A very colorful unicorn birthday cake on a white platter.
Desserts, Kid's favorites

How to make a unicorn birthday cake

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A very colorful unicorn birthday cake on a white platter.
A colorful unicorn themed birthday cake

Do you have a tween that loves all things sparkly, unicorn-themed and magical? Then I guarantee she’ll love this colorful unicorn birthday cake! With this step-by-step process, you too can create a magical unicorn-themed birthday. Cheers to rainbows, sparkles and unicorns!

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Have you been searching Pinterest for ideas about how to make a unicorn birthday cake? I spent hours looking for ideas before I launched into this unicorn birthday cake project. I was so afraid that this would become a massive Pinterest-fail and that I would disappoint my birthday girl. I’m happy to say that this unicorn cake was a sweet success. In fact, my sweet girl helped me make the cake for her party. Not only did we finish a beautiful cake, we also had great fun bonding over it.

We paired this beautiful unicorn birthday cake with other unicorn-themed party favors, napkins and plates. It was the perfect amount of sparkle without being too garish.

No haters please

A few things to note: I am not a professional baker. I do enjoy baking, but for this project I set some reasonable expectations for myself knowing that this cake may not be perfect. I absolutely did my best. I debated long and hard about whether or not to even share this post with you because I know it isn’t professional bakery perfect. That being said….my daughter was thrilled with this cake. She also helped decorate it and selected all the colors. I encourage you to the same. And you too may enjoy creating a magical unicorn birthday cake for your loved one. The best part about baking this cake was spending time with my daughter. We both agreed that any minor imperfections would simply be considered sparkles of “unicorn love“.

Bright and colorful unicorn birthday cake view from above showing frosted mane, fondant horn and ears.
Unicorn birthday cake view from above

How to make a unicorn birthday cake

First, make sure you allow enough time to not only make each component of the cake, but to assemble and decorate. This unicorn birthday cake was made in different stages over approximately two days. Make sure to clear out lots of room in your fridge to accommodate the cake. Remove any smelly food items in or around the cake such as left overs, onions and garlic. You want your cake to be magical, not smelly right?!

Select your flavor of cake. I chose a white vanilla cake with rainbow confetti sprinkles because this is what my daughter wanted. Because the cake is decorated with butter cream frosting, it can be any kind of cake that you prefer. If you like chocolate, you’ll love my delicious devil’s food cake recipe. I decided not to over complicate the design by attempting to make rainbows and different colors on the inside of the cake. There is plenty of color and attention to detail on the outside. You can absolutely use a “boxed” cake mix if desired. The main thing to consider is having the right size and shape of cake pans. You will need two Baker’s Secret Basics nonstick 8-Inch round cake pans. This cake has two layers to achieve both height and dramatic effect. A Wilton cake leveler is handy for leveling out the top of each baked cake prior to layering. Vanilla buttercream frosting was used in-between and all over the cake. You can also buy white vanilla buttercream frosting if you don’t want to make it from scratch.

For this post, I will focus mostly on how we chose to decorate the unicorn-themed birthday cake. My main tips on baking the cake are to use nonstick parchment paper on the bottom of the cake pan and spray the pans with baking spray (like Pam). Also, watch and time baking the cake carefully in the oven. Don’t step away…don’t get on Facebook or Instagram and forget all about it. No one likes a dry cake.

Lots of colorful frosting showcased on the mane of this unicorn birthday cake.

Unicorn Birthday Cake Components

  • Vanilla cake mix
  • Vanilla buttercream frosting (three tubs)
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Gel food coloring (black for the eyes, pink, turquoise, purple any colors you like for the mane)
  • Box of fondant for the ears and horn
  • One sugar ice cream cone for the horn
  • Cake decorating sprinkles (multi-color, pink sparkly)
Front facing view of the unicorn birthday cake.

The Unicorn Horn and Ears

I thought creating the unicorn’s horn for this birthday cake was going to be the most difficult part of this process. It actually wasn’t. I used a sugar ice cream cone for the horn shape. Wrap the base, top-portion and tip with Wilton decorator white fondant. It’s just like play-doe and will cut and roll out in any shape you like. Pink and multi-colored cake sprinkles were used as decoration. The sprinkles were applied after brushing this area of the sugar cone with a confectioner sugar slurry (simply confectioner’s sugar with a little water mixed in). It essentially works like glue or as royal-icing would. My daughter decided on how she wanted the horn to look like. This is her design.

