Halloween Swirl Cupcakes

These cute Halloween Swirl Cupcakes make a fun party treat. Tall swirls of green and orange buttercream give them plenty of eye appeal.

If you’re in need of fun Halloween party fare, then these colorful cupcakes just might be the treat for your ghoulish guests. They are swirled with Halloween hues from top to bottom. And they owe their spooky-cute charm to ghostly parchment wrappers and cupcake toppers.

Swirling the tinted cake batters together is so easy! All it takes is one or two clockwise motions in the batter. Use a butter knife or skewer for swirling. Each cupcake is one-of-a-kind with different patterns and swirls inside.

The frosting is rich vanilla American buttercream tinted orange and green, This give them maximum Halloween spirit! Double the recipe provided if you’d like your frosting to be as tall mine are in the photos. The two-tone piping technique is not difficult to master. You’ll need a piping bag fitted with a jumbo closed star tip ( Ateco 856). And a large sheet of plastic wrap to create the effect.

Sprinkle fun!

Sprinkles are never optional, am I right?! The Halloween sprinkles I used (called Ghoul’s Night Out -ha!) came from my local Home Goods store, as did the parchment liners. I couldn’t find any links to these products online, but you can find black parchment liners here and here – and Halloween-themed nonpareils here.

The cupcake toppers are from Meri Meri, and you can find those here. I love this company and their attention to detail. The ghost toppers are made from semi-translucent vellum, so they practically glow in the light! 

My friend and I had a nice giggle after slicing a cupcake down the center to share, because the frosting pattern looked a little bit like a skeleton rib cage, which perfectly matched the smiling skull topper!

The texture and flavor of the cupcakes remind me of a good bakery-made double vanilla cupcake. You may flavor these as you see fit with any variety of extracts, but I think they are pretty much perfect (and crowd-pleasing!) made with vanilla extract.

Halloween Swirl Cupcakes

Heather Baird
If you like a tall swirl of frosting on your cupcakes, then double the buttercream recipe provided.
Part of the cake recipe uses black food color. If you don't have black food color, you can stir 2 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder in the cake batter, then add milk drops at a time to thin the consistency. The orange and black batters should match closely in consistency, so compare it with the orange batter to the black batter when using the dark cocoa powder as a black gel food color substitute.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12


  • Cupcake pan



  • 1 1/4 cups 166g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup 200g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup 125ml vegetable oil
  • ½ cup 125ml milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 drops orange soft gel food coloring
  • 8-10 drops black soft gel food coloring

Buttercream frosting

  • 2 sticks 226g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups 250g confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • Orange soft gel food coloring
  • Green soft gel food coloring
  • 4-6 tablespoons Halloween nonpareils


  • Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 °F. Place cupcake liners in a standard cupcake tin.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Stir well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together sugar and eggs on medium speed for about one minute. Gently stir in oil, milk and vanilla into sugar and egg mixture. Gradually add dry ingredients to this mixture, and beat for one minute at medium speed.
  • Divide batter equally into two separate bowls. Add orange food coloring to one bowl of batter, and black food coloring to the other bowl of batter. Mix food coloring into each separate batch of batter until well blended. Using separate spoons for each color batter, layer orange batter and then black batter in each cupcake liner until they are 2/3 full. Dip a butter knife into each cup and gently swirl together once or twice, so the colors do not mix too much, but form a pattern in the cake batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on a rack for at least five minutes before removing from the pan. Allow them to cool completely
  • Make the buttercream: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the butter and confectioners’ sugar by starting the mixer on low speed. Continue on low speed and beat ingredients together until the mixture is crumbly. Increase speed to high and beat for 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat together again for another minute until light and fluffy. If the buttercream is too stiff, add milk or heavy cream a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is of spreading consistency.
  • To make the swirl frosting effect, separate half the frosting into another mixing bowl and blend drops of orange food coloring. Add as much food coloring as you like until you get the desired color intensity (about 2 teaspoons). Repeat the process with the green food coloring with the remaining frosting left in the mixing bowl.
  • Lay one or two large sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Spoon the orange frosting onto the center of the plastic wrap in an oblong shape. Spoon the green frosting onto the plastic wrap right beside the orange so that the two frostings are touching and generally have the same oblong shape. Lift one edge of the plastic wrap and fold it over so that the orange frosting is sitting on top of the green frosting. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap together so that the two-tone frosting is held securely inside.
  • Fit a piping bag with a jumbo closed star tip (Ateco 856). Snip one end of the plastic wrap holding the frosting and gently guide the open end into the piping bag. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Immediately add Halloween sprinkles. Garnish with Halloween picks, if desired.
Keyword buttercream swirl, confetti cupcakes, two tone icing
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5 years ago

I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a tremendous baking website.

Last edited 2 years ago by Heather Baird
5 years ago


5 years ago

Soooo cute! Perfect for Halloween!