Rainbow Cake

Need some happiness in the form of a Rainbow Layer Cake?  I think yes!!


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My daughter just recently celebrated her birthday. As I was looking for cake ideas I came across this idea for making a rainbow cake and of course my daughter and I both loved it. Who wouldn’t want a rainbow layer cake for her birthday?

I took two white cake mixes and mixed them up in a large bowl according to the directions on the box. Then I divided the batter into 6 different bowls. Each bowl ended up with about 1 and 3/4 cups of batter each. Then I mixed some food coloring into each bowl to get my rainbow colors. I used the gel food colors rather than the liquid drops.

rainbow cake 1wm

When each color is mixed, place batter into 6 separate round 9 inch pans. I only had three, so I baked 3 first and then when they had cooled, I transferred the cakes to a cookie sheet. I washed the pans and baked the other 3 cakes. Be sure to grease your pans well so that the cakes come out without sticking. I baked the cakes in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

rainbow cake 2wm

After all the cake layers have cooled, place your bottom layer (purple) onto your cake plate. Add a thin layer of frosting. Place your blue cake layer on top of the frosting. Continue in this manner until you have added all your cake layers.

rainbow cake 3wm

I have learned the trick for getting a nice clean frosting layer without all the cake crumbs in it. Have you ever had that problem? After you have your cake layers placed together, before you frost the rest of the cake, place your entire cake into the freezer for about an hour or so. Then take your frosting and lightly frost the entire cake.

rainbow cake 4wm

This layer will have a lot of crumbs in it, but don’t worry, they will not show. I forgot to take a picture of this step, sorry. Place your cake back into the freezer for another hour. This will seal your cake crumbs so that they will not stick to your final frosting layer. Take your cake out and frost the entire cake.

rainbow cake 5wm

Right after I have frosted the entire cake, I take my flat spatula and dip it into a tall cup of hot water. Then with it clean of frosting, I run it over the frosting layer to give it a smooth finish. I continue washing the spatula in the hot water over and over until I like the results.

**Update—The Light and Fluffy frosting recipe I used for this cake is as follows:

Place 2 sticks of salted butter, at room temperature (otherwise you will get chunks of butter in your frosting), into mixer and whip together until nice and smooth. Then add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Gradually add about ½ to ¾ of a bag (regular size about 4 cups? ) of powdered sugar (Confectioner’s sugar). It will be a bit chunky and not very smooth. Gradually add 1 teaspoon of milk while mixing frosting. If it is still not the consistency you desire, add another teaspoon of milk until you get a nice thick frosting that is smooth. Then fold in 1 tub of Cool Whip. That’s it. This makes a very light and creamy frosting. This is just enough for frosting this BIG cake. Make sure to go easy on the frosting between layers so you have enough to cover the entire cake.

rainbow cake 6wm

My family was so surprised at the colorful cake awaiting them when we cut into it. The cake is so colorful it makes me happy just to look at it. Imagine how you feel when you are actually eating it.


This cake would be fun to make for all sorts of holidays too. I thought red and white layers would be fun for Dr. Seuss day to eat while you read his books together.

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  1. Blanche says

    Hi there, I just wanted to say that I love the rainbow cake. Is the white cake mix really white? I'm not sure if I can get those here in Aus. Any suggestions?

  2. karin says

    Happy birthday for your little girl! That cake looks wonderful. I think especially children will love it. Great idea!

  3. Charlotte says

    ..i love cake..yummy!the bright colors do make it extra special.

    in regards to your 3 column blog issue: i just made my blog 3 columns too…i blogged about it, where i got the "how to" tutorial etc.

    rather than go into all that here…check it out on my blog…you might find some of the info. helpful.

    ~ move a gadget to your left column..should center your posts…leaving 1 narrower column on each side.

    • Victoria says

      Do you have a link to your blog? Thinking about making myself this cake for my birthday in a few days

  4. Laura P says

    That cake looks teriffic! I just might have to consider making that. Thanks for the idea. :)

  5. Crys says

    I love this idea! So colorful and fun. Reminds me of the Roy G. Biv thing from school to remember the colors of the spectrum.

