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. (As are Funfetti Pancakes!)

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ingredients in birthday cake muffins

Ingredients You Need

To make this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Unsweetened applesauce: I prefer a smooth kind so it blends right into the batter. I usually use unsweetened applesauce here.
  • Unsalted butter: I bake with unsalted butter so I can control the salt. We’ll melt this and let it cool a bit before adding it to the batter.
  • Eggs: Eggs help the muffins bind and turn out super fluffy and tender. See the recipe at the end for the egg-free option.
  • Milk: I use whole milk, but any type will work, whether dairy or. nondairy.
  • 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: I typically make these with granulated sugar, but feel free to use maple syrup or honey if you prefer.
  • Baking powder and baking soda to ensure that the mini muffins rise nicely.
  • Sprinkles: This is what gives these a super fun appearance, so don’t skip them! 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.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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

how to make birthday cake muffins step by step
  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.) Or use your favorite egg replacer.
  • 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.
  • Added-sugar-free: Omit the sugar.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please rate and comment below.

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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.
5 from 110 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)
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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.) Or use your favorite egg replacer.
  • 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.
  • Added-sugar-free: Omit the sugar.
  •  

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
    My kids and I loved these! I made them with my soon to be 5 year old ahead of his birthday so he’ll have a fun breakfast the day of. Each of the kids ate 3 as soon as they cooled down! Super simple recipe, as always. My son already has plans to make them again with red & pink sprinkles next Valentine’s Day! 😂

  2. I made these exactly as instructed and they’re very dense and gummy. I made the fruit ones also and had the same issue.

    1. If that is happening consistently, I would check that your baking soda is fresh and active, and perhaps start with a new box. That’s the most likely reason.

  3. How would you bake this if you wanted to make a small cake? I have 6 inch circle pans to make a small tiered cake.

    1. If you divided the batter to make 2 6-inch cakes, I would guess about 14ish minutes of baking time. Check the middle with a toothpick or cake tester.

  4. These are very spongy/eggy in texture and taste. They have the tiniest bit of sweet. My kids are not a fan. Not really muffin like. It’s more of a really eggy pancake. Perfect if your avoiding too much sugar.

    1. It sounds to me like your baking soda didn’t work as intended. The shouldn’t have that type of texture. I hope that helps.

  5. 5 stars
    My kiddos love these! I freeze half of them so I always have a healthy and delicious muffin ready for their school lunches. Thank you!

  6. I so want to try these muffins. But I am trying to avoid sugar as much as possible. Can I use maple syrup instead? If yes, how much? And do I need to change anything else?
    Thank you for the amazing recipes you post.

    1. The amount of sugar in these muffins is quite low and ensures the best texture possible. You can use the same amount of maple syrup, but the texture may be different. (Maple syrup is also considered an added sugar, if that helps at all.) Enjoy!

  7. I so want to try these muffins. But I am trying to avoid sugar as much as possible. Can I use maple syrup instead? If yes, how much? And do I need to change anything else?
    Also just wanted to tell you I tried the fruit gummies and copycat lara bars and both were great!!!

  8. 5 stars
    I guess I like my muffins to be sweeter than these ended up being. They also tasted a little eggy. I did use oil instead of applesauce and didn’t add anything extra to make up for the sweetness apples would have added. My kids said they were good though, so it’s still a win.

  9. 5 stars
    Made these for my soon-to-be 5 year old as is and he LOVED them. He said they were his new favorite food 😂

  10. 5 stars
    I was out of apple sauce and used greek yogurt. They turned out excellent! I will redo with greek yogurt every time.

  11. 5 stars
    Can this recipe be made into a cake using 6″ rounds? Would I need to adjust the temperature or bake time? Thanks!

    1. Yes, it should work fine as a cake. I’d split the batter between 2 6-inch pans, keep the temp the same, and then bake for 14 minutes. Look at the center for doneness and use a cake tester to check. Visually, it will also be the last place to puff up. It may take a few minutes longer than that so start there. Enjoy!

      1. Baked this cake today as a test run for LO’s birthday next month – it turned out so great! And the flavor is fabulous. Sweet without being overly so, I think he’s going to love it! Thanks so much 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    It is really yummy! It didn’t taste EXACTLY like the original little bites- it wasn’t as sweet, and I could taste the apple sauce, of course, that’s an ingredient, but all of that is a good thing! It’s so soft and fluffy from the inside! Make this at home now!!!

