Small batch fun and festive lion cupcakes

Perfect for parties, bake sales and more!

I have always been a big fan of cupcakes. Not only are they quicker and easier to serve than cake, they can be so fun to decorate too. These cuties are inspired by the proverb attributed to the month of March (‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’) and they are a big hit every time I serve them. Just like my small batch maple-bacon cupcakes, this recipe makes a reasonable amount of treats so they’re likely to get polished off quickly and not tempt you for days afterwards. For the lions’ manes, I used Chicago Mix popcorn; some lions were caramel corn, some were cheddar and everyone was happy.


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2. 5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) milk
  • few drops orange (or yellow + red) food colouring

For decorating:

  • small candies for eyes (I used mini m&ms)
  • pretzel twists, trimmed to form mouth and nose shape
  • popped popcorn


  • To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350F and line 10 compartments of a muffin pan with paper liners.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for one minute. Add the vanilla and melted butter and beat until well combined.
  • Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk, and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until evenly blended.
  • Divide the batter evenly among 10 muffin cups (fill each about 2/3 full). Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting; if you have time, frozen cupcakes are even easier to decorate.
  • Make the frosting by beating icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk plus the food colouring. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). If the frosting appears too thick to spread easily, add additional milk as needed, one teaspoon at a time.
  • To decorate, trim the domed top off each cupcake with a serrated knife, to make a flat area for the lion’s face. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes with a knife. Add eyes and mouth, then place popcorn around the outside to form the mane.

Makes 10 cupcakes.

This original recipe, created by Paula Roy, first appeared at

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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