These fun campfire cupcakes combine a delicious chocolate cupcake with a fiery frosting and a marshmallow roasting on a pretzel stick! They’re not only adorable but delicious as well, perfect for serving at a camp themed birthday party or while you’re actually camping!
I love a lot of things about camping but not necessarily the bugs. So instead of actually going camping these days, I really like to host camping themed parties and sharing camping party ideas!
These campfire cupcakes are an adorable addition to any camp party dessert table or would make a great dessert for an actual campout (as long as it’s cooler so the frosting won’t melt!).
They use my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe as a base but if you’re in a hurry store-bought chocolate cupcakes would work too! Either way, these cute little campfire cupcakes are a fun camping themed treat and delicious!
Serve these adorable cupcakes after playing a few rounds of camping charades or any of these other camping games! Or send kids on this camping scavenger hunt and have these camp themed cupcakes at the end as a prize for finding all of the items on the list!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy – unlike some of the cute campfire cupcakes out there that use complicated methods like melted sugar flames or even complicated ingredients like marshmallow creme frosting, these campfire cupcakes are a cinch to make and still look adorable!
- Make ahead treats – these are the perfect make ahead treats! The cupcakes keep well AND freeze well if you really want to bake that far ahead. You could make the cupcakes and even frost cupcakes ahead of time and then just add the mini pretzel sticks right before serving.
- Cute – have I mentioned how cute these cupcakes are? I love a good themed sweet treat and these fun cupcakes are just that! Plus yummy of course.
- Chocolate cupcakes – I personally prefer these with chocolate cupcakes because it looks more like the ground or a fire but you would also use yellow cupcakes if you really want. used my favorite chocolate cupcakes recipe (in the recipe card at the bottom of the post) for these ones, but you could use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, a chocolate cake mix, or even store-bought unfrosted cupcakes. Or just scrape the frosting off the top of the cupcakes if you want.
- Food coloring – I always like to use gel color when I want a bright and bold color like the frosting flame in these. It’s easier to get bold colors with less food coloring (and less food coloring flavor). I used both red and orange food coloring for these. You could also do yellow buttercream if you want, but I liked the look of red and orange without the yellow frosting.
- Pretzel sticks – any kind of pretzel sticks work as long as you go with the mini ones. I recommend pretzel sticks instead of breaking up pretzel pieces simply because they look more like logs and sticks than pieces do with curved edges.
- Mini marshmallows – there’s really not much you can substitue for the miniature marshmallows, especially if you want them to look like marshmallows being toasted over a fire!
- Vanilla buttercream – this recipe uses a vanilla buttercream that’s dyed into the color of fire, and I’ve included that recipe in the recipe card at the bottom of this post as well. Just make sure your butter is nice and soft (try to get it to room temperature) before trying to mix it! Everything else is straightforward.
How to make campfire cupcakes
I’ve written this recipe assuming that you already have your chocolate cupcakes but if not, you’ll need to make those! The rest of these step by step instructions are how to decorate the cupcakes into campfire cupcakes!
1 – Prep the Chocolate Cupcakes
Start with 24 of your favorite unfrosted chocolate cupcakes. Make sure they are cooled completely before frosting or the frosting will melt right off. I also recommend either using white cupcake liners (that will kind of bake into the cupcakes) re moving them all together before frosting.
If you’re not using cupcake liners when baking the cupcakes at all, make sure to grease the cupcake pan well so they come out cleanly. Or better yet, use a silicone cupcake pan that doesn’t stick at all!
2- Make the Fire Buttercream
Start by beating the butter in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy. I typically do this with an electric mixer or in the bowl of my stand mixer on medium speed to start then high speed. You really want the color to change color to a lighter yellow that is soft and fluffy.
Then add powdered sugar (aka icing sugar) and beat in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined.
Add the vanilla extract and milk, and beat until frosting is smooth and a good piping consistency.
Divide the white frosting equally into two separate bowls. Add orange food coloring to one small bowl and red to the other. Mix each bowl until color is uniform throughout.
3 – Decorate the Campfire Cupcakes
Now place orange frosting on one side of a large piping bag that’s fitted with a large star tip and add red frosting on the other side. Piping the two side by side will give you that cool fire effect you’re looking for!
If you don’t have a piping bag, you can also use a plastic bag with a zipper top with the tip placed into one of the corners and the corner cut off. I do that all the time!
