I’ve been making cake pops for baby showers and birthday parties for the past five years, and I’ve learned a few helpful tips and tricks along the way. Before I dive into them I should clarify – these tips are for hand-rolled cake pop truffles (the original kind) on a stick, although many of these tips can also apply to the newer kind of cake pops made with cake pop machines and baking pan molds.
If you’re interested in kicking it old-school like me and prefer to roll your cake pops by hand, the first step is to bake a cake (9×13″), let it cool, and then crumble it up in a large bowl. The next step is to mix crumbled cake with a can of frosting – this makes your truffle-like filling.
Tip #1: Don’t use too much frosting! I actually start with about ¾ c. of frosting (or ½ a tub) and add more as needed. I don’t think I’ve ever needed more than 1 c. of frosting (or ¾ of a can) per 9×13″ cake. The more frosting you add the softer your batter/cake pop filling will be. You don’t want the balls to be too soft or they will slide around on the stick.
Tip #2: Refrigerate your bowl of batter at this point before forming it into balls. It will firm up your batter, making the balls easier to roll, and it will help keep the sticks more secure. You can refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight.
Next. roll your (refrigerated) batter into quarter sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
Melt chocolate coating per package directions.
Tip #3: I recommend either using the candy melt circles (found at specialty baking stores or the baking section of JoAnns, Michael’s, etc.) or “CandiQuik” brand chocolate coating (in grocery stores near the chocolate chips) for your cake pop coating. It’s made to serve as the “shell” for a truffle or cake pop so it sets up much nicer than almond bark, chocolate chips, or other melted chocolate options. The finished product also won’t melt in your hands if you touch it like regular chocolate will.
Now it’s time to turn your cake ball into a pop by inserting a lollipop stick into one end, about halfway through.
Tip #4: Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating before inserting it into the cake balls. Return cake pops to wax paper lined cookie sheet.
Tip #5: Wrap your cake pops on the cookie sheet up with cling wrap and place them in the freezer for at least an hour or two to firm them up. I recommend doing it overnight if you have time, just to break the overall cake pop process up.
Once firm or frozen, remove one cake pop from the pan at a time and carefully insert the ball end into the candy coating, holding it by the lollipop stick end. Cover cake ball in candy coating and softly tap and rotate cake pop until the excess chocolate drips off. (Be careful not to tap the cake pop too hard or the ball may fall off the stick.)
Tip #6: It is SUPER DUPER important not to get any water in your melted chocolate – water will turn your chocolate gross and clumpy.
Tip #7: I work with the chocolate candy coating in small batches, melting 3-4 squares of chocolate in a coffee mug at a time. I like to use a coffee mug because it’s narrow and tall, so a few squares of melted chocolate are deep enough to dip my cake pop into. I also use a spoon to help get the chocolate all around the cake pop (including slightly up onto the stick) and to smooth some of the excess chocolate off.
Tip #8: You can use the above tap and rotate method for your chocolate coating until it cools if you’d like a perfectly smooth cake-pop finish, but I like to coat my cake pops with sprinkles. Not only does it look cute, but it also hides any imperfections in your coating so you don’t need to worry about getting it perfectly smooth. If you’re opting to go the sprinkle route, you need to apply the sprinkles before the candy coating dries all the way. I tap and rotate my cake pop initially after dipping to get the excess chocolate off, and then I apply sprinkles when it’s close to hardening up, continuing to rotate the cake pop until the coating is done moving, so the sprinkles don’t shift around or glob up in one spot.
Tip #9: Poke cake pops into a rectangular piece of styrofoam (seen in the photo below) to dry completely. This will prevent them from having a flat side or the candy coating pooling up on one side.
Tip #10: Don’t wait until the last minute to make your cake pops – make them up ahead of time and freeze them! I’ve been freezing cake pops for years, and it’s such a lifesaver as it gets close to our party date to have one less thing to worry about. I’ve frozen cake pops for up to 3 months and they still taste (and look) as delicious as they day I made them. Thawing time is only a couple of minutes!
