It’s become tradition. Each year for Gabe’s birthday I make him a boxed cake. Rainbow chip. It’s his favorite. A couple years ago I made the horrible mistake of buying Funfetti.

Not the same.

The following year we went to several different grocery stores until we found Rainbow Chip. Well worth the effort.

The lure of this cake is in the frosting. White so bright it illuminates the colorful miniature chips that are dotted throughout. Creamy and perfectly smooth until you bump into one of those sweet and slow-melting pieces of who-knows-what.

I have to admit. I do quite like that cake.


But the baker in me dies just a little each year when I rip into that box of powdery mix. And when I tear off the aluminum sheath that keeps the “freshness” of the frosting locked in I feel as if I am betraying my craft.

It’s in the name of love. My man loves his rainbow chip. I don’t blame him. There are certain tastes of our past that are so saturated with pleasant memories that we can’t help but want to relive them again and again.  For me it’s Dairy Queen ice cream cake. Chocolate and vanilla ice cream, chewy fudge sauce, chocolate cookie crumbles, and the unidentifiable whipped topping that magically never freezes.

This year I decided to say no to the box mix while still saying yes to rainbow chip. But for it to pass the approval of Gabe it had to be just right. So closely resembling his beloved cake and all that he adores about it that even his discerning palate would be hard-pressed to note the difference.


I knew I needed to start testing early. So for my birthday I tested his birthday cake. (My birthday isn’t until next week but really it seems so silly to me that birthdays last only one day – so last Saturday I declared it officially my birthday week – I threw in a couple extra days for good measure).

I am happy to report that this cake has been given the Gabe seal of approval. Sure there are plenty of differences between my cake and the boxed cake. Mine has thousands of little black seeds scattered throughout the frosting imparting a deep, floral vanilla flavor while still letting the chips shine. My cake has a rich, buttery tastes that comes from… well, butter. What my cake and the box cake do have in common is that they both go really well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and they both manage to make Gabe smile.


A few tips on cake baking and frosting

* Always finish mixing the batter by hand. Stop the mixer when there are still streaks of flour and gently finish stirring by hand. This helps to prevent over-working the batter which would leave you with a tough cake. No one wants a tough cake.

* Go by feel, not by time. Every oven is different. Get to know what your cake feels like and looks like when it’s ready to be pulled from the oven. This cake will gently spring back when pressed.

* A cake turntable is a wonderful tool and makes frosting so much easier, but if you don’t have one simply invert a bowl and place a plate on top of that. Cover the plate with three strips of parchment or wax paper then place your cake on that. Frost away then remove the parchment for a perfectly clean plate.


* While slowly turning the turntable hold a bench scraper right up against the side of the cake. This will give your cake perfectly smooths sides – unless you have little rainbow chips catching the scraper. In that case, forget about smooth sides, just eat the cake.


* Start with a large amount of frosting on the cake then gradually remove some once the cake is completely covered.







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Homemade Rainbow Chip Cake

Rainbow Chip Cake

1 cup milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 egg whites (3/4 cup)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup rainbow chips (recipe below)

Pre-heat the oven to 350*. Prepare 2 9″ cake pans (or 24 cupcakes) with parchment then butter and flour.

In a medium bowl whisk to combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the egg whites. Start whipping the whites on low. When frothy add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed to medium. When egg whites start forming very soft peaks gradually add in 3/4 cup of the sugar. Whip the whites until glossy, medium peaks form.

Transfer the whites to a medium bowl and rinse out the bowl of the stand mixer (unless you are lucky enough to have two bowls for your mixer). Fit the mixer with the paddle and cream the butter and the remaining 1 cups sugar until light, 5-7 minutes, on medium. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On low speed add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Then add half of the milk and the vanilla. Alternate until both wet and dry are all added. Stop the mixer before all of the flour is combine. Scrape the bowl and finish mixing by hand so as not to overwork the batter.

With a light hand fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. While some egg white streaks still remain fold in the rest of the whites. Add the rainbow chips. Admire the beauty.

Divide the batter into the cake pans (or cupcake). Bake until the cake springs back when gently pressed. 25-30 minutes for the cake 17-22 minutes for the cupcakes.


Rainbow Chip Frosting

This frosting is a lot sweeter than what I would normally use to top my cakes – but it’s Rainbow Chip – it’s has to be sweet. The cream cheese adds a soft tang that masks the cloying sweetness perfectly. If you have a vanilla bean use it here. The little black flecks love to dance in between the brightly colored chips.

