How to Convert Cake into Cupcakes (and Cupcakes into Cake!)

How to Convert Cake into Cupcakes (and Cupcakes into Cake!)

March 29th, 2021

This is your ultimate conversion guide for how to convert a cake recipe into cupcakes (and your favorite cupcake recipes into cake)!

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As beautiful and impressive as they are, sometimes you just don’t want to bake an entire layer cake.

The construction and decorating of a layer cake, let alone the stress of transporting it anywhere, can be a hassle. Even slicing and serving a cake at a party can be a whole production.

Cupcakes are easier, quicker, and less stressful. Especially when serving a crowd! They’re perfect for outdoor gatherings like picnics or kids’ birthday parties. Not everyone wants an entire slice of cake to themselves… but I know few people who will turn down a cupcake!

This article will show you every step of how to transform a cake recipe into cupcakes.

Three 6 inch brownie cake layers

How to Make Cake Into Cupcakes (and vice versa!)

Conversion Guidelines:

The below yields and baking times are approximations and will vary depending on the recipe used, how much you fill your cavities, and even the brand of baking pan used. These guidelines can be used both ways, so that you can convert any cake recipe into cupcakes, and any cupcakes recipe into a cake. Use the sensory indications given by the original recipe for doneness to assess the baking time, such as using a cake tester or toothpick or observing the color or texture.

Three 6-inch round cake layers = 24 standard cupcakes

Baking Times:

  • Standard cupcakes: 18 to 22 minutes at 350°F
  • 6-inch round cake: 25 to 30 minutes at 350°F

Two 8-inch round cake layers = 18 to 24 standard cupcakes

Baking Times:

  • Standard cupcakes: 18 to 22 minutes at 350°F
  • 8-inch round cake: 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F

Two 9-inch round cake layers = 24 standard cupcakes

Baking Times:

  • Standard cupcakes: 18 to 22 minutes at 350°F
  • 9-inch round cake: 25 to 30 minutes at 350°F

One 10-inch bundt pan =  24 cupcakes

Baking Time: 10-inch bundt pan: 50 to 60 minutes at 350°F

One 9 by 13-inch baking pan = 24 to 36 standard cupcakes

Baking Time: 9 by 13-inch pan: 30 minutes at 350°F

Conversion Guidelines for MINI Cupcakes:

Baking Time: Mini cupcakes: 9 to 12 minutes at 350°F

Three 6-inch round cake layers = 72 mini cupcakes

Two 8-inch round cake layers = 54-72 mini cupcakes

Two 9-inch round cake layers = 72 mini cupcakes

One 10-inch bundt pan = 72 mini cupcakes

One 9 by 13-inch baking pan: 72-108 mini cupcakes

Conversion Guidelines for JUMBO Cupcakes:

Baking Time: Jumbo cupcakes: 22 minutes at 350°F

Three 6-inch round cake layers = 12 jumbo cupcakes

Two 8-inch round cake layers = 9-12 jumbo cupcakes

Two 9-inch round cake layers = 12 jumbo cupcakes

One 10-inch bundt pan = 12 jumbo cupcakes

One 9 by 13-inch baking pan: 12-24 jumbo cupcakes

Step 1: Prepare Cake Batter for Cupcakes

Prepare the batter normally as the recipe directs. No need to make any changes unless you’re scaling a layer cake recipe down for less cupcakes.

Here are some of my favorite cake recipes that work well as cupcakes:

Recipes You Shouldn’t Turn Into Cupcakes:

  • Angel food cake – this must be baked in a special unlined aluminum angel food cake tube pan to turn out as intended.
  • Sponge cakes – these will be short and dry as cupcakes.
  • Flourless chocolate cake – cupcakes need flour to provide structure and stability.
  • Pound cakes – these are generally too dense for the shape of cupcakes.
Yellow Cake Batter in a mixing bowl

Step 2: Fill a Cupcake Tin

Line your cupcake tins with paper liners (check out my post on how to prevent cupcakes and muffins from sticking to the liners. Liners are important not just to prevent sticking, but for all the cupcakes to rise properly). 

Underfilled cupcake pans can result in stout, unattractive, crusty, and dry cupcakes. Overfilling can result in a sunken middle or cupcake tops that conjoin while baking.

