Red, white, and blue cupcakes are a simple but delicious treat for the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. They look hard to make but they actually aren’t, and they’re always a hit at parties!
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Is it too soon for Fourth of July desserts? I hope not! Because these red, white, and blue cupcakes are happening today. (Obviously.)
In my defense, they’re a great option for Memorial Day too, so I needed to get the recipe out!
These cupcakes are soft and fluffy and very vanilla-y and I really think you’ll go a little crazy for them, so add them to your baking list asap!
Why you’ll love these red, white, and blue cupcakes:
- They’re easy to make, no stand mixer required—you can make these with an electric mixer!
- Because of the addition of buttermilk, they’re incredibly soft and moist. But don’t worry! If you don’t have buttermilk, there are options for substitutes; see the recipe card for subs.
- You can make your cupcakes a day ahead and just leave them covered at room temp. That way if you’re having guests over for a party, you get to spend time with them rather than hiding in the kitchen finishing dessert.
Make your cupcakes
- Whisk together your dry ingredients and set aside
- Beat butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy
- Beat in egg whites and vanilla
- Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and buttermilk
- Divide your batter between the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full
- Bake about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean
Notes on making your cupcakes:
- I used clear vanilla extract in my cupcakes to ensure they’d be as white as possible.
- Be sure your butter is at room temperature so it creams properly with the sugar. (See below for details.)
- If you don’t have buttermilk you can use a mixture of whole milk and lemon juice or vanilla (see the recipe card for proportions).
- Like with most cakes, don’t over-mix this batter once you’ve added the dry ingredients. Just mix the batter until you no longer see big streaks of flour.
- Be sure to cool your cupcakes completely before you frost them! If you don’t the frosting will melt.
Make your frosting
- Beat room temperature butter with milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth
- Add powdered sugar and beat until very fluffy
And that’s it! The frosting is super simple. Now you’re ready to decorate!
How to decorate your cupcakes
- To make the stripes in the frosting you’ll need gel food coloring, a small paintbrush (or two), a piping bag, and a piping tip.
- Fold your piping bag down and paint a stripe of red on one side of the bag and a stripe of blue on the opposite side. The stripes should be about a 1/4-inch wide.
- Carefully fill with frosting.
Then you’re ready to frost your cupcakes! (See below for links to the tools you see in the photos!)
Storing your cupcakes
If you want to make your cupcakes a day ahead, that’s no problem. You can make the cupcakes and frost them, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cake keeper. They will keep, covered at room temp, for several days.
(However the sooner you serve them, the fresher they’ll taste, of course. I like to serve them no later than the day after they’re made.)
You can also store unfrosted cupcakes for up to a day before frosting them. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, wrap them (still in the muffin tins) tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.
If you have uneaten cupcakes, you can freeze them, tightly wrapped, for up to a couple of months.
Either eat them frozen, defrost them in the fridge overnight, or leave them at room temp until they’re soft enough to eat.
I always freeze cupcakes for half an hour to set the frosting, then wrap them tightly with layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. That way your frosting stays intact!
How do I know if butter is at room temperature?
The butter in both the cupcakes and the frosting needs to be at room temperature so it mixes properly with the other ingredients.
Butter will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to come to room temperature; it depends on the temperature of your kitchen.
The butter is ready to use if, when you press it lightly with your finger, it gives slightly but still holds its shape.
If your butter is too soft it will smoosh (technical term) everywhere rather than holding its shape. If it’s too cold you won’t be able to make an indentation.
To bring your butter to room temperature a little faster, you can cut it into smaller pieces. I never recommend microwaving butter because it won’t soften evenly.
Helpful tools for decorating your cupcakes
- I always use Wilton red gel food coloring and Wilton royal blue gel food coloring for the colored stripes.
- Use a small paintbrush, like the kind that comes in a kid’s watercolor set, to paint the stripes. I use a different brush for each color. (If you actually use one from a watercolor set be sure it’s brand new!)
- I recommend using 18-inch piping bags for these cupcakes so you can fit in a lot of frosting. The one I used in the photos for this post was disposable so you could see the stripes but a reusable piping bag is fine.
- I used a Wilton 1A piping tip to decorate my cupcakes. But a large open star tip is also cute!
Did you make these red, white and blue cupcakes? AWESOME! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Instagram too! Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see!
These red, white, and blue cupcakes are simple to make and they're a hit at Fourth of July parties and barbecues!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract clear if you have it
- 1/2 cup buttermilk*
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 14 to 15 muffin cups with paper liners and set pans aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. (These are your dry ingredients.) Set aside.
- Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium until fluffy and pale yellow in color, about 5 minutes. (Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.)
- Beat in the egg whites and vanilla to combine.
- Turn mixer to low and beat in half of the dry ingredients followed by half of the buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl.
- Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, then the remaining buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. You don’t want to over-mix your batter or your cupcakes could turn out tough or heavy.
- Divide batter between the prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 14 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Place the butter in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add 4 tablespoons of milk, the vanilla, and the salt and beat to combine.
- With mixer on low, gradually beat in 3 cups of the powdered sugar. Turn mixer to medium and beat until frosting is smooth. Add add additional powdered sugar if frosting is too thin; if it’s too thick add additional milk.
- Use a small paintbrush to brush a stripe of red coloring on one side of a large piping bag that’s been fitted with a large round tip. Use a second paintbrush (or wash and dry the first one well) to brush a stripe of blue on the opposite side. The stripes should be about 1/4-inch thick but a little thicker or thinner doesn’t matter.
- Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes, then top with sprinkles (if desired). Serve.
- Uneaten cupcakes can be stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months.
- *You can substitute 1/2 cup whole milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar. Mix them together and allow to sit for 5 minutes before using.
- See the body of this post for step by step photos and the tools I used to decorate my cupcakes.