How to Make Succulent Cupcakes

Move over, Edible Flower Cupcakes – Are you ready for the prettiest dessert in the whole world? These Succulent Cupcakes would be perfect for a bridal party, an outdoor wedding, or just for fun.

Would you believe me if I told you they are easier to make than you think? Okay, okay, they do have a lot of steps. And I wouldn’t call them beginner friendly. But as it turns out, the steps aren’t so complicated. I wouldn’t call making these advanced either!

So let’s get started.

blend your butter and sugar succulent cupcakes recipe

add sugar to the butter recipe succulent cupcakes

Make a Vanilla Cupcake

If you are going to make gorgeous cupcakes, you have to make them delicious too! These vanilla cupcakes have a beautiful pop of tangy flavor because I used sour cream in the recipe.

Sour cream is an underappreciated ingredient in desserts. In this case, it’s also a great way to add a complex, rich, and decadent flavor. It pairs so well with the butter, milk and vanilla in this recipe.

add eggs to the vanilla cupcake batter pop shop america

add sour cream to the eggs and butter mixture

Beyond the sour cream and milk additions, preparing and baking these cupcakes is just like what you are used to!

It is helpful to have a flatter shaped cupcake, once it’s done baking. Usually the goal would be to create a beautiful dome shape and let the cupcake rise. Although there’s no an exact science to making a flat cupcake, my trick is to peek at them in the oven every few minutes. That will let out the hot air and often prevent your cupcakes from rising.

mix your dry ingredients into your wet vanilla cupcake recipe

vanilla cupcake batter in a kitchen-aid mixer

Another important thing to know is that your cupcakes MUST be completely cooled before you frost them. So you could even bake the cupcakes the day before. In general, the fresher the better so I baked my cupcakes the same day and just let them cool completely first.

scoop the vanilla cupcake batter pop shop america

For your cupcakes to cool faster, after they are baked immediately remove them from the cupcake tin. Set them on a granite counter – or any counter available to you, uncovered.

vanilla cupcakes ready to be baked pop shop america

Now this the perfect time to get your piping bags ready and here’s where the recipe becomes more detailed. I used food colors: Wilton Moss Green (in 2 hues: a dark and light), Wilton Peach, and white (no color added).

Thus, you will need 4 piping bags.

cactus cupcakes grass green, avocado, and salmon colored frosting

I also used 6 different frosting tips! Honestly, I’ve never used so many in my life.

The trick to this dessert is using these tips, and changing the tips. Like I said before, it’s just a lot of steps, but the actual technique to create the succulents and cacti is fairly simple!

create your cactus sculptures in frosting pop shop america

build your frosting succulents pop shop america cupcake tutorial

Now see what’s easier for you: Is it easier to work on a flat surface on top of one of your parchment squares? Or is it easier to make a handheld version with a cake nail? Try it both ways and see what works better for you.

cactus frosting side view succulent cupcakes tutorial

To make the first succulent, use your #199 tip with your darker colored moss green frosting. With the piping bag completely vertical, squeeze the bag while pulling upwards and releasing pressure. Continue 2-3 times until you get the desired height of the cactus.

It’s almost as if you are making a wave pattern with the pressure of your squeeze while you also move your hand upward, then keep it still, then move up again.

add tiny white dots of frosting as cactus pricks pop shop america

Remember, even if it’s hard at first, you will need 12 cacti total. So keep going and keep improving your technique over time. You will have plenty of extra frosting, so you can always throw out the ones you are not happy with.

To make the cactus spikes, use your #1 tip, and make tiny white dots.

tall cactus in frosting succulent cupcake tutorial

add white pricks to the succulent frosting diy

To make the second cactus, repeat the same process as the first with just a little twist. Attach the 4B tip to the light green frosting. With the piping bag completely vertical, squeeze the bag while pulling upwards and releasing pressure. Continue 3-4 times until you get the desired height of the cactus. So this cactus will be a little bit taller than your first!

Also instead of altering your squeeze pressure on the piping bag while lifting up, instead alter your squeeze slightly as you twist from left to right.

Last, use your #1 tip on the white frosting again and pipe small dots all along the cactus for the “spikes.” Then, attach the #16 tip to the peach frosting and pipe a small swirl on top of the cactus for the flower. So cute right?!

make flowers for the cactus in frosting dessert tutorial

Now here’s a shape that you might be more familiar with – a simple flower!

If we are going to have frosting cacti we have to have a gorgeous peach flower. For this shape, attach the #102 tip to the peach frosting. Starting in the middle of the parchment, place the tip with the large opening touching the nail. Squeeze an even amount of pressure while turning the nail with your other hand creating a circle. Create 3 “leaves” around the center circle by making a rainbow pattern with the buttercream all the way around.

Here’s a handy Youtube video that shows this process!

how to frost the cactus cupcakes dessert recipe

Now whether you have been working on your flower nail or on directly on your parchment pieces on a flat surface, place all your cactus and succulents together and allow the frosting to set. I would recommend placing them in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This will make them easier to transfer to the cupcake!

how to make vanilla cupcakes with succulents

Pipe a small amount of light green frosting on to your cupcakes, to create a ground for your succulents.

