Tricks of the Trade: The Do’s and Don’ts of Making Cake Pops

If you’re reading this, then it’s safe to assume you’re either curious or obsessed with making cake pops. It’s very important to know some things before you dive deeper into the cake and candy coating abyss. If you’ve made them before, you know they can be quite a challenge! If you’ve not made any yet, I’m glad you’re here so you can start your cake pop experience in the best way possible.

Let’s get familiar with the “do’s” and “don’ts” of making cake pops!

Piped Cake pop

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I’ve compiled a simple list of pointers to help you strategically tackle these delicious (and ever-popular) bite-sized treats. Check out my other posts about cake pop fundamentals for shaping and dipping to really master the art of these tiny treats. Bookmark all of these pages because I can guarantee you’ll be back again and again for this information!

Cake pop ducks design and shaped dough

Getting started with your cake pop design:

Do plan ahead. Make sketches to break down the design to simple shapes and add candy pieces to it to create more detail. Whatever it is you’re making, the best way to do it is to keep it simple. Don’t try to make a cake pop more complicated than it needs to be, especially if it takes the joy out of creating them!

Don’t be afraid to really push and shape the cake pop dough with your hands and fingers. If you follow my dough and shaping tutorial, you’ll have perfect pliable dough.

cookie scoop and dough

Do use a cookie scoop to make uniform portions.

Don’t make the portions too large if you’re not using a cookie scoop, as they can get really heavy and fall apart during the dipping process.

Do get into the habit of scooping only a few portions at a time and forming them. Repeat this process until all the dough has been used and formed.

Don’t keep the unformed dough exposed to air, it will dry out. Wrap it in plastic wrap while forming the portions.

Merckens Coating

Mercken’s Colors at Standlee’s Cake, Cookie and Candy Supplies

The cake pop coating:

Do use candy coating, it’s made specifically for dipping. It melts smoothly and will harden completely. There are many different brands available at hobby, grocery, or cake and candy supply stores like Wilton Candy Melts, Mercken’s Colors, Clasen Coatings, Ghirardelli Melting Wafers, Guittard A’Peels, Make & Mold, CandiQuik and chocolate bark, to name a few.

Don’t use chocolate bars, chocolate chip morsels, pure chocolate or baker’s chocolate blocks. These types can be used in baking recipes but not for coating cake pops because the chocolate is either not tempered or contains a combination of ingredients that will not allow it to harden completely like candy coating.

paramount crystals

Do use Paramount Crystals to thin candy coating. It is the only product that will not alter the integrity of the coating.

Don’t ever use oil or butter to thin candy coating, your cake pop coating will never solidify like it should. Oil is only used in chocolate for chocolate fountains and butter is only used for baking with chocolate.

oil candy dyes

Candy dyes at Standlee’s Cake, Cookie and Candy Supplies

Do use only oil-based dyes if you wish to add this to the candy coating. I personally don’t recommend it because it will slightly change the texture and the taste of your coating. But if you choose to, just know that oil-based is the way to go.

Don’t add anything that is NOT oil-based to candy coating. This can also cause the coating to “seize”, making it unusable. Read the labels carefully, if it doesn’t say oil-based then it usually isn’t.

silicone bowls

Tools of the trade:

Do use small silicone or plastic, microwave-safe bowls or cups, about 1 cup capacity, to melt candy wafers. This is the best way to melt candy coating evenly.

Don’t use ceramic or glass containers as both retain too much heat, preventing the candy coating from heating or cooling at its own natural pace, which makes it more difficult to dip without the worry of cracks.

Do use a microwave (preferred) or a chocolate melting pot to melt the candy coating.

Don’t use a double boiler or any other method where the candy coating may come into contact with water or steam. This will cause your coating to “seize,” rendering it completely unusable.

Dipping cake pops

Dipping & decorating the delightful dough:

Do dip cake pops when they’re no longer chilly to the touch and candy coating is no longer warm to the touch. The closer to room temperature both are, the better.

Don’t dip cold cake pops into too warm candy coating, you’ll get cracks for sure!

Sprinkles

Sprinkles and nonpareils at Standlee’s Cake, Cookie and Candy Supplies

Do use sprinkles and nonpareils to decorate.

Don’t use candies for decorating the exterior of cake pops until you test them first! Always test the candy by placing it into the fridge for a few minutes. Remove from the cold and see how it reacts as it comes to room temperature then decide if you can use it or not.

cake pops in fridge

Storing your cake pops:

Do refrigerate and store completed cake pops in airtight containers in flat layers separated with paper towels (if they aren’t individually packaged). When defrosting, this method of storage will allow the condensation to collect on the outside of the container or package and not on the cake pops.