You want to fill cupcake cavities two thirds to three quarters full of batter. Use a mixing bowl with a spout or a spring-loaded scoop to make quick and efficient work of filling your cavities. 

cupcake liners being placed in cupcake tin to bake cupcakes

Step 3: How to Bake Cupcakes from a Cake Recipe

Bake at the same temperature called for in the recipe. If converting from an 8 or 9-inch layer cake recipe, you’ll only need to reduce the baking time by about 10 to 15 percent. If baking from a 9 by 13-inch cake recipe, you’ll need to reduce the baking time more.

Generally, most cupcake recipes bake in 17 to 20 minutes. Start at the low end, quickly test for doneness, and continue baking until done.

How to Tell When Cupcakes Are Done Baking:

  • Cupcakes are done when a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a couple moist crumbs clinging.
  • The internal temperature measured with an instant read thermometer should be around 205° to 210°F.  
  • The tops should spring back lightly when pressed. 
  • Your cupcake may look ever so slightly moist on top – it should finish cooking from the residual heat when removed from the oven.
moist chocolate cupcake before being frosted

Step 4: Frosting!

How Much Frosting Do Cupcakes Need?

One of the great joys of cupcakes is that you get more frosting per serving than a layer cake. You’ll need more frosting for cupcakes than layer cake, especially if you like a fairly generous amount or plan to use a decorating piping tip.

Generally, you’ll need to double the frosting in a layer cake to make cupcakes. Below are some rough conversions. I overestimated because it’s better to have too much frosting than not enough! Feel free to scale up by 1.5 instead of twice the amount.

Three 6-inch or Two 8 or 9-inch cake layers = 3 cups frosting

12 cupcakes = 3 cups frosting (generous amount)

24 cupcakes = 6 cups frosting (generous amount)

Mixing bowl of coconut buttercream frosting for cupcakes

Bonus Tips!

  1. Bake a test cupcake first! Portion out one cupcake and bake to assess how much to fill the pan cavity and how long to bake.
  2. Cake and cupcake recipes are sometimes formulated differently to suit their different purposes. When I’m creating a cupcake recipe, I like something a little sturdier to hold up to a generous amount of frosting but with a looser spongier crumb. With layer cakes, I like something with a tighter crumb. That’s why you may observe differences when looking at cake vs. cupcake recipes.
  3. This guide can be used both ways – so, this works for converting cupcakes into cake, but also for converting cake into cupcakes.
decorating chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin and Lauren Hansen.

More Science of Baking Articles You’ll Love:

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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  1. #
    Wendy — November 1, 2023 at 7:06 am

    Dear Tessa,

    Love your blog which teaches me extra Science knowledge. Thanks for sharing! I am wonder if you could advise how to convert Cake to mini cake as our friends tend to have mini cake instead of cutting into pieces normal whole cake. Any recommendation?? Thanks!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — November 1, 2023 at 1:11 pm

      Hi Wendy! So glad to hear that you’re loving Tessa’s tips and information!! We don’t have a great deal of experience baking mini cakes, and the answer to your question will differ between each size of mini cake, and the specific recipe you’re using. I would recommend following Tessa’s instructions for the regular or jumbo-sized cupcakes, depending on your pans’ sizes. You may need to bake a little longer, but follow the sensory indicators in the recipe (eg ‘bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean’ etc.) more closely than the time given. I hope that’s helpful! Happy baking 🙂

  2. #
    OOPA — August 7, 2023 at 5:37 am

    Been looking for a chocolate cupcake recipe without cocoa powder. Glad i found this. My query… I dont want to do any frosting. Want to eat the cupcake as it is. Do I need to increase the sugar to compensate?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — August 7, 2023 at 9:49 am

      Hi there! Enjoying a cupcake without frosting is totally up to you/personal preference, but changing the levels of sugar in baked goods will have big results – learn more about this here.

  3. #
    Grace — March 12, 2023 at 9:48 am

    I made cupcakes with this recipe. Super delicious! 350 degrees for 20min and half the frosting recipe was perfect for exactly 24 cupcakes!