The unicorn ears I free-hand cut out from white fondant. To make the inside of the ears a blush pink color, mix a little bit of water with pink Wilton gel-based food coloring. Use a small paint brush to lightly color the fondant. The fondant can be molded into the tear-drop shape you like for the ears and placed on the cake. I used a couple toothpicks inserted and hidden at the base to help prop the ears more upright.

The Unicorn Eyes

The eyes and lashes were the most difficult part to get right. I suggest practicing on parchment paper before going for the actual cake. Or make your eyes on the paper, pop them into the freezer to chill and set, then transfer them onto your cake. The eyes are made of a small amount of vanilla frosting with black food coloring mixed into it. I used the smallest piping tip I had to free-hand pipe-out the eyes and lashes. They are essentially upside down “U” shapes with feathery lashes on the side. It takes a bit of practice and allot of patience.

Unicorn birthday cake lit up with pink birthday candles.
All lit up for the birthday girl

The Mane

To make the swirly colorful mane of the unicorn, divide the vanilla frosting up into three bowls. You’ll need at least one and a half cups of frosting for your more predominant color. And anywhere from half a cup to one cup for the other two. Add a small amount of gel food coloring to each bowl. We chose turquoise, pink and purple. You can select any colors you like. Mix a small amount of coloring in at a time until you get the desired shade you want. Transfer each color into a separate piping bag fitted with a different size star tip in each bag. Each tip will provide you with different swirl patterns. Practice on parchment paper a few times to get the hang of it. Start at the front of the cake and move around towards the back along the right side of the cake.

Cake Decorating Essentials

The following items help make decorating the cake allot easier. These supplies are good investments for future cake decorating projects. You will need several piping bags. You can also use zip-lock bags. Cut one corner and insert your desired decorator tip.

A big slice of unicorn birthday cake.
A slice of unicorn birthday cake

If you have made it to this point in reading this post, I hope that you have found inspiration for creating your very own unicorn birthday cake. As I mentioned before, it takes a little bit of time and some patience, but the end result is totally worth it. I hope you have a magical unicorn-themed birthday party!

If you make a unicorn-themed cake, come back and comment below about how it went. What worked for you? Did you make any changes?

If you make any of my recipes, use #northwestspoon and share your photo.

Unicorn Birthday Cake

This recipe provides instructions about how to make and decorate a unicorn-themed birthday cake. The focus is on the decoration and uses a box cake mix and store bought frosting rather than bake from scratch.

Shopping and supply list

  • 1 vanilla cake mix ((ie, Betty Crocker vanilla cake))
  • 3 tubs vanilla buttercream frosting ((ie. Betty Crocker vanilla frosting))
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • gel food coloring (black, plus 3 other colors of your choice)
  • 1 box of fondant
  • 1 sugar ice cream cone
  • cake decorating sprinkles ((ie, multi-color, pink))
  • 2 8 inch non-stick round cake pans
  • parchment paper
  • non-stick baking spray ((ie, PAM))
  • Any ingredients on the back of the birthday cake mix box ((ie, water, eggs, oil))
  • 1 cake leveler or large serrated knife
  • 1 cake decorating spatula
  • 4 cake decorating piping bags or zip-lock bags (1 large, 2 medium, 1 small)
  • 4 cake decorating tips (1 round tip (size #2 or #3) 3 other various sized star or flower tips, your choice)
  • 1 small clean paint brush
  • 1 cake decorator turn table or cake stand ((optional))

Bake two cakes

  1. Use 8 inch round non-stick cake pans. Place a cake pan on top of a sheet of parchment paper. Trace around the outside of the pan with a pencil. Do this 2 times. Cut out the circles. Place the parchment paper circles inside of the cake pans. Spray each pan liberally with baking spray. Pre-heat the oven. Follow the instructions on the back of the cake mix box to prepare the cake batter. You will have better results if the eggs, water, oil are at room temperature. Evenly divide the cake batter in-between the cake pans. You can do this either by weight using a kitchen scale or fill each pan about 3/4 way full. Bake the cake for length of time and temperature specified on the cake mix box (typically 25 – 30 minutes). Use a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when done. Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing them from the pans. Level the tops of each cake using a Wilton cake leveler or a large serrated knife.

Build and frost the cake

  1. Use a cake stand or cake decorating turn-table to build the cake layers. Start with a thin all-over crumb-layer of frosting. Gently spread the frosting using the cake decorating spatula. Add frosting on top of the base layer (or use another filling such as pudding, compote etc.) Place the second cake on top and continue with the all-over crumb layer of frosting. Chill the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes before frosting again all over. You will use about one tub of frosting. Use the remaining tubs frosting for the mane and eyes decoration. Chill the cake while you prepare the decorations.

