Easy Cake Decorating Ideas with M&Ms

m&m birthday cake by 17Apart

M&M Fourth Birthday Cake from 17 APART.

Are you looking for a decorating method that doesn’t require mad cake skills and still looks impressive?  Try an M&M cake!  And even if you do have mad cake skills, you may find yourself wanting to create one anyway.

M&Ms are a beloved candy and have been for many decades.  They’re more popular than ever, with new flavors, colors, and options.  Yet, they also convey a comfortable, friendly sense of nostalgia.  Our kids are growing up with them, just as we did, and our parents did, and even our grandparents. 

So they’re a perfect choice for decorating a cake to celebrate a special day, for young or old alike!

Nothing will inspire you more than to look at really great cakes that others have created.  I found such a range of designs for different occasions, from a kids birthday to a formal wedding.  And styles are anything from colorful and bold to subtle and sophisticated.  With a little creativity, you really can create a memorable cake for a memorable day.

captain america shield cake make with m&ms

M&M Captain America Shield Cake from Making of a Mom.

rubiks cube cake with m&ms

M&M Rubiks Cube Cake from Jeanne Winters.

m&m cake

M&M Rainbow Candy Mosaic Cake from Sugar and Sparrow.


M&M Ombre Wedding Cake originally published by Martha Stewart Weddings.

This rainbow cake is shown using Skittles, but would look just as good using M&Ms.

Pixel Art with M&Ms

If you can place M&Ms in a straight row, you can create fun, edible pixel art!  It’s very popular, with both adults and kids, and just happens to lend itself perfectly to M&M cake designs.  Just think of one candy as a pixel and you’ll get the idea.  You can create a pixelated version of most anything (even superheroes that kids love). And it has a trendy, retro vibe.  What could be easier than following a template and ending up with a cake that gets a big smile from your little one.

Pixel Art Examples

Not sure what I’m talking about?  It’s easier for me to show you than explain it.  Here are some cute examples.

Pixel Art-Style M&M Cakes

Now you can see how this style translates so nicely with M&Ms.  All it takes is a template to follow and the colors you want. No fancy equipment or baking skills required, just you and a frosted cake. Below are a few examples of popular characters (notice one is for a 30th birthday) from Mario Bros.  But it’s not just about Mario.  Check out the links in the next section to see many more ideas.

Where to Find Pixel Art Inspiration

Ideas for a Pixel Art M&M cake can come from some surprising places that you may not think of right away.  I’ve collected several resources here for you to explore as you’re deciding on a design. But really these are just a drop in the bucket.  There are thousands of Perler Bead patterns, cross stitch pattens, and pixel art images online.  It’s just a matter of finding or creating the right one.

It’s important to note that most of these are not going to be the right dimensions to fit on a cake.  But some will be.  And if you find something you really like, you may be able to make adjustments so it works.

M&M Pixel Art Tips

  • The design you use will have to fit on your cake, which depends on the cake size and the size of the M&Ms you use.  Keep this in mind before buying your supplies.
  • Lay out your design on a grid before attempting to put it on the cake.

Gravity Defying M&M Cake

‘Gravity defying’ cakes of all types are really popular.  And why not?  There are so many themes you can use for this style. The M&M version looks quite striking with an avalanche of brightly colored candies cascading down the side of the cake.  How is that bag seemingly suspended above, pouring down onto the cake? For as dramatic as it looks, it isn’t as hard to make as you may think.  If you’re not into neatly placing the M&Ms in a design, this might be a great option. So if you’re feeling a little ambitious, follow these directions and wow your friends and family!

M&M Colors and Sizes

What would M&Ms be without their vibrant colors?  They’d still taste as good, but honestly I wouldn’t be as excited to eat a handful of all brown candies.  And we all have our favorites.  In fact, some people have even proposed what our favorite color M&M says about us.  Hmm, I’m not too sure about that!  I would love to see purple become part of the regular packs again (like it was until 1949).  But at least purple-lovers like me have the option of buying 2 different shades as specialty colors in bulk.  I’m sure I’m not alone when I say “the more colors the better!”
COLORS

Color plays a huge role in the charm and success of M&Ms candies.  And when you’re using them for decoration, the more you have to choose from the better.

We’re all familiar with the most common M&Ms: 

  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Brown

But did you know that M&Ms are also made in a whole rainbow of specialty colors?  You can also purchase:

  • Dark Pink
  • White
  • Pink
  • Gold
  • Electric Green
  • Dark Green
  • Platinum
  • Teal
  • Aqua
  • Cream
  • Light Blue
  • Light Purple
  • Purple
  • Silver
  • Pearl
  • Dark Blue
  • Black
  • Maroon

Note:  Specialty colors are only available in regular size.

m&m colors
SIZES

For cake decorating purposes, I’m focusing on regular shaped M&Ms (not peanut, peanut butter, almond, or any of the other filled flavors).

There are 3 sizes (approximate):

  • Mega – 3/4″ Diameter
  • Regular – 1/2″ Diameter
  • Mini 3/8″ Diameter

Buying M&Ms

The standard 6-color mix is available pretty much anywhere!  But if you want specialty colors, here’s how and where to find them.

Seasonal or Limited Editions

LIMITED EDITION MIXES
New flavors (and therefore new color mixes) are regularly introduced as limited editions, and are sold in the same places you buy the regular M&Ms. If you find a combination you like, you may want to stock up, since they’re not a permanent addition to the M&M lineup. Examples of limited edition flavors are Orange/Vanilla Cream (orange and white mix) and White Cheesecake (pale pink, cream, and white mix).

SEASONAL & HOLIDAY MIXES
Seasonal and holiday color mixes come around regularly each year.  You can also buy them in the same places that carry regular M&Ms.  

  • Harvest Mix
    September – November
    Red, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Maroon
  • Christmas Mix
    November – January
    Red, Green, Dark Green, White
  • Valentine’s Day Mix
    February – March
    Red, Dark Red, Pink, Dark Pink, White, Purple
  • Easter Mix
    March – May
    Pastel Blue, Pastel Green, Pastel Pink, Pastel Yellow, Pastel Purple
  • Fourth of July Mix
    June-July
    Red, White, and Blue

Single Colors & Color Mixes

You can get any color, any time. But you won’t be able to stop in and pick them up at your local store (unless you live near an official M&M Store). You’ll most likely need to order them online, and here are a few options to consider.

M&M Official Website

  • The upsides to buying from the official website are (1) they’re always in stock, (2) they offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount, and (3) they sell the widest variety of bag sizes (1lb, 2lb, 5lb, and 10lb).
  • Most expensive option.

Amazon.com

  • This page has a good selection of colors in 2 lb. bags.  They appear to be in factory packaging, but are not sold directly from the manufacturer.  The reviews indicate that there is a risk of receiving broken or heat-damaged candies.
  • Slightly less expensive than the official website prices.

Ohnuts.com  *Top Choice*

  • Has a great selection of individual colors, color combinations, and pre-printed messages.
  • Available in 2 lb bags and 10 lb cases
  • Offers color combinations that are not on the official site
  • Offers heat resistant packaging during warmer weather
  • Good customer reviews
  • Best prices, significantly below the official website

Tutorials and Templates

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