These Shirley Temple Cherry Cupcakes are inspired by the classic Shirley temple! They start with a box cake mix and are so quick and easy!
Just in case you don’t know, a Shirley temple is a drink! It’s non-alcoholic and traditionally made with ginger ale (I like to use Sprite instead!), a splash of grenadine and garnished with a maraschino cherry.
So, a drink… but in cupcake form! I know, sounds crazy. This recipe takes that same flavor profile, the ginger ale and grenadine, but makes it into a tender light cupcake.
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What We Love About This Recipe
- 30 Minute Dessert: These cupcakes can be out of the oven and on a plate in 30 minutes!
- Easy Ingredients: All found in the pantry or fridge and are all super simple.
- Family Friendly: The whole family is going to love these cherry cupcakes. Plus, they’re so stinkin’ cute!
- White Cake Mix: Use whatever variety you like for these unique cupcakes.
- Shirley Temple Soda: If you can’t find this specific pop in store, use cherry 7 up or another cherry pop!
- Cherry Jello: Starburst Brand Jello was used for these Shirley Temple Cupcakes.
Variations and Substitutions
- Try a yellow cake or a cherry cake!
- You can make mini cupcakes with this recipe too!
How to Make Shirley Temple Cherry Cupcakes
These are the basic steps for making Shirley Temple Cherry Cupcakes. Please refer to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
STEP 1: Prep
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or line a standard muffin tin.
Add cake mix to a large mixing bowl, then, using an electric mixer, add in your oil, egg whites and soda. Mix until well incorporated. Mix in 1/2 (for kids) or 3/4 (for adults) of the jello (I’ll explain later).
STEP 2: Bake
Add the batter into the muffin tin until each “hole” is about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
STEP 3: Frosting
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese, and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Then, mix in the vanilla extract and salt.
Mix the half and half or milk and Shirley Temple soda together. (If you don’t, the carbonation in the soda will break your frosting). Mix in the remaining jello.
STEP 4: Finish
Slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Mix 1 cup at a time, while adding a bit of the liquid mixture from the last step in between each cup. Continue to mix for 1-2 minutes or until creamy and stiff peaks form, but don’t overmix!
This is where you can add in food coloring if you want! Start with 1-2 drops and mix. Continue until color is achieved.
STEP 5: Decorate
Prepare piping bag and fill bag with frosting and frost your cupcakes.
Prep and Storage Tips
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE AHEAD OF TIME
You can bake your cupcakes up to 2 days ahead of time! Make sure they’re in airtight containers or wrapped well, just remember to frost them before serving. You can freeze unfrosted cupcakes for up to 3 months.
HOW TO STORE CHARACTER CUPCAKES
These cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for 1-2 days. Better yet, throw them in the fridge for up to 5 days tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or an airtight container.
HOW TO FREEZE THIS RECIPE
Freeze your character cupcakes for up to three months in an airtight container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use a gluten free cake mix!
Maybe. You can use grenadine in place of a cherry flavored pop but the grenadine isn’t going to give you light, fluffy cupcakes like how pop will.
Absolutely! This recipe is super easy to double or half, just make sure to use the appropriate size muffin tin.
You know how baking powder or baking soda is a leavening agent? Well, oddly enough, pop is too! The carbon dioxide bubbles in pop are going to make the cupcakes rise and make them light and fluffy!
Expert Tips for Making This Recipe
- Icing: Coming back to the jello in the batter and frosting. We suggest for kids to use ½ the jello in the batter and ½ in the frosting. For adults, use ¾ of the jello in the batter and ¼ in the frosting. A poll told us that kids liked the jello even distributed throughout but the adults liked it more in the batter rather than the frosting since it’s super sweet.
- Zest: Add in some lemon or lime zest!
- Sprinkles: Red or white sprinkles on top would be SO cute.
- Cherries: Put a maraschino cherry on top to really pay tribute to an actual Shirley temple.
- Filling: If you’d like, you can fill the center of your cupcakes with cherry pie filing or even some more frosting.
- Liners: Use some cute liners, in this case red or white, to enhance the presentation of your cupcakes.
What to Serve with Shirley Temple Cherry Cupcakes
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- 1 cake mix, white
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 4 egg whites
- 1 ¼-1 ¾ cups Shirley Temple soda
- Cherry Jello, divided
- Frosting Ingredients
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened
- ½ cup cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon half and half or whole milk, not pictured
- 2 tablespoons Shirley Temple soda
- Cherry Jello, divided
- Red food coloring, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or line a standard muffin tin.
- Add cake mix to a large mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, add in your oil, egg whites, and soda, and mix on medium until well incorporated. Mix in *1/2-3/4 of the jello.
- Add batter into the muffin tin until each is about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- Directions for Frosting:
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand or stand mixer, cream the butter, and cream cheese, and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
- Mix in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Mix the half and half or milk and Shirley Temple soda together. (If you don’t, the carbonation in the soda will break your frosting)
- Mix in the remaining jello.
- Slowly mix in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, while adding a bit of the liquid mixture from Step 7 in between each cup. Continue to mix for 1-2 minutes or until creamy and forms stiff peaks, but don’t overmix! Add in food coloring if desired. Start with 1-2 drops and mix. Continue until color is achieved.
- Prepare piping bag and fill bag with frosting and frost your cupcakes.