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Red, White and Blue Firecracker Cake

This easy Red, White and Blue Firecracker Cake made in a bundt pan has layers of color inside and a glaze that looks like fireworks on the outside. It’s a fun and festive dessert for the 4th of July!

This cake is a real showstopper, yet it’s so easy to make. It starts with a boxed white cake mix, but we use a few simple tricks and a vanilla powdered sugar glaze to make it taste even better and more like homemade.

And let me first give credit where credit is due. The original recipe for this cake is from Betty Crocker, which was made with just the boxed cake, store-bought frosting and food coloring.

This is my zhuzhed-up version of that cake!

Boxed cake mixes are one of my favorite shortcut ingredients, and you can really give them a big boost by changing things up just a bit. This is especially true for white cake mixes, which I find to be a little bland on their own.

By replacing the water in the recipe with milk, using melted butter instead of vegetable oil, and adding some sour cream and vanilla extract, the white cake is taken to the next level of deliciousness. It’s moist yet fluffy, richer with more vanilla flavor, and super good.

And since I’m not a big fan of store-bought icing, I go the classic route and use a simple powdered sugar glaze. It adds just a touch more sweetness that complements the cake without making things overly sweet.

So pull out that bundt pan and give this gorgeous and delicious cake a try this 4th of July…or for any patriotic celebration!

Ingredients You Need

all of the ingredients needed to make red, white and blue firecracker cake
  • No-stick baking spray with flour (such as Pam*)
  • Boxed white cake mix (I use Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White Cake Mix*)
  • Milk (I use whole milk; this replaces the water in the cake mix directions for even better flavor and texture)
  • Butter (melted; this replaces the vegetable oil in the cake mix directions for more flavor and richness)
  • Egg whites (from large eggs)
  • Sour cream (adds extra moisture, flavor and richness)
  • Vanilla extract (for more vanilla flavor; pure vanilla extract is best)
  • Red and blue food coloring (I use the McCormick* liquid food coloring)
  • Powdered sugar

*I am not sponsored by any of these brands; they are just the ones I use for this recipe with great success.

Special Equipment Needed

  • Electric mixer (hand mixer or stand mixer)
  • Non-stick Bundt pan (standard 10 to 10.5-inch/12-cup)
  • Wire cooling rack

How To Make Red, White and Blue Firecracker Cake

white cake mix being mixed with an electric hand mixer in a bowl

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, beat together the white cake mix, milk, melted butter, egg whites, sour cream, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

white cake mix divided into 3 bowls, one of the plain white cake mix, one colored red, and one colored blue

Place 1 cup of the cake batter in a small bowl; stir in red food coloring. Place another cup of the cake batter in a second small bowl; stir in blue food coloring.

a collage of 3 images showing the cake batter added to the bundt pan, red then white and then blue

Spray a bundt pan with non-stick baking spray. Pour the red batter into the pan first. Then add the white batter and the blue batter last.

the finished baked cake in the bundt pan on a wire cooling rack

Bake at 350°F for 33 to 36 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

2 images side by side, the first shows the wire cooling rack on top of the bundt pan, and the second shows the bundt pan inverted onto the wire rack

Place the wire cooling rack on top of the bundt pan, then flip both over so the rack is on the bottom.

Lift the pan off of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely, about 1 hour.

powdered sugar glaze being mixed together in a bowl with a spoon

In a medium bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk until smooth.

3 bowls of powdered sugar glaze, one white, one red and one blue

Place a heaping half tablespoon of the glaze in a small bowl and stir in red food coloring. Place a heaping half tablespoon of the glaze in another bowl and stir in blue food coloring.

a collage of 3 images showing the glaze being added to the top of the cake, white first, then red and then blue

With a spoon, drizzle the white glaze over the cake in a stripe pattern that goes from the center to the outer edge of the cake. Repeat with the red glaze and then the blue glaze.

3 slices of red, white and blue firecracker cake on a plate with the whole cake in the background and text that says enjoy

Slice and enjoy!

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • Different brands and types of food coloring can be very different, so the amounts shown in the recipe are what I used to get the color I wanted and are just a guideline. Use as much as you need to get the color you want.
  • If the non-stick coating on your bundt pan is in good shape and you cover it well with the baking spray, you shouldn’t have any issues with the cake sticking.
  • Ovens and pans can vary, and so the baking time is just a guideline. Bake just until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Be very careful not to overbake, as this can make your cake dry.
  • Be sure to let the cake cool completely before adding the glaze so it doesn’t melt.
  • I’m a believer of the less-is-more philosophy when it comes to icing on cake and think the amount in the recipe is perfect. But if you like more icing, you can always double the glaze.
  • The glaze should be easy to drizzle, but the consistency should not be too thin, as you want those nice colorful stripes to stay on the cake and not run off.
    • To test it, lift out a spoonful and pour it back into the bowl of glaze. It should leave a visible ribbon in the glaze for a few seconds.
    • It’s easy to adjust the glaze if needed. If it’s too thick, add milk, just a few drops at a time, until you get the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, add powdered sugar, a few sprinkles at a time, until you get the desired consistency.
  • I prefer a mostly white glaze with fewer red and blue accents. You can change up the proportions if you’d like.
top-down view of a red, white and blur firecracker bundt cake on a clear dish with a cake server on the side