  6. The Gosfam says

    My daughter turns 3 in a couple of weeks and I planned on making a rainbow cake. This idea is way better then the other one I found. Thanks so much, I will attempt this colossal layered cake :)

  7. Lynn says

    Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    That cake is beautiful. I have seen other bloggers blog a rainbow cake recipe with just two layers with colors that fan out…I know confusing. I like yours the best.

  8. Tasha says

    Love the idea!!!!!! So fun! Maybe it is the perfect cake to make on a day even you are sad or your kids are having a bad day. I sure think that cake could cheer anyone up! :) I "heart" your blog! You really share the best ideas.

  9. Jennifer says

    Cute! We decorated a plain sheet cake with rainbow jelly beans once. We made a marshmallow crown and then used those gold foil "coins" for the gold at the other end of the rainbow. I really like your layers though. Maybe we'll have to make another rainbow cake!

  10. Amy says

    Blanche–If you can not find a white cake mix, you can just make a white cake from scratch. There are several recipes on the internet.

    As far as it being a real "white" white cake…are you referring to the truly white ones made with just egg whites so the yolk doesn't tint the batter yellow? I used regular whole eggs and the batter was still white enough that adding the food coloring still produced the bright colors. Hope that helps.

  11. Marcy M Miller says

    This is so darling- I showed my little girl who will be 5 in a month, and this is the cake she wants!!!

  12. HOPE says

    your photography is fantastic and really shows how CUTE CUTE this cake is…love the colored layers…

    Great idea!!


  13. Andrea says

    Great idea!!! I'm trying to have a "cake file" on my computer because you don't know when you might need one. And when birthdays arrive your head seems not to think at the moment, have been there??? I LOVE IT!! My birthday is next month, and I may be even bake it for myself :)

  14. sunnymommie8 says

    gorgeous cake!! I will make one for my daughter birthday in sept and she will be 4 yrs old! thank you so much!!!

  15. Kristi B. says

    This cake makes my heart happy! I can't wait to show it to my girls and give it a try!

  16. Rogers says

    I ABSOLUTELEY LOVE this cake!!! So beautiful :D

    I am not a fan of really sugary frostings and try not to use the frosting in a can. Can you tell me what you used??? (Even if it was frosting in a can! {he he!!})

  17. Juli says

    Fantastic Cake…I think I will have to do this for my daughter's 3rd birthday this year…too cute!

    Thank you for posting this and the great idea regarding frosting without the crumbs, which always happens to me!

    Happy Birthday to you daughter!!

  18. Geezees Geezees Custom Canvas Art says

    so great! me and my 6 year old are writing this one down… i love it!

  19. Heather Farar says

    Happy Birthday Hailey! Too funny that Kaia has been talking about a rainbow cake for her birthday (yeah, I know it's not for another five months). I'm sure she will love this idea!

  20. Amy says

    Rogers…I have updated this post and added the recipe I used to make the frosting with. This frosting is yum! It is actually homemade but has Cool Whip in it. So half-homemade I guess! Much better than frosting in a can.

  21. Camille says

    I think I'll be making this cake in August. Bridger saw it and wants it. He will be 5 then also.

  22. ermakaluso says

    Oh, I love this idea. I made a similar cake back in February for an artist party but instead of separate cake pans, I put all of the divided batter into the same pan and it kind of swirled. It was so cool to see when I cut into it. And I have to say the gel colors are the best! Here is a link to the cake I made if it sounds confusing: http://ermakaluso.blogspot.com/2009/02/party.html

  23. Juli says

    I love this cake…thank you for sharing! What great photos too! My daughter turns 3 in December and I was trying to come up with a theme and with your help this is going to be it…so cute! :)

  24. Tater Tot Mom says

    So cute! Found your site from Craft Rookie and am so glad I did, such a great blog!

  25. Melissa says

    What an awesome cake. I was wondering what the diference between gel colorig and liquid drops. WOuld it make a big difference? Where should I look for the gel? Thanks!

