temperature: Store rainbow cupcakes in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap for up to 3 days.
Closeup of a cupcake cut in half.

Rainbow Cupcakes

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No need for a pot of gold when you’ve got these cupcakes around! These colorful rainbow cupcakes are perfectly moist, topped with the most amazing buttercream. They’ll light up any party!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ¼ Cups Cake Flour
  • 1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • Wet Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • ¼ Cup Milk
  • 2 Teaspoons Clear Vanilla
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Egg Whites

Buttercream

  • 1 Cup Unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Milk
  • Rainbow Ribbon Candy such as Airhead Extreme

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350° and spay a muffin tin with pan spray before lining with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and oil to the dry ingredients and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer just until fully combined. In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until you get medium stiff peaks and gently fold into the batter. Separate the batter into 6 small bowls and color each bowl a different color, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
  • Scoop the colored batter into the cupcake liners by layering 1 teaspoon of each color until they are ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes bounce back when lightly pressed.

Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a mixer add the butter. Use the paddle attachment to beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until most of the sugar has been absorbed by the butter. You may need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium high for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time on medium low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium-high for 2 minutes, or until the frosting is looking quite white and fluffy.
  • Reserve about a cup of frosting in a small bowl to keep it white and use 1 or 2 drops of blue food coloring to tint the remaining frosting light blue.
  • Use a large round piping tip to frost the tops of the cupcakes. Cut the rainbow ribbon candy into 3-inch strips. Form the candy into a rainbow shape on top of the cupcakes. Use a small round piping tip to pipe the white frosting around the bottoms of the rainbow to be clouds.


Nutrition

Serves: 12

Calories502kcal (25%)Carbohydrates84g (28%)Protein5g (10%)Fat17g (26%)Saturated Fat10g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat1gMonounsaturated Fat4gTrans Fat1gCholesterol44mg (15%)Sodium285mg (12%)Potassium188mg (5%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar66g (73%)Vitamin A521IU (10%)Calcium86mg (9%)Iron1mg (6%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dessert
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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