Animal Birthday Cakes and Cupcakes for Kids

Go a little wild! Throw an animal-theme birthday party for your child. These birthday cakes and cupcakes are designed to please animal lovers with dogs, cats, an elephant, an octopus, monkeys, bears, and a menagerie of kids' favorites. Start with a purchased cake or cupcake, or use our recipes to bake one from scratch.

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Pink Poodle Cupcakes

Pink Poodle Cupcakes

A sweet pink puppy will be a charming birthday treat. It's surprisingly easy to create with frosting, chewy candies, marshmallows, and a few decorating details.

1. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip, pipe pink decorating frosting in spikes onto a cupcake. Slice a large marshmallow crosswise into four pieces; place two pieces side by side on the center of the cupcake, pushing gently into frosting; use a dot of frosting to attach a tiny pink marshmallow for a nose.

2. Place a pink chewy fruit-flavor square candy on waxed paper. Microwave on 100 percent power for 5 to 10 seconds or until softened. Cut candy in half and shape each piece into a long oval ear. When firm, attach ears to cupcake.

3. Cut a white tiny marshmallow crosswise in half and press into cupcake for eyes. Top each eye with a miniature chocolate piece; attach with white frosting. Add a heart-shape candy for a mouth, and sprinkle the large marshmallow pieces with pink decorating sugar.

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Tabby Cat Cupcakes

Tabby Cat Cupcakes

Your guests will purr with delight at these birthday masterpieces. This kitty cat design can also be adapted to mimic the color and markings of your favorite pet.

1. Place yellow decorating frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe frosting in spikes onto a cupcake.

2. Slice a large marshmallow crosswise into four pieces; place two pieces side by side on the center of the cupcake, pushing gently into frosting; use a dot of frosting to add a pink tiny marshmallow for a nose. Attach licorice whiskers with white frosting.

3. Cut a marshmallow slice into triangles; use frosting to attach two marshmallow triangles to the top of the cupcake for ears. Add red miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces for eyes and a mouth.

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Elephant Cupcakes

Elephant Cupcakes

Little ones will never forget a birthday celebrated with a herd of funny homemade elephant cupcakes.

1. Frost a cupcake with gray decorating frosting. Pipe white frosting for eyes (or use a tiny marshmallow half for each eye) and top with a dot of black icing.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave some gray frosting on 100 percent power for 10 seconds or until melted. Trim a gummy worm to size for a trunk (if they're too long, they may be too heavy to stick). Dip gummy worm in melted gray frosting, letting excess drip off. Place on waxed paper.

3. For ears, dip miniature pretzels in melted gray frosting, letting excess drip off; place on waxed paper.

4. For pink on elephant ears, microwave a pink chewy fruit-flavor square candy about 7 seconds and flatten. Using a pretzel as a guide, cut outlines from candy. Press candy outlines into frosting on back of each pretzel. Place on waxed paper.

5. Chill gummy worm trunk and pretzel ears about 5 minutes or until set. Arrange trunk on cupcake. Stick white candy-coated licorice into frosting for tusks. Press ears into frosting on sides of cupcake top.

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Adorable Lamb Cake

Lace Lamb Cake

This lacy lamb cake couldn't be any sweeter. The simple lace pattern gives texture to resemble fur, and the easy fondant cutouts give personality to the face.

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Tropical Fish Birthday Cake

Tropical Fish Birthday Cake

Straight from the big blue ocean, this sweet and colorful fish goes swimmingly with any birthday celebration. If you'd like, adjust the colors to match your child's favorite finned friends.

1. Using a serrated knife, cut the corners off a 13×9-inch cake, creating a curved edge and leaving an oval-shape piece. Place the oval cake on a large flat tray. Position corner pieces to create a top fin, bottom fin, and tail.

2. Fill a pastry bag with orange decorating frosting. Using a large star tip, cover the oval piece with orange frosting, leaving a space for the fin on the center of cake.

