This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.
Pot of Gold Cupcakes are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, or anytime you need a little rainbow magic in your life! These easy dessert cups are filled with cake cubes and frosting, and topped with the sweetest little buttercream rainbow toppers.
🍀 St. Patrick’s Day Cake Cups
Forget catching a leprechaun this St. Patrick’s Day – we don’t need them because we’re gonna make our own magic. And by “magic,” I mean, of course, we’re gonna make delicious dessert cups, decorated to look like mini pots of gold.
What’s in a Pot of Gold Cupcake?
Although I called these “cupcakes” in the recipe, they’re really more like teensy trifles – layers of cubed cake and buttercream, assembled in candy kettles that look like leprechaun pots, and decorated with shiny gold dragees and buttercream rainbows and clouds.
These Pots of Gold cakes are super cute, eye-catching, and of course absolutely delicious, because how can you go wrong with a cup full of cake and frosting?! So read on to learn what you’ll need, how to make them, and tips and substitutions in case you need to make adjustments.
If you are as obsessed with rainbow desserts as we are, you won’t want to miss some of our all-time most popular rainbow cakes, like this Rainbow Cake with a surprise rainbow inside, Gold-Topped Rainbow Cake, and the spectacular Rainbow Mousse Cake.
🧾 What You’ll Need
The ingredient list is short and sweet, because this recipe is less about the baking and more about the decorating. Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you gather ingredients, and you can find the full ingredient list in the recipe card below. (Amazon links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Cake mix: Because this recipe is heavy on the decorating, I like to keep things simple with the other components. I recommend using a cake mix to speed things up, but you can swap in your favorite sheet cake recipe if you prefer.
- Pasteurized egg whites: My favorite frosting recipe calls for pasteurized egg whites, which can be found in a carton in the egg section. It is important that they are pasteurized, because they are uncooked, so using pasteurized whites makes them safe to consume. Alternately, you can buy pasteurized eggs and separate out the whites yourself, or use a different frosting recipe altogether, like my Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
- Gold dragee sprinkles: I love the sparkle and bling these ultra-shiny gold dragees add, but you can use any other gold sprinkles, or even gold-wrapped candies like Rolos instead.
- Buttercream Rainbows: Let’s face it, those free-standing buttercream rainbows are the CUTEST part of the cupcakes, hands down! They can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to assemble. If you don’t want to make them, you can swap in rainbow sour belt candies, or go non-edible and use rainbow cupcake picks.
Here are the tools and decorations you’ll need to make these cute Pots of Gold! (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Black candy kettles: You can’t make pots of gold without the, you know, pots! These mini kettles are the PERFECT single-serving size. They’re also quite sturdy, so you can wash them and re-use them year after year–I’ve had mine since 2016 and use them for a variety of St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween desserts (they also make awesome witch cauldrons).
- Medium round piping tip: to make the fluffy clouds, you’ll want a medium round tip like Ateco #12.
- Piping bags:I always have a ton of these clear piping bags on hand. They’re great quality and I often wash and re-use them again and again to cut down on waste.
- Blue food coloring: To give the clouds that dreamy blue-streaked tint, use a bit of sky blue food coloring.
Here’s a quick photo guide to making these Pot of Gold cups. For full printable instructions, see the recipe card below.
Bake a yellow sheet cake and let it cool, then cut it into small cubes.
Alternate layers of cake cubes and buttercream in your candy kettles. You should get 2 layers of each. Smooth the top of the buttercream on top.
- Fit a piping bag with a medium round tip. Spread a few streaks of blue buttercream on the inside of the piping bag, then fill the rest of the bag with white buttercream. Massage the bag between your hands to mix the white and blue colors a little bit.
- Pipe two fluffy piles of buttercream on either side of the candy kettles so that they look like clouds.
- If you want to decorate your cups with buttercream rainbows, follow the instructions here to make the rainbows. Lay them out on a baking sheet and freeze until firm.
- If you don’t want to make the buttercream rainbows, you can use rainbow cupcake toppers or rainbow sour belt candies instead.
