So I’m a little late in sharing these cupcakes, but I didn’t have a chance to photograph them in the daylight until yesterday. They came out so cool, I didn’t want to tarnish their appearance with unnatural light! A few of my friends threw a Mardi Gras party on Tuesday night (dental school kids having fun on a week night?? I know, I know..) and I knew I wanted to bring cupcakes. They make great party food and everyone loves ’em. Especially these!

They were extremely festive — I love the vibrant colors of mardi gras and I was able to dump a whole lotta food coloring into the batter so that they baked brightly. Everyone was completely stunned how I was able to make the 3 colors so distinct, but all it took was a few spoons and a little finesse. Cupcake batter is not that runny, so when you spoon out a bit into the liner, it’ll hold its place as long as you move quick to put in the next color. The result is so fun — the possibilities of color combination make them perfect for just about any occasion.

I wanted to keep the color of the frosting simple so the cupcakes appeared at least somewhat edible, and chose a cinnamon buttercream. Using the cinnamon frosting also channeled the traditional Mardi Gras dessert, King Cake, which is basically a delicious cinnamon roll cake (I loved yours, Ashley!)

I used a premade mix for the cake, so figured I would make some homemade frosting so they were more special. OH MY GOSH this frosting is AMAZINGG!! I thought the mocha frosting I made a few months ago was to die for, but I think this tops it. It might be that I’m a cinnamon freak, but it got rave reviews from my friends as well. I’m ordering you to make this frosting — its simple, delicious, and will impress everyone when you tell them its homemade :)

I topped them off with some colored sparkling sugar I had from The Layer Cake Shop. I ordered a multi-pack of different colors and they’ve definitely come in handy. They add a nice touch to these cupcakes and just up the festive ante a bit. Look how cool the liners look after you devour the cupcake:

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Cake recipe courtesy of Hello, Cupcake!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup buttermilk (instead of water indicated on box)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
Food coloring

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees
– Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners
– Use an electric mixer to beat together all of the ingredients for about 2 minutes on medium to high speed
– Divide the batter equally into thirds (if you’re planning on using 3 colors, of course) and use food coloring to achieve whatever color you’d like
– Get a spoon for each color and one spoon to use as your “divider” as your pour the different colors
– Start with one color and pour about 1 spoonful of batter up against one side, using the divider spoon to prevent the batter from spreading too much
– Fill in with the other colors, using the same technique. Don’t worry about making these perfect, it actually looks cool when the colors invade each others’ thirds and look a little messy
– Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Fake Ginger

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanila
1 tsp cinnamon

– Beat butter in an electric mixer until fluffy
– Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time until completely mixed
– Add the milk 1 tbsp at a time to achieved desired thickness
– Mix in vanilla and cinnamon until well combined

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33 Responses to “Mardi Gras Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting”

  1. #
    Jennifer — February 18, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

    They were so good!!! And so beautiful!!

  2. #
    Robin Sue — February 19, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

    Erica, this is a very cute idea. So much easier than making the real deal King cake. Thanks for sharing the idea!
    Robin Sue

  3. #
    amanda — February 20, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

    Those are lovely! I’m going to remember that idea for next year.

  4. #
    mml — February 21, 2010 @ 1:37 am

    these are just precious!

  5. #
    Coupon Kim — May 6, 2010 @ 11:53 am

    How cool are these? I already had some ideas for some, but you just took it over the top for me! Thanks!!

  6. #
    Alison — March 8, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    I used your recipe in my blog! Thanks it was awesome!

  7. #
    lamasbella81 — March 27, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

    I have made these twice. Once for my coworkers and once for a mardi GRAS party. They were loved both times! Have not used the frosting yet but I love the idea this yielded. Great blog!

  8. #
    Hodge Podge — July 16, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

    Made these and they tasted great! Just putting them in cups was time consuming. My colors would pretty terrible though… oh well. And the cinnamon frosting is to die for! I will definitely be using this again– thanks!

  9. #
    BuckinghamAlice — December 27, 2011 @ 12:45 am

    I did a sort of Christmas variation on these the other day, and they turned out really wonderfully! I posted about them on my blog, and I just wanted to think you for the inspiration! =)

  10. #
    Patsy — February 5, 2012 @ 2:29 am

    What a great idea for a family Mardi Gras party. I think they would be much tastier than most King Cakes! Great recipes on your blog…I am a new follower! Patsy

  11. #
    Katelyn — February 14, 2012 @ 1:12 am

    I made these and they got rave reviews! the frosting is wonderful and the use of a boxed cake mix makes these super easy. I can’t get the batter to look just like yours in the cupcakes, but I just layered the batters and they still look pretty cool and festive. thanks for this recipe!

  12. #
    Anonymous — February 18, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

    my icing isn’t thick enough? what can I do to make it thicker?? help… lol

    • Erica — February 18th, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

      Add more powdered sugar!

  13. #
    Katie — February 20, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

    We made these for a Mardi Gras party yesterday and called them King CupCakes. We put a plastic baby in one to keep with the king cake tradition and the person who got that cupcake was king for the day (got a crown to wear). The frosting was especially a hit! Thanks for the fun and easy recipe!

  14. #
    Chloe — February 22, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    I made these yesterday for my friends so they could celebrate the greatness of Mardi Gras in some way. They were a hit!! The best part was that they looked great and the recipe was easy. My roommate even helped and made me a “divider contraption” out of tin foil to help as I put the batter into the cups. Now, I want to try to make the frosting with a different spice (if I can think of another one that would work).

  15. #
    Lisa Stadtmueller — February 23, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    I got a lot of compliments on these at our church potluck this week – everyone was amazed at how colorful they were. But my colors weren’t as vibrant, did you use pre-made colors or did you mix 2 together to get the purple? Did you use neon food coloring?

    • Anonymous — February 25th, 2012 @ 3:16 am

      Did you get a reply? I was wondering the same thing!

    • Anonymous — August 17th, 2012 @ 2:30 am

      did you also use neon green and yellow?

    • Erica — August 17th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

      No for the green and yellow it was just the regular set of colors.

  16. #
    Yoselin Melgar — August 17, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

    can i use heavy cream instead of buttermilk?

    • Erica — August 20th, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

      You could give that a try, or dilute the heavy cream a little with some regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk.

  17. #
    PAM — August 30, 2012 @ 1:13 am

    what number of icing TIP did you use here?

    • Erica — August 30th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

      A large open star tip, something like Wilton 1M

  18. #
    PAM — August 31, 2012 @ 1:23 am

    Thanks erica… will definitely try some of ur recipes posted here..
    Happy Baking :)

  19. #
    dina — January 15, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    great idea. they are so cute!

  20. #
    Sarah F — February 15, 2015 @ 4:14 pm

    I just got done making these and gave one each to my teenagers to try. To quote my youngest: “Those are the best cupcakes you ever made” He then licked the mixing bowl before I could even offer it to him. The frosting is amazing. A. Mazing. Such an easy recipe to follow also (I ended up only using 1 Tbsp of milk but I like my frosting a tad thicker). Thank you so much!

  21. #
    Julie — February 28, 2017 @ 7:19 pm

    Past experience is that food coloring makes your mouth, tongue, fingers turn colors. Did anyone else experience this? Is there a brand that is better?

  22. #
    Beverly Valletta — February 25, 2019 @ 8:05 am

    These are insanely delicious! I’ll make these again using different colors for different holidays!


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