3. Fill a clean pastry bag with yellow decorating frosting and attach a small round tip. Apply frosting in zigzag lines to cover the fins, the open fin space on the body, and the tail. Make lips with yellow frosting.

4. For eye, cut the tip off a chocolate kiss; position on cake upside down with a small amount of frosting. Apply small strips of untinted frosting around the fin on the body.

5. For bubbles, frost cupcakes with light blue frosting.

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Sea Turtle Cupcakes

Sea Turtle Cupcakes

These turtles are so delightful they'll be an endangered species at your child's birthday party. Don't worry. It's easy to repopulate with a new nest of these cute creatures.

1. Place blue and green decorating frostings in separate resealable plastic bags and snip off a small piece from one corner of each bag. Pipe small mounds of frosting onto cupcakes, alternating colors. Use a thin metal spatula to swirl colors together.

2. Sprinkle brown sugar on the tops of the cupcakes. Split round vanilla sandwich cookies; discard filling. Place a cookie half on the center of each brown sugar-topped cupcake.

3. Halve green gumdrops lengthwise. Tuck five gumdrop halves under the edge of each cookie half for a head and four feet. (If necessary, flatten the gumdrop halves.)

4. Pipe blue and green designs onto the cookies for shell plates; sprinkle with blue or green colored sugar. Pipe blue eyes onto the turtles' heads. Use black icing to pipe pupils onto the eyes. Insert small shoestring licorice pieces into frosting for tails.

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Monkey Birthday Cupcakes

Monkey Birthday Cupcakes

Curious about a quick way to delight on your mischievous little one's birthday? Decorate a barrelful of monkey cupcakes for loads of fun.

1. Frost the top of a cupcake with chocolate frosting.

2. For ears, microwave a pink 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 sandwich cookies with frosting. Press ears into frosting on opposite sides of cupcake top.

3. Place a cookie in center of cupcake for mouth and nose.

4. 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.

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Smiling Lion Cupcakes

Smiling Lion Cupcakes

Everyone will roar with delight when these birthday cupcakes appear. You only need orange and brown frosting, black licorice, and black icing gel to make this pride of lions.

1. Frost cupcakes with orange decorating frosting. Using a pastry bag and round tip, pipe curly "icing fur" around edges.

2. Cut small strips of black shoestring licorice and arrange as whiskers on the lion faces.

3. Draw lion faces on cupcakes with black icing gel. Accent the outside of the lions' manes with brown icing.

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Cute Terrier Dog Cake

dog cake

This fluffy cake will be the life of your next birthday party. Make this cute doggy with just a few simple frosting techniques.

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Butterfly Birthday Cupcakes

Butterflies and Flowers

Bring the glowing colors of a butterfly's wings inside. You can mix and match colors to create unique patterns in your child's favorite combinations. Or match colors to the birthday party theme.

1. Frost cupcakes in desired colors.

2. Place pairs of regular-size pretzel twists on waxed paper. Place red, orange, white, yellow, or desired-color candy coating disks in separate microwave-safe bowls; microwave, one bowl at a time, on 100 percent power (high) for 30 seconds. Stir; microwave for 20 to 30 seconds more or until melted.

3. Place each color in a separate pastry bag fitted with a round tip or in a heavy resealable plastic bag. Snip off a corner from each plastic bag.

4. For pretzel wings, pipe different colors of candy coating into the spaces in the pretzels until filled, decorating each pretzel pair the same way. Let pretzel wings stand until firm.

5. Carefully peel wings from waxed paper. Insert a pair of wings into the frosting on top of each cupcake in a V shape.

6. Place a piece of rainbow-color licorice between each pair of wings for the body. Add a gumdrop head. Add black shoestring licorice for antennae. Pipe on eyes and nose with black frosting.

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Octopus Birthday Cake

Octopus Birthday Cake

Your child will dive into this deep-sea dream. The cake is baked in a basic 6-inch bowl and a round cake pan, and even the eight legs are easy to create using individual snack cakes flipped on their tops.

