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4th of July Cupcakes with Swirl Frosting

Celebrating Independence Day with friends and family is such a precious gift. Make the memory even more special with our gorgeous and easy 4th of July Cupcakes with swirl frosting.

These patriotic cupcakes are going to wow your guests and be the hit of the party. The beautiful colors in the swirl frosting will set your cupcakes apart. What a blessing to celebrate our freedoms in this country, and what better way to do that than with red, white, and blue cupcakes that your guests will love.

4th of July Cupcakes, beautifully decorated and ready to serve.

How to make 4th of July Cupcakes

These beautiful Fourth of July cupcakes are made with a box cake mix and a delicious vanilla buttercream frosting. You’ll dye the cake mix into three different colors, and then bake as directed for beautiful results. Once baked, the cupcakes are decorated with a delicious swirl frosting of vanilla buttercream. Follow the step-by-step instructions for perfect cupcakes.

Ingredients for patriotic cupcakes including red, white, and blue cupcake toppers.

Ingredients for 4th of July Cupcakes

  • White Cake Mix. Any white cake mix will do for this, we aren’t brand specific here.
  • Eggs. We almost always buy AA large eggs for consistency.
  • Vegetable Oil. Canola oil is a good choice.
  • Water.
  • Vanilla. We prefer real vanilla extract over imitation vanilla but either will work.

Ingredients for the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Butter or Shortening. Either will work. Butter has more flavor, but shortening will result in a lighter frosting. Sometimes we will use shortening, but add butter flavoring which you can buy in small bottles just like vanilla extract. You can find it at craft stores or anywhere baking supplies are sold.
  • Powdered Sugar. Generics tend to have fillers. This is one case where a brand name is best.
  • Vanilla. We love the flavor of vanilla but you could use almond extract instead, or make a flavored frosting with lemon
  • Milk or Heavy Cream. Milk will thin the frosting more so you won’t want as much. Heavy cream adds flavor and keeps the frosting thick to help the swirl hold its shape.

How to Swirl Frosting Colors

It’s so easy to make beautiful swirl frosting colors for your 4th of July cupcakes! You’ll just need four piping bags. Three will get filled with the three different colors of frosting. The fourth will hold the three bags in one with a tip at the end. Here are the official steps to decorate

Split the buttercream into 3 colors and dye the frosting red, white, and blue. Place each color into a piping bag and snip the ends. Prep a separate piping bag with a 1M tip.

red, white and blue frosting in piping bags.

How to Decorate 4th of July Cupcakes

After you have your three colors of frosting, decorating the cupcakes will be so easy!

  1. Add the 3 piping bags with the colored frosting into the bag with the piping tip.
  2. Pipe a star into the center of the cupcake.
  3. Then without releasing the pressure pipe a swirl around that tip, applying even pressure.
  4. Release pressure and then pull away.

That’s it! This is the best way to get perfectly even swirl frosting in patriotic colors or any color scheme that fits your occasion.

Tips and Tricks for the Best 4th of July Cupcakes

  • A yellow cake mix or vanilla cake mix will not work as well for these cupcakes. You need the fully white cake mix in order to make the beautiful red, white, and blue cupcake batter.
  • The yellow tint to a vanilla cake mix will throw off your color slightly, so if it’s all you have and running to the store is out of the question, just go for it! They will still taste good. Just know you may end up with green and orange instead of blue and red.
  • To make red you must first dye the cake mix and icing pink, then red. Adding red coloring to white will simply turn it pink.
  • If your cupcakes have a “tail” you aren’t releasing pressure before pulling off.
  • We love adding sprinkles or cupcake toppers for a final touch, but they are totally optional. Go with what you like.
Gorgeous Fourth of July Cupcakes on a table with star-shaped sprinkles.

Storing Cupcakes

Buttercream likes to be in the open air and will get weepy and soft if it is covered in an airtight container. Refrigeration will help with this.

