Tutorial: How to Make a Rainbow Cake

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on March 10, 2011

Want to impress your friends and family? Try making this spectacular Rainbow Cake!

St. Patricks Day Cake

I admit it. I am impressed with myself on this one.

I have been wanting to try making a rainbow cake every since I saw the ones at The Idea Room and I Am Baker, but haven’t had the right impetus to get me going until Walmart challenged me to make something special for St. Patrick’s Day~this cake was the first thing that popped into my mind!

Now a Rainbow cake is more of a technique than an recipe-and although the results are stunning (if I do say so myself-and I do). . . it’s actually very easy to make.

How to Make

a Rainbow Layer Cake


2 boxes of White (not yellow!) cake mix (I got Pillsbury at my local Walmart)
3-4 cans of white frosting (Pillsbury at Walmart again.  Yeah, I know it’s a lot-it’s a big cake)
All the eggs, oil & water necessary to make the cake mix
Food coloring (Wilton Gel food coloring is the best if your Walmart carries it)
Two 9″ round cakepans
6 bowls or containers
Oil & Flour


rainbow cake batter and layers1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Oil & flour your two pans.

3.  Mix up the two white cakes in your electric mixer using the directions on the box.

4.  Divide the cake mix evenly into 6 containers or bowls.  For me that was about 1 1/3 cups of batter in each bowl.

5.  Using your food coloring, dye each bowl a different color.  I just added a bit of food coloring & mixed it in by hand with a teaspoon. Remember “Roy G. Biv”. . . Red, Orange, yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo/Violet (I counted those together as purple folks).

Hint: Red + Yellow=Orange,  Blue + Yellow=Green, & Blue + Red=Purple

6.  Bake your layers.  Since I had only two pans I baked the first two colors for 15 minutes (remember-they are much thinner so they bake faster).  Then I washed the pans, dried them, re-oiled and floured, baked the second two colors. . . and again until all 6 were baked.

7.  Carefully layer the cake in order (remember-Roy G Biv) with a thin layer of frosting between each color.

8.  Do a thin crumb coat over the entire cake, refrigerate till that’s hard, then put your final layer of frosting on.

I wanted a “cloud” look to my cake, so I made little peaks all over it with my spatula-just sort of “dabbed” at the cake all over:

Frosted Rainbow Layer Cake

Does that look cloud like to you? No? Well work with me here folks. . .

Carefully cut your slices & serve to the amazement of all!

Heavenly Rainbow Cake


Does that all seem like too much work to you? Well you could go the more expedient and less frosting-ful (although not quite as visually stunning) route of a marbled rainbow cake like Omnomicon.  The marble technique would also work well for school cupcakes.


Disclosure: This post is part of a campaign I am participating in with the Walmart Moms. Walmart has provided me with compensation and product for this post. My participation is voluntary and opinions, as always are my own. See what my fellow Walmart Moms come up with!
****This is a sponsored post****

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori March 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

Great job Jenn!!! It looks delicious and fun!


Beth @ TheAngelForever March 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

Wow, that came out gorgeous! Almost makes me want to attempt a layer cake after the disaster that was my son’s birthday in August. Thanks for sharing.


LinseyK March 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

Oh my goodness! This looks lovely! My daughter will want to do one now.


Liz@HoosierHomemade March 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Awesome cake Jenn!! Thanks for sharing!


Kaye Swain March 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Ooooohhh, that looks yummy! I added it to my list of fun St Patricks Day party blog posts. Thank you for sharing this tutorial.


Travis @DebtChronicles March 11, 2011 at 12:20 am

What a great idea! My 8 year old daughter would LOVE this…I’m definitely going to plan a father/daughter activity with this…


Vicki March 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I just gave this a try today and WOWSER it is 7″tall, but it does look awesome!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Yes, it is a very tall cake. So glad you tried it out :) Your family and friends are going to be so impressed. . .


Kat March 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm

oooh. I did something similar once though it was only 5 layers and also made each layer a different flavor fruit! Red-strawberry, orange-orange, yellow-lemon, green-kiwi, blue/purple-blueberry. I just used pureed fruit to get the flavoring. I got several compliments from it.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Flavors would be an awesome idea! Did the pureed fruit affect the consistency of the cake batter?


Melissa March 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Linked up to you


Kara April 7, 2011 at 12:49 am

Love this! Can any of it be done a day ahead? I would like to get a head start on baking and maybe do the decorating on the day of the party. Thanks:)


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate April 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

Kara-Yes, of course it can be done ahead! I frequently find baking a decorating a cake to be a 2 or 3 day process :) Just bake your layers (or even half of them) one day, finish another, frost a 3rd. Whatever works for you! I find that I get the nicest top coat of frosting if I do a “crumb coat” (ie a very thin messy layer-not worrying about crumbs etc), refrigerate it from an hour or two to a day and then frost on top of that “hardened” layer :)


Lori Osenbaugh April 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

I loved this when I saw it!!
Just made this for my son’s 5th Birthday, thanks for the inspiration!


Lori Osenbaugh April 11, 2011 at 11:08 am
Jenn @ Frugal Upstate April 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

Lori~that came out fabulously! Great job!


Kelsey May 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm

That looks so delicious! Mmmm :)


Stephanie K March 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

How would you make cupcakes with this? Or even the “marbled” idea you mentioned? I have to make a couple dozen for a baton twirling competition and I think this would be an awesome idea! Thanks


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Stephanie-I’ve basically seen folks just mix the colors & plop it in a pan in big spoonfuls for the sort of marbled look. I did a quick search on Pinterest and found this blog post tutorial for Rainbow Cupcakes where she gives detailed directions. Hope that helps!


Louise Gainor March 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

Instead of just using food coloring, use flavored Jello, two tablespoons of powder for each layer – you get a rainbow of fruity flavors to go with the colors. I used blue food coloring and watermelon Jello for the blue layer. Yum!


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Louise-that’s a great idea as well!


evelyn solis March 13, 2012 at 11:32 am

Looks really good and beautyful! I want to bake one!


Janet March 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

The cake looks fun and interesting to make but I don’t understand all the instructions. I would need to see a video of someone making it to understand how to make it.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Janet-It’s easier than it seems. Basically you are just baking lots of separate little layers-so you separate out your batter and dye it all the different colors and then bake your layers-if I had enough pans and a big enough oven I could have done them all at once. . . but since I only had two pans I had to do two at a time! When you’ve got all your various colored layers you just stack them together with frosting in between and then frost the outside. Viola!


P Barker March 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm



Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I am choosing to interpret “ugh!” as “wow, what a lovely cake-I can’t wait to make one myself”. :)


oscar slaughter March 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm

critical speaking this rain bow cake is a beautiful cake can i have a piece for the taste test.


Emily & Riley April 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

On the steps or directions part you by mistake put the number two twice. Just helping you incase you didn’t notice:)


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate April 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

Thanks Emily & Riley-I’ve fixed it now!


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