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Rainbow cupcakes are a bright, colorful, and fun rainbow dessert perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or any time of the year.
From how to make rainbow cupcakes to how to decorate rainbow cupcakes, this recipe covers it all.
To make the recipe as easy as possible I used a box of cake mix as the base of the cupcakes.
Then I topped them with homemade whipped cream cream cheese frosting and decorated them with rainbow candies and mini marshmallows.
The result are incredibly cute rainbow cupcakes perfect for St. Patrick’s Day parties or Rainbow themed parties!
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- White Cake Mix— Plus the ingredients called for on the box, typically water, oil, and eggs.
- Gel Food Coloring— in the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
- Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting— A heavenly combination of whipped cream and cream cheese frosting made with cream cheese, confectioners sugar, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla.
- Miniature Marshmallows— form the clouds at the end of the rainbows
- Airheads Extremes Rainbow Berry Candy— these colorful rainbow candies are a must-have for topping your cupcakes.
How to Make Rainbow Cupcakes
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Prepare the cupcake batter according to the directions on the package of cake mix.
Step 2: Divide the batter into separate bowls and stir in food coloring.
Step 3: Using a piping bag or freezer bag with the tip cut off, layer each color of batter into cupcake liners. Add batter in thin, even layers. Work your way through the colors of the rainbow backward, starting with purple and ending with red.
Step 4: Bake the cupcakes according to the box directions. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Step 5: Frost cupcakes with my homemade cream cheese whipped cream frosting (directions in the recipe card below) with your favorite pre-made frosting.
Step 6: To decorate, trim about 1 inch off each rainbow candy then fold into an arch and press into the top of your frosted cupcakes. Add 3 miniature marshmallows to each end of the rainbows to form fluffy little clouds.
Ta-da! Beautifully layered rainbow cupcakes topped with colorful rainbows!
For more St. Patrick’s Day ideas see our collection of 20+ easy St. Patrick’s Day recipes.
Due to the cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes must be refrigerated. However, if you opt to use a store-bought tub of frosting you can keep them at room temperature. Either way, the cupcakes should keep for at least 3 days.
You can make your cupcakes up to 2 days ahead of time, however I recommend waiting until just before your event to frost and decorate them.
Tips for the Best Rainbow Cupcakes
- Use white cupcake liners so the rainbow colors pop, even though the liners.
- To get beautiful, vibrant colors use high-quality gel food coloring.
- Looking for a shortcut? Skip the homemade frosting and use your favorite store-bought vanilla frosting instead.
More Colorful Treats to Enjoy
- 16.25 ounce white cake mix + ingredients called for on box
- gel food coloring red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple gel
- 8 ounce cream cheese softened
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 72 miniature marshmallows
- 12 pieces airheads extremes rainbow berry candy
- Make Cupcakes
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Prepare the cake batter according to the directions on the box. Divide the batter evenly between 6 bowls (or one bowl per color you are using). Stir a few drops of food coloring into each bowl.
- Working with one color at a time, spoon each color of batter into a piping bag or freezer baggie with the tip cut off and pipe a thin, even layer of batter into cupcake liners. Work your way through the colors of the rainbow backward: start with purple, then blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
- Bake the cupcakes according to the box directions. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare Frosting
- In a medium-sized bowl, whip the heavy cream on medium-high speed until fluffy and peaks begin to form, about 4 minutes.
- In a separate large-sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, confections sugar, and vanilla.
- Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
- Spoon your frosting to a piping bag prepared with your favorite frosting tip and frost your cupcakes.
- Cut about 1 inch off each rainbow airhead candy. Fold each into an arch and press into the top of your frosted cupcakes.
- Add 3 miniature marshmallows to each end of the rainbows.