1. Prepare cake batter as directed on a 2-layer-size cake mix package or recipe, ignoring any pan preparation directions.

2. Spread 2 cups of batter in a greased 6-inch ovenproof bowl. Spread remaining batter in a greased 6-inch round cake pan. Bake cakes at 350 degrees F about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from bowl and pan. Cool.

3. Place cake-pan layer on a large platter. Spread yellow decorating frosting over layer. Place layer from bowl on top. Frost entire cake with yellow frosting.

4. Attach eight oblong creme-filled sponge cakes to sides of cake to resemble tentacles. Tint a small amount of decorating frosting blue. Using a writing tip, pipe blue frosting in circles all over cake and sponge cakes.

5. For eyes, attach small chocolate-covered mint candies to cake using frosting. Pipe a dot of frosting in center of each candy.

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Ladybug Cupcakes

Ladybug Cupcakes

Nestled on a bed of frosting "grass," this ladybug cupcake showcases lots of colorful charm in an easy-to-create design perfect for your bug lover's next birthday.

1. Frost cupcakes with light green frosting.

2. Top each cupcake with a red vanilla wafer. Pipe white frosting down center of each cookie and add dots of yellow frosting.

3. Add a dark blue or black jelly bean head and yellow miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces for antennae.

Editor's Tip: If you have trouble finding red vanilla wafers, thinly frost plain vanilla wafer cookies with bright red decorating frosting and let set.

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Fishbowl Birthday Cake

Fishbowl Birthday Cake

Forgetting to feed these fish is no problem. Your only worry is someone taking a bite out of this bowl before the birthday candles are lit.

1. Start with two 8-inch round layer cakes. Place one cake layer flat side up on a work surface. Spread about 1/2 cup light blue decorating frosting over top. Top with second cake layer, flat side down.

2. Cut a 1-inch slice from one edge of cake to form the bottom of fishbowl. Cut a thin slice on opposite edge of cake to form top of fishbowl. Carefully set cake with bottom of fishbowl down on a serving plate.

3. Spread blue frosting over cake. While frosting is still wet, press pebblelike candies, such as Nerds, into frosting around bottom of cake.

4. Place peach-color decorating frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a medium rose tip. Pipe an oval shape for each fish body. Make little ruffles for fish tails and fins. Place light blue decorating frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe a zigzag border at top of fishbowl. Attach a small round tip to pastry bag and pipe stripes on fish. Use blue piping gel to pipe bubbles above fish.

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Floppy-Ear Dog Cupcakes

Floppy-Ear Dog Cupcakes

Animal lovers (and birthday boys and girls) will adore these darling dogs. Customize the frosting colors and candy facial features to make these pups look like your child's pet.

1. Frost a cupcake with white decorating frosting.

2. Place chocolate frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe chocolate patches randomly onto cupcake (so cupcake resembles a beagle).

3. Slice a large marshmallow crosswise into four pieces; place two pieces side by side on the center of cupcake, pushing gently into frosting; use a dot of frosting to add a white tiny marshmallow for a nose. Attach shoestring licorice whiskers with white frosting. Add blue miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces for eyes. Pipe small chocolate spots on the large marshmallows.

4. Place a log-shape chocolate caramel candy (such as Tootsie Roll) and a pink chewy fruit-flavor candy square on waxed paper. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 5 to 10 seconds or until softened. Mold the pink candy into a tongue shape, cutting off excess, if necessary. When cool and firm, attach to cupcake below nose, securing with frosting, if necessary.

5. Cut the chocolate candy in half; mold each half into a long, oval floppy ear. When firm, attach ears to cupcake, securing with frosting.

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Beautiful Rainbow Butterfly Cake

butterfly cupcakes

Arrange swirly reuglar and mini cupcakes for a beautiful butterfly cake. The sweet rainbow frosting will make your heart flutter!

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Zoo Lion Cupcakes

Zoo Lion Cupcakes

The king of the forest leads the birthday charge in bright yellow and outstanding orange. The design is easy to replicate for a crowd of birthday guests.