Then use a large butter knife or spatula to gently move your frosting sculptures from your parchment and baking tray to the actual cupcakes.

finished frosted topped cactus cupcakes tutorial

Try to make each cupcake just a little different – use different cactus shapes on each and arrange them into different patterns too!

detail of homemade succulent cupcakes pop shop america

Feel free to fill in free space with the #352 tip making leaves around the succulents! I chose to make little leaves in both light moss green and peach.

Although this video doesn’t use a #352 tip like I did, here’s a great tutorial on how to make a leaf shape.

how to make cactus cupcakes recipe tutorial pop shop america

And viola! Succulent Cupcakes! Now the real question is how are you going to plate them and how are you going to serve them?

top cupcakes with a variety of cacti and succulents

If you make these cupcakes, tag us online or comment below to show us how they turned out! We can’t wait to see.

close up detail of succulent frosting pop shop america

And if you need even more gorgeous desserts how about these: Pink Ombre Strawberry Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting Recipe and Rosemary Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. YUM!

finished cactus cupcakes recipe tutorial pop shop america

green frosted succulent cupcakes recipe

make succulent shaped frosting cupcake tutorial

cactus frosting tutorial recipe by pop shop america

variety of cactus frosted vanilla cupcakes recipe

finished cactus frosted vanilla cupcakes tutorial

diy cactus frosted cupcakes tutorial pop shop america

Print

How to Make Succulent Cupcakes

cactus frosting tutorial recipe by pop shop america_square

These vanilla cupcakes are frosted into cool cactus and succulent landscapes! They are so much fun and easier to make than you think!

  • Author: Brittany Bly
  • Prep Time:  1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18-20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: desserts
Scale

Ingredients

For the Succulent Frosting:

  • 3 sticks salted butter- softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Wilton Moss Green gel food color
  • Wilton Peach gel food color

For the Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup butter- softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 cupcake liners

Equipment: 

  • 4 piping bags
  • Piping tips #199 (small cacti)
  • #352 (leaf tip)
  • #1 (“spikes” on cacti)
  • #4B (Large cacti)
  • #102 (flowers)
  • #16 (flower on top of cactus)
  • Decorating Coupler Set (optional but useful and not expensive)
  • Cake flower nail (optional)
  • Parchment or wax paper – cut into small squares about 2 in. x 2 in.

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and cream on high speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and add powdered sugar one cup at a time until fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract and mix on high speed for an additional 3-4 minutes. 
  2. Distribute the frosting evenly between 4 bowls. Make a darker green by adding about 1 tsp of the moss green food color and mix until evenly colored. Add about ½ tsp of green to another bowl and mix well. Add about 1 tsp of the peach food color to the third bowl and mix well. Leave the last bowl white. 
  3. Prepare 4 piping bags by cutting off the tip of the bag and adding in the baking coupling if using and fill each bag with one color of frosting. 
  4. Prepare your succulents by taking a piece of parchment paper and “gluing” it to your flower nail with a little bit of frosting. 
  5. To make the first succulent, place the #199 tip on the dark green frosting. Squeeze bag and pull up releasing pressure. Make 3 small cacti on each piece of parchment. Take the white frosting and create the “spikes” and set on the baking sheet. Continue until you have 12 cacti. 
  6. For the second succulent, attach the 4B tip to the light green frosting. With the piping bag completely vertical, squeeze the bag while pulling upwards and releasing pressure. Continue 3-4 times until you get the desired height of the cactus. Attach the #1 tip to the white frosting and pipe small dots all along the cactus for the “spikes” and lastly, attach the #16 tip to the peach frosting and pipe a small swirl on top of the cactus for the flower. Continue until you have 12 cacti. Place each one on a baking sheet. 
  7. For the last succulent, attach the #102 tip to the peach frosting. Starting in the middle of the parchment, place the tip with the large opening touching the nail. Squeeze an even amount of pressure while turning the nail with your other hand creating a circle. Create 3 “leaves” around the center circle by making a rainbow pattern with the buttercream all the way around. Create 5 leaves on the 2nd layer and so on until you have your desired size. Remember not to make them too big so they will fit on the cupcake. 
  8. Place the succulents in the refrigerator for 1 hour to set. 
  9. Prepare your cupcakes by adding the granulated sugar and butter into the bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachment and cream together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until just combined. 
  10. Add the sour cream and mix until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. 
  11. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and the milk and vanilla in a small bowl. 
  12. Alternate adding half of the dry mixture and then half of the wet mixture while the mixer is on low speed. Add the remaining dry ingredients then the remaining milk last. Mix until just combined. 
  13. Fill each cupcake liner about halfway full of batter (I used a 3 tbsp scoop) and bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  15. Remove the succulents from the refrigerator. Add a small dollop of frosting on top of each cupcake and use a spatula to smooth. Add one of each succulent to each cupcake by taking a butter knife or flat spatula and run underneath the succulent and placing gently on the cupcake.  Feel free to fill in free space with the #352 tip making leaves around the succulents. 
  16.  Store in an airtight container and Enjoy! 

Keywords: cactus cupcakes, succulent cupcakes, frosted cupcakes, cactus frosting, frosting sculpture ideas, vanilla cupcakes

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One thought on “How to Make Succulent Cupcakes

  1. Scarlet says:

    These succulent cupcakes are so adorable. My daughter loves cactus so this is going to make her very happy. I pinned this using my tailwind schedule button, but I wanted to let you know I don’t see any of your share buttons!

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