Unicorn horn

  1. Use a sugar ice cream cone for the unicorn horn. Use parchment paper and your fingers to roll out the fondant. Similar to play-doe fondant will roll out and cut into any shape. You can wrap the base of the horn with a small worm-like length of fondant. Create another long (about twice the size of the cone) worm-like piece of fondant (medium-sized width). Start at the top of the ice cream cone. Work your way down wrapping the cone with the fondant strip. This creates the swirly horn effect. Use your fingers or fondant shaping tool to gently press and flatten the fondant how you like into the cone.

  2. If you’d like to decorate the horn with sprinkles add a little water (1 tbsp) to 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Create a slurry or royal icing. Use a small paint brush to brush on the icing in desired areas. Hold the horn with one hand while adding the cake decorating sprinkles and turn the horn. Work quickly. This should help adhere the sprinkles. Be creative. On my unicorn horn we used multi-colored cake sprinkles near the base and pink cake sprinkles in the middle. The top of the horn was left white fondant.

Unicorn ears

  1. Use a rolling pin and parchment paper. Roll out a thin layer of fondant (about 1/4 inch). Free-hand cut out two large tear-drop shapes for ears. You can paint the inside of the ears by mixing a tiny amount of pink gel food coloring in 2 tbsp of water. Use a clean small paint brush to paint it. Leave about 1/2 an inch all the way around the outside of the ear white. The ears are quite delicate. We used a couple small tooth picks inserted at the base to help prop them up on the cake.

Unicorn mane

  1. Frosting should be at room temperature. Place the horn in the center of the cake. Add the ears, one on each side. Reserve and set aside about 3 tbsp frosting for the eyes. Divide the remaining frosting into three bowls. Use about 1 1/2 cups frosting for the predominate color. In our unicorn cake this color was pink. Divide the remaining frosting in two. Add a small amount of gel food coloring to each bowl. Add a little color at a time and mix well until you reach the desired colors you want. In our unicorn cake we chose purple and turquoise. Transfer each color into a separate piping bag fitted with a different decorating tip. Use a large star tip for the most predominant color and two smaller star tips for the other two colors. You can also use zip-lock bags if you do not have multiple decorator piping bags.



  2. Start with the most predominant color. Apply one large swirl in the center.  In this case pink. Alternate frosting colors and swirl techniques around the first one. Continue your way along the side and back of the cake until you are happy with it. Use a mix of large swirls and small ones. There is no right or wrong way. Practice the frosting techniques on parchment paper first if necessary.

Unicorn eyes

  1. Add black gel food coloring to the reserved 3 tbsp of frosting. Practice eyes on parchment paper before applying to the cake. Or make the eyes on paper, pop them into the freezer to chill and set. Then transfer them onto the cake with a knife. Use a small round tip (#2 or #3 size). Create upside down “U” shape and add two one inch lines on either side for lashes.



  2. Store the cake in the fridge. Remove the cake and bring to room temperature at least a couple hours before serving.

Additional tips:

  • Clear out plenty of room in the fridge for the cake. Remove any smelly foods (left overs, onions, garlic etc.)
  • Chill the cake for several minutes at a time in-between stages, frosting and decorating. Frosting will need to be at room temperature for effective piping.
  • Insert the decorator tip into the piping bag. Then place the bag inside a large water glass prior to filling it with frosting. This helps to prop it up. It is also a good way to store the frosting.
  • Go to https://www.wilton.com/learn-piping-techniques/ for free instructions on how to pipe frosting.

Did you make a unicorn-themed birthday cake? I’d love to hear about your experience. Visit https://northwestspoon.com/unicorn-birthday-cake to leave a comment. Share a photo of your cake in Instagram #northwestspoon

 

4 Comments

  1. Oh my yumminess! Such a cute cake recipe! It can easily make anyone’s Birthday a hit – be it a kid or an adult. Fantastic colors, and I can’t wait to try how it tastes!

     
  2. Beth Neels

    Aww! Look at the big smile on the birthday girl’s face! What a special cake to make for her! I can’t wait to try this! My little guy will love it too!

     
  3. Brian Jones

    What a fab cake, I’m definitely a bit intimidated by decorating cakes, this is a fab guide that demystifies the process a little.

     
  4. This looks absolutely cute! I showed it to my niece and she wants one for her birthday 🙂

     

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