1. Frost the top of a cupcake with yellow decorating frosting

2. Place orange and yellow decorating frostings in separate heavy resealable plastic bags; snip off a very small piece from one corner of each bag. Pipe frostings around edge of cupcake for mane.

3. Add round oat cereal for ears. Pipe white frosting for eyes; top with miniature semisweet chocolate pieces.

4. Place a bite-size round cracker in center of each cupcake; attach a candy-coated chocolate piece for nose, using frosting if necessary. Pipe chocolate frosting for mouth.

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Bird Nest Cupcakes

Bird Nest Cupcakes

Nestle sweet meringue birds in toasted almond nests for a sweet spring cupcake. For quick decorating the day of, the minty meringues can be made ahead.

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Monkey Cake


Go ahead. Monkey around. This smiling primate seems to have finished off a banana and is waiting for the birthday party to start.

1. Invert a round 8-inch cake layer onto a serving plate. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup white frosting and 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Use the mixture to frost the top center of the cake in the shape of a monkey face.

2. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of chocolate frosting in a resealable plastic bag; set aside. Frost the rest of the cake with chocolate frosting and pat 2 cups chocolate-flavor crisp rice cereal into the chocolate frosting only.

3. Snip a small corner off the plastic bag. Pipe a frosting nose and mouth onto the face. Place two chocolate kisses pointed side down onto the face for eyes.

4. Break a large peanut butter cookie in half and place the halves on each side of the cake for ears.

5. Before serving, peel a banana and brush the peel with lemon juice to prevent browning. Place the peel on plate above the monkey's head.

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Cheshire Cat Ice Cream Cake


Everyone will grin when you bring out this birthday surprise. Ice cream and brownie layers hide beneath this smiling feline face.

1. Bake brownie in a foil-lined baking pan. Cool completely. Lift brownie onto a cutting board; remove foil.

2. Using the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan as a guide, cut a circle from brownie and place the circle in the pan.

3. Spoon softened chocolate ice cream over brownie in pan, spreading evenly. Cover and freeze for 2 hours.

4. Sprinkle chocolate cookie crumbs over ice cream. For ears, press in two blue tortilla chips.

5. For cat eyes, press a small cutout piece of fruit leather onto each of two white gum balls; press into cake. Add an orange gum ball for the nose. For whiskers, add green licorice twists, trimming as necessary.

6. For mouth, color about 1/3 cup fondant yellow and another 1/3 cup fondant orange. Alternate 2x1/2-inch pieces of colored fondant on waxed paper, placing the pieces close together. Roll out fondant to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out a "smile" shape; place on cake.

7. Cover and freeze cake until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, remove sides and bottom of pan and place cake on a platter.

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Alligator Cupcakes

alligator cupcake

Let the kids "chomp" into these adorable alligator cupcakes. Whip up a batch of frosting and you're almost done!

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Panda Cupcakes

Panda Cupcakes

These pandas don't do kung fu, but these birthday cupcakes are as charming as a movie character or a favorite stuffed toy. Plus, they're so easy to decorate.

1. Frost the top of a cupcake with white decorating frosting. Split miniature chocolate sandwich cookies in half, discarding filling; press cookie halves into frosting for ears.

2. Arrange a black jelly bean and black candy-coated sunflower kernels on cupcake for nose and eyes. Pipe black icing for mouth.

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Chocolate Cat Cupcakes

Chocolate sprinkles, gumdrops, and licorice combine for a fuzzy cat face destined to make birthday kids smile.

1. Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting; coat generously with chocolate sprinkles.

2. To make eyes, cut a 1/8-inch-thick slice off the larger end of two yellow gumdrops; add a small piece of shoestring licorice to the cut side of each slice. Insert into frosted cupcake.

3. For ears, cut chocolate coating dots into triangle shapes with a paring knife. Insert ears into frosting on cupcake. Cut shoestring licorice into 1-1/2- to 2-inch lengths for whiskers and arrange on cupcake. Pipe a frosting nose.