This is enough to frost the two 9″ cakes PLUS leaves you with enough extra for a little graham cracker and frosting snack.

3 sticks butter, room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

3/4 cups rainbow chip (more if you need more brightness in your life)

Cream the butter and the cream cheese until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed add the powdered sugar. Add the cream, starting with 1 tablespoon. If you want a slightly looser frosting add the other tablespoon. Add the salt and vanilla seeds. Once again, scrape down the sides of the bowl then fold in the rainbow chips.

Well covered this frosting will keep in the fridge for up to one week, although some of the food color will start to tint the frosting. I recommend using it right away.


Rainbow Chips

1 11 oz bag white chocolate chips

food color – red, yellow, blue,and green

In a microwave safe bowl melt the white chocolate in 20 second intervals. Stir well. Continue to heat until all the chips are melted.

Divide the melted white chocolate into four small bowls. Add 5-7 drops of color into each bowl. Stir to combine. The white chocolate will seize up a bit but should still be pliable. If not, pop back into the microwave for about 10 seconds.

On a baking sheet covered with parchment empty out each bowl of colored chocolate. Using your hands or an off-set spatula form it into a rough rectangle about 1/4″ thick.

Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes or until set. Once set chop up each color into little pieces.  Taste the rainbow.

91 Responses to “Homemade Rainbow Chip Cake”

  1. evylynn

    Wow. That is true love–being a baker but still being willing to make a cake from a box.

  2. Katrina

    Oh my goodness, this cake is not only beautiful but so creative! I love how you homemade your own chips! Awesome.

  3. Emma

    Amazing! In Canada, this cake is known as Rainbow Bit and I LOVE IT! Can’t wait to try your recipe. Rainbow bit/chip lovers of the world, rejoice!

  4. Angharad

    This is about the most cute thing I’ve seen in a while! The rainbow chips are pretty much a genius idea.

  5. Sara

    Wow. I have never been so impressed! That is incredible – the chips are just brilliant. Wishing you a fabulous bday week!!

  6. Carrie

    Wow! I’ve always wondered what exactly was in a rainbow chip cake. Looks delicious.

  7. Kaycee

    rainbow chip is my favorite cake too! – or as i often refer to it, funfetti! i will definitely be trying the real deal and will be uber impressed if mine ends up looking half as good as yours. 🙂

  8. Stephanie S

    I love the white chocolate rainbow chips! Makes me much more likely to enjoy this cake then whatever they may be made of in a box mix. I have a friend who is enamored with the funfetti, I’m going to try this instead for her.

  9. alison

    I am so so glad you posted this!!! Rainbow chip is Willy’s all time favorite too and it was our wedding cake haha 😉

    I am totally going to make this when life gets back to normal!!!

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Alison – hahahah. You’re wedding cake?! That is pure awesome. What better way to celebrate the birth of your fourth than with rainbow chip?!

  10. kickpleat

    I’ve never had a rainbow chip cake and now I want one more than I ever imagined possible! I love that you made all the chips – they look so beautiful.

  11. cindy

    you are right….funfetti is SO not rainbow chip. this looks amazing! rainbow chip is my ever favorite childhood cake…i will definitely be making this for someones birthday!

  12. Joyti

    What a pretty, pretty and happy cake! I love those rainbow bits, like instant celebration.

  13. Erilyn

    omg! I have to try this!! There is something about ‘rainbow’ that is so appealing to me!

  14. foodess

    Love it! The rainbow cake was my baker’s dirty secret, too! I guiltily tear into a package once every couple of years.

    The rainbow chips are white chocolate?! In the boxed cake too? What a revelation! That makes me feel so much better about the whole thing! But of course, now that the mystery is solved I will absolutely be making it your way next time…

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Foodess – I’m not sure if the chips are white chocolate in the cake mix – in fact I’m pretty sure they aren’t but they are similar sweetness and consistency. Let me know how it goes!

  15. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    What a show stopping cake! I can’t believe you even made your own rainbow colored chips! I totally understand his affection for this cake, I’m pretty partial to it myself. There’s a bakery near me (Susie Cakes) that makes a cake similar to this and they even call it their “Birthday Cake” it’s one of my favorites!

