How to Make Lightning McQueen Cupcakes

cars lightning mcqueen cupcake toppers

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Ka-Chow! Who doesn’t Owen Wilson’s Cars character Lightning McQueen? This adorable Lightning McQueen Cupcakes-inspired recipe is all over it! Whether you are a movie fan like we are or are planning that Cars birthday party, these adorable cupcakes are more than worth the effort.

How to Make Lightning McQueen Cupcakes

I know these seem like a bit of work, but most of that can be done in advance – like baking the cupcake bases and holding them in the freezer, or even making the “chocolate” icing transfers.

How to Make Lightning McQueen Cupcakes

Yup – these are a fun and perfect way to help celebrate any Lightning McQueen Birthday. Other fun treats you can add would be Cars Snack Mix, Cars Rice Krispy Treats, and even an activity like using egg cartons to make these adorable little cars! You can use this fun BINGO printable for another activity unless you want to step it up and try this popsicle craft cars idea.

Don’t forget your Rust-Eze Cars Transmission Fluid Punch and, before you know it, you are celebrating in style!

Lightning McQueen Cupcakes Car

That is what we are going to use the icing transfers to make – a car out of the mound of red frosting. It makes these a breeze on the assembly line when it is time to put them all together.

Check out this clip of Lightning McQueen vs. Cruz Ramirez!

Lightning McQueen Edible Cupcake Toppers

A lot of people rely on fondant here. There is just one problem with that: it has a short window of time before you need to eat them. By making icing transfers, you have an edible cupcake topper that will last a heck of a lot longer and let you have a little grace time before putting the Lightning McQueen Cupcakes together.

Ingredients for the icing transfers

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 C powder sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • red, black, blue, and yellow food dye

Equipment you need:

  • five piping bags fitted with the number 2 tip
  • Lightning McQueen’s eyes image from google
  • pen or pencil to trace the image
  • piece of white paper
  • Cookie sheet
  • parchment paper
  • 5 bowls

Directions to make the Lightning McQueen transfers

Locate the image of Lightning McQueen’s eyes on google and print it out. Take your piece of paper and place it on top of the image. Using a pen or pencil trace the image onto the white paper about 3-4 times 4 inches apart. Place the paper with the copies onto the cookie sheet.

Lightning McQueen Cupcakes car

Fit a sheet of parchment paper onto the cookie sheet and tape the edges so that you have a smooth flat area.

Using the standing mixer, combine the powder sugar, egg whites, cream of tarter and vanilla and mix on medium speed  if the royal icing is still a yellow soup, add in 1/2 C powder sugar.

Continue to mix until you get stiff peaks. Evenly divide the icing into the five bowls:

  • Add a few red drops into the first bowl and mix until combined.
  • Add a few more drops to get the shade of red that you want
  • Add a few blue drops to the second bowl
  • Add a few yellow drops to the third bowl
  • Add a few black drops to the fourth bowl
  • Leave the white icing in the fifth bowl white

Scoop the icing colors into a piping bag. Using the black icing, outline the place lines on Lighting’s eyes. Using the red icing, fill in the top part red.

Lightning McQueen Edible Cupcake Toppers

Using the white icing, fill in the bottom part white.

Lightning McQueen Edible Cupcake Toppers

Using the blue icing, add two blue dots for his eyes.

Using the black icing again, add a dot into the center of the blue dot for his pupils. Using the yellow icing, below Lightning’s eyes on an empty space on the cookie sheet, pipe on 24 small yellow dots for Lightning’s headlights.

Using the black icing, pipe on 48 medium-sized black circles for the tires. Set aside for 1 day to dry.

How to Make Lightning McQueen Cupcake Bases

This recipe is for making the cupcake bases ALMOST from scratch. You COULD use a boxed cake mix if you wanted to. We have talked before about how to dress up a boxed cake mix – and no one would really know.

This recipe will make 12 cupcakes.

Lightning McQueen Cupcakes Ingredients:

  • 1 box of french vanilla cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) of softened unsalted sweet cream butter
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1TBSP pure vanilla bean paste
  • cupcake liners
  • cupcake pan

Directions for Lightning McQueen Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with the liners. In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, milk, and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined.

Using a medium ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and fill about 3/4 of the way full. Bake in the oven for about 21 minutes. Pull out and place on the side to cool.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 C unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 C powder sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-5 TBSP heavy whipping cream
  • Red food coloring
  • medium star tip and pastry bag

Lightning McQueen Cupcake Assembly Directions 

Using a standing mixer, combine all ingredients except the food coloring into the bowl and mix on medium speed. If your frosting starts looking like powdery rocks, add another tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. Mix until you see creamy stiffed peaks. Separate the frosting into three bowls.

Add red dye into the bowl and mix until combined. Add a few more drops in to get a bright red. Fit the star tip into the piping bag. Scoop the red frosting into the piping bag. Twist the top of the piping bag and squeeze the frosting down. Take your cooled cupcake and frosting the cupcake from the outer edge.

Gently peel off Lightning’s eyes and place them onto the top center of the cupcake. Add two yellow dots below his eyes, in the corner for the headlights. Add 4 black dots, 2 on each side, for tires.

ready to eat lightning mcqueen cupcakes

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