These Birthday Cake Muffins combine ease, nutrition, and FUN for a total win of a kids breakfast or snack. Plus: They store well for days and are made with basic pantry staples.

mini birthday cake muffins with sprinkles

Birthday Cake Muffins

You know what I’ve realized over the past years of parenting? Some weeks just call for FUN, all caps. And while we may not always have control over the stresses in our lives, we can pull out some pantry staples, grab the sprinkles, and make this incredibly easy muffin recipe to share with the kids.

My three kids are all completely delighted by these AND my husband even loves them too. (He generally dislikes muffins, so this is high praise.) It’s amazing just how few sprinkles can make the kids happy.

The main sweetener in this recipe is applesauce, but the muffins mostly taste like a vanilla muffin (so no worries about the apple flavor being strong).

And you can make them with a variety of flours and milks, according to what you have on hand and what works for your family, so be sure to check the Notes at the bottom of the recipe for all of those variations.

These are perfect to celebrate any ordinary day, or as a really fun way to start a child’s birthday breakfast.

ingredients in birthday cake muffins

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Unsweetened applesauce: I prefer a smooth kind so it blends right into the batter.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Eggs 
  • Milk: I use whole milk, but any type will work. 
  • Vanilla extract: Look for “pure” vanilla extract rather than imitation for the best flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: I use this type of flour so the final color of the muffins is light in color and so they’re as fluffy as possible.
  • Sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Sprinkles: This is what gives these a super fun appearance, so don’t skip them!

TIP: You’ll want to use classic sprinkles here, not nonpareil style, for the best results.

Ingredient Swaps

  • If you want to make as 12 standard size muffins, rather than minis, increase the baking time to 16-18 minutes.
  • Dairy-free: You can use plain nondairy milk and a neutral oil like canola or avocado in place of the butter.
  • Egg-free: Omit the eggs and add an additional ½ cup milk. Continue with the recipe.
  • Gluten-free: Use 1:1 style gluten-free baking mix like the one from King Arthur Flour. (Almond or coconut flour on its own is not a good option here.)
  • Whole-wheat: You can make these with a whole grain flour by omitting the all-purpose flour and using whole wheat flour. The muffins will be a little darker in color at the end though, and I would check for doneness 2 minutes sooner as they may bake through faster.
how to make birthday cake muffins step by step

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the process involved in the recipe so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the full information.

  1. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients. (This helps distribute the baking powder and soda evenly.)
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet.
  4. Divide among a mini muffin pan. Top with additional sprinkles.
  5. Bake just until the edges are very lightly golden brown and a cake testers inserted into the center comes out cleanly..
  6. Let cool on a wire rack.

TIP: You can gently fold the sprinkles into the batter in Step 3 or use a toothpick or cake tester to stir some into each muffin cup in Step 4. The latter option usually results in slightly less bleeding but both will work.

India tree sprinkles container

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of sprinkles are best here?

Classic sprinkles will work best and I recommend folding them into the batter very gently. The more you stir the more they might bleed. Nonpareil style sprinkles will bleed almost instantly, so while they work (and my kids don’t mind when I use them), the have a tendency to make the batter look a little green.

I like the bright ones from India Tree. You can also try their natural colored sprinkles (which work but aren’t as bright).

Do these taste like Little Bites Party Cake muffins?

They are similar! They are a little less sweet, but the basic flavor is really close. (Just like my other attempts at copycat Little Bites Chocolate Chip Muffins and Blueberry Muffins.

Are these a good healthy birthday muffin?

These are such a fun way to start a kid’s birthday (or an adult birthday for that matter!). They also store really well, so you can make them ahead of time if that’s easier for you.

They’d also be a fun snack to bring into a class for a birthday treat too if you’re allowed to bring homemade options.

mini birthday cake muffins on counter

How to Store

Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-5 days. Or in the fridge for up to 5 days. They do firm up a little when cold, so you can let them sit at room temperature for a little bit before serving or warm them for 10 seconds in the microwave if desired.

You can also freeze fully cooled muffins in a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature.

Best Tips for Success

  • You can gently fold the sprinkles into the batter in the bowl or use a toothpick or cake tester to stir some into each muffin cup. The latter option usually results in slightly less bleeding but both will work.
  • I usually top each muffin with extra sprinkles before putting into the oven.
  • I like the bright sprinkles from India Tree. You can also try their natural colored sprinkles (which work but aren’t as bright).
  • To make as 12 standard size muffins, bake for 16-18 minutes.
  • Dairy-free: Use plain nondairy milk and a neutral oil like canola or avocado.
  • Egg-free: Omit the eggs and add an additional ½ cup milk. (So 1 cup total.)
  • Gluten-free: Use 1:1 style gluten-free baking mix like the one from King Arthur Flour.
  • Whole-wheat: Omit the all-purpose flour and use whole wheat flour. Check for doneness 2 minutes sooner. The muffins may be darker in color.
  • You may also like Mini Blueberry Muffins, Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins, Banana Spinach Muffins, and Applesauce Muffins.
birthday-cake-muffins-on-counter

Favorite Birthday Cake Muffins (with Sprinkles!)

