Rainbow Cupcakes

Rainbow Cupcakes…because life isn’t always rainbows and skittles BUT some days it can be.

Rainbow Cupcakes - Gorgeous layers of the rainbow in a cupcake. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
Dang. I should write Halmark cards.
A year and a half ago I was at a pretty low point in my life. My sister had passed away unexpectedly and my dad and my mother-in-law had both been diagnosed with cancer. Overall I think I’m an optimistic person but I found myself in an unfamiliar place filled with cynicism and doubt that life was nothing more that hurt and trials.

Rainbow Cupcakes - Gorgeous layers of the rainbow in a cupcake. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com


Rainbow Cupcakes - Easy and the kids love them! the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
Rainbow Cupcakes - Easy and the kids love them! the-girl-who-ate-everything.comRainbow Cupcakes - Gorgeous layers of the rainbow in a cupcake. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com

Time heals all things…most things. Today my dad and mother-in-law are both cancer free and realizing that my sister is gone is…well… bearable. I know I will see her again. It’s just that it feels like forever before I will. I am in a much better place. I have healthy kids, a husband with a job, and right now I think that’s more than anyone could ask for. Life is good.

My son Austin’s 5th birthday is this week. I made these for his preschool. They are so cheery to look at. They took a little time but his preschool teacher said the kids were amazed when they took off the wrappers and saw the rainbows.

You could make a white cake mix according to the directions and add the dye but I followed OurBestBites additions of milk and sour cream which made for incredibly moist cupcakes.

If you love these Rainbow Cupcakes, you’ll love this Unicorn Ice Cream Cake.

Rainbow Cupcakes
Prep Time
22 hrs 3 mins
Cook Time
22 hrs 3 mins
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 sticks butter (1 ยฝ cups, room temperature)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (or just use all vanilla extract)
  • Dash of salt
  1. For the Cupcakes: Combine all ingredients until incorporated (about 30 seconds). Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on med-high speed for 3 minutes.
  2. Divide batter according to how many colors you are using. I used 5 colors and it worked out to a little over 1 cup for each color.
  3. Use food coloring to color batter to desired intensity. Wilton brand gel colors have the brightest colors and wont thin your batter. They can be found at Walmart or Michaels.
  4. To get a layered stripe like I used, you'll want to put a spoonful of each color in the cupcake one at a time. The batter is thick, so it won't spread on it's own. A great tip is to set out a little bowl of water where you're working. Dip your finger in the water and then gently spread the batter out. The water will make it so the batter doesn't stick to your fingers.
  5. Another tip is to use a measuring spoon and some water to measure out how many teaspoons/tablespoons are going to fit in your cupcake. Then divide that by how many colors you have so you know how much of each color to use for each cupcake. For my 5 colors, it worked out perfectly with 2 t of each color in each cupcake. So I put in 2 t of blue in the bottom of each cupcake and spread it out with my finger. Then I put in 2 t of green on top of that, then yellow, etc.
  6. Bake them according to the package directions, until a toothpick comes out dry. Makes around 15 cupcakes.
  7. Frost with your favorite frosting. Fancy it up by putting the frosting in a ziplock bag. Cut of the corner of the side of the bag and you have an instant frosting decorating bag.
  8. For the frosting: Add butter and powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  9. Add the coconut extract, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix until combined.
  10. Gradually add milk (you may not need all of it) and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
  11. Frost cooled cupcakes. Add rainbow colored sprinkles if desired.
  12. For Double Rainbow cupcakes: Reserve about 1/3 cup of white frosting and dye the rest blue. Frost cupcakes. Place white frosting in a resealable bag and pipe clouds on top of the blue frosting. Cut an Airhead Extremes in half and place in the clouds.
Recipe Notes
Airhead Extremes can be found at most stores (walmart, target, and Amazon).
cupcakes from Our Best Bites; frosting from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Easy Rainbow Cupcakes - the kids love these. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com

Speak Your Mind



  1. My daughter’s 3rd birthday is on Saturday. These will be perfect. Thank you! And thanks for the simple instructions. I am definitely cooking illiterate and I’m confident I can do this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What a beautiful and colourful looking cupcakes:)

  3. i love these. I have been trying to make these for a long time but I need to get some of those colors. Your son must have been the star of his class because of these!

  4. I’m sorry to hear about your sister. And I’m glad to read that your in-laws are cancer free.

    I made a version of these for my son’s heavenly birthday laast year…there’s just something so magical about rainbows.

