Cactus Flower Cupcakes

cactus cupcakes by Sugar and Sparrow

I’m a big fan of cactus anything, and the cactus cupcake design was one of my earliest cupcake projects (wholly inspired by Alana Jones-Mann). I’ve gotten to make them a handful of times for birthday parties and bridal showers, but it wasn’t until I saw the beautiful Cactus Flower sprinkle mix that I tried incorporating sprinkles into the design. I absolutely love how these pretty sprinkles add a celebratory element to these cactus shapes!


 cactus flower cupcakes with sprinkles

cactus cupcakes tutorial

The Cactus Flower sprinkle mix is a beautiful blend of jimmies and spherical shapes made of teals, mints, greens, and purples. It’s all the colors you would see in a lush succulent garden and totally perfect for Summertime desserts. Just look at how amazing these colors are together:

Cactus Flower sprinkle mix by SprinklePop

When I first started out with cactus cupcakes, I was using fondant as a base for the cacti before piping buttercream on top. Then I realized, who wants to bite into a huge chunk of fondant? Not me! In order to make the cactus shapes tasty as can be, I started making the bases out of cake mixed with buttercream. It’s an easy medium for molding the cactus shapes, plus it tastes amazing. A total win win! And the sprinkled base of the cupcakes really adds a fun element with all that texture and color going on. I’m in love!

cactus cupcake tutorial

I’ll show you everything you need to know about making sprinkle cactus cupcakes in the tutorial below, but before you get started, be sure to watch this quick video to see the techniques in action:

You Will Need

  • 18 baked cupcakes (12 for decorating and 6 chopped into bits)
  • 1 batch of vanilla buttercream
  • Green food color gel
  • Purple food color gel
  • Bowls and spoons for mixing
  • Baking sheet
  • Wax paper
  • 4 oz bottle of Cactus Flower sprinkles
  • Small icing spatula
  • Piping Bags  
  • Wilton Tips 4B, 352, 3, and 109 (or any drop flower tip)

Step 1: Prep Your Materials

Before you get started, it’s best to get all your materials prepped and ready to go. Divide your buttercream into three different bowls: add about ¼ cup of the buttercream to a small bowl and keep it uncolored and add another ¼ cup of buttercream into another small bowl and color it with purple buttercream. Divide the rest of the buttercream into two separate bowls and color one a darker shade of green and one a lighter shade of green. I used different amounts of Americolor Forest Green for these two shades.

how to make cactus cupcakes

Next, pour the Cactus Flower sprinkles into a small bowl, then chop up six of the baked cupcakes into smaller bits and add them to a medium sized bowl.

Step 2: Make The Cake/Buttercream Mixture

Add about ¼ cup of either of the green buttercreams to the bowl of chopped up cupcake bits. Then, use a rubber spatula or spoon to mix it all together until it’s uniform in consistency.

mixing cake and buttercream

When you’re finished mixing, the result should be moldable when you try to shape it with your hands. If it’s not sticking together enough, just add a little bit more buttercream until it’s easy to mold with your hands.   

Step 3: Mold The Cactus Shapes

There are two different styles I love when it comes to cactus cupcakes. The first is a traditional elongated shape and the other is more spherical. Before you start shaping, fit a piece of wax paper onto a baking sheet. Then, roll a little bit of the cake/buttercream mixture into 1 inch spheres using your hands and place them one by one onto the baking sheet. You’ll want to make 6 of these.

how to make cake balls

To make the elongated shape, roll the cake/buttercream mixture between your hands to make more of a rod shape. They should each be about 1.5-2 inches tall and about an inch wide. Place them one by one onto the baking sheet until you have 6 of them.

how to make cactus out of cake

When you’re finished making your cactus shapes, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to let them firm up for about 20 minutes. They’ll be much easier to work with that way!

cactus cake tutorial

Step 4: Create The Sprinkled Surface

Using the bottom of one of your piping tips, create a small cutout in the center of each cupcake to give the cactus shapes a nice foundation to sit on later.

how to fill a cupcake

Use a small icing spatula to frost the surface of the cupcake, excluding the small hole you created.

frosting a cupcake

Then, dip the surface of the cupcakes into the Cactus Flower sprinkles. Repeat until you have all of the cupcake surfaces covered in sprinkles.

dipping cupcake in sprinkles by SprinklePop

Step 5: Decorate The Spherical Cacti

For the spherical cacti, add the refrigerated cake/buttercream balls to 6 of the cupcakes.

how to make a succulent cupcake

Prepare a piping bag by fitting it with Wilton Tip 4B and filling it with the lighter green buttercream. Cover the surface of each spherical cactus in open stars.

how to make buttercream succulents

Next, prepare a piping bag fitted with Wilton Tip 109 (or any drop flower tip) and fill it with purple buttercream. Pipe a drop flower onto the top of each one.

piping drop flowers with Wilton tip 109

Continue decorating with spherical sprinkles from the Cactus Flower mix wherever you’d like.

buttercream succulent cupcakes tutorial

Step 6: Decorate The Elongated Cacti

For the elongated cacti, add the refrigerated cake/buttercream rods to 6 of the cupcakes. Prepare a piping bag by fitting it with Wilton Tip 352 and filling it with the darker green buttercream. Then, pipe a series of vertical lines around the surface of the rods.

buttercream cactus tutorial

Use the purple buttercream bag to pipe a drop flower on top of each of the cacti. Then, prepare a piping bag fitted with Wilton tip 3 and fill it with the remaining white (uncolored) buttercream. Pipe a series of dots onto every other line on the cactus. These are meant to look like the spines of a cactus.

cactus cupcakes with sprinkles

Use your lighter green buttercream to pipe a couple open stars next to the elongated cacti, then continue decorating with spherical sprinkled from the Cactus Flower mix wherever you’d like.

cactus cupcakes with sprinkles

Aren’t these sprinkly cactus cupcakes the cutest thing? Perfect for any Summer soirèe!

 cactus flower cupcakes with sprinklepop sprinkles

The best part is, this cactus technique will work for decorating cakes as well as cupcakes. I’d love to see these beauties with the Cactus Flower sprinkle mix on a cake! Maybe that’ll be my next cactus-inspired project.

Sweet Wishes,

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