Don’t store them exposed, otherwise the pops will become sticky due to condensation collecting on the surface.

Do freeze shaped and uncoated balls for later use.

Don’t freeze coated and completed cake pops!

This lengthy list should help with troubleshooting your cake pop projects! It seems like a lot to absorb, but I want your cake pop experiences to be as pleasant and enjoyable as can be! Have fun with it, without the trouble of too much trial and error!

Do you have any questions about how to make cake pops? Let me know how I can help, comment below!

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45 Comments

Angelica

Awesome guidelines! How should I store my prepared, unfrosted cakepops? Is simple airtight tupperware ok? No additional steps like plastic wrap, foil, etc.?

I have a party in 3 weeks and am trying my best to use my time wisely. I’m baking and rolling today-tomorrow and frosting 2 nights before.

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Kathleen Gillette

My issue I’m running into is its picnic season here and if I make cake pops they sit out too long and get soft and sometimes will fall apart or slide off of the stick. How can I stil bring these to an 80 degree day and not have them fall apart? Thank you

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Touria Ettamri

I usually put some dry ice at the bottom of a box and put a cardboard on it and some paper towels then put my cake pops in there. The dry ice doesn’t allow condensation to form and keeps them chilled for at least 4 to 6 hours. Take them out an hour or so before eating.

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Nicole

Hello… One of the problems I have with cake pops is the oil, the oil comes through the stick and makes the stick dis colored what can I do about that. Also if there are little holes and maybe some crakes in my cakes pops oil comes through I try to cover with the candy melt but still comes through any suggestions.

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Kris Galicia Brown

Avoid using cake recipes that contain oil. Oil as an ingredient is most certainly the culprit. If you’re using a box mix cake that requires 3 eggs, substitute 1 stick of melted butter and 1 cup of milk for the oil/water requirements. Hope this helps!

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Nicole

If your doing a event and you where ask to do cake pops and Oreo pops along with chocolate covered pretzels how early should you start in advance and how long does the cakes pops Oreo pops last

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Audrey

I have a party this weekend. If I make the cake pops today…do I freeze them with the stick on or off? Or do I put the stick on once they are thawed?

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Efreet

One more tip: to keep candy melts nice and fluid, once they’re melted, pour them into a… wax pot. Yes, the ones you’d normally use for getting rid of unwanted hair. It works for chocolate, too!
Chocolate tempering machines are professional equipment, so they’re super expensive and meant for huge batches. A wax pot is not nearly as cumbersome, you can get one for a few bucks, and will serve the same purpose of keeping a small batch of fluid at body temperature.
Of course you’ll need to get a new one to use for candy-making only; please DON’T use the same appliance for working with both food and depilatory wax!

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Leslie Tamares

Do I need to put in the fridge my cake pops after dipping into candy coating?

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Kris Galicia Brown

Let them harden in room temperature. Once they’re set, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Debbie

When I roll and make cake pops can I refrigerate them for 3 days before I dip them or should I freeze them or can I dip them 3-4 days before my event and just put them in container in a cool place and not refrigerate

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Kris Galicia Brown

Hi Debbie,
Yes, you can refrigerate them for a couple of days before dipping, versus freezing. You can also refrigerate them in airtight containers after dipping. They should never be stored in room temperature, always refrigerate!

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Shana

How long are they good after being dipped and stored in air right containers?

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laura

Hi,
After coating and decorating the cake pops, I let them set in room temp. After that I placed them in the frig as is. I then took them out to wrap them individually but I noticed the sticky residue on the bags. Will this ruin the outcome of how it looks on the cake pops? or shall I wrapped them individually then place in frig? But will sticky residue still exist though?

Thank you!

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Judy Meilink

I’m a newbie in cake truffles/balls. I read above that the “undipped” balls can be frozen. My question is what is the best method for defrosting to dip? Do I move the cake balls to a refrigerator first to defrost or sit them directly from freezer to counter for the defrosting process? They will need to get to room temperature before dipping right?
Thank you!

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Ravali

Hi. Can i make cake pops 2 or 3 days ahead of party. My pops will be covered in sprinkels. Can i wrap them in individual bags and store them in an airtight contianer in fridge or can i leave them out wrapped in bags at room temeperature. Please help.

