A Day at the Zoo Cupcakes


Kids will roar with delight when they see (and taste) this adorable animal cupcake recipe come to life. Serve these zoo cupcakes at a party or bake sale and they'll fly off the dessert table.

Wild Animal Cupcakes
Start To Finish Time:
1 hrs


  • 2 cup Creamy White Frosting or one 16-ounce can white frosting

  • Black, yellow, and orange food coloring

  • 1 cup Chocolate Butter Frosting or canned chocolate frosting

  • 12 2.5 inch cupcakes in paper bake cups (any flavor)

  • Pink chewy fruit-flavor square candies, such as Starburst

  • Miniature peanut butter sandwich cookies, such as Nutter Butter Bites

  • Candy-coated milk chocolate pieces

  • Miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

  • 1 tube purchased black icing

  • Gummy worms

  • Miniature pretzels

  • White candy-coated licorice candy, such as Good & Plenty

  • Round oat cereal

  • Bite-size rich round crackers, such as Ritz Bits

  • Miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces

  • Miniature chocolate sandwich cookies with white filling

  • Black jelly beans

  • Black candy-coated sunflower kernels

Creamy White Frosting

  • 1 cup shortening

  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

  • 4 cup powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoon milk

Chocolate Butter Frosting

  • ¾ cup softened butter

  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 cup powdered sugar

  • ½ cup milk

  • 2 teaspoon vanilla

  • 6 cup powdered sugar

  • Milk


  1. Divide white frosting into three portions. Use food colorings to tint one portion gray and one portion yellow; leave the remaining frosting white. Place some of the chocolate frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip or in a heavy resealable plastic bag. Place some of the white frosting in a separate pastry bag fitted with a round tip or in a plastic bag. Snip off a small corner from each plastic bag.

  2. For monkey cupcakes, frost the tops of three of the cupcakes with chocolate frosting. For ears, microwave a chewy fruit-flavor square candy on 100 percent power (high) for 7 seconds; flatten candy. Cut out small candy rounds and attach to miniature peanut butter cookies with frosting. Press ears into frosting on opposite sides of each cupcake top. Place a cookie in center of each cupcake for mouth and nose. For eyes, place two candy-coated milk chocolate pieces on cupcake top; pipe a white frosting dot on each and top with miniature semisweet chocolate pieces. Pipe chocolate frosting for mouth and nose.

  3. For elephant cupcakes, frost the tops of three cupcakes with gray frosting. Pipe white frosting for eyes and top with a dot of black icing. In a microwave-safe bowl microwave some of the gray frosting on 100 percent power (high) for 10 seconds or until melted. Trim gummy worms to appropriate size for trunks (if they are too long, they may be heavy and fall off). Dip gummy worms in melted gray frosting, letting excess drip off. Place on waxed paper. For ears, dip pretzels in melted gray frosting, letting excess drip off; place on waxed paper. If desired, for pink on elephant ears, microwave and flatten chewy fruit-flavor square candy as in Step 2. Using a pretzel as a guide, cut outlines from candy. Press candy outlines into frosting on back side of each pretzel. Place on waxed paper. Chill gummy worms and pretzels for about 5 minutes or until set. Arrange trunks on cupcakes. Stick white candy-coated licorice into frosting for tusks. Press ears into frosting on sides of each cupcake top.

  4. For lion cupcakes, frost the tops of three cupcakes with yellow frosting. Tint half of the remaining yellow frosting orange. Place orange frosting and yellow frosting in separate heavy resealable plastic bags; snip off a very small piece from one corner of each bag. Pipe frostings around edge of each cupcake for mane. Add oat cereal for ears. Pipe white frosting for eyes; add miniature semisweet chocolate pieces. Place a rich round cracker in center of each cupcake; attach a candy-coated chocolate piece for nose. Pipe chocolate frosting for mouth.

  5. For panda cupcakes, frost the tops of three cupcakes with white frosting. Split miniature chocolate sandwich cookies in half; press cookie halves into frosting for ears. Arrange jelly bean and sunflower kernels on cupcakes for nose and eyes. Pipe chocolate or black icing for mouth. Makes 12 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.

Creamy White Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. Gradually add milk until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes about 3 cups.

Chocolate Butter Frosting

  1. In a very large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in 1/2 cup milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in an additional 6 cups powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to reach spreading consistency. Makes enough to frost tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

490 Calories
22g Fat
72g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 490
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 164mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 72g 26%
Total Sugars 60g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 1.2mg 6%
Calcium 40.4mg 3%
Iron 1.1mg 6%
Potassium 64mg 1%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 28.2mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.2mcg
Vitamin B-6 0mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Related Articles