Rainbow Swirl Buttercream Frosting (with Video)
Rainbow frosting is a festive addition to any dessert, especially birthday cake and cupcakes! Make one batch of buttercream frosting, then divide and color to create a gorgeous rainbow swirl design.
Buttercream Rainbow Frosting
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I wanted to do something fun and colorful for my son’s birthday, so I got out some food coloring and made a simple chocolate cupcake with a stunning swirl of Rainbow Frosting.
These colorful cupcakes were a hit with his pre-school class and the best part? They’re super easy to make!
I absolutely love this buttercream. It’s so easy to put together, and the addition of food coloring really makes it pop. Why not add some flair to any occasion, even if that occasion is a stay at home Saturday night?
Why you will love rainbow swirl buttercream
- Easy to make
- Only need one batch of frosting
- Adds a festive touch to homemade treats
- Use any color you want
- Kid approved
I love the outcome of this rainbow swirl buttercream! I’m really proud of how they turned out, and the fact that every cupcake is unique and has its own look is the icing on the cupcake 😉 Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
How to Make Rainbow Frosting Video
I’m often asked how to make a basic buttercream frosting.
So, I put together a video to show you just how easy it is to make homemade icing for cakes, cupcakes, and whoopie pies!
How to Make Rainbow Cake Icing
This rainbow swirl buttercream frosting is really easy to achieve. The first step is to choose your food coloring — I used pink, blue, and yellow since they would automatically create the other hues of the rainbow when mixed together.
I love Wilton Gels because you can achieve a vibrant color with a small amount (meaning they last forever). You can get them at Bulk Barn, Michaels, Walmart, or Amazon.
Divide the buttercream frosting evenly into four bowls: 3 for the colored and 1 for the original.
I have seen a lot of people using multiple piping bags in one larger piping bag or buying a special piping bag. I’m far too lazy for that! I simply tossed it all in the bag (focusing on the sides), and it turned out well.
That’s it! It’s really simple to do.
I also combined a few colored sugars and sprinkled them on top of the rainbow cupcakes for an extra flourish.
To top off these colorful cupcakes, I used Wilton’s Candy Melts and wrote out the number 4 on parchment paper.
It hardened up quickly and each one stayed put. I have done this before with just chocolate, but once it got to room temperature, the numbers would melt. I suggest using candy melts for that reason.
Buttercream for Rainbow Cupcakes
The recipe I used is a variation of the white chocolate buttercream and the strawberry white chocolate buttercream.
I love the way that this rainbow frosting looks! I call it rainbow, some people call it tie dye icing – what you call it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the end result (and how it tastes, of course).
Supplies I used for these rainbow cupcakes:
An optional alternative to the tie dye cupcake effect:
Frequently Asked Questions about Rainbow Swirl Buttercream
How do you make buttercream swirls?
First, you’ll need a piping bag and an open star piping tip. Snip off the pointed end of the bag, then slide the tip inside until it is snug.
Fill the piping bag with your buttercream. For rainbow frosting, you’ll need to add each color along the sides of the bag so a little bit of each comes out at once.
Then, hold the piping tip over the center of the cupcake with one hand and squeeze from the top of the bag with the other — right above all of the buttercream. Move your wrist in a circular motion until you’ve made a swirl.
What are the best colors for rainbow cupcakes?
I chose pink, yellow, and blue for my rainbow cake icing – those are the same colors in a printer ink cartridge for a reason! As you pipe on the swirls, the colors will combine to create every color of the rainbow.
If you want to get REALLY creative, you could bake a batch of colorful cupcakes as well. Since coloring batter doesn’t always work as intended, try a confetti cake recipe instead. Use rainbow sprinkles for plenty of color inside and out.
How do you make colored swirl icing?
Whip up a batch of white buttercream, then divide into separate bowls and get to dyeing.
The best part? You can use this method for more than just rainbow cake icing! You can do a tie dye color wheel, black and red, or even a Christmas-themed swirl.