Place a small dab of frosting in the center of each cupcake then break the pretzel sticks in half and arrange 6 pieces with broken end in the frosting and the other end pointing towards the outside edge of the cupcake like wood in a campfire.
If you don’t have enough for six, even 4-5 sticks will do. Or just break them into smaller pieces so you can get all six.
Adding the small dollops of frosting on top of the cupcakes will hold the pretzels down while you pipe on top of them!
Next swirl the frosting in circular motion over the end of the pretzels in the center of the cupcake to create the “fire.” Try to complete the frosting in one fluid motion instead of pulling up and starting again. This will give you that seamless fire look you’re going for.
PIpe swirls on the tops of each of the cupcakes then move on to the marshmallow sticks.
Make the “toasting marshmallow” for the top of cupcakes by placing a mini marshmallow on the end of a pretzel stick to create a marshmallow on a roasting stick.
Then place the pretzel stick on top of the frosting “fire,” carefully so you don’t totally destroy the frosting fire.
And there you have it – perfect cupcakes that look just like marshmallows being roasted over a campfire!
Place them all on a cake stand, a plate, or a platter of some sort and serve immediately! If you’re not serving immediately, store in a cool place so the buttercream doesn’t melt.
The cute cupcakes combined with the fiery buttercream on top makes these a great addition to any camping party, a send-off treat at the end of summer camp, or a fun dessert for a camping trip!
Freeze the cupcakes before they’re frosted and place in a freezer bag for up to three months. Then when you’re ready to frost, just take them out and let them come to room temperature before decorating.
Be careful to split the frostings onto either side of the piping bags without mixing them up a lot or you’ll end up with whatever color red and orange together make, not the swirls you really want.
Toast the mini marshmallows quickly with a kitchen torch if you really want to be gourmet and have “toasted” marshmallows on top of your cupcakes. I was too lazy to do that, but it’d be a fun touch!
Store cupcakes in an airtight container of some kind for up to five days. No need to refrigerate since you’re using a buttercream frosting on these!
Add pretzel sticks to the top of a cupcake to give you the look of logs in a campfire. Then simply combine two colors of frosting – red and orange – in a piping bag and then swirl the colors on top of the cupcake! Add a pretzel stick with a mini marshmallow for good measure if you want it to look even more like a campfire!
You can freeze the cupcake part of these, but I do not recommend freezing the cupcakes once they are frosted and decorated. To freeze the cupcakes, simply put the cooled cupcakes in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to three months.
More Easy camping Themed Recipes
If you’re hosting a camping themed party, make sure to check out these delicious camping recipes and camping party ideas!
- S’mores charcuterie board – this fun s’mores board is full of delicious s’mores toppings and gourmet s’mores ideas!
- S’mores cookies – delicious s’mores cookies made with chocolate chip cookie dough, graham crackers, and marshmallows of course!
- S’mores dip – this three ingredient s’mores dip takes just minutes to make and is a huge hit with everyone who tries it!
- Reese’s s’mores bars – peanut butter, s’mores, and chocolate, need I say more?
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 TBS milk
- red food coloring
- orange food coloring
- 1 bag pretzel sticks
- 24 mini marshmallows
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.
- Combine butter and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted.3/4 cup butter, 1 cup water
- Whisk the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla together in a small bowl.3 large eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer and mix well.2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt
- Add the melted butter and water to the dry ingredients and mix slightly, then add sour cream mixture and mix until ingredients are well incorporated.
- Pour about 1/4 cup batter into paper liners so they are about 2/3 full, then bake 18 -22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.
- Let cupcakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- Beat butter until light and fluffy, then add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and a good piping consistency.1 cup unsalted butter, 4 cups powdered sugar
- Add the vanilla extract and milk, and beat until frosting is smooth and a good piping consistency.2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 TBS milk
- Divide the frosting equally into two separate bowls. Add orange food coloring to one bowl and red to the other. Mix each bowl until color is uniform throughout.orange food coloring, red food coloring
- Place orange frosting on one side of the piping bag and red frosting on the other side.
- Place a small dab of frosting in the center of each cupcake then break the pretzel sticks in half and arrange 6 pieces with broken end in the frosting and the other end pointing towards the outside edge of the cupcake like wood in a campfire.1 bag pretzel sticks
- Swirl the frosting over the end of the pretzels in the center of the cupcake to create the "fire."
- Make the "toasting marshmallow" for the top by placing a mini marshmallow on the end of a pretzel stick then place the pretzel on top of the frosting "fire."24 mini marshmallows