  5. I made a three tier Willy Wonka themed cake for a friends sons’ birthday this past summer. The cake was green with candy all over it – even a chocolate river. When you cut into it, it was rainbow on the inside. So cute! The kids love it and the parents were in awe!

  6. I don’t cook or bake a thing, but you are inspiring me to try! I love these cupcakes! Everyone in my family raves about your blog recipes, and Emily told me about these cupcakes so I had to check them out! You are amazing! ๐Ÿ™‚
    -Amy Busch

  7. I just made a rainbow cake! You should try tie-dye cupcakes. The same idea with the different colors but then you randomly spoon in colors instead of layering them!

  8. Yikes! too much dye, chemicals, preservatives… i know, i know, they are fun but i just can’t get past the fakeness. sorry! they are beautiful…

  9. I found this post through Photograzing! These cupcakes are so great! I’m going to make a gluten-free version. They will be a hit for sure!

  10. Ditto on the gluten free version.

    These made me smile. (your writing does too, I’ll be back!)

  11. Whatever anonymous don’t hate!!! I just made some like these a week ago!! They only had three colors and did not turn out nearly that good! I will use the Wilton coloring next time!

  12. These are just phenomenal to look at, I must definitely give this a try!! I am glad you have found yourself in a better place and that you have shared that with these cupcakes.

  13. These look divine! I have made the cake but these would be awesome for a kids birthday:) I would like to invite you to come by and check out our new blog-The Peppered Pantry. I am definitly going to be adding myself to follow your blog;)

  14. Oh my gosh… I made these and they did not turn out this pretty. I blame it on the *BRILLANT* (note the sarcasm) idea to use a mini-muffin pan. I found my way here via Somewhat Simple and I plan on sticking around! Great blog!

  15. Oh wow, these are so gorgeous. I am obsessed with rainbows. I just think they are beautiful. I am definitely going to make these to take to my daughters pre k class (if I can keep them from my husband and kids). They just scream spring to me.

  16. Got this from a friend’s blog, who raved about your recipe! Thanks so much! It was actually kind of a pain, but when they are all done, WOW, how can you not smile?!?!

  17. These are so awesome! I’ve been dreading my little boy turning one because he’s growing up too fast but now I have something to look forward too! THANKS! =)

  18. I made them and everyone loved them! Everyone thought they looked soo fancy!! Thanks!

  19. I love these, just made some myself! Check ’em out at http://dafoodieadventures.blogspot.com/

    Great Blog!

  20. These look so good! Thank you for sharing them! I do believe I will be making these for my nieces birthday this year! One question, What kind of icing did you use? It looks really delicious. Do you have a recipe for it or is it something you bought?

  21. @Kimmy,
    The frosting in the picture I just bought because I was in a hurry. I edited the post above to show what frosting I have been using on these since then…

  22. How perfect with St. Patricks Day right around the corner. Thanks for sharing.
    Beautiful photos!

  23. Oh my goodness. These are so pretty! I can’t wait to try them out!!!

  24. Oh Christy! You are a cooking GODDESS! Have made rainbow cake but never crossed my mind to do cupcakes. CUTE! Cinnabon popcorn may be the last straw. If you post any more delicious Popcorn recipes, I’ll have to strangle you (after I workout to burn off those calories) LOVE THEM! Keep ’em coming.

  25. Amazing Idea, thanks for share…
    I have so much interesting, informative, Fantastic, outstanding and wonderful ideas for Kids Parties, kids birthday party games , birthday party characters , clowns Miami , and you get kids birthday party ideas.

  26. I love these! But instead of spreading it with a spoon, try putting the colors in ziplock bags and cut a little hole is the corner! it makes it so much easier and way less messy!!

  27. These rainbow muffins are just so lovely..

  28. I love this idea. I am doing this for my boys birthday.

  29. Hey, can you add chocolate chip into the mix/batter?

  30. @chatterbox, Sure. Don’t see why not!

  31. I tried these out, but the bottom colors ended up coming out on the top???? Not sure what happened. It seemed like the bottom of the cupcake cooked faster and rose to the top. The colors in the middle were perfect, the top just looked tye-dyed.

  32. @KCryar,
    Never had that happen? What??!! Sorry!

  33. I made these today as a test batch for a “pot of gold” cupcake to use on St. Patrick’s Day. They look and taste fabulous. Great instructions, thanks for sharing!