  26. **Amy** says

    Melissa–I would definetly use the gel colors. I love them and actually use them a lot for many different things. You can use the regular, but I don't think the colors of the cake layers would be as vibrant, more pastel. I think you can buy them at most craft stores: Michael's, Robert's and some grocery stores.

  27. bluegrassmom says

    That is such a cool cake. I'm thinking of attempting it for my daughter's 2nd birthday. Not sure what theme to go for, but a rainbow theme would be really cute and then I could make that cake!

  28. Lynette says

    I absolutely LOVE that cake! I am a skittle and color lover, so that would be perfect for my next birthday! :) I love the idea of a red and white for Dr. Seuss day too! You could make it look like a hat, how fun!

  29. Marisa says

    I love this idea … so cute! Just wanted to give you a tip I picked up from my cake decorating class. I used to freeze my cakes before icing them to cut down on the crumbs, but then as the cake thawed, my icing would "sweat." So, my instructor taught me that when you ice the cake to not lift the spatula away from the cake, and if you do to wipe off the excess icing on the edge of the bowl. That way if you pull away crumbs with your spatula the crumbs don't get put back on the cake.

  30. alittlefrenchloven says

    Hello, I just came across your lovely blog, I love this idea! How cute! My daughter would love a cake like this, I also seen your cute felt heart. I've seen the ones with regular onsided fabric and thought how better it would look with felt, and found your blog! I love it better with the felt.

  31. GemmaBeads says

    We just made this today and loved it. This was a great family activity for my daughter's 6th birthday. We added a bit of orange extract to the white cake mix for some flavor and to compliment the rainbow sherbet. She is so into rainbows right now and this was perfect.

  32. FarFam says

    Such a cute idea. I have been following your blog for a while, but I just found out tonight that I am your SIL's (Heather) SIL! She made this cake tonight and had us over for K's bday! What a small world! Thanks for all your ideas!

  33. erin d. says

    Hey made this cake for my baby's 1st Birthday Party (I have been waiting to do this since I read this post!). I gave you a shout out at erindphotography.blogspot.com Thanks for the cute idea!

  34. Britt says

    I just made this cake last night and the only trouble I had was with the frosting. I couldn't get that smooth consistency after I folded in the whip cream. I'm thinking I didn't thin it down enough first. Any thoughts or tips?

  35. Beau Rabbit says

    I love the height of this cake! It was very daring of you and it is jaw dropping and awe inspiring. I am putting it at the top of my "want to make soon" list! Thank you so much!

  36. **Amy** says

    Britt–Not sure why it didn't work out well. You're probably right about the thinning it down first! Was your cool whip (whip cream) warm or cold? Maybe warmer would have helped??

    Thanks for all the rest of the fun and kind comments! I feel the need to be making this again here…SOON! Brighten up these last days of LINGERING winter!

  37. nikki says

    Oh I love it!! I am definitely going to try this, I just came across your blog and I think I'm addicted, thanks for sharing all your great ideas and inspiring others!

  38. Dee says

    This cake looks FAB! I am now planning on making it for the next birthday in our family… hmm that is mine. I am not in the habit of making cakes for me, this year that is going to be different. what a pleasant thought and it will be a big surprise for all my lovelies. ;)

  39. Hayley & Boys says

    What a classic cake, a little extra time really pays off it looks awesome, deffinatly a cake for my boys 5th birthday coming up – thanks a million

  40. Crystal says

    My twins are turning 4 this week on the 10th.

    When I first found your site a month or so ago, this cake is one of the first things I noticed. I shared the pics with all of my boys (we have 5 of them!) and they loved it.

    Since that day, my twins have been asking for this rainbow cake for their birthday. They keep asking, 'can we make it today?'

    Wednesday is the big day! It will be so exciting!

    Crystal & Co.

  41. Nutmeg says

    Thank you so much for this beautiful idea! Your camera work is amazing as well. I'm making this cake for my daughter's 6th birthday. I think you could also use non sweetened Kool Aid packets if you want a color and a taste.