Substitutions & Variations

  • I have only made this cake with the Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White Cake Mix, and it always turns out awesome. It should also work with any boxed white cake mix that is 15.25 ounces and calls for 1 cup water, ½ cup vegetable oil and 3 egg whites (we replace the water with milk and the vegetable oil with melted butter). 
  • If you don’t have non-stick baking spray, you can grease the pan with shortening or butter (make sure you get into all those crevices) and dust it with flour.
  • If you have some red, white and blue or other patriotic/4th-of-July-themed sprinkles, they would also look great sprinkled on top of the glaze.
  • Use different colors to make this cake for different holidays, seasons or events. For example, you could use white, green and red for a Christmas-themed cake, different shades of green for St. Patrick’s day, pink and light blue for a baby-themed event, pastel colors for Easter, etc.
2 pieces of firecracker bundt cake on a white plate with two forks in front and the whole cake in the background

Storage

Store cake loosely covered at room temperature for up to 2 to 3 days. I recommend using a cake dish with a cover for this (you can get one on the cheap at a place like Dollar Tree). I like to put pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap on the cut ends so they don’t dry out.

If you use plastic wrap, make sure it is not pressed against the glaze, as it can stick and ruin the design.

This yummy cake is great on its own or served up with some vanilla ice cream.

I hope you try this Red, White and Blue Firecracker Cake recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

michelle signature

A Few More Red, White & Blue Desserts To Try

More Easy Cake Recipes To Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

a slice of red, white and blue firecracker cake being lifted away from the whole cake

Red, White and Blue Firecracker Cake

This easy Red, White and Blue Firecracker Cake made in a bundt pan has layers of color inside and a glaze that looks like fireworks on the outside. It's a fun and festive dessert for the 4th of July!
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Author: Michelle
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 33 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 58 minutes
Servings: 12
Estimated Calories: 282

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 (15.25-ounce box) white cake mix, (see note below) I use Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White Cake Mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 3 large egg whites
  • cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoons red liquid food coloring, use more or less to get the color you want
  • 1 teaspoon blue liquid food coloring, use more or less to get the color you want
  • no-stick baking spray with flour, such as Pam

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 drops red liquid food coloring, use more or less to get the color you want
  • 5 drops blue liquid food coloring, use more or less to get the color you want

Special Equipment

  • electric mixer (hand mixer or stand mixer)
  • non-stick bundt pan (standard 10 to 10.5-inch/12-cup)
  • wire cooling rack

Instructions

Make the Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, 1 cup of milk, melted butter, egg whites, sour cream, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Take 1 cup of the cake batter and place it in a small bowl. Add the red food coloring; stir until well combined. Take another cup of the cake batter and place it in a second small bowl. Add the blue food coloring; stir until well combined.
  • Spray a standard 10 to 10.5-inch/12-cup non-stick bundt pan with baking spray (be sure it is well covered to prevent sticking).
  • Pour the red cake batter into the bundt pan, and then add the white batter on top of the red. Add the blue batter on top of the white (I like to put it mostly in the center of the white batter, leaving a border of the white batter on both sides).
  • Bake for 33 to 36 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Place the pan on a wire cooling rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • Put the wire cooling rack on top of the pan. Using oven mitts to protect your hands (pan will still be very hot), carefully flip them both over so that the rack is on the bottom.
  • Gently lift the pan off of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely on the wire rack, about 1 hour.

Make the Glaze and Ice the Cake

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Take a heaping ½ tablespoon of the glaze and place it in a small bowl. Add the red food coloring; stir until well combined. Take another heaping half tablespoon of the glaze and place it in a second small bowl. Add the blue food coloring; stir until well combined.
    Be sure to let the cake cool completely before adding the glaze so it doesn’t melt.
  • Using a spoon, drizzle the white glaze evenly over the cake in a stripe pattern that goes from the center to the outside edge of the cake. Repeat with the red glaze and the blue, using clean spoons for each color (since there is less red and blue, do thinner stripes that are spread out a bit more; you should have enough of each color to go around the cake once).
    I prefer a mostly white glaze with fewer red and blue accents. You can change up the proportions if you'd like. Also, to help prevent the colors from running together, you might want to wait a few minutes between each color to allow the previous one to set up a bit.
  • Slice and enjoy!

Notes

  • We’re using the dry cake mix only for this recipe and not the water or vegetable oil called for on the box.
  • I have only made this cake with the Duncan Hines Perfectly Moist Classic White Cake Mix, and it always turns out awesome. But it should also work with any boxed white cake mix that is 15.25 ounces and calls for 1 cup water (which we will replace with the milk), ½ cup vegetable oil (which we will replace with the melted butter) and 3 egg whites. 
  • The amounts of food coloring shown in the recipe are a guideline only based on the brand and type of food coloring I used and the color I wanted. Different brands and types of food coloring (such as gel) can yield different results. Use as much as you need to get the color you want.
  • Ovens and pans can vary, and so the baking time is just a guideline. Be very careful not to overbake, as this can make your cake dry.
  • The glaze should be easy to drizzle but not too thin (you want those nice colorful stripes to be well-defined and stay on the cake and not run off).
    • To test it, lift out a spoonful and pour it back into the bowl of glaze. It should leave a visible ribbon in the glaze for a few seconds.
    • It’s easy to adjust the glaze if needed. If it’s too thick, add milk, just a few drops at a time, until you get the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, add powdered sugar, a few sprinkles at a time, until you get the desired consistency.
  • Please refer to the post for step-by-step photos, additional info and tips, and info on substitutions, variations and storage instructions. 
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
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