  16. Elizabeth

    Haha, I love the idea of taking a seemingly-impossible-to make-yourself-because-it-tastes-so-good-from-the-package recipe and making it your own. Very clever!

  17. Kasey

    Omg, this is so fun! I know what you mean about being attached to those deep-rooted traditions. There are just some things you can’t imagine not eating out of a package (nutella is my thing – I keep meaning to make it myself but I feel’s Nutella! It’s how I’ve always eaten it…out of that lopsided jar). In any case, happy birthday WEEK (I’m fully in support of that as well).

  18. Clara

    Hi Ashley- thank you so much for sharing this recipe. To me, rainbow cake is the quintessential cake one is forced to buy in the box. It’s so delicious, but you do feel like you’re giving up something by not making it from scratch. I didn’t even think one could make it from scratch, but your recipe looks even better than the boxed version! I can’t wait to make it. Best wishes for a wonderful birthday!

  19. Erica

    I love this! What did you use to wrap the cupcakes in. It looks like construction paper but how did you get it to stay on?
    I dying to see the bottoms of the cupcakes to learn the trick (do you like how I’m totally not focused on the cake? eep.

  20. Dianna

    Thanks for the recipe! DQ Cake is my favorite too; I can’t figure out an easy way to make it healthy, but making it myself makes me feel a little more like it’s homemade! So if you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen do you think you’ll tackle that one next? This is my way of feeling like it’s home made, but with all the pre-made ingredients, it’s not really!

  21. something_good

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I love your photos & recipes! This cake in particular is a good reason to celebrate Women’s Day (we celebrate it today over here – March 8th).

  22. elizabeth/sophisticated pie

    This is great! I too have a fondness for the cake, but my heart breaks every time I even think about buying boxed mix. What a great idea to make your own… I love, love, love it!!

  23. joey

    you are awesome! bookmarking this page for future reference. i remember loving that icing too, but now that i stay away from box mixes, it seemed impossible. looks like a lot of work, but worth it for a special event (or person!)

  24. Abby

    This looks so delicious. My youngest turns two next week and now I know what to make! Have you ever tried or know anyone who’s tried to make the chips with food dye? Like stale turmeric or beet juice. Those types of things? I know they work with frosting and you can’t taste them but I wonder I’d they’d work the same with the chocolate?

  25. Stacy

    Happy belated birthday week! I appreciate your restraint – I celebrate my birthday month! 🙂

  26. Jess

    Awesome tips! I totally agree with the stirring tip, too. I had to find that out the hard way.

  27. Everywhereist

    Just read your post about homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs, and it led me here. My mind? It is blown. Your husband is the luckiest man alive.

  28. K Wilk

    I am also of the notion that Funfetti is nothing like the rainbow chip cake. There is quite a nostalgia for me in this cake as well, but it’s more so towards the icing. I could eat it out of the can as a child and often did! I am so glad I found this as I have come to accept that even though I can find the cake, I can never find the icing to go with. I never knew what made that icing so good and will be making this asap!

  29. Malini

    I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday and it was a HIT with her friends and the adults at the party.

    Thank you. This recipe is going into my most trusted file.

  30. Towe

    Wow, I have to try this for my daughter’s 1year birthday party this weekend! Beautiful pictures! Cheers, towe.

  31. Lisa

    This is the first thing I have made off your blog (just found it via pinterest) and they were fabulous! I made it into cupcakes using flower paper liners for my 4 year old’s birthday. They were beautiful, colorful and oh so delicious! Thanks! And it doesn’t hurt that people were so impressed by homemade rainbow chips! (“didn’t know you could do that!” =most common comment!)

  32. Chris

    Wow… I just made this recipe a few hours ago after stumbling across your site about a week ago. The cake and frosting turned out amazing! I have always been a huge fan of rainbow chip cake and frosting, but this version blows the box mix and canned versions away. The frosting actually reminds me of Cinnabon’s frosting. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome recipe! I will definitely be making it again.

  33. Cat

    Easier way to make the chips would be to buy those colored white chocolat waffles at bulk stores and just chop those

  34. cactusheart

    Foodess: no, the boxed mix does NOT make rainbow chips with white chocolate. They use the typical white “candy coating” solidified hydrogenated oil formula most manufacturers use. Even Mrs. Fields’ cokies white chocolate macadamia doesn’t use white chocolate anymore. They call it white CHUNK macadamia cookies…chunks of WHAT? Not chocolate! The same white “candy coating”.