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Debbine

Thanks for the information. It was extremely helpful. I definitely made my practice cake balls waaaay too big and they broke and fell off into the melted chocolate. Glad it was a practice run. I also used vegetable oil to thin it out. I’ve watched several videos that said using oil was fine. So glad I’m never satisfied with just one answer. If you post some more do’s and don’ts I’d do more baking.

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Tammy

How long can cake pops stay stored in the frig in air tight containers

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Vonette

I have frozen my decorated cake pops…not knowing that I should’ve done that!! What to do I have a party in two hours!!

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Cynthia

Wow!! Thank you so much for the advice!! I would of messed up big time had I not ready your article!! :)

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Mary Frances

What size scooper should I use for a cake ball? And would that be a flat measure across the top then formed into a ball, or a heaping scoop?

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Kris Galicia Brown

Hi! Great question! I use a 4cm diameter scoop; flat measured. Then rolled into a ball after ejecting. You can also use a 5cm diameter, leveled; but the 4cm is the typical standard size. :)

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Priscilla

How many days ahead can I make my cake pops, decorated and all?

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kerrie

I was just curious if I could decorate hardened candy coated cake pops with bakers chocolate?

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Kristi

This site is great! So many fabulous tips for making the cake balls! I have made thousands of them over the years for my treat sales and rarely have any left over; but this year, I do have a few. They have been stored in the refrigerator for probably 3 weeks now. Are they still safe to eat? If not, how long can you store them safely? The cookie ones have real cream cheese in them and the cake ones have cream cheese frosting.
Thanks for your help!

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Yohana

After inserting the stick in the cake pop, I need to chill them again in the refrigerator? And for how long? And when I bring them out do I right away coat them with the chocolate melt?

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Bana

Hi, I made and decorated my pops already and my party is still in 8 days. I just realized that this might be too early to make but I work all week and I can only make them on the week end. I am affairs they will rotten!! Any suggestion to how to store them and for how long are they good for ??

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Damaris

Thanks for the great tips…doctjese rules apply to oreo cookies?

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Tia Henry

I am not the best baker so I’m thinking of just purchasing cake pops from Starbucks for my son’s b day party. How many days in advance can I buy them and how should I store them?

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Teri

I want to wrap them individually, can I do this before I store them in the fridge , or should I wait till the day they are going to be eaten to wrap and give away?

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Kris Galicia Brown

Yes! Wrap them individually before refrigerating them. This will also help them stay in perfect condition. When removing them from the fridge, let them sit at room temp without touching/moving them around for about 20-30 min so the condensation can collect outside of the cellophane and dry up. If you disturb this process, your cake pops will get sticky.

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Alessia

Hi
I have my son’s baptism on May 15th and I wanted to make cake pops and I was wondering how far in advance can I make them?
thank you!
ps i plan on individually wrapping them and refrigerating them so please let me know how far in advance I can do this.
thanks

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Kristina

Wonderful page learned a lot! But, you said I can freeze the cake balls, without chocolate coating. But how long can I freeze them for? I want to make some 1 week ahead is that ok??

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Kris Galicia Brown

Yes absolutely! You can freeze them for about a month. freeze flat on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, bag it up in a freezer zipper bag. To thaw, remove from bag and arrange flat on a cookie sheet again.

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Jj

I have read through the comments and I am left slightly confused. I have a bake sale on Thursday (today is Monday) if I bake and prepare (ie dip and decorate) my cake pops today and wrap them in cellophane bags and I leave them in the fridge they should be fine for Thursday… Is that correct? Or should I be wrapping them in something else?

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Tamara

Hi! I’m making 100 cake pops and have already dipped and decorated them. How can I store them if I’m not wearing them? If I lay them flat in Tupperware and refrigerate them won’t that mess up the design?? HELP!!! Can they be left out on a counter for 1-2 days?

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Brooke

Can I use a small crockpot dipper to melt my chocolate and to dip the cake balls in?It constantly stays warm? Also what about those cake pop silicone molds? Do they work at all?

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brittany

I’m making 100 cake pops this coming week, each are supposed to have a small fondant decoration. How do I store them with he decor? Or should I add the fondant the day of the event?

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Cristina

I cannot find paramount crystals where i live. Can i use anything else to thin the coating?

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Cindy

Hi can I store completed candy Pop’s in single cellophane bags 24hrs before a party?? I want to lessen my work load before my party??

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Alyssa

Hi I am using the bake pop pans to make my balls batter bakes into balls. I am making balls a head of time can I store in big freezer bags and leave out balls will be coated the next day or should I fridge them?

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