    I'm using the extra to make cupcakes to take to her Kindergarten class.

    Thank you!!


  42. Laura says

    I LOVE this cake! As soon as I saw it I wanted to make it, but no birthdays were coming up soon enough. So I made it last week as a fun surprise for the kids. They had so much fun eating it. I used cherry chip mix (the only kind I had on hand) and a 6 inch cake pan. I was great Thanks!

  43. Trainer Momma says

    Just made this cake and amazingly, I pulled it off! Thanks for the fantastic pics and instructions!

  44. Ann says

    My family makes a cake similar to this on Holidays. However, we you jello to color it. Just make your different layers then after the cake is cooled poke holes in it. Then pour jello over the cake and refrigerate.

  45. The Peterson Family says

    Just happened upon your blog while reading Gourmet on the Go's blog. Love the idea for this cake. I just showed my daughter and she about jumped out of her skin with excitement! The added bonus is that we will be flying back to the US to celebrate her birthday so I'll be able to find all the necessary ingredients :) Thanks for the fantastic idea … I've quickly become a huge fan!!!!!

  46. april says

    wow..it looks like you copied meg from whatever…..you didnt even mention where u got the idea…you also copied the number 5 shirt….sad…

  47. **Amy** says

    April–Maybe you should read the whole post before leaving a "sad" comment. I DID share with you where I originally saw the idea as I ALWAYS do. The link is in the very first paragraph. And as far as the number 5 shirt goes, those have been around FOREVER! Maybe making and eating some rainbow cake would make you feel better.

    And I actually just googled "Meg whatever" and she posted hers in May of 2009. The original one I saw mine from was posted in March of 2009. Normally I wouldn't even give your comment a thought but I put a lot of time and effort into this blog and feel like I give my readers a lot for nothing. I do NOT feel like I should sit back while someone accuses me of being dishonest as I take extreme measures to make sure I am not!

    Just had to get that off my chest!

  48. Me salen alas (si me paras los pies...) says

    I like so much your blog. My english its no so good but i´m trying. I´ll go on following you :D
    Kisses from Spain.

  49. pam says

    You do a lovely job with your blog; I appreciate all the work you do! My daughter and I made this cake yesterday for her 7th birthday party. Mine almost didn't make it (the green layer kept trying to slip out!), but we did it. The whole family was amazed, even before we cut into it! Thanks for sharing your ideas. PS Your icing recipe is delicious!

  50. Anonymous says

    This is the most gorgeous, awesomest cake I have ever laid eyes on!!! Seriously – I think it even beats my wedding cake hands down, lol! I love the concept of it!

  51. Robins Fam says

    I made this cake for my daughter's first birthday. It turned out so FANTASTIC! Thank you for the directions and inspiration. Love it!!

  52. Imperfectly Happy says

    I am going to make this cake for my daughter's 5th b-day party tomorrow. I am only going 4 layers though.

  53. Nicole@CraftySisters-nc says

    Thanks for such an inpsiring project! I attempted this fun cake today and it not only delighted my daughter but just made me smile! I was so excited about it I had to post about your talents over on my blog! I love seeing all the great ideas you have! Thanks so much!

    • says

      I just used a white cake mix and separated the batter into how ever many colors you would like. I used 5 red orange yellow green blue. Then dyed each bowl a different color and then put just a thin layer of each color into each cupcake holder. You can do different blogs so it is like tye dye or smooth each layer out with your clean finger like I did. Good luck!

  54. says

    I LOVE this cake! Sooo awesome! I’ve seen it before, but the way you have presented it on your blog has made me want to make it for sure now. My sis is turning 11 this week, and she has forever been in love with rainbows, I’ve decided this is the cake to make! Thanks!

  55. says

    I LOVE this idea! I love all the bright colors! I want to try this for one of my kids next party!
    Thanks sooo much for sharing I’m your newest follower on your blog!! Amazing!