If you prefer room temperature, the frosting will also dry out again if you open the container an hour or two before serving. This can work both for making the 4th of July cupcakes ahead of time, or for keeping leftovers, should you have any.

Equipment List for the 4th of July Cupcakes

7 piping bags
1M piping tip
Hand mixer or stand mixer
Pink gel food color
Red gel food color
Blue gel food color
White gel food color, optional

Red, white & blue sprinkles, optional
Cupcake toppers, optional
Patriotic Cupcake liners

More 4th of July Recipes to Enjoy!

How To Make 4th of July Cupcakes

Celebrating Independence Day with friends and family is such a precious gift. Make the memory even more special with our gorgeous and easy 4th of July Cupcakes with swirl frosting.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 48 mins
Servings 24
Author Julie Menghini

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 box white cake mix (not vanilla)
  • 3 eggs (grade A Large)
  • 1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup shortening (or unsalted butter)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (measure then sift)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream (can substitute with water or milk)

Instructions

Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line to 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners or spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
  • Mix the cake batter ingredients and fill the muffin tins as directed on the cake mix.
  • Once batter the batter is made, split into three bowls.
  • Dye one bowl blue.
  • Dye one bowl red by adding two drops of pink gel food coloring. Mixing throughly and then adding 2 drops of red gel coloring.
  • Leave the last bowl white (if using a vanilla mix you can dye it white with white gel coloring.
  • Add the 3 batter colors to individual piping bags snipping the end and alternating colors add batter to the cupcake liners about 3/4 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes Bake for 12-15 mins testing with a toothpick or butter knife around the 12 mins mark. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Frosting

  • Put the shortening in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and blend on medium-high until the shortening is shiny and smooth. Turn the mixer on low and add 3 tablespoons of the cream one tablespoon at a time.
  • Spoon the sifted powdered sugar into the shortening mix with the mixer turned to low until totally incorporated. Add additional cream until you get the consistency needed for piping. You want a stiff frosting but not so stiff that it will not flow through a piping bag. When you can stand a knife in it that's about right.
  • Split the buttercream into 3 colors.
  • Following the same instructions as the batter dye the frosting red and blue. Place each color into a piping bag and snip the ends.
  • Using a 1M tip, add the 3 piping bags with the colored frosting into the bag with the piping tip. Pipe a star into the center of the cupcake.
  • Then without releasing the pressure pipe a swirl around that tip, applying even pressure. Release pressure and then pull away.

Notes

Be mindful that we specifically state white cake mix and not vanilla. A white mix takes the color easier than vanilla.
The yellow tint to a vanilla cake mix will throw off your color slightly but it’s not a huge concern.
To make red you must first dye the cake mix and icing pink, then red. Adding red coloring to white will simply turn it pink.
If your cupcakes have a “tail” you aren’t releasing pressure before pulling off.
Top with sprinkles or cupcake toppers immediately. If you wait the frosting will set and they will not stick to the cupcake.

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 159mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg
This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.
Tried this recipe? That’s awesome!Mention @hostessatheart or tag #hostessatheart!
Recipe Rating




maryanne

Monday 14th of June 2021

How fun! And pretty! Thanks for the great recipe!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

Thank you, Maryann!

Rika

Monday 14th of June 2021

This is the perfect dessert that kids can make at home! The cupcakes are so colorful, just perfect for the 4th of July.

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

I agree! Thank you, Rika!

Beth

Monday 14th of June 2021

These cupcakes are perfect for my son's birthday and the Fourth of July! Everyone is going to love these festive and fun cupcakes!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

Thanks, Beth! I have a lot of family members born right around the fourth and think these cupcakes are perfect too.

Liz

Monday 14th of June 2021

These are so cute and festive! I can't wait to make these for my family. Thanks for the recipe!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

Thank you, Liz! They're a lot of fun.

Jill

Monday 14th of June 2021

I always like the swirled look of frosting, but wasn't sure how to do it. Thanks for the tip!

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 16th of June 2021

Thank you, Jill! So glad you found it helpful.