Whether you need a birthday treat for an art geek, or you yourself are the art geek, there’s no going wrong with making edible masterpieces. The only ingredient needed to take your cupcakes to the next level is food coloring so it won’t cost any extra Monet – sorry, money – to make. Just Van Gogh for it.

The cupcake itself will be made of marbled colored cake that you can easily make from combining two different cake mixes. This is easy to do with plain white or yellow cake batter and some food coloring. Here are a few easy recipes.

As for frosting, make whatever kind tickles your fancy, I like a good buttercream. Again, making frosting that will artfully finish off your cupcakes is easy with just some plain white frosting and food coloring. Here are a few recipes for frosting.

Painting-Inspired Cupcakes

  • Prep Time:15 minutes
  • Cook Time:45 minutes
  • Total Time:1 hour
  • Servings:Dependent upon the batter recipe you use
  • Medium


  • White or yellow cake batter from the box
  • Food coloring or chocolate powder in chosen colors
Photo by Cory Richardson
  • Step 1

    Choose two or more cake batters that will act as the base of your dessert. For example, for Van Gogh’s starry night, I chose yellow and blue.

  • Step 2

    Divide your pre-prepared batter into as many different sections as colors you have and mix in the food coloring, for bright colors, you’ll have to use a lot.

    #SpoonTip: For darker colors, add cocoa powder to the batter first, then food coloring.

    Photo by Cory Richardson
  • Step 3

    Use a small ice cream scoop (or spoon) and pour small amounts of each batter into the cupcake holder. If the colors of the batter aren’t dark enough, add a few more drops of food coloring right on top.

  • Step 4

    Take a toothpick and start marbling the colors together. This is where you can get creative, make sure to mix from the bottom to ensure maximum swirling. Don’t stir too much, or else you’ll end up with green cupcakes rather than marbled blue and yellow.

  • Step 5

    After finishing all your cupcakes, bake for the indicated time on the cupcake recipe box.

    Photo by Cory Richardson
  • Step 6

    While your cupcakes are baking, make (or get out) your frosting and start coloring the frosting. The frosting is where you can either continue with the grand color scheme of the painting (like I did with starry night), or try to recreate a mini work of art (like I did with Mondrian).

  • Step 7

    After you mix the colors, put them in sandwich bags and snip a bit off the corner (start small, you can always clip more off). Now you’re basically a professional cake decorator with a piping bag.

    #SpoonTip: For marbled frosting, like the blue used on the Van Gogh cupcakes, don’t mix the food coloring in all the way before scooping it into the sandwich bag.

    Photo by Cory Richardson
  • Step 8

    Once the cupcakes are completely cooled so the frosting doesn’t melt, go make some art! There are no rules for how you decorate your cupcakes, and a bit of trial and error is always good for the creative process.

    #SpoonTip: Paintings with a recognizable color palette (such as Starry Night) or by an artist with a recognizable style (such as Mondrian or Pollock) tend to be the most fun to make.

    Photo by Cory Richardson