Although cake pops are time-consuming, they’re incredibly simple to make, so don’t let this deliciousness on a stick intimidate you. With these 10 tips you’ll be a pro in no time.
How could I forget? The most important tip: enjoy with a smile!
Love these tips! I have yet to make cake pops and I really need to give them a try.
Thank you, Heidi!
LOVE Kate’s apron! Do you know where you got it?
Anxiously awaiting her birthday party post – I know you have ALL KINDS of free time to write these things
Thanks Jill! I got the apron off Etsy from SweetApronzNCupcakes: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetApronzNCupcakes
The birthday party post is coming, I promise! I haven’t even looked at the pics yet, so I still have a lot of work ahead of me until it’s ready, but look for it in the next week or two. I’m so excited to share it!
I’ve made cake pops a couple of times but it’s been awhile! These would be a great Valentines treat! – Rachel http://www.atwelladventures.com
I agree, Rachel – perfect for Valentine’s Day!
I am planning on making cake pops as a Valentines Day treat for my little girls class. Thanks so much for the awesome tips!
My pleasure, Delnott – let me know how they turn out!
I’m not sure what it says about me that the first time I feel MOVED to comment on you blog is the cake pop post. These school birthday things can get heated, yo! Until now the good ol’ ice cream cone cupcake was my weapon, but I hereby declare the cake pop my go to in the arsenal. Thanks! Look for a link back in about a month when my daughter turns 2.
LOL Charlotte – thanks for your comment! Can’t wait to see how yours turn out. I predict you’ll be the new Queen of the Birthday Treats.
Those are the prettiest cake pops I’ve ever seen!
Awesome tips! I’m definitely going to try these out.
Thank you so much, Natasha!
Love these tips! Now I have to ask – what is your tried-and-true method for transporting them? Do you wrap them individually (after completely hardened?)
Thanks, Diane! I store/freeze and transport them in a large ziploc bag. Sometimes I’ll individual wrap them before I put them in the bag, but not always. They transport easily!
THANK YOU!!! Finally REAL tips! I’ve seen disaster after disaster and was really worried about attempting these for my little ones upcoming first birthday party…so again, Thank you!
Thanks, Michele! Good luck with your little’s one’s birthday party! Give them a try ahead of time (and freeze them before your party) so you’re not stressed about doing them just before the big date. Let me know how it goes!
When you take these out of the freezer, what happens with the chocolate coating does it melt?
don’t the cake pops crack if frozen and used at a later time?
Do you freeze them after they are covered with the chocolate and sprinkles? I have some made and just want to be sure they will be all right. You were so right, they were a hit at the party. The birthday girl especially loved them! I bought a cake pop maker and it was a breeze!
Hi Chrissy, so happy to hear they were a hit! Yes, I freeze them again after they are covered with chocolate and sprinkles and they keep beautifully. Just make sure they’re treated gently in the freezer (not too much bumping around) and they should look the same as the day you put them in there. Enjoy!
Just noticed in your comment that you said you used a cake pop maker. I’ve never made and frozen cake pops using this method (I hand-roll mine with cake and frosting) but hopefully you’ll find you’ll have the same results with freezing. I’d love for you to keep us posted!
Thank you so much, these tips really helped.
I’m so happy to hear it, Heather! Thank you for your comment!
Thank you so much for these fun tips I am making cake pops for the first time for the blood drive we are having at the hospital I am working at my theme is Evening in Paris so I thought these would be fun to have. Could you tell me how many cake pops one cake mix will make?
Oh goodness, I’m really not sure Michelle – I’ve never counted. It will vary depending on the size of the cake pop balls, of course, but I’m guessing maybe 30-40/box?? Eek! I hope that’s fairly accurate. I’ll count the next time I make a batch and report back!
