Back-to-School Apple-Shaped Cupcakes

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so what does an Apple-Shaped Cupcake do? Make a day more delightful— especially if it’s a school day!

Kids might not regularly bring apples to their teachers anymore, but we think it’s time to bring the tradition back with a sweet, fun twist as a special occasion treat, and these cupcakes are just the thing to do it. Yes, these are regular cupcakes, just shaped and decorated to look like everybody’s favorite symbol of the back-to-school season.

Even better? They’re not only easy to make, you can use a boxed cake mix and canned frosting! (Of course, your favorite homemade recipes will work wonderfully, too.) Everybody will think you got them at a bakery, and your child’s teacher will be sure to give you an A.

What’s better than that? Let us show you how to make them, then read on for the step-by-step instructions.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • Muffin pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Aluminum foil or small marbles
  • 1 box cake mix (or your favorite homemade cake recipe)
  • Ingredients called for on box (eggs, water, oil, etc.) or ingredients called for in your favorite recipe
  • Frosting, canned or your favorite homemade recipe
  • Red food coloring
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Green Slices (green fruit-flavored jelly candies)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Place the cupcake liners in the muffin pan cups.
  2. If you’re using aluminum foil, roll the foil into ½­-inch balls. Place the foil balls – or the marbles, if you’re using those – in between the muffin cup and the liner. The balls will stay in place once the batter is poured.
  3. Make your cake batter according to the boxed mix instructions, or according to your recipe.
  4. Pour the batter into the liners, holding down each one as you pour.
  5. Bake the cupcakes according to the mix instructions or to your recipe’s directions. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  6. If you are using homemade frosting, make it while the cupcakes bake and cool. If you are using canned, make sure it’s at a mixable and spreadable temperature.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the frosting with enough red food coloring to make red frosting. The amount you need will vary depending on kind of coloring you use. Frost the cupcakes.
  8. Gently press a pretzel stick ¾ of the way into the indent formed by the ball at the top of the cupcake. Take care not to press through the other side of the cupcake.
  9. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut the green candy slices into shapes resembling apple leaves. Press each leaf piece next to the pretzel and on the frosting to get it to stick securely to the cupcake.

Easy AND adorable! We love that this simple method works with whatever cupcake flavors and recipes you want, make it endlessly adaptable for your family’s or your child’s school’s needs. They’ll absolutely be the hit of the next bake sale.

What do you think of these Apple-Shaped Cupcakes? Will you give them a try? Which flavors will you make? Are there any other seasons or holidays you think this baking trick could help with?

Recipe adapted from Make And Takes