What colors will you use to make this swirl frosting?
Rainbow Swirl Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter unsalted and softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar depending on the humidity/heat that day sometimes I have to add about 1/2 – 1 cup more, play around with it until you reach the consistency you desire
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pink food coloring
- 1 blue food coloring
- 1 yellow food coloring
- In your mixer add the butter and slowly begin to beat it on a medium setting. Once it’s soft, add the sugar.
- On a slow speed mix until incorporated (and to prevent sugar going everywhere) and then beat until fluffy. This takes a few minutes.
- Scrape the bowl, add the cream and vanilla.
- Turn the beater to high and let it whip up for about five minutes. You may need to pause and scrape the bowl a few times.
- Divide the frosting into four bowls: leave one the original color and then color the three with the colors your chose.
- Spoon the colors into a piping bag, focusing on the sides more so the colors come out at once and pipe!
oh how much fun would this be, thanks for sharing 😀 now I must make some cute cupcakes
Wow this looks amazing, I love how bright the colors are!
Thank you Valerie!
I’m worried that when I do it, it’ll look brown! Yours looks gorgeous!
It won’t, I promise! Give it a try 😀
What a fun and creative idea, I especially love your photography! Definitely a must pin 🙂 have a great day! Xo
Thank you Jess! Have a great day.
These are so pretty! I must try this! Pinned
I just want to lick the icing off! So glad you shared with us at Merry Monday. Pinned to our party board.
How many cupcakes were you able to ice with this recipe??? I’m making some for our family/home birthday party and for her school!
I believe I did 22 but I lay it on thick!
Can this be made ahead of time or is it best to do it the day of?
I would recommend the day of. I have made these frostings ahead of time though.
If I make these the day before, do you refrigerate them?
I would, yes. But take them out an hourish before serving – otherwise the buttercream will be hard.
Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Did you put some of the plain white icing in the piping bag as well, or just the colored?
I believe in a few I did add some plain white 🙂 For more bright colors, don’t.
Looks beautiful! What kind of food coloring did you use, and if you don’t add the plain white what do you do with it? Did you use white in the ones pictured?
I use the Wilton gel food coloring. The vibrant ones, I didn’t add white. The pastelish ones I did 🙂 I mixed it up a bit.
These are lovely! Can you halve the recipe? Or do you need to make a full batch to get the consistency right?
You can totally half the recipe Tori 🙂
Can you use a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer? I don’t own a stand mixer, but I want to make these for my daughter’s 2nd birthday tomorrow!
Do you think these would turn out with a standard star tip for cake decorating? I am making a number 6 cupcake cake and will just be decorating it with the stars side by side and not sure if the color will come out good still without the swirl.
You know, I’m not a huge cake decorator so I’m not sure about this. I’m sorry. I’m sure there would be a bit of the tie dye nature but it wouldn’t be as rainbow-y. However, that’s just a guess.
I wanted to this with a sheet cake but spread it out not pipe it. Any ideas. Thanks
I would take the colors and do them in rows and blend with the back of a hot spoon?
This is exactly what I’m looking for to decorate my daughter’s 6th birthday cake! I loved the simplicity and real-life video tutorial—you seem very real and relatable and I will be coming back and trying your other recipes for sure! Thank you!
Thanks for coming by Samantha. I should have a video up in the next week of this particular recipe on how to make the swirl.
Can the frosting stay as it is if the cupcakes are placed under hot sun?
I had this frosting in the truck for 20 minutes with sun on it the other day and it was okay, but I wouldn’t do any more than that.
This was really easy to do! Thanks for sharing, I used the white chocolate buttercream recipe and it was so good!
Will these glow under a black light?
No I don’t believe they will 🙂
What is the quantity of food coloring needed? What tip did you use?
I made this buttercream and it’s so good. Can I add different flavors such as chocolate? I have tried other chocolate buttercreams for my son’s chocolate cake he loves so much and they dry out after piping, why is that? So I want to try this one but chocolate version. Thank you!