Thank you so much for all the tips! I have a question, how many should a box of cake yield? This was my 1st time making them and with your blog it came out great, well not my decorating part but that comes with practice.
I’m trying to learn to bake with alternatives to sugar but need a reference to how many I should get out of the box size.
Do you have any tips on freezing or thawing the cake pop? Where/how should they be stored? When thawing what can I do to prevent sweating ?
I’m looking for this answer as well.
Thanks in advance!
I am so glad I came across this article! I am a pretty experienced cook and baker, but have yet to attempt cake pops. I’ve read all sorts of different methods and have been unsure of what to try- but this article has sold me! I too preferred to do them by hand, and not use any of those molds and such. I had a basic idea of the process but your tips in this article are awesome- things I never thought of (like the Styrofoam!!!!) I will be making “Frozen” themed cupcakes AND cakepops for my daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend. Wish me lunch!
Good luck, Christine – I’m sure they’ll turn out beautifully!
how do you store the cake pops in your freezer? have you ever tried just freezing the ball and doing the candy coating when you are ready to use it?
Can you make the pops on Friday and leave them in the fridge for two days? or is it best to freeze no matter what? Our son’s party is on a Sunday and I would like to have as much done earlier than not.
I’ve tried making cake pops before. They came out really big and ended up cracking. Any tips to make sure they are a perfect size and why do they crack?
You freeze the cake pops on sticks, but without candy coating & sprinkles, right? Have you ever frozen them fully decorated?
Hi thanks for the hints! I’ve made cake pops a few times but sometimes have them crack. Have you seen this before and know a way to prevent it from happening? Thank you
Hello! What’s the best way to freeze them? Without damaging them and keeping them safe from other things in the freezer.
I have just started making cake pops for 3 months now and I’m obsessed with them. My question is what is your advise for decorating with cookie icing and fondant.
I used candy melts and followed your directions to a T… they all cracked…. any suggestions? I found some information on another site that said to let them thaw for 15-20 mins first then dip them…. anyone else??? help…. they are so beautiful ….. and cracked
They crack if you don’t let them thaw completely before dipping them. When I read the tip to freeze them before dipping I was stunned! This is a well-known no no among most experienced cake pop makers. Extreme temp difference between the cake balls and the candy coating will cause a slew of problems. If you don’t add too much frosting there is no reason to even refrigerate them before dipping because they will hold their shape at room temp. Try making them again using only even frosting that the”dough” makes nice balls that hold together and don’t freeze them right before dipping! I think you’ll be much much happier with the results.
I found these tips to be extremely helpful. Thanks for taking the time to share.
I have the same question as a few others above that you never answered… First off the freezing don’t they crack? And doesn’t freezing discolor your chocolate after a little while? And what about the sweating when you defrost them
I tend to freeze my cake pops when I make them because I don’t always get to them right away to do the next steps. (This lets me get started well in advance of when I need them). I occasionally have one or two crack but it hasn’t been a major issue. A lot of great feedback has been shared with other tips, so I encourage you all to read through and decide what’s best for you. I will continue to freeze through all these steps as that is what works best for us.
To answer your other questions, Meghan – I have not seen any issues with discoloration or sweating due to freezing. Hope that helps!
I love all of these tips. Do you have any pointers to prevent less cracking in the outer coating? I feel like this always happens when I have to refrigerate or keep frozen overnight.
Thank you for the great tips! The first time i tried making them was a disaster because I made them too big. So maybe add your recommended ball size😏
Hi Desiree – maybe make them at about an inch or 1.5″ diameter. Hope that helps!
Use a cookie scoop so they’ll all be the same size
This is my first time making cake pops and followed most of your tip…I changed a few things around and they came out perfect. Everyone loved them. Thank you!
Will definitely continue using your tips from now on.
Thank you for sharing these tips! My soon to be 8 yr old has requested cake pops this year so this was very helpful – especially the top about making ahead of time and freezing!