Rainbow Frosting Cupcakes

I remember learning the colors of the rainbow as a kid in piano class.  It was one of the first lessons in my primer - a song titled "Roy G. Biv".  Just saying it takes me back to that ticking metronome. I'm tapping out a few rudimentary notes that are supposed to resemble a song about rainbows. I must have played that little ditty a hundred times before getting it right!

All these years later I still remember the simple words to that song. It was stuck in my head as I frosted these cupcakes in the same sequence of hues.

The idea for these came from a nice big box of goodies that Wilton sent me.  Inside was a book all about cupcakes and other fun things like colorful batter mix-ins and candy sprinkles.  I thought the green "batter bits" with rainbow frosting would make a great St. Paddy's day treat.  But heck!  They turned out so cheery, I'd make them anytime someone needed an infusion of sugary happiness.  Talk about a pick-me-up!

There were some similarly frosted cupcakes on the cover of the book I was given by Wilton, and I hoped it would tell me how much icing I'd need to complete these.  Unfortunately, it was not mentioned and I was left trying to estimate how much I'd need for a dozen. I ended up using 6 cups, but I'd err on the side of caution next time and make 6 1/2. I realize that sounds like a huge amount, but these have about a half cup of icing topping each cake, which is no less than you'd get at a fancy cupcake boutique.  That said, I wasn't able to eat a whole one by myself, so I'd suggest splitting one with a friend.

I can't wait to try out a mini version of these.  I've got some Sixlets candies that would make a perfect mini "cherry" on top.  I also think this same technique would be beautiful done in ombre hues.

Rainbow Frosting Cupcakes
Yield: 12-13 cupcakes
Start to finish: 3 hours +
Source: SprinkleBakes original recipes, technique inspired by Cupcakes! by Wilton
[click for printable version]

These are a bit of work from scratch, so using a white cake mix may be a time-saving option for busy bakers. I do suggest homemade frosting . It should be one you really love because these cupcakes hold a tall amount. Using disposable cups or bowls is a good idea when mixing so many different colors of icing. I chose a maraschino cherry as a topper, but you could use a candy cherries found at bulk candy stores.

Sour cream cake
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 milk
Wilton Green color mix-ins, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.  in a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup sour cream. Add flour and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  Batter will be thick.  Fold in color mix-ins, if using.
  3. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter.  Bake for 17 minutes.  Let cool and set aside.
Buttercream frosting
This is a simple confectioners' vanilla buttercream that is white so it will show color well, but if you prefer, you can find my Swiss buttercream recipe here, which will work well also.

2 cups of unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar - the finest you can find (usually 10x)
2-4 tablespoons whole milk
1 tsp.  Clear vanilla extract
* Additional milk or heavy cream, as needed
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar.  Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.  Add milk gradually until it is piping consistency.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat again for several minutes until light and fluffy. 
*Note: If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency.

Violet gel food coloring
Royal blue gel food coloring
Leaf green gel food coloring
Golden yellow gel food coloring
Orange gel food coloring
12 maraschino cherries with stems, drained and patted dry

This is an estimation of the tinted icing amounts I used for these cupcakes. You’ll need a larger amount of violet versus the much smaller amount of orange. 
Divide the icing and tint accordingly. The only color you’ll need to create is indigo, and you can do that by adding one part blue food coloring to one part violet food coloring to untinted icing.  

Have ready these amounts and frost in this order:

2 1/3 cups violet
1 1/2 cups indigo
1 cup blue
2/3 cup green
1/2 cup yellow
1/3 cup orange
  1. Transfer violet icing to a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip (Wilton 2A).  I’m confident this could also be done with a zip-top bag with a corner snipped. 
  2. Pipe an even line of frosting around the edge of a cupcake and then lightly fill in the middle with frosting.  Repeat process with remaining frostings, getting smaller in diameter as you change icing colors.  Repeat process with remaining cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a maraschino cherry.

Disclaimer: Colorburst batter bits and Cupcakes! book were provided by Wilton.  Wilton did not ask me to review these products, but I found them useful and of possible benefit and interest to SprinkleBakes readers.

link Rainbow Frosting Cupcakes By Published: Rainbow Frosting Cupcakes Recipe


  1. So cute and colorful! I love those cupcakes.



  2. Oh my godness ! They look so amazing !
    I love the idea, thanks for sharing !

    kind regards from vienna,

  3. they totally remind me of the Fisher Price rainbow stacking rings! Love these cupcakes - a clever take on the St. Patty's day rainbow.

  4. So pretty! It's a rainy day here and this bright splash of color first thing in the morning is refreshing.

  5. I need color burst batter bits in my life! These are adorable Heather!

  6. Oh. Ma. Ghee. For serious? These are amazeballs. I just want to put some of that cuteness into my face. So pretty, Heather!!

  7. These are perfect to add some color to a dreary winter day. So beautiful!

  8. sono spettacolari, dei piccoli capolavori, complimenti!!!!!!!!!

  9. Very adorable! My kids would love them :)

  10. This is lovely. It would be even better if you didid the base with a sugar boiling icing as the cloud and the the rainbow! Or the cup cake lining

  11. These are amazing!! So perfect for St. Patty's!!

  12. Oh these are just gorgeous! You are so super talented :)


  13. This was such a delightful post to read. I needed a pick-me-up, and you mentioned THREE of my favorite things - cake, rainbows, and mini's! Thank you for the Friday morning cheer.

