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Mermaid Tail Cupcakes

Building on the mermaid cake trend, I wanted to make some mermaid cupcakes!

They’re the first cupcake of a cupcakes series I’m starting on YouTube, and I wanted to kick things off with something colorful!

To make these mermaid tail cupcakes, I used my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe. It’s a slightly modified version of Life Love and Sugar’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe.

Mermaid Tail Cupcakes, made with fancy sprinkles and fondant tails

I swapped out the regular milk and used buttermilk (my personal preference!), because I simply love the moisture and tang that buttermilk adds to baked goods.

Another alteration that makes them incredibly easy to make??

The batter for there mermaid cupcakes comes together in one bowl! I hate making extra dishes, and always try to simplify recipes if possible.

To ensure your mermaid cupcakes turn out moist and tender, be sure that you don’t overmix the batter!

Mix it just until the ingredients are incorporated.

It’s also important to make sure that your ingredients are all at room temperature, so that your batter will bake and rise evenly. 

The cutest mermaid tail cupcakes

I like to frost my cupcakes with a half batch of my American buttercream, and usually use a Wilton 1m tip (open star).

Vanilla Mermaid Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (150g)
  • 1 cup sugar (225g) 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt (3g)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (120g) 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (56g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8g)
  • 1 large egg (56g)
  • 1/2 cup water (120g)

Vanilla Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature (226g)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (500g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (2g)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (15g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla (8g)

Additional Decorations/Tools:

  • white fondant
  • tylose powder (optional; accelerates the drying of the fondant)
  • rolling pin
  • pastry cutter
  • purple, sky blue, and green food coloring
  • mermaid colored sprinkles (I used these from Neon Yolk Shop!)

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 18 minutes

Start with the Mermaid Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix.

Pour in the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined.

Next, add in the water, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together.

Mix in the egg until well combined.

Divide the batter evenly between 3 bowls, and color one a light purple, one a light blue, and one green.

Alternate spooning the different colored batters into the cupcake liners, to create a layered look.

MVI_8795_Moment (2)

Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 way full, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Create the Mermaid Tails

While the mermaid cupcakes bake and cool, make the mermaid tails.

Color 1/2 cup white fondant light purple, 1/2 cup light blue, and 1/2 cup light green using gel food coloring.

Knead the color into the fondant, twisting and pulling until the color is evenly spread throughout the fondant.

Add 1/2 tsp of tylose powder to each color, to accelerate the firming process.

If the fondant gets sticky, let is rest for a few minutes, then resume kneading.

Combine the three colors into one long log, and twist the colors together.

Roll this out, the fold one more time repeat to blend the colors together.


Cut out a 2 inch mermaid tail from cardboard, and use this a template to cut out 12 mermaid tails.

Use the wide end of a round frosting tip to make a webbed pattern at the end of the tail.

Flip the frosting tip over, and use the smaller opening to make the scales on the tail.

Use a fondant tool of knife to score the tail.

Place on parchment paper and set aside for at least 2 hours to harden.

Mermaid Tail Cupcakes, made with fancy sprinkles and fondant tails

Make the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Next, prepare the vanilla frosting. 

Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.

Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time.

Add the heavy cream half way through.

Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.

If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 