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4th of July Cupcakes with Swirl Frosting

Celebrate Independence Day with these festive 4th of July cupcakes! Decorated with red, white, and blue frosting and patriotic sprinkles, these cupcakes are the perfect treat for your holiday gathering. You’ll find the perfect 4th of July cupcake ideas here.

Sideview of red, white, and blue frosted cupcakes with 4th of July decorations - Hostess At Heart
Fun and easy-to-make July 4th Cupcakes

Deliciously fun 4th of July cupcakes with swirl frosting will be the hit of the party. The beautiful colors in the swirl frosting will set your patriotic cupcakes apart and wow your guests. Let me show you how easy they are to make! 

What you’ll love about this Red, White, and Blue Dessert

  • They’re semi-homemade so you can enjoy making them in a jiffy. 
  • Perfect patriotic dessert to Celebrate America or for dressing up your fun dessert table for a summer party.
  • Versatile instructions help you customize them for other holidays or birthdays. 
  • Let the kids help! This is such a fun activity. Put them in charge of the patriotic sprinkles!
Sideview of cupcakes with red, white and blue swirled frosting and American Flag decorations - Hostess At Heart

Equipment List for Patriotic Cupcakes

7 piping bags
Large piping tips with bags (best value)
Hand mixer or stand mixer
Gel Food Color
Red, white & blue sprinkles, optional
Cupcake toppers, optional
Patriotic Cupcake liners

How to make Patriotic Cupcakes

Top-down view of the ingredients needed to make 4th of July cupcakes including cake mix, eggs, oil, food coloring and 4th of July Cupcake decorations - Hostess At Heart

Ingredients for 4th of July Cupcakes

  • White Cake Mix. Any white cake mix will do for this, we aren’t brand specific here.
  • Whole 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. For truly white, use a clear vanilla extract.

Ingredients for the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Butter. We used real butter to make a delicious buttercream frosting. You could use shortening for a lighter, fluffier frosting and make my Easy Vanilla Frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar. Generics tend to have fillers. This is one case where a brand name is best. I sift the powdered sugar and then measure it.
  • Vanilla. We love the flavor of vanilla, but you could use almond extract instead.
  • 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 make 4th of July Cupcakes

Please note, that the printable recipe card has ingredient quantities, complete instructions, and nutritional information. The following is a quick overview of the recipe.

How to make Red, White, and Blue Cupcakes

Mix up the cake batter according to the package instructions. Divide batter into 3 equal-sized bowls. Leave one of the bowls of batter uncolored. Add blue coloring to one of the other bowls, and red in the last bowl.

You can either pipe the batter into the cupcake pan or spoon it in, using a separate spoon for each color. Fill the pan 3/4 full and bake. Let the cupcakes cool while you prepare the frosting.

Top-down view of baked red, white, and blue cupcakes in a cupcake pan - Hostess At Heart

How to Make the Frosting

It’s easier to make the frosting with a mixer. Beating air into the butter creates light and fluffy frosting.

Start by adding the butter to a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix the butter on high until it’s light in color and fluffy, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and turn the mixer on low. Spoon in the powdered sugar alternating with the cream.

In order to get the consistency needed for piping, you will only add enough cream until the frosting is thick enough that you can stand a butter knife in it. Thicker than that and it will not flow through the bags. Thinner than that and it will not hold the swirl.

How to Decorate 4th of July Cupcakes

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

Divide 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 star tip.

How to Swirl the Frosting

  1. Add the 3 piping bags with the colored frosting inserted into the bag with the piping tip.
  2. Pipe a star into the center of the cupcake.
  3. Without releasing the pressure, pipe a swirl around that tip, applying even pressure.
  4. Release pressure and then pull away.
  5. Add the sprinkles right away while the frosting is wet so that they stick.

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.