Editor's Tip: For an all-white version, use white frosting, white chocolate coating dots, and white sprinkles or coconut. If you're feeling adventurous, experiment with both colors to make a spotted cat.

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Easy Bunny Cupcakes

Easter Bunny Bites - Easy Idea

Kids will hop to the table for these birthday bunnies. They're quick and easy to make. Plus, it's just as easy to create brown bunnies using chocolate frosting and dark gumdrops.

1. Place white decorating frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a multi-opening tip. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

2. Sprinkle a work surface with sugar. Use a rolling pin to flatten large white gumdrops; cut or shape long triangles for ears. Press ends of two gumdrop triangles into the frosting near top of each cupcake. Pipe pink icing for insides of ears.

3. Pipe black icing for whiskers. Add a pink jelly bean nose. Pipe white icing for eyes (or use large white round candies); pipe a pupil onto each eye with black icing.

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Little Brown Bear Cupcakes

Little Brown Bear Cupcakes

These brown bear cupcakes are so simple to create, you may want to let the kids do the decorating. Expect some interesting adaptations, but that's part of the fun.

1. Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

2. Insert two small wafer cookies in frosting for ears. Add small white mint candies for eyes; pipe blue icing dots for pupils. Place a red jelly bean or a round red candy for nose. Add red shoestring licorice for the mouth.

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Cat Cupcake Cones

Cat Cupcake Cones

Flat-bottom ice cream cones give these cute cats an easy-to-handle platform. Kids can enjoy the birthday creations without fingers getting too sticky.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stand ice cream cones in 2-1/2-inch muffin cups. Use foil to stabilize if necessary. Prepare cupcakes according to recipe or cake mix directions. Fill each cone with 2 to 3 level tablespoons of batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely.

2. Frost cupcakes in desired colors.

3. For cat faces, use jelly beans for eyes and nose, use candy corn for ears, and cut shoestring licorice for whiskers and mouth.

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Leaping Frog Cupcakes

St. Patrick¿s Day Cupcakes

Take the leap with these amphibian-theme birthday cupcakes. Green vanilla wafers form the body.

1. Frost cupcakes with yellow decorating frosting.

2. Top each cupcake with a green vanilla wafer.

3. Cut fruit leather into thin strips for legs; make zigzag cuts at one end for feet. Insert in frosting on opposite sides of vanilla wafer.

4. For eyes, add two large dots of green frosting and top with tiny red cinnamon candies. Pipe thin lines of light green frosting to define body.

Editor's Tip: If you have trouble finding vanilla wafers in green, thinly frost regular wafers with green frosting and let set.

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Lucky Ladybug Cake

Lucky Ladybug Cake

A smiling ladybug surrounded by cupcake flowers makes a delightful birthday cake for a garden or indoor party. Let your child add the dots using candy-coated chocolate pieces.

1. Start with two round cake layers. Place one cake layer flat side up on a serving plate. Spread a thin layer of white frosting on top. Place second layer, flat side down, on top of frosted layer. Spread red decorating frosting on the sides and top of top cake layer only.

2. Spread green decorating frosting generously on sides of bottom cake layer. While frosting is wet, pull the tines of a fork through frosting so it resembles grass.

3. Use black shoestring licorice and brown candy-coated chocolate pieces to decorate the cake top to look like a ladybug.

4. For each eye, use a dab of frosting to join a white or yellow large and a brown miniature candy-coated chocolate piece. Add licorice eyebrows and mouth.

5. For cupcake border, frost cupcakes with green frosting and top with large decorative daisy candies.

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Beehive Cupcake Cake

bee hive cupcakes

Say "Happy Bee Day" with this cute cupcake hive. Decorating the is easy thanks to an edible marker.

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Adorable Bunny Cupcakes

Bunny Cupcake
  • Say hello to the cutest bunny cake ever. A few purchased items and a simple frosting technique keeps these bunnies easy as can be.
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