Red, White and Blue Swirl Cupcakes

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These Red, White and Blue Swirl Cupcakes are so festive and perfect for celebrating July 4th! Forget the box mix and make these beauties from scratch!

July 4th Cupcakes

It’s hard to believe that July 4th is coming up. With everything going on in the last several months, everything is a little bit of a blur and celebrations feel like a thing of the past. Even though things are happening more and more lately, we still aren’t back to normal so doing normal things feels a little weird.

Whether you celebrate the holiday with your family alone or with friends, I hope there are some fun treats to spice it up! We’ve got to keep things interesting as much as we can and naturally, food is one of my favorite ways to do that. And what patriotic holiday can pass without a little red, white and blue?!

These cupcakes are perfect for something festive! They are simple to make and individually portioned, so they’re great for sharing.

red, white and blue cupcakes on white plate, one with a bite taken out

How to make swirled cupcakes

This recipe is actually based on my Rainbow Swirl Cake recipe. It’s just cut down to make less batter for little more than a dozen colorful cupcakes. And instead of including all the colors of the rainbow, we’ve got three – red, white and blue.

The cupcakes use the traditional creaming method, so they’re fairly straight forward to make. They use a combination of butter for flavor and oil for moisture. They also use some buttermilk, rather than regular milk, to add a little extra tenderness to them.

Once your cake batter is made, you’ll divide it into three bowls. Leave one as-is for the white, then color the second bowl red and the third bowl blue. I’d recommend using gel icing color, rather than food coloring. You need quite a bit more regular food coloring to get bold colors and you’ll end up changing the cake batter. You don’t want to thin out the batter too much or the colors may mix more than you’d like them to while baking.

zoomed out photo of cupcakes on a white cake stand

To add the batter to the cupcake liners, you get to have a little fun. There’s really no wrong way to do it. You’ll need about 4 tablespoons of batter total per cupcake (they should be about half full) so as long as you add that much of a mix of the colors, they’ll be fine. I added a touch more than half a tablespoon of each color and did that twice – so like two layers of red, white and blue. Technically 1/2 a tablespoon of 3 colors twice is only 3 tablespoons, but I measured just a bit more than 1/2 a tablespoon for each so that it was about 4 tablespoons. But like I said, as long as your liners are about 1/2 full, there’s no wrong way.

When ready, bake the cupcakes and see how fun and festive they turn out!

The frosting on top is a classic vanilla buttercream. Again, I divided it into three parts and colored them red, white and blue. To create the swirl with the frosting, I added all three colors to the piping bag using the same method as for the Rainbow Swirl Cake. There are a few photos in that post, so check those photos out to see what I did.

The final cupcakes are super fun and festive, not to mention moist and delicious! I hope you enjoy them!

red, white and blue cupcakes on white plate

More Great July 4th Recipes

Angel Food Flag Cake
Easy American Flag Rice Krispie Treats
Triple Berry Trifle
Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Cake
Strawberry Shortcake Trifle
Red, White and Blue Mini Cheesecakes
Flag Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Blueberry Crumb Cheesecake Pie
Patriotic Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
Blue Punch
No Bake Strawberry and Blueberry Cheesecake Icebox Cake

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close up of red, white and blue cupcakes on a cake stand

Red, White and Blue Swirl Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 14-18 cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


These Red, White and Blue Swirl Cupcakes are so festive and perfect for celebrating July 4th! Forget the box mix and make these beauties from scratch!



  • 1 1/2 cups (195g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk


  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups (575g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 tbsp water or cream
  • Red gel icing color
  • Blue gel icing color
  • Sprinkles, optional


1. To make the cupcakes, prepare a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
3. Add the butter, oil and sugar to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Add the vanilla extract with the second egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined.
6. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter might look a little curdled, but that’s ok.
7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
8. Divide the batter between 3 bowls. Leave one as-is for the white, color the second bowl red and the third bowl blue. Gently fold the batter to combine, so you don’t over mix.
9. Add about 4 tablespoons of batter to each cupcake liner. I added a little more than 1/2 a tablespoon of each color to make one layer, then made a second layer of the same thing again.
10. Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
11. Remove cupcakes from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
12. To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large mixer bowl until smooth and creamy.
13. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
14. Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of water or cream and mix until smooth and well combined.
15. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
16. Add more water or cream until desired consistency is reached, then add salt to taste.
17. Divide the buttercream into three bowls. Leave one as-is, color the second red and the third blue.
18. To make the swirl frosting, add each color of frosting to a ziplock bag. Lay a piece of clear wrap out on the table. Trim the corner off of each ziplock bag. Pipe a thick row of each color of frosting side-by-side onto the clear wrap.
19. Fold the clear wrap over into a long log (see photos in this post for guidance). Twist one end closed and trim the other end, if needed, so that the frosting is right at the end.
20. Put the log into a piping bag with the open end of the log going into the piping tip. I used piping tip Ateco 849.
21. Pipe swirls of frosting onto the cupcakes and serve. Cupcakes are best for 2-3 days.


  • Serving Size: 1 cupcake
  • Calories: 389
  • Sugar: 44.3 g
  • Sodium: 87.4 mg
  • Fat: 19.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53.3 g
  • Protein: 2.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 66.3 mg

Keywords: july 4th cupcakes, red white and blue cupcakes, july 4th dessert, 4th of july recipes


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  1. Shauntreva Johnson

    Hi Lindsay,

    Can I use extra butter to replace the vegetable oil in the recipe? If so, would it just be the additional 2 tablespoons or would I need more?

  2. Debora Guile

    I noticed your buttercream recipe is different in this recipe than other recipes. Can I use half butter and half shortening instead of all butter.? I love the stability and the taste of half and half. Love your website!!

  3. Chopper

    Hi Lindsay,
    I want to make these but they look a bit artificial, do they taste that way?
    If not i will definitely make them

    1. Lindsay

      I personally don’t think they do. Using the gel icing color means you don’t have to add as much to get a bold color. If you tried to use food coloring, you’d have to add a lot more and then you might taste that. But not with the gels.

    2. Debora Guile

      I noticed that your buttercream recipe is different than your usual buttercream. Can I just use you usual buttercream with the shortening? I love the taste with the shortening it doesn’t taste like I am eating a bowl of butter. Love these cupcakes!!! Can’t wait to try them!!!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29