  14. Very pretty cupcakes, I love how you've graduated the colours and topped off with a cherry :)

  15. These are so incredibly cute. The kinda remind me of one of those colourful stacking ring baby toys too which makes them even more cuter!

    Sweet 2 Eat Baking

  16. These are so adorable! I love the green bits inside!

  17. You can tell I'm and 80's/90's kid because my first thought was "Rainbow Brite!". These are super cute! I'll have to keep this in mind for nephew/niece's birthday parties!

  18. SO cute! And the cherry on top is just perfect.

  19. So bright and cheerful!

  20. It doesn't get much prettier than this!

  21. Love this idea (mmm...and so much icing..my favourite part!).

  22. These are SO pretty! I was thinking about dong something like this for my friends birthday coming up, thank you for the inspiration :)

  23. These just make me happy. Period.

  24. These have got to make you smile! Ok, and put on a pound or two...

  25. Love its ingredients and vivid colors!

  26. Oh these look so pretty and colorful. It sort of reminds me of being a the circus, haha :)

  27. Wow! Has anyone yet mentioned how reminiscent these cupcakes are of Rainbow Brite?! Perfect picture through the link below...


  28. How could these not put a smile on your face - they're gorgeous!

  29. These are gorgeous! I can see why you would eat them for breakfast! They are so cherry! I will be frosting some rainbow cupcakes soon!!!!

  30. These have to be the most joyful cupcakes I've seen. I think kid and adults alike would go crazy for them!

  31. Heather ~ these cupcakes are so playful and beautiful!

  32. Heather,

    These are too cute to eat! So joyful :)

  33. These are so pretty. I am sure that there must be a leprechaun's pot of gold on the other side of those cupcakes :) Or maybe some golden filling inside the cupcake for St. Patrick's day? Fun!

  34. Wow! Those are perfect for St. Paddy's Day! Good call!

  35. These cupcakes make me giddy!!! I think I could stare at them for a looooog time:) Love that the red "layer" is a cherry:) GORGEOUS photos!

  36. I don't think I ever learned a Roy G. Biv song, but I definitely was taught to remember the colors of the rainbow with that acronym. I still remember all kinds of silly songs from when I was really young in school. I love how fun these cupcake are; like you said, they'd be the perfect way to put a smile on someone's face any time of year!

  37. Each time I visit your blog, as soon as I lay my eyes on photos of your sweet creations I'm all OMG, as in "ohmygodthisissoooadorablewhatanabsolutelyfantasticideathosecoloursthoseflavoursthatdisplayandcompositionIwanttostayhereforever!" ;)
    Thank you for making me smile! ^ ^

  38. Such a vibrant color combination-) Beautiful!

  39. Stunning! I need to show this to my wife and get her to make some for me lol.

  40. The rainbow frosting and the green sprinkles inside are perfect for St. Patty's Day!!! Yum!!

  41. These look great but I would use your recipe for the sprinkles cake. I have used it over and over for cupcakes and people always seem to love it. I usually get close to 2 dozen cupcakes for the recipe.

  42. This looks so great! with something as beautiful as this, no need to look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Best of luck! :)

  43. I love these! I've added them to my weekly wonders post - http://charlottemusha.com/weekly-wonders-9/

  44. I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your cupcakes! You can see it here:


    If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!

  45. So bright! You can feel the coming of spring!

  46. Oh wow what gorgeous cupcakes, I love the rainbow frosting!

  47. These are beautiful... I cannot wait to try making them.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe, it will be perfect for Easter.

  48. I was really disappointed by these. They didn't keep their shape at all :(

  49. Hi Alee,

    I'm sorry the recipe didn't work out for you. I assume you are talking about the frosting and not the cake? A tip if you decide to make these again, or other cakes with tall frosting - add a little extra confectioners' sugar to the mix if the icing is too lax. This will help the frosting hold its shape.


  50. Too pretty! I love every color and the cherry on top is perfect! : )

  51. Wow. I found your site and have been oogling over many of your post for at least a half hour. I could stay longer if it was possible!! You are so talented. Photos are amazing. I wish I was you right now!! lol. No really, you are so inspiring! I love to bake, but I find that most of my time ends up being spent on recipe creation for main dishes etc. I needed this new inspiration for baking all over again. I love it. These cupcakes are so cheery and adorable. I think I will make these for my son's 2nd birthday this december. Love love love the blog. Thanks for sharing.

    ~Laura Muir

    You can find me at:
    Fresh Cooking=Happy People

  52. The are so pretty! I might have to try making a gluten/dairy free version :)

  53. Love this recipe! I wanted to feature your photo and recipe on my blog as well as in my BlogHer blog, may I have permission to do so? We're featuring some favorite St Pattys day inspired rainbow recipes! Thank you for your time in advance!

    Tabitha Blue

  54. The colors you used for the frosting are amazing! The cupcakes turned out beautifully! I featured this cute recipe in our blog post for "20 Amazing Recipes for St. Patrick's Day!" Here is the link if you would like to see your recipe: http://returntothetable.net/recipes/20-amazing-desserts-for-st-patricks-day/

  55. Wow, that's a LOT of frosting per cupcake, lol. These are great, Heather.

  56. These are beautiful! My kids love all things rainbow! I also can't wait to try your sour cream cake! Thank you for sharing! I keep thinking of all the smiles I can create with these cupcakes!!!


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