    Thanks for posting this recipe, nws. So long I have denied my cravings for rainbow chip as it feels like heresy to use a boxed mix, and that goes double for a boxed cake mix containing more ingredients that came from a lab than a farm! But I will use a different method in making the chips, like: using paste/gel food color to intensify the color without watering the chocolate down or getting it to seize up too much…and using a pastry bag with a medium fine tip onto a parchment. I know it’ll take more time, and will really just turn out dots more than chips, but the results pictured here look more like smooshed fruity pebbles cereal than chips, no offense.

  35. Kea

    I just made the rainbow chips! i think i spread them too thin though… i used gel colours, so i have purple, blue, green, and orange! FANTASTIC idea, i’m going to make your cake tomorrow!!! ( i might have to comment to let you know how that goes)

  36. Kea

    okay, here’s the synopsis:
    I made this cake. It cooked perfectly, except was KIND OF dark on the bottom, so i cut that off, presto, was fine. Then i tried to frost it. I made a cream cheese/vanilla pudding/whipping cream/icing sugar sort of frosting, its kind of a normal one for me. I SUCK at icing cake. I put some of my home made rainbow chips in the middle layer ( i didn’t stir them into icing) then i also used them to decorate the edges. my cake isn’t HALF as pretty as yours…. When a girlfriend and i tasted it, we decided that the texture and look of the cake was fantastic, but the chips made it just a bit sweet for my liking (and i barely sweetened the icing!)

    thanks for the inspiration!! this is the first time i’ve found a recipe and made it the NEXT DAY! usually they just linger in my mind for weeks until i forget where i saw them!

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  38. Megan

    Total success!!! I had a very similar story. I made this cake for a very picky rainbow-chip lover and she admitted that it was actually better! I followed the recipe exactly, though I cut it in half. Thanks so much!

  39. lyndsay

    ashley this is brilliant!

    love the beautiful photos of course and… i am also mad about DQ ice cream cake! as a baker, for my own birthdays i always request one! so funny…

    love this cake and admire your commitment to the rainbow chip!!!

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  41. Ryan

    Ive been missing rainbow chip icing for a while (can’t find it in stores). I would like to suggest butterscotch chips as opposed to white chocolate. Once I tried them and was shocked to suddenly recall rainbow chips! The distinct flavor is butterscotch! Try it with vanilla icing. It’s spot-on! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  42. Vonda

    My little girl is now 27. She always loved rainbow chip cakes as a child but in the last few years I kept trying to impress her with “better” cakes. This year she put her foot down and was going to make her own. She found that the cake and frosting had been discontinued. HORROR!!! I got on line and found your recipe. This weekend I made the cake. It was fun and the recipe was so clear and easy to follow. The cake was a huge success and my picky little girl actually said “This is better than the box.”

  43. Hela

    Can I use white chocolate bar or do I NEED to use white chocolate chips?

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      You can but they may melt into the cake more as chips have something in them that keeps them from melting completely. In the frosting it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.

  44. Cassia

    Wow!!!! I just made this! Well I made the chips and added it to a tub of betty crocker vanilla frosting, I wanted the taste to be as similar to rainbow chip as possible. Ohhhh rainbow chip. My husband’s 30th birthday is in 3 days and for almost his entire life a funfetti cake with rainbow chip frosting has been a tradition, (also my traditional cake from childhood, long before we ever met!) I searched all the stores and could not find it, that’s when I googled it and found out the tragedy of it being discontinued. BUT alas, I came across your site and was too anxious to try it! I was a little skeptical as first, but once it was all mixed up and I tried it, it is VERY similar. Thank you SO SO much for this idea and for posting it! Long live our birthday traditions!!!

    • Angelica

      I was thinking of trying colored white chocolate chips with a can of butter cream frosting. I really hate making frostings lol.

  45. Elena

    Thanks so much for this recipe! My boyfriend loves rainbow chip cake and asked that I make it for his birthday. As someone who also loves to bake too, I died a little inside. I’ll think I will make this cake along with the box cake and see if he can tell the difference 😉

    • mecee

      Hey! First off THANK YOU! This is really the only cake I like and its the only cake I will tolerate on my birthday. I always have it made into an ice cream cake and have for the last decade or more. So I was quite devasted when I found out it was discontinued. My wife came upon this and we decided to make it with the pillsbury confetti cake mix which is rather similar to bettys confetti. But the funfetti frosting isnt the same. So we found this site and made the dots and poured them into vanilla betty frosting and it was spot on. So thank you for saving my birthday. Also a fondeau pot works well for the melting to.