These party cake muffins are perfect to celebrate any ordinary day—or as a really fun way to start a child's birthday. Be gentle when stirring in the sprinkles to limit the color running.
4.98 from 35 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Snack
Calories 123kcal
Servings 12 (Makes 24 mini muffins)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons sprinkles (the classic kind, not nonpareil style)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce, butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. VERY gently fold In sprinkles. Do not over-mix or they may start to bleed.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared muffin pan, using about 1 ½ tablespoons batter in each cup. Top with additional sprinkles if desired.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly. Transfer to a wire rack, using a knife around the edges to loosen if needed, and let cool.

Video

Notes

  • Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-5 days. Or you can freeze in a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature.
  • You can gently fold the sprinkles into the batter in the bowl or use a toothpick or cake tester to stir some into each muffin cup. The latter option usually results in slightly less bleeding but both will work.
  • I usually top each muffin with extra sprinkles before putting into the oven.
  • I like the bright sprinkles from India Tree. You can also try their natural colored sprinkles (which work but aren’t as bright).
  • To make as 12 standard size muffins, bake for 16-18 minutes.
  • Dairy-free: Use plain nondairy milk and a neutral oil like canola or avocado.
  • Egg-free: Omit the eggs and add an additional ½ cup milk. (So 1 cup total.)
  • Gluten-free: Use 1:1 style gluten-free baking mix like the one from King Arthur Flour.
  • Whole-wheat: Omit the all-purpose flour and use whole wheat flour. Check for doneness 2 minutes sooner. The muffins may be darker in color.

Nutrition

Serving: 2mini muffins, Calories: 123kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 33mg, Sodium: 145mg, Potassium: 57mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 120IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 39mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These are so cute and colorful but most importantly delicious! My daughter and I love sprinkles so it was a must make. I used half banana and half applesauce because I didn’t have enough of either on their own and they turned out great!

  2. Love your recipes! Do you think this would bake up as a small smash cake with a longer baking time? I was thinking of pairing it with the strawberry cream cheese frosting!

    1. Hi- Yes, I think that would work fine and the baking time would vary based on the size of the pan you wanted to use. Yum!

  3. 5 stars
    Super fun recipe. I topped these with the maple cream cheese topping from the pumpkin muffin recipe and topped them off with sprinkles to make them more celebratory.

  4. I have tried a few different muffin recipes of yours for my kids and I have the same issue each time. They look great when they come out of the oven, nice round tops. After they start to cool they deflate and the centres are always gummy like they’re undercooked even though the toothpick test comes out clean. And they will never come away from the liner without half the muffin sticking to it. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi- If this is happening with a few different recipes, the most likely explanation would be that the baking soda you’re using isn’t working properly or isn’t fresh. So maybe check that? Hope that helps!

  5. Hi! I plan on making these today but was wondering if I use the same amount of the whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose?
    Thanks!

    1. I think it will work similarly. I would check for doneness two minutes earlier since they may bake a little faster.

  6. I made these with my 4 year old as she asked to make sprinkle cupcakes.
    They taste amazing but they turned out quite stodgy/sticky once baked. What should I change for next time?

    1. Hi- I’m not sure exactly what you mean. Was the whole muffin sticky? If they didn’t seem baked on the inside, I would check to see if your baking soda was fresh as that would be the most likely issue.

  7. 5 stars
    My toddler asks to make “muffins with sprinkles” basically weekly – we love this recipe!! So tasty and easy to make.

  8. 5 stars
    Definitely a new favourite. These are great! I’m not sure who likes the sprinkles more: me or my 3yo. We even threw caution to the wind and used nonpareils, the only sprinkles on hand, with no regrets.

  9. 5 stars
    These look so good! Thinking of making them for my son for his birthday but wanted to see if you could sub maple syrup for sugar? I love all of your recipes!

  10. 5 stars
    I made these yesterday (in both vegan and non-vegan forms) and they are yummy. However, I am recently facing 1 issue with my muffins: They look all fluffy and risen well when I take them out of the oven but in half a minute, all the puffiness goes away from the top and they shrink. Any idea why is this happening and how do I fix it?

  11. Looks and sounds amazing! Do yiu think this will be good as a small cake? And if so, what frosting would go well with it?

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