  34. Love these cupcakes… Making them for the first time right now for my daughters birthday tomorrow:) first batch I started by following the directions above by adding 2 tsp of each color… A little too much I have some monster cupcakes (not a problem;)) & the bottom colors also popped up top for that batch as well… The batch in the oven I only used 1-1&1/2 tsp each color & the bottom colors don’t seem to be popping up… Regardless great recipe!! Can’t wait to display them at the party ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Hi christy! I just realized the cake mix i bought (pillsbury) has pudding in the mix. do you think i should still add the sour cream? Thanks!

  36. @Carrie,
    Yes, I would still add the sour cream. It makes them super fluffy.

  37. Thanks, Christy! I made these for my daughter’s first birthday using pink, blue, and yellow to match her romper and they were a HUGE hit! I’ve never had so many compliments! Thanks again and I love your blog!

  38. Can I add food coloring to the frosting

  39. @Angelique,
    Yes you can add coloring. Good luck!

  40. Can you try this with chocolate cake to get the same great taste as the white. I know you can not color. But the flavor is so good with the sour cream.

  41. How long can I store the icing for.

  42. Geeil

  43. I just tried making these this weekend and they turned out so good! So pretty and moist and rather simple to make! Thanks!

  44. these look great im definelty going to try. i can never get mine to rise like that, they look perfect. glad i found this site!

  45. I decided to try these for my daughter’s 1st Birthday. I thought I should do a trial run because I was worried that it could be a real mess. I followed the recipe except I added 1 tsp. of pure almond extract to the cake batter and I also used the Duncan Hine’s Frosting Creations frosting. I added 1/2 tsp pure almond extract to the frosting. The cake turned out fabulous!!!! It was SO moist and the almond was just right. I was not a huge fan of the frosting. It was too soft. I used a #12 tip and it seemed small, probably because the frosting was less than stellar. It tasted nice but I think I definitely would have been better off making a buttercream icing. Obviously. I did use Wilton gel color and it worked great. The color didn’t change from raw to cooked. I was worried that the colors would either intensify OR turn less vibrant after baking. Not so. The color stayed the same. I was also nervous about filling the liners. They seemed very full. About 1/2 inch or less from the top of the liner. It turned out fine. Looked just like the picture on the recipe. I also ended up with 15 cupcakes like the recipe states. I’m so happy that I tried this!!! It was a great trial run. Time intensive but totally worth it. The kids will love the rainbows and the adults will like the classic flavor. Thanks Christy!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. I made these last year for my daughter’s birthday and they were a huge hit. They looked great, but it took me a lot of time to make them. I’m not the speediest in the kitchen. For her birthday, this year, she wants a my little pony theme, so I am making them again. This time I put all of the mixed cake colors in their own ziplock, sealed and did a tiny snip in the corner. It made spreading the colors evenly, so easy. I just laid the cake batter down in a pinwheel from the outside in. I was able to get the cupcakes done in half the time! Thought I might pass the tip along. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  47. Can you make them from scratch? I don’t like all the chemicals and such and I, being a kid, prefer to bake from scratch because its fun and keeps me busy.

  48. Looking to make these soon as leavers gifts! Can I use sunflower oil instead of the vegetable oil? as I don’t have any ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Hi, my name is Aquila and i love your recipe’s!

  50. Hi, my name is Aquila and i love your recipe’s!

  51. Great cupcakes!! The picture is gorgeous! Made these for my twin girls to take to school for their birthday! Quick question, i didn’t follow this recipe this second time – does the consistency of the batter affect how it rises? I just started mixing away reading the directions on the back of the cake box! So mad at myself! Oh well, too late they are in the oven now! My girls are very excited to take them to school! Thanks again!

  52. Is there a way to get them to rise like yours? I love how they look but can never seem to get mine to go over the edge and rise like that.


  53. A D O R A B L E & so much fun.

  54. Did you use white cupcake liners to see the rainbow through them? Or should I use a cute liner?

  55. I have made these before. Super easy

  56. The actual rainbow(the candy part) how did you get them stiff enough to stay up? They are very floppy!

  57. I used this wonderful recipe as a reference for my own version of rainbow cupcakes I call Retro Rainbow Cupcakes because rainbows are a little retro and all things retro are “in” right now! Thank you so much ๐ŸŒˆ.

  58. A fun option to “wrap” odd shaped birthday presents!