- When the buttercream rainbows are firm, peel them from their parchment backing and firmly press them into the top of the candy cups.
- Finish by piling a glittering mound of gold sprinkles in the center to complete the pot of gold look!
❤️ More Rainbow Desserts
- Rainbow Frosting for Cupcakes and Cakes
- How to Make A Fondant Rainbow Cake Topper
- Birthday Present Mini Cakes
- Rainbow Cake Push-Up Pops
- Pastel Rainbow Gelatin Cups
Rainbow Cake with Rainbow Frosting
Pot of Gold St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes
For the cake:
- 1 box yellow cake mix + ingredients needed to make it, (16 oz box)
For the frosting:
- 4 oz pasteurized egg whites, see Note below
- 1 lb powdered sugar, (4 cups)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 lb butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 1.5 TBSP vanilla extract
- Blue food coloring
For assembly and decoration:
- 20 plastic candy kettles, washed and dried
- ⅓ cup gold dragee sprinkles
- 20 buttercream rainbows, or other rainbow cupcake toppers
Make the Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 350° F (175° C) and line a 9×13-inch rectangular cake pan with parchment or foil. Spray the pan well with nonstick cooking spray or brush it with homemade cake goop.
- Prepare the cake batter according to the directions on the box. Scrape it into your prepared pan and bake it according to the box directions, about 30-35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely before assembling the cake cups.
Make the Frosting:
- While you wait for the cake to cool, prepare the frosting. Combine the whites, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix everything together on low speed, until the sugar is moistened and no dry patches remain. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, then turn the mixer to medium-high speed. Beat on medium for 5 minutes until white, shiny, and thick.
- Switch to a paddle attachment and turn the mixer to medium-low. Start adding the softened room temperature butter in large chunks, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla extract and mix it in. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides once more. It is normal for the frosting to look lumpy or broken at this point.
- Turn the speed to medium and beat the buttercream for 10 minutes. At the end, you’ll have a frosting with a wonderfully light and creamy texture.
- Remove ¼ cup of frosting and color it with blue food coloring until it is a light sky blue. Take a piping bag and fit it with a medium round tip, like Ateco #12. Smear a thin layer of blue frosting on the inner surface of the piping bag. Add white frosting to fill the bag, and massage the bag between your hands so the blue and white frosting gets mixed.
Assemble and decorate:
- Once the cake is completely cool, flip it out of the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the cake into thin strips, then cut the strips into small ½-inch cubes.
- Fill the bottom of a candy kettle with a layer of cake cubes. Press down or break the cake into smaller pieces if needed to make sure the bottom of the kettle is covered.
- Pipe a layer of buttercream on top of the cake, then top the buttercream with another layer of cake cubes. Finally, top the cake with a second layer of buttercream, coming up to the top of the kettle. Smooth the buttercream into an even layer that’s flush with the kettle top.
- Pipe two round swirls of frosting on top of the kettle on opposite ends to represent clouds. If you are using buttercream rainbows, make sure the rainbows are frozen, then peel one off of the parchment backing and press it firmly into the buttercream clouds. Alternately, use a paper rainbow cupcake topper or a rainbow candy strip on top.
- Finish by adding gold dragee sprinkles in between the clouds. Repeat to assemble the remaining cake cups. Serve these Pots of Gold at room temperature. The buttercream rainbows might start to droop after several hours if the room is warm, so these are best served within an hour or two of assembly. Store extras in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- About pasteurized egg whites: this recipe calls for pasteurized egg whites. It is safe to consume egg whites without cooking them, as long as the whites you buy are pasteurized. To save time, I buy them in a carton–look for 100% egg whites, not liquid egg substitute. If you cannot find them in a carton, you can buy pasteurized eggs and separate them yourself. You’ll need about 4-5 large eggs to get the amount called for in the recipe.
- About the rainbow toppers: if you don’t want to make the buttercream rainbows for these cake cups, you can either use cardboard rainbow cupcake picks, or rainbow striped candy belts.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
About Elizabeth LaBau
I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media: