How to Make Tie Dye Cupcakes

Three Parts:Making the Batter and FrostingCreating the Tie Dye PatternBaking and Frosting the Cupcakes

Tie-dye cupcakes are a delicious and playful treat that are great for birthdays, theme parties, or just a fun dinner party or backyard get-together. You can use your favorite batter recipe to make tie-dye cupcakes, but you'll get the best results using a vanilla or other white batter. This is because the dye will take better to a white batter, as opposed to something darker, such as chocolate.



  • 1 cup (150 g) flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ cup (113 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) oil
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (6 ml) vanilla
  • ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • Food coloring in red, blue, and yellow


  • ½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ teaspoons (9 ml) vanilla
  • 2 cups (230 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk
  • Food coloring in 3 colors

Part 1
Making the Batter and Frosting

  1. 1
    Sift together the dry cake ingredients. Into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Once all the ingredients have been added, give them all a quick whisk to combine.[1]
    • Sifting the dry ingredients will help remove lumps, making it easier to achieve a smooth batter.
  2. 2
    Add the wet cake ingredients. To the dry ingredients, add the oil, milk, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Beat on medium speed with the stand mixer or electric beaters until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.[2]
    • Stop as soon as the batter is ready, as overmixing can develop the gluten. This will make the cupcakes heavy and dense instead of light and fluffy.
    • When the batter is ready, cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set it aside while you make the frosting.
    • You can use dairy milk, soy milk, or almond milk for these cupcakes.
    • For the best results, choose an oil with a very mild flavor, such as grapeseed, canola, or safflower.
  3. 3
    Make the frosting. Put the butter into a medium bowl and cream it with electric beaters or a wooden spoon. When it becomes light and fluffy, mix in the sugar in ½-cup (57.5-g) increments. When the butter and sugar are fully creamed together, add in the vanilla and the milk.[3]
    • Once all the ingredients have been added, beat the frosting on medium speed for three minutes.[4]

Part 2
Creating the Tie Dye Pattern

  1. Image titled Make Tie Dye Cupcakes Step 3
    Dye the batter. Divide the batter equally among three bowls. For the first batch of batter, add a few drops of red food coloring or edible gel paste to the bowl and stir with a clean spoon until the color is fully incorporated. Add more color as necessary to achieve the desired intensity. Repeat with the blue and yellow food coloring.[5]
    • You can actually use any colors you like for tie-dye cupcakes, and can also use more than just three colors. Be sure to use a fresh bowl and a fresh spoon for each batch of colored batter, otherwise the colors will become muddy.
    • You can also mix and match food coloring to achieve different colors. For instance, you can mix blue and red to achieve purple.
    • To have white in your mix, leave one of the bowls of batter uncolored.
  2. 2
    Spoon the colors separately into cupcake liners. Prepare a cupcake tin by lining it with white cupcake liners. Into the bottom of each liner, drop 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of red batter. Then place one or two spoons of yellow batter on top of that, followed by an equal quantity of blue batter on top. Stop when the liners are filled half way.
    • You can layer the colors in any way you like, and don’t have to use the red, yellow, blue pattern. different spoons for each color.
    • If you're using more colors, use ½ to 1 tablespoon (7.5 to 15 ml) of batter for each color.
    • Instead of spooning the colors into the liners, you can also transfer each batter color to a separate pastry bag, and pipe in the batters one color at a time.[6]
  3. Image titled Make Tie Dye Cupcakes Step 4
    Swirl the colors. To create the tie-dye effect, take a clean toothpick and gently swirl around the batter in each liner. Don’t mix too much, or you will end up blending the colors and they’ll become muddy.[7]
    • You can create circular tie-dye patterns by swirling the toothpick in circles.
    • Create wavy patterns by zig zagging the toothpick in the batter.
    • Make tie-dye spikes by dipping the toothpick into the batter in a few places and pulling it straight out. This will lift the bottom batter colors to the top.

Part 3
Baking and Frosting the Cupcakes

  1. Image titled Make Tie Dye Cupcakes Step 5
    Bake the cupcakes. Preheat your oven to 365 F (185 C). When it’s hot, put in the cupcakes and bake them for 20 minutes. After that time, remove the cakes from the oven with an oven mitt to see if they're ready. To tell if the cupcakes are done, you can:[8]
    • Stick a toothpick into the center of a cupcake. It’s ready if the toothpick comes out clean.
    • Press gently against a cupcake with your finger. It’s ready if the cake bounces back when pressed.
  2. 2
    Cool the cupcakes. Transfer the baked cupcakes to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool to room temperature before serving or frosting. It’s important to let the cupcakes cool before you add frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt off instead of sticking to the top of the cupcakes.
    • Once the cupcakes are baked, they are ready to serve if you don’t want to add frosting.
  3. 3
    Dye the frosting. Divide the frosting into three separate bowls. Add a few drops of a different food coloring or edible gel paste to each bowl and stir to combine. Add a few more drops of the coloring as necessary to achieve the desired intensity.[9]
    • When the frosting is ready, transfer it to the fridge and let it chill for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to work with and prevent it from melting on the cupcakes.[10]
    • You can use any colors you like for the frosting. For instance, you can choose the same colors as you used for the cupcakes, or you can use complementary or clashing colors.
    • As with the batter, you can use as many or as few colors as you like for the frosting. Just be sure to use separate bowls and spoons for each color.
  4. 4
    Prepare a piping bag. Fit a piping bag with your desired tip for frosting the cupcakes. Fill the bag with the frosting, using a spoon to position the frosting colors side by side in the bag. This way, the three colors will come out of the bag simultaneously, creating a tie-dye effect with the frosting as well.[11]
    • Alternatively, you can use a plastic freezer bag if you don’t have a piping bag. Fill one of the bottom corners of the bag with frosting the same way you would the piping bag. When you're ready to frost, cut a small hole in the bottom corner and squeeze the bag to push out the frosting.
  5. 5
    Frost the cupcakes before serving. Start the piping around the outer edge of the cupcake and work your way toward the center in a spiral shape. When you get to the very center, pull up the tip of the bag to form a small peak in the middle.[12]
    • Serve immediately, or store the cupcakes in an air-tight container in a cool place for a couple days.

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Categories: Cupcakes