  56. Its Sew for You says

    Gorgeous Cake! My son and daughter are having a joint birthday party and my daughter LOVES rainbows, so I thought that would be a great coed theme :) I had a vision for what I wanted the cake to look like and went to Pinterest for help in making my vision reality :) I came across yours, and its perfect! My kids saw it and now want the skittle rainbow and everything (even though I’d already bought rainbow sprinklers, ha!). What most attracted me to your cake was the frosting recipe. I’ve been making a buttercreme frosting that is very similar, but wanted something lighter and thought the cool whip in there is genius, I haven’t seen that posted anywhere in the blog world before! So first, I am going to try that :) but I did have one question, can you keep the cake out then or will the frosting “melt” and two, can you make that ahead of time (like a day or two before) and will the frosting hold? The party is Saturday, but I was hoping to decorate the cake tomorrow ;) THanks for the great ideas!
    Melissa @ Its Sew For You

  57. Jen says

    Love your idea for this cake. I am in the midst of baking my layers RIGHT NOW!! They are amazing already. My little girl is turning 6 and my other is turning 2 this week. Excited to share the fun with them and the rest of our friends/family! Thank you so much!

    • says

      Yay! Sounds like a busy birthday week. We have one of those in May. I hope they love their birthday cake. So glad you are enjoying it!

  58. leng says

    hi! this is such a wonderful cake! i would like to ask how long could i keep the frosted cake? if i crumb coat it could i keep it overnight? and could i make the frosting a day before? if im going to use the fresh whip cream is that also ok? i will just whip it first then put it with the butter. and lastly, how many bags of skittles was used?

    thanks so much for giving time to my email. really appreciate it.

  59. Lacey says

    Awesome recipe, thanks so much for sharing! I am going to do this for my daughter’s birthday and i know she will be so excited about all of the bright colors, and the other kids will be excited too!!

  60. Jenn Dagley says

    This is round two for me…the first was such a hit my daughter has requested it a 2nd time for her birthday! :-)

  61. Chrisanne Lacy says

    I have been baking for almost 35 years and Never in my life has a cake exploded like a volcano when I turned my back.and while I was frosting it. First of all, I follow the recipe to the tee, and the measurements for the 1 3/4 cup of cake batter was wrong…by following this,it took almost 2 1/2 boxes of cake mix. SO that was wrong, Secondly the recipe for the icing did not specify the exact amount or size of cool whip to use…I used the small one. It was a total disaster and what a Let Down….it was my son’s Birthday and he did not get the cake that I promised him…Thanks, the next time that you post a recipe make sure you are specific as too what the true amount of ingredients are to be for a success………….What a Let Down !!!

  62. Andrea says

    I am going to attempt this this weekend, thanks for the pictures! Are those skittles on the top? How many bags will I need to buy to make the rainbow and trim? Thanks!

  63. Marisa says

    Hi Amy
    I’m going to make this cake next week for my daughters birthday. I was just wondering how you store this cake. I do have a cake stand to put it on, but isn’t the cake going to be to tall to put the top on it? Do you cover the cake some how in the fridge? Thanks

    • says

      The cake is really tall. We served it off of the cake platter for the party. Then to store the extra cake we had to cut it into slices and laid them down sideways in a tupperware. This makes a lot of cake. So be sure to invite lots of friends over to share it with…then storage isn’t an issue ;). Hope your daughter has a happy birthday!!

  64. Marisa says

    Hi Amy!
    Thanks! I don’t think I explained well. I would like to make it the day before and was wondering if you just put the cake in the fridge without anything on top of it to keep it covered? Thanks again, Marisa

  65. Rhonda McQuain says

    I was just wondering what is onthe teired birthday cake and where can I find it? I love the wedding cake and am wanting to make a smaller one for my granddaughters 5th birthday.

  66. Corinna says

    I made this cake, but flavored each layer with a corresponding flavor. Orange-orange, yellow-lemon, green-lime, etc. it was wonderful. The grand kids got a big kick out the fact that each layer was a different flavor.

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