How to Make Elmo-Inspired Cupcakes, Because Your Kids Can’t Get Enough of ‘Sesame Street’

elmo cat hero

In my toddler’s mind, there is no cooler celebrity than Elmo. Lizzo may be a close second (can anyone resist her music?!), but truly, Elmo takes the cake. Which is why, when I was searching for fun ways to entertain my daughter during quarantine, I decided to surprise her with cupcakes inspired by the perpetually 3-year-old monster. With limited baking supplies on hand—and, admittedly, limited artistic skills—I came up with a simple way to pay tribute to the Sesame Street star. (So simple, in fact, that the whole thing can be demo’ed in 20 seconds in the video below.)

These Elmo-inspired sweets are so easy to make that kids of all ages can get in on the fun. You can use your favorite chocolate cake recipe or just go with a store-bought mix. Ditto for the buttercream frosting (here’s our go-to). Go with what works for you; you’ll get no judgment here.

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  • 6-8 drops red food coloring
  • 16 ounces vanilla buttercream frosting
  • 18 baked chocolate cupcakes, cooled
  • 18 orange mini M&Ms or candy-coated chocolates
  • Red sanding sugar
  • 36 mini marshmallows
  • Black gel frosting


  1. Add red food coloring to buttercream frosting a few drops at a time, stirring between each addition, until it’s a bright red. Cover the cupcakes with an even layer of frosting.
  2. Pour red sanding sugar into a shallow dish or bowl. Dip each frosted cupcake into the sanding sugar, pressing down lightly enough to coat the frosting in grains of sugar.
  3. Use your fingers to flatten a mini marshmallow, creating each eye. (This makes them just the right size for Elmo’s face and prevents them from flipping over when you pick up the cupcakes later.) Gently press two onto each frosted cupcake.
  4. Add an orange mini M&M just under and between the marshmallow eyes.
  5. Use gel frosting to dot pupils onto the marshmallow eyes and draw a smile on each cupcake. 

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candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...