Homemade Rainbow Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting are simple and fun to make! The fluffy vanilla icing is like vanilla clouds on top of the rainbows.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to make delicious vanilla rainbow cake cupcakes from scratch with step by step instructions and photos so that you can make these for your next kid’s birthday party, rainbow party, tropical party or unicorn party!
If you sign up for my newsletter, you will get a recipe booklet with my basic recipe for cupcakes that you can use to make 7 different flavors, plus more ideas and recipes for frostings! These recipes are available exclusively to newsletter subscribers (in German only). SIGN UP HERE to get your free recipe booklet.
Making homemade rainbow cupcakes is not as hard as you would think. You start with the same batter as for my moist Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes – super easy. Then you divide the batter into 5 small bowls, color each batter a different color with food coloring. For food coloring, I prefer to use gel food coloring but you can certainly use other kinds of food coloring (liquid or powder) if you like.
I put the colored cupcake batter into plastic food storage bags to make filling the cupcake liners easier. It takes some time and patience but it’s so worth it!
Starting with purple for the bottom, or whichever color you want on the bottom, cut one corner off the plastic baggie. Squeeze an even amount of batter over the surface of the bottom, dividing the batter among the 20 cupcakes.
Using the back of a small spoon, carefully spread each color as evenly as possible to cover the layer below. Make sure to spread the color all the way to the edge of the cupcake liner in order to achieve a continuous rainbow pattern in the cupcakes.
The sight of these Rainbow Cupcakes makes me so happy! They are actually even cuter in real life than I was able to capture with my not-so-advanced photography skills. 😉
The vanilla buttercream frosting is incredible. It’s super fluffy and airy and isn’t as sugary and sweet as regular frosting. It sits on top of the cupcakes like a sweet cloud.
If you’d like to make a rainbow sheet cake or layer cake using this recipe, here’s how you do it: For a sheet cake, I would use a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan and increase the baking time. For a rainbow layer cake, I would bake each colored layer separately. Use smaller pans (8 inches or 20 cm in diameter) in order for each layer to have enough height. Then use the frosting to fill and frost the cake.
Rainbow Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
- ½ cup (112 g) butter at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) milk at room temperature
- Food coloring for example pink, yellow, green, blue and purple
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (250 g) butter at room temperature
- A pinch of salt
- 3 ½ cups (400 g) powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (165°C). Line muffin tins with 20 cupcake liners.
Beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture and beat on low until well combined. Add one third of the vanilla milk and beat on low until well combined. Repeat procedure with the remaining flour and milk mixtures, scraping the bowl between additions.
Divide the batter into 5 small bowls and color with food coloring as desired. It’s best to start with a tiny amount of food coloring. Transfer the colored batter into 5 plastic bags. Cut a corner off your first bag and pipe about a teaspoon of the bottom color into each of the 20 cupcake liners and smooth the batter to the edges of the cupcake liners with the back of a small spoon. Repeat with the remaining colors.
Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely in tins on a wire rack.
For the frosting: Beat the butter and salt in a mixing bowl on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until the butter appears nearly white. Add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended. Scrape bottom and sides of mixing bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again briefly. Add the heavy cream and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the frosting is creamy and fluffy.
To assemble the cupcakes: either pipe frosting onto cupcakes with a piping bag and round tip or spread it on with a butter knife. The amount of frosting from this recipe is enough for at least 24 cupcakes. Tightly covered, cupcakes stay fresh for 2 days at room temperature or for 4 days in the refrigerator, whereby they are best if eaten the day of or the day after making.