  4. #
    JAY TALLON — June 5, 2022 at 6:48 am

    I tasted a recipe for a lemon cake that was really light and fluffy; it only had very limited instructions. I have tried to get it light and fluffy but it always seems to come out much firmer than the one I tasted and I think it may be in the combining of ingredient and whisking it. It has gluten free flour 240 gms SF flour, 300 caster Sugar, 25 gms dark rum, rinds of 3 lemons, 140 gms heavy cream, 250 gms eggs, 40gms rapeseed oil and 40 gms unsalted butter, salt. the instructions are to whisk the eggs, cream and sugar then add flour, then run and butter and oil, whisk until combined and that is it. The one I tasted was the lightest cake I have ever had and the most delicious. I can get the top half of the lemon cake fluffy but it is denser below. I was wondering – do you think you have to beat your eggs with the sugar and cream (mine came out runny) or just the eggs and sugar and then add cream and rest of ingredients or do you think there is another way to get this light and fluffy. I have tried lots of different experiment but with no such luck. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. very best Jay. PS love your site.!!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 6, 2022 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Jay! Every cake is different, and many cakes have many different methods of preparing, so it’s really hard to say. Most American cakes, for example, will generally ask you to cream the butter/sugar together, then whisk in the eggs, and lastly the dry ingredients (flour, salt, leavening agent, etc). Your cake directions there are very different from that! So, that being said, Handle the Heat’s universal best tips for cake success are:
      – Don’t overmix! Incorporate flour with a light hand and fold it in very gently. Overmixing will always result in a denser, heavier cake.
      – It looks like you’re already doing this from the measurements you have listed there, but always weigh your ingredients. Don’t measure by volume. Tessa talks about why this is so important in this article here!
      – Make sure your leavening agents are fresh. Expired baking powder/baking soda won’t lift your cake to be light and fluffy! Tessa talks about this, and how to test for freshness, in this article here!
      I hope that helps! Good luck on your adventures to make the perfect cake! 🙂

  5. #
    Sky M — November 29, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    Hi! Based on the above, if I wanted to convert the peppermint mocha cupcake recipe into a two layer 8 inch cake, I think I should double the cupcake recipe correct? 1.5 times seems to little for two 8 inch cakes. Can you confirm?

    • #
      Emily — December 1, 2021 at 11:26 am

      Hi Sky! The yield for our Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes is 15 cupcakes. Two 8-inch round cake layers = 18 to 24 cupcakes, but just to be safe, I’d recommend doubling the cupcake recipe. You can always bake up any remaining batter into cupcakes to “taste test” 🙂 I hope that helps! Please let us know how it goes!

  6. #
    Kathy Coleman — October 28, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    How much Ice cream is needed to add ice cream to a half sheet cake?

    • #
      Emily — November 1, 2021 at 3:09 pm

      We haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for sure! I’d suggest looking online for an ice cream sheet cake recipe and following how much is used in their recipe. Sorry I can’t help more!

  7. #
    Kathy Coleman — October 28, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    how to convert a recipe for 30 cupcakes to make a 2 layer half sheet cake?

    • #
      Emily — November 2, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      For a large sheet cake (or two half sheets), you would use about 1.5 times the recipe for an 8” cake, and one 8” cake = 9-12 standard cupcakes per our guide. You’ll have to experiment with your specific cupcake recipe to test out exactly how much you’ll need for sure, and be sure to keep an eye on your cakes as they bake as the timing will be a bit longer for a sheet cake. I hope that helps!

  8. #
    Kathy Coleman — October 21, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    How do I convert a cupcake recipe to make a 2 layer 12 x 18 inch cake?

    • #
      Emily — October 22, 2021 at 9:22 am

      Hi Kathy! A 12×18-inch baking pan is about double the area of a 9×13-inch baking pan. With that in mind, you should be able to follow along with the cupcakes to 9×13-inch baking pan guidelines, just know that the amount you’re looking for will almost be quadrupled (due to two layers), and your timing will be a bit different due to the different sized pan. I’d suggest experimenting with one 12×18-inch pan first to ensure you’ve got the timing down. Hope that helps!

  9. #
    Victoria L DiMaria — September 30, 2021 at 7:10 am

    Hello, I love your recipes! Just a quick question, if a cake recipe calls for 3 large eggs and 1 egg white and I am making it into cupcakes and want to cut the recipe in half. How do I determine how may eggs and egg white? Thank you in advance

    • #
      Emily — September 30, 2021 at 9:17 am

      Hi Victoria! If you need to cut a recipe in half that calls for one large egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and beat well. Let it settle, then measure out two tablespoons for the recipe. You would do the same for egg whites, but half of an egg white equals approximately 1 tablespoon. Hope that helps!

  10. #
    Patti C — April 1, 2021 at 10:01 am

    What is the conversion from cake to jumbo cupcakes. Thanks

    • #
      Tessa — April 2, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      Just added this to the post, thanks Patti! 🙂

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