Lion Cupcakes

These adorable Lion Cupcakes are the perfect cute treat for birthdays, baby showers, themed parties or just fun days in general. Easy to find ingredients and minimal work make these Lion Cupcakes roarfully delicious.

If you’re looking for a cute cupcake idea for a birthday or baby shower, these Lion Cupcakes are sure to bring smiles. They are easy to decorate and fit several different themed parties.

Or, if it is a snow day or rainy summer day, this is a great edible craft for kids to get creative with.

lion cupcakes with coconut mane

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Cake mix: You can substitute a lemon flavored cake if you want more flavor or use a white or chocolate cake mix if you prefer.
  • Whole milk: You can substitute any other milk or even use water.
  • Salted butter: You can use unsalted butter and pinch of salt or substitute vegetable oil if you need to do so.
  • Yellow liquid food coloring: You can use gel coloring as well and it will work well for the frosting but it may not work as well with the coconut.
  • White frosting: I used store bought frosting but if you want to make your own, try our favorite white frosting.
collage of how to make yellow coconut and frosting

Tips for Making Lion Cupcakes

These Lion Cupcakes are super easy and the following tips will help make it even easier:

  • Fill the cupcakes ¾ full. I like to make closer to 20 cupcakes so that I have nice, tall, fluffy cupcakes. You don’t want to overfill them but the benefit of having them well filled is that they are easier to decorate than cupcakes that don’t rise above the liner.
  • Decorate the cupcakes one at a time, from start to finish, instead of doing an assembly line and doing the steps on each cupcake before you move on. The reason for this is that the coconut and other decorations will stick better to freshly placed frosting than frosting that has been allowed to harden.
  • Get the family involved! You can certainly do an assembly line if you have enough family members helping out. Get one person frosting, the next rolling the cupcakes in coconut, a third placing the eyes, nose and ears and the last piping on the mouth. There are enough steps to these cupcakes to involve the whole family and they are simple enough that every age can be included.

Storage Instructions

Loosely cover your Lion Cupcakes with plastic wrap and store them at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days but bring them to room temperature before serving them.

If you wish to freeze them, I recommend wrapping them individually and then placing them in a freezer safe container or sealable bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months and thawed overnight in the refrigerator and then brought to room temperature.

a plate of lion cupcakes
a plate of lion cupcakes

Lion Cupcakes

5 from 1 vote
These adorable Lion Cupcakes are the perfect cute treat for birthdays, baby showers, themed parties or just fun days in general.
Servings 24
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes


  • 1 box yellow cake mix (15.25 ounces)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup salted butter melted
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • yellow liquid food coloring
  • 16 ounces white frosting 1 tub
  • 48 candy eyes
  • 24 mini chocolate chips
  • 1 black decorating gel (1 tube, 0.67 ounce)
  • 48 brown M&M candies


  • Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit and line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a medium bowl, use a hand or stand mixer to beat together the cake mix, milk, eggs and melted butter until a smooth, fluffy batter forms, about 2 minutes.
  • Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into each prepared cupcake liner. They should be filled about ¾ way full. Depending on how full the cupcakes are you should be able to fill 20-24 liners.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 19-23 minutes or until they spring back when tapped and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean or with just a couple of crumbs.
  • Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool completely before frosting, about 30-40 minutes.
  • When you are ready to decorate the cupcakes, place half of the coconut in a small bowl and add a few drops of yellow food coloring.
  • Stir the food coloring into the coconut until the coconut is all covered. It will be colored in a gradient of orange with some pieces darker and some lighter. This will work well so don’t worry about them all being the same shade.
  • Add a few drops of yellow food coloring to the frosting and stir until the frosting is an even, light yellow color.
  • Frost each cupcake with a layer of yellow frosting and then dip the edge of the cupcake in the coconut and twist the edge in a circular motion to make a coconut “mane”. The center of the cupcake should be just yellow frosting, with no coconut on it.
  • If the coconut gets low or starts to have only small pieces, add the rest of the bag and a few more drops of coloring and mix it up and then continue decorating.
  • Add two candy eyes to the coconut free center of the cupcakes with a mini chocolate chip below them for a nose. Place the chocolate chip so that the point is pointing down away from the eyes.
  • Use the black decorating icing to draw on a mouth, a line running down from the nose that splits into two “U” shapes.
  • Add two brown M&Ms on either side of the face, in the mane, to be the ears of the lions.
  • Serve your lions with pride!


Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe making 24 cupcakes, with 1 serving being 1 cupcake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**


Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 240mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 171IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 302
Keyword birthday cupcakes

About Julie Clark

We are Julie, Maddie, and Kinslee – a mother and daughter team sharing with you the best cakes to satisfy any need or sweet craving that you may have. Welcome to our family’s kitchen!

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