These easy Halloween Cupcakes have a fun surprise! When taking a bite orange flavored stripes are revealed! Topped with a delicious buttercream frosting and Halloween sprinkles they are always a favorite of the Halloween desserts!
If you are looking for easy Halloween cupcake ideas for your next Halloween party or school party, you’ll love these!
We also include some great shortcuts if you are running short on time. However you make them they will delight Halloween party guests!
These delicious cupcakes will be a perfect addition to your Halloween recipes.
What is poke cake?
After a cake or cupcakes are baked and cooled, holes are poked into the top and a dense gelatin mixture is spooned over the top. The cupcakes (or cake) are then chilled for the gelatin to set in the refrigerator.
When the cupcakes are cut into stripes of the gelatin can be seen and tasted. It’s a fun easy method to add a surprise and color for any holiday or occasion. No one will know until they take a bite!
Recipe Ingredient Notes
White cake mix. One box is needed. If preferred a yellow cake mix can be used instead. You’ll need all the ingredients called for on the box mix. For making a gluten-free version see the section below.
Orange jello. You’ll need 2 3-ounce boxes. One will be used for the gelatin spooned onto the cupcakes. A partial amount will be used in the frosting from the second package.
Unsalted butter. Be sure to start with room temperature frosting to make the frosting!
Halloween sprinkles. Any sprinkles can be used to decorate the tops of the cupcakes.
Edible candy eyes. These are fun to sprinkle on top too. They can be found at baking stores, craft stores with a baking section or online.
How to Make Gluten-Free Poke Cupcakes
Gluten-free white cake mix can be difficult to find. The closest we’ve found is Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free Vanilla cake mix which has a white cake option or Kinnickinnck which makes a gluten-free White Cake mix.
- The white cake allows the best view of the stripes from the jello but a yellow cake mix also can be used.
- We’ve also found that regular cake mixes make 24 cupcakes, gluten-free mixes often make fewer than 24. The amount will be on the packaging. You’ll need 24 cupcake to make the full recipe. You can make it with less but may have some jello and frosting leftover.
- You can also use store bought vanilla cupcakes. Scrape off the frosting, add the gelatin and proceed with the frosting.
How to Make these Halloween Cupcakes – Step-by-Step
The frosting will be a light orange (food coloring can be added) and will have a light flavor of orange but will mainly taste like buttercream.
STEP 1 Preparation
Heat oven according to the cake mix. Place cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
STEP 2. Bake and cool the cupcakes
Prepare the cupcake batter as directed on the package. Fill the cupcake liners and bake per the package instructions (photo 1).
When done baking cool completely.
STEP 3. Make gelatin
Heat 1 cup of water to boiling. Turn off the heat and add 1 3-ounce package of jello. Stir until fully dissolved.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes (photo 2).
STEP 4. Poke holes and add jello
Add the cupcakes to a large baking pan. NOTE: they are shown here in the cupcake pan but it’s easier to take them out of a baking dish after the gelatin sets.
Using a skewer (for fine holes), a drinking straw or chopstick (for larger holes) poke multiple holes into the cupcake. These will fill with gelatin so poke about 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the cupcake (photo 3).
Gently spoon the jello over the holes. You can make multiple passes. NOTE: the holes will not appear to be filled (photo 4).
STEP 5. Chill
Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour.
STEP 6. Make frosting and frost
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer, combine the softened butter and 3 tablespoons of jello from the second package (photo 5).
Beat until combined and creamy.
Add the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat until fully combined into frosting. If needed for thinner frosting add a second tablespoon of milk and beat to combine (photo 6).
If you’d like darker orange frosting, add any food coloring now and beat to combine.
Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (we used Wilton 1M). Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, sprinkle with the sprinkles on the top of cupcakes (photos 7-8).
Frequently Asked Questions
You can but will need 3 ounces for the gelatin to go into the cupcakes and 3 tablespoons minimum for the frosting. Using 2 packages dedicates one to the cupcakes (no thinking required). And other for frosting plus some extra. To use one you’ll need to weigh out 3 ounces of jello mix (which we did and it’s about ½ cup).
Use store bought frosting. For a time saver use store bought vanilla frosting, flavor with the gelatin mix and food coloring if desired. OR use purchased orange frosting.
Use a different color jello. Purple (grape) or green (lime) would also be great Halloween flavors and colors.
Change the frosting color. Add food coloring to make green frosting, purple frosting or even black frosting! We like gel food coloring for the most vibrant colors. You can use just a touch of green food coloring or black food coloring for an intense frosting option!
Try cream cheese frosting. If you love a bit of a tang you’ll enjoy our cream cheese frosting recipe.
Sprinkle option. Use any Halloween mix or black sprinkles. Instead of sprinkles gummy worms, gummy candies, or candy corn can be used.
Add vanilla extract. To make a vanilla buttercream add a teaspoon of vanilla extract when making the frosting.
Hole size. If using a skewer there will be lots of fine lines in the cupcakes. Using a straw or chopstick will make larger channels of jello. If using a straw or chopstick make fewer pokes in the cupcakes so it will keep it’s structure.
Do not pour the jello over the cupcakes. Spoon in over the holes.
Using a large scoop makes scooping the batter into the liners fast and less messy.
Piping bag tip. The easiest way to fill a piping bag is to place it tip down into a tall drinking glass. Fold the extra portion of the bag around the outside of the glass. Then spoon in the filling.
How to Store
Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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Halloween Poke Cake Cupcakes
- 1 box white cake mix plus required additional ingredients per box mix instructions
- 3 3-ounce packages orange gelatin
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened
- 3 tablespoons orange gelatin powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
- Orange food coloring optional
- Halloween sprinkles
- Candy eyes
Making the cupcakes
- Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions and bake as 24 cupcakes.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, then use a straw or skewer to poke holes in each cupcake.
- Heat 1 cup of water in a saucepan until boiling. Remove the pan from heat and pour one 3-ounce package of orange jello mix into the water. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Place the cupcakes in a large baking dish with space in between. Use a spoon to spoon the orange gelatin into the holes in the cupcakes. NOTE: the holes will not appear filled.
- Place the pan with the cupcakes in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
Making the frosting
- Prepare the frosting by beating together the softened butter and 3 tablespoons gelatin powder (from the second package) until combined.
- Add the powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk and beat until smooth. Add more milk, as needed, to thin the frosting.
- For a brighter orange icing, add food coloring and blend until the desired color is reached.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip (we used a Wilton 1M piping tip) to pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles and candy eyes.
- Use store bought frosting. For a time saver use store bought vanilla frosting, flavor with the gelatin mix and food coloring if desired. OR use purchased orange frosting.
- Use a different color jello. Purple (grape) or green (lime) would also be great Halloween flavors and colors.
- If using a skewer there will be lots of fine lines in the cupcakes. Using a straw or chopstick will make larger channels of jello. If using a straw or chopstick make fewer pokes in the cupcakes so it will keep it’s structure.
- Place cupcakes in a baking dish with space in between when spooning on the jello
- Do not pour the jello over the cupcakes. Spoon in over the holes.