  13. 5 stars
    These are the best. We make them all the time for celebrations, and they are such a fun snack that feels like a treat. Such a cute addition to the lunchbox, too, if there’s ever leftovers.

  14. 5 stars
    Hi – I want to make these without sugar for my mother .Do you recommend a substitute? This is so wonderful in looking.

    1. You could use a flavorful applesauce and omit the added sugar, or use honey or maple syrup. I don’t bake with artificial sugar substitutes, so I don’t have any recommendations there but let me know what you try!

  15. 5 stars
    My daughter isn’t really onto solids yet, but she’s exploring food so I thought these would be a great birthday cake option for her first birthday. A little bit of cream cheese frosting and some more sprinkles on top, and she absolutely LOVED her lil cake! I’m so excited to have found this site – I’m sure I’ll be making more recipes 😀

  16. 5 stars
    I whipped these together quickly the morning of my son’s first birthday and they were the perfect celebratory breakfast. They tasted like a lightly sweetened birthday cake and they looked so festive. Everyone loved them!

  17. 5 stars
    My 6 year old LOVES those packaged mini muffins and I rarely ever buy them because of ingredients list. Today she asked if we could make our own and I stumbled across this recipe and in her words, “this is the best mini muffin I have ever eaten!!” This was such an easy recipe to throw together. We will be making these often.

  18. 5 stars
    Hi – I want to make these without sugar for my baby. Do you think they will come out okay or do you recommend a substitute?

    1. 5 stars
      I accidentally made these without sugar, and they were still delicious. I did use the flavored applesauce we had on hand, but so yummy. I make them weekly, and just forgot to add sugar this time, and we didn’t miss it at all.

  19. Hi, I want to make double of this tomorrow but only have one muffin pan. Will it be ok if I leave half the batter to the side until the first batch cooks and then continue with the rest of the batter or is it best to make the second batch separately while the first batch cooks so that the batter doesn’t sit for too long? Thanks!

    1. It should be fine to have half of the batter sit while the other half cooks. I can’t see why that would cause an issue. Enjoy them!

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 5 stars
    My toddler asks to make “muffins with sprinkles” basically weekly – we love this recipe!! So tasty and easy to make.

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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?

  30. 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?

    1. Sure, just try to use an applesauce that has a nice and sweet flavor so they’re not too bland. I hope it’s a fun way to share with little friends!

  31. 5 stars
    These are delicious and my kids think they’re so fun! The batter seemed really wet to me but they baked up super moist and perfect. I agree with some that they do have a bit of an Apple-y flavor, (that’s not a bad thing!) but I think a little extra vanilla might work if you really wanted to cover that up. Oh, and my kids decided they wanted big muffins instead of minis and it still worked fine!

  32. 5 stars
    Wow! These are amazing! I used to bake healthier stuff for the kids and fell off of that. I was worried they were used to really sweet things again but gave this a try. They are awesome!!!! If you know there is apple sauce, you can sort of taste it. But they were good enough to pass all three kids!!! Can’t wait to try other recipes!!!! Thank you! I’m SO glad instagram pulled you up on my search!!! I’m in total support of you !

  33. 5 stars
    My son loves these “party muffins”- the texture is perfect and even my husband was caught eating some!!

  34. 5 stars
    Amazing! Made them in a donut pan for New Years morning and they turned out great! Can’t stop eating them!

  35. These didn’t work out for me 🙁 they didn’t rise a lot and they stuck to the muffin papers. They taste good though! I think the error is on my side though. My eggs are extra large. I probably had to reduce the milk or add a bit more flour. I’d be willing to try again.

  36. 5 stars
    These are fantastic! I love that they aren’t overly sweet, but are still flavorful. The texture is perfect. We will definitely be using this as our go-to birthday breakfast and to make random days a little brighter, because who doesn’t love sprinkles? 🙂

  37. Loved these and love how simple thw recipe is! Can I substitute anything for part of the applesauce? I’ll try a different brand next time, but mine tasted a bit apple-y, though still tasty!

    1. Almond flour is usually not a good substitute directly for wheat flour since it absorbs moisture really differently. A 1:1 style of gluten free (or likely even keto) baking mix is a better option.