Unfrosted cupcake colored with red, white, and blue batter for the fourth of july broken in half and stacked together - Hostess At Heart

Tips and Tricks for the Best Independence Day Cupcakes

  • I use a measuring cup to separate the batter equally between the 3 bowls.
  • A yellow cake mix or vanilla cake mix would 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, make a vanilla cake from scratch or just go for it! They will still taste good. Just know you may end up with green and orange instead of blue and red.
  • The gel food coloring that I recommend provides true pigment. Other food colors may be off. If the red isn’t true, you can first dye the cake batter and frosting with pink and then red. It can be hard to get that patriotic red color if it doesn’t have true pigment because it tends to stay pink.
    • Buttercream frosting isn’t truly white either. You can either color it with white gel food coloring or make Vanilla frosting.
    • Any food coloring will stain your skin and nails. Use thin gloves or just be prepared to wear some fun red and blue colors for a couple of days.
  • Use a clean toothpick for adding gel food coloring to the batter and frosting. Start with a small amount and build your color using a clean toothpick each time. That will keep your festive colors clean for the next time you need them.
  • If your cupcakes have a “tail” you aren’t releasing enough pressure on the bag before pulling it away. You can also tap it down with a toothpick or leave it as is. 
  • We love adding sprinkles or cupcake decorations such as stars, American flags, and Fire Crackers cupcake toppers to celebrate America’s birthday, but they are totally optional. Go with what you like and just have fun.
Top-down view of cupcakes with swirled red, white, and blue frosting and patriotic star sprinkles - Hostess At Heart

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. You can also stir in additional powdered sugar to thicken it up.

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.

Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. The frosting can also be frozen in a separate container and used once thawed. You can place frozen cupcakes and frozen frosting in the refrigerator to thaw or leave them out at room temperature.

Note, many bakeries actually frost cakes and cupcakes while they’re slightly frozen. That will reduce the crumbs that you pick up while frosting

Sideview of cupcakes in star cupcake liners topped with colored swirled frosting and star sprinkles - Hostess At Heart

More 4th of July Recipes to Enjoy!

Red, White, and Blue cupcakes with swirled frosting in star cupcake liners

How To Make 4th of July Cupcakes

Author: Julie Menghini
Now that you're your own master decorator, let me know how your Fourth of July cupcakes turn out! You can get creative for different holidays or any occasion!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword: 4th of July, Cupcakes, Patriotic
Servings: 24



  • 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)



  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F and line to 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray with a non-stick cooking spray.
  • Mix the cake batter ingredients directed on the cake mix.
  • Once mixed divide the batter equally into three bowls.
  • Dye one bowl blue and one red. Leave the last bowl white (if using a vanilla mix you can dye it white with white gel coloring or just leave it uncolored. *See notes.
  • Add the 3 batter colors to individual piping bags snipping the ends. Add the batter to the cupcake liners, alternating between the three colors, until the cupcake liners are about 3/4 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 12-15 mins testing with a toothpick around the 12 mins mark. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.


  • 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 frosting into 3 colors.
  • Following the same instructions as the batter, color the frosting red and blue, leaving a third one uncolored, and snip off the ends. Add the 1M tip to the 4th piping bag and place the three filled bags into the bag with the 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.
  • Sprinkle immediately so the sprinkles stick to the wet frosting.


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.
If you aren’t using gel food coloring, it’s hard to make a true red. To make red, first dye the cake batter and frosting pink, then red. Adding red coloring to white will simply turn it pink.
If your cupcakes have a “tail” you aren’t releasing enough pressure before lifting the piping bag off.
Top with sprinkles or cupcake toppers immediately. If you wait the frosting will set and they will not stick to the cupcake.


Calories: 202kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 159mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 66IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

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?Let me know how it was!

This post has been updated with more images and instructions for clarity. No changes were made to the recipe.

Pinterest image of a red, white, and blue frosted cupcake for Independence Day - Hostess At Heart
Recipe Rating


Saturday 20th of May 2023

How fun! These cupcakes would be perfect for our neighborhoods 4th of July potluck! Thank you!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 20th of May 2023

Thank you, Shadi! The neighbors would love them.


Thursday 18th of May 2023

These are perfect for the upcoming summer holidays and the kids will love to help!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 20th of May 2023

I agree! Thank you!

Carrie Robinson

Thursday 18th of May 2023

These are so pretty & festive! I am loving that swirl of colors in the frosting. :)

Julie Menghini

Saturday 20th of May 2023

Thank you, Carrie. I had fun making these and the kiddos loved helping.


Thursday 18th of May 2023

I could eat this everyday, not just the 4th of July. It looks so yummy and I love how easy your recipe sounds. Saving it for another day!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 20th of May 2023

They're so fun, Maggie! Perfect for any occasion.


Thursday 18th of May 2023

I love that the cupcake is tri colored as well as the frosting. Makes these stand out by being super fun and festive!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 20th of May 2023

Thank you, Andrea! I do too!

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