Any sport loving child (or adult) would love these moist chocolate Basketball Cupcakes. They are topped with a Swiss meringue buttercream, orange sprinkles, and licorice laces. If you ask me, these cupcakes are a major slam dunk!

These basketball cupcakes are easy to decorate and they taste delicious! This would be a great treat to make for a boys basketball themed birthday party, March Madness (practically a month-long celebrated holiday in our home), or any basketball themed event. (I mean honestly, they’re so stinking’ cute and they have that whole basketball textured look too, thanks to the orange nonpareil sprinkles).

Basketball decorated cupcakes.

Ingredients & Supplies Needed

Making these festive and cute cupcakes is easy, here are the basic ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 batch of cupcakes (12-15 count)- you can use any cupcake recipe you’d like… chocolate, vanilla! Heck, you could do strawberry, coconut, it’s up to you.
  • Orange sprinkles – I bought this kind on Amazon.
  • Frosting of some kind – I used Swiss meringue buttercream, which oh my gosh, it’s so so so good! Also you can keep the frosting out at room temperature for up to 2 days. Which means you can make these cupcakes in advance and they’ll still taste amazing after 2 days. (I would know, because I was eating these cupcakes several days after making them. I just want to note, if I hadn’t known they were 2-3 days old, I never would have guessed it). Could use chocolate buttercream if you’d like.
  • Licorice laces – these are used to make the basketball laces on the cupcakes.

A few notes about the licorice laces, I couldn’t find any black ones so I made my own. Instructions on how to do this are found below the “Ingredients and Supplies Needed” section.

Chocolate cupcakes covered in Swiss meringue buttercream, orange sprinkles and black licorice laces to replicate a basketball.

DIY Black Basketball Candy Laces

In order to make my own diy black licorice laces all I did was take regular red licorice laces and dye them black.

Place 1/2 teaspoon of water and 1-2 drops of black food coloring GEL in a plastic cup or bowl. Mix the gel into the water.

Next, place your hand in a small ziplock bag or use a food safety glove. This is an important step because it prevents your hands from being completely covered in food coloring.

Place 5-6 licorice laces in the cup (or bowl) and use your ziploc-covered-hand to coat the laces in the food coloring.

Place the colored laces on a large piece of wax paper and let dry before using on the cupcakes.

A chocolate cupcake covered in white Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

How to make basketball cupcakes

  1. Bake the cupcakes. Once baked, let them cool before frosting them.
  2. Frost the cooled cupcakes with your frosting of choice. I used Swiss meringue buttercream.
  3. Dip cupcake tops in orange sprinkles.
  4. Arrange licorice laces to resemble a real basketball. Place 3 parallel to one another, with the outer two laces curved towards the edge. Place a fourth and final lace over the top of the cupcakes, lengthwise or perpendicular to the 3 laces. Gently press the laces into the frosting and sprinkles to adhere.

A cupcake covered in orange sprinkles.

Tips & Tricks

  • Place the orange sprinkles in a small bowl rather than on a plate.
  • If you can find black licorice laces, great, it will save you time from having to dye the red licorice black.
  • Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes then use a knife or offset spatula to round off the frosting so that it’s smooth and has a slight dome look to it. Piping the frosting on ensured even amounts of frosting used on each dessert.

A chocolate cupcake decorated to look like a basketball.

I really hope you love cupcakes as much as I do. Here are a few of my favorites. Be sure to check them out and make them!

Cupcake and cake recipes to make

A close up photo of chocolate cupcakes decorated to look like basketballs.

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Basketball Cupcakes

Moist cupcakes are topped with Swiss meringue buttercream, orange sprinkles, and licorice laces. Any sport loving individual would think these cupcakes are a major slam dunk!
prep time 35 mins
cook time 15 mins
Assemble the cupcakes 30 mins
total time 1 hr 20 mins
servings: 13 cupcakes
calories: 152kcal

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 batch Swiss meringue buttercream recipe
  • orange sprinkles
  • black licorice laces see notes for instructions on dying red licorice laces black.

Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup hot water or hot coffee
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with liners and set aside. In bowl of an electric mixer whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  • In a large liquid measuring cup whisk the egg, buttermilk, hot water (or coffee), oil and vanilla. 
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix for another 30 seconds. 
  • Scoop (pour) the batter into the cupcake liners, the batter is very very thin, filling only halfway full, or up to 2/3 full but no more! 
  • Bake for 13-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. 
  • Remove from the oven and allow cupcakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. 

Assemble

  • Pipe an even amount of frosting onto each cupcake. Using a knife or offset spatula, spread the frosting into a nice roundish dome. . 
  • Place the orange sprinkles in a small bowl. 
  • Dip the frosting covered cupcakes in the sprinkles, rolling the top of the cupcake around to get full sprinkle coverage. 
  • Cut 3 inch strands of black licorice laces. Place 3 parallel to one another, with the outer two laces curved towards the edge. Place a fourth and final lace over the top of the cupcakes, lengthwise or perpendicular to the 3 laces. Gently press the laces into the frosting and sprinkles to adhere. 
  • Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

Video

RECIPE NOTES

Prep time doesn't include the time it takes to make the Swiss meringue buttercream
To make black licorice laces using red licorice:
Place 1/2 teaspoon of water and 1-2 drops of black food coloring GEL in a plastic cup or bowl. Mix the gel into the water.
Next, place your hand in a small ziplock bag (or use food safety gloves). This is an important step because it prevents your hands from being completely covered in food coloring.
Place 5-6 licorice laces in the cup (or bowl) and use your ziplock-bag-covered-hand to coat the laces in the food coloring.
Place the colored laces on a large piece of wax paper and let dry before using on the cupcakes.
Nutritional information is based on 1 serving and doesn't include the frosting or licorice. 
Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 233mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 39IU | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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