Recipe Review

I Tried 4 Famous Confetti Cupcake Recipes and the Winner Is 10 Times Better than Any Boxed Mix

published Jun 9, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
4 confetti cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles labeled with arrows and their recipe names
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaffer; Food Styling: Brett Regot

With their vibrant, multicolored, happy sprinkles, confetti cupcakes are undeniably fun. Cupcakes tend to be slightly less fussy than layer cakes, so there’s a good chance you’d make cupcakes more often — and therefore you need to have a solid recipe.  

We’ve already determined the best confetti layer cake recipe, but confetti cupcakes are a different (and delicious) beast. I had a fun time testing and tasting the cupcakes side-by-side, and I’m happy to report that they were all good; there were no failures or duds. But one of the recipes loudly and clearly declared itself the winner.

Meet Our 4 Confetti Cupcake Contenders

Confetti cupcake recipes typically start with a basic white cake batter. With no egg yolks tinting the mixture yellow, a pristine white background highlights the sprinkles so they stand out in the baked treats. I found recipes that followed this model — one that used egg whites beaten to stiff peaks and another that used unbeaten whites. I also found one recipe that used no egg at all (and was entirely vegan), as well as one recipe that included a whole egg. I discovered recipes that used sour cream, buttermilk, or lemon juice to boost the flavor. Most of the recipes called for all-purpose flour, but one used cake flour. All but one topped the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream; the other one used a cream cheese frosting. Although all of the recipes were similar, there were enough unique differences to make them distinct from one another. And, as with any cupcake, snack cake, or layer cake, confetti cupcake recipes have two main components: the cake and the frosting. Each depends on and works in concert with the other, so they both factored into my rankings.  

Smitten Kitchen’s Plush Confetti Cupcakes was the easiest recipe of the bunch. You don’t need a mixer to make the batter, and you don’t even have to crack any eggs, as the recipe is completely vegan. The vegan frosting used dairy-free cream cheese as its base, another departure from the other recipes, which all topped the cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.

Sugar Spun Run’s Confetti Cupcakes was the only recipe in this showdown that called for folding stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter. It also used a combination of butter and oil in the batter, plus relied on buttermilk as the liquid.

Chelsweets’ Funfetti Cupcakes recipe set itself apart by using a whole egg in the batter, whereas the other recipes either used egg whites or no egg at all. It also called for water and oil in the cake batter, but stirred in some sour cream for richness. And the batter came together in one bowl with just a whisk.

Sally’s Baking Recipes’ Confetti Sprinkle Cupcakes was the only recipe to call for cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, and, like the recipe from Chelsweets, it incorporated sour cream into the batter. It also used egg whites but, unlike the recipe from Sugar Spun Run, didn’t call for them to be beaten to stiff peaks. It also used more sprinkles in the batter than any of the other recipes. 

How I Tested the Funfetti Cupcake Recipes

  • I used the same brand of common ingredients. In an effort to level the playing field as much as possible, I used the same type of butter, all-purpose flour, oil, eggs, and sprinkles for all four recipes.
  • I used room temperature eggs, butter, and milk.
  • I used white paper liners.
  • I baked all of the cupcakes on the same day. (And allowed them to cool completely!)
  • I frosted each the same way. I used piping bags and a Wilton 1M large piping tip.
  • I tasted the cupcakes the day they were made. And then again the following day. 
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaffer; Food Styling: Brett Regot

1. The Easiest Confetti Cupcake Recipe: Smitten Kitchen’s Confetti Cupcakes 

With just one bowl and a whisk, this batter comes together lightning-fast. As noted above, the recipe is completely vegan, so the cake batter includes unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk), oil, and no eggs. The batter goes into the oven after only five minutes or so of prep, which is much faster than the other recipes. As the cupcakes cool, the frosting comes together by beating together non-dairy cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. The frosting amount was just enough for a moderate swirl atop each cupcake, but not enough for a tall, indulgent spiral. Even with a prudent amount of frosting, the cream cheese flavor tended to overwhelm the more delicate flavor of the cupcakes. The cupcakes were quite moist, veering into gummy territory. Overall, these were tasty and easy; next time, I would simply bake the cupcakes a little longer (beyond testing clean with a wooden pick) and top them with a buttercream frosting.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaffer; Food Styling: Brett Regot

2. The Prettiest Contender: Sugar Spun Run’s Confetti Cupcakes

This funfetti cupcake recipe was the most involved of all of the contenders, calling for one additional (yet simple) step: beating egg whites to stiff peaks. These get folded into a thick, pound cake–like batter that comes together with the help of an electric mixer. The batter includes both butter and oil, plus buttermilk. I was surprised that the finished cupcakes didn’t have a richer flavor. They were moist and tender, and the sprinkles bled the least into this batter, resulting in pristine white cupcakes dotted with colorful bursts. The frosting, a vanilla buttercream, allowed for a tall pile atop each cupcake.  

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaffer; Food Styling: Brett Regot

3. The Close Second: Chelsweets’ Funfetti Cupcakes

Because this cupcake batter uses oil (not butter), you can easily whisk it together in one bowl. I worried that the cupcakes would end up bland, as the recipe uses water instead of milk or buttermilk. But two key ingredients come together to lend these cupcakes loads of rich flavor: sour cream and a good bit of almond extract. The cupcakes flooded me with nostalgia, capturing the most quintessential birthday cake flavor. The frosting allowed for a modest swoop atop the cupcakes; this was A-OK with me, but other people in my home (aka my kids) wanted more. 

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaffer; Food Styling: Brett Regot

4. The Gorgeous Winner: Sally’s Baking Recipes’ Confetti Sprinkle Cupcakes

This recipe begins as many classic cake recipes do: creaming together softened butter and sugar with a mixer. You then beat in egg whites, vanilla extract, sour cream, and a dry mixture that uses cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, and finally stir in the sprinkles. The combination of the butter-sugar creaming and the choice to use cake flour creates the most tender, soft, moist cupcakes with plenty of rich butter-vanilla flavor. The frosting (oh my, the frosting!) was the fluffiest, creamiest buttercream, and there was plenty of it. And believe me, you’ll be glad.