  46. Mary-Claire

    Thank you thank you for posting this recipe!! I’m a pretty picky baker too, albeit not as talented as you, but was devestated to find that my favorite birthday cake from childhood was discontinued! Thanks to the world of Pinterest my birthday was saved! It is tomorrow (you know you’re pretty picky when you bake you own birthday cake) and I made it tonight with such joy. It was a labor of love but waaaayyyy more fun than that boxed stuff anyway 😉 Thanks again, this cake was all I had hoped it would be and more!

  47. Kayla

    I was in the same situation with my husband! He LOVES rainbow chip icing and thats all he wanted for a cake LOL. I searched high and low and multiple stores, but since it’s not sold anymore i obviously had no luck until i found this recipe. I just have to say that this was DELICIOUS. We absolutely loved it! I followed this recipe to a T and it turned out perfect! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  48. Angelica

    I just wanted to say your blog is so funny and had me cracking up. Like, that your birthday should last more than a day. Heck yes! Mine too. Long live birthday weeks!!! Obviously Queens deserve a week. Duh!

    Thanks SO much for these recipes. I’m going to cheat and add the chips to pre-made butter cream frosting and see where that gets me. I’m so lazy. Hehehe.

  49. Sj

    Oh my goodness! I was having rainbow chip frosting withdrawls and made this for my daughter’s birthday. I was a hit! My family said it tasted better than the real stuff and they love rainbow chip. I modified the frosting recipe a little. 2 sticks of butter, 8 oz cream cheese, t vanilla, 2 T of heavy cream, and about 4 cups of powder sugar. It made a lot! I was able to frost about 30 cupcakes, and still have leftovers to fill my whip cream container (8oz size, cool whip), prob for another 30 cupcakes. So good, thanks for the recipe and guidance.

  50. Jennie

    I take request’s for what type of cupcake my friends and loved ones want for their birthday. I never make a cake from a box (at least not directly! although sometimes I cheat and use it as a base) so when a friend asked for funfetti I took it on as a personal challenge. The most difficult part was the chips for the frosting and creating the colorful dots in the cake without adding texture. This rainbow chip recipe was perfect! I don’t know how nobody has thought to simply use white chocolate -GENIUS! I used a very similar recipe for my frosting but added marshmallow fluff (without chips for cupcake filling, with chips for frosting) and it came darn close to the original (but better). I love how the white chocolate adds the sweetness from the original box cake. Thank you for posting this!

  51. Violet

    I’m super excited to try this. What kind of food coloring did you use for this? Liquid/gel/powdered?

  52. Jane Raine

    Hi Ashley,
    I recently purchased your book and am in LOVE with the recipes. I am also a Seattle native and miss living in the NW!
    I made this cake from the book this weekend and it turned out almost inedible, which surprised me as everything else I’ve made has come out perfectly. The cake was dense, heavy, and almost hard to chew! I followed the recipe to the letter. (The frosting and the chips were great!) There is a massive difference between the cake in the book and the one online. Is there a reason for that? Would you recommend one method over another? My husband was in love with this cake, and I want to be able to turn out a better one next time.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Oh I am so sad to hear that. And so confused. Both recipes are lovely but for the book I tested and tested and tested again so if I were to make that cake I would reach for the book. I’ve never had anyone say that it was hard to chew. I have a couple of questions – where do you live (thinking elevation here) and what flour did you use? I would be happy to try and sort this out over email or even a phone call if that is easier. Again, I’m so sorry to hear that! Hearing that a recipe didn’t work out for someone are my least favorite sort of emails/comments to receive. Let’s figure this out!

  53. Brendan

    I love this recipe but if I make then I’ll do it without the artificial dyes.

  54. Dawn

    I made this for my daughter’s 1st birthday. It’s pretty and delicious! Definitely a keeper for future celebrations.

  55. Mollie

    Have you done much work using freeze-dried fruit in frosting as a food coloring substitute? I’ve done it with strawberries and raspberries, and the result is amazing. I just wonder if it’d throw off the quintessential rainbow chip flavor… Considering using freeze dried strawberries, blueberries, and oranges for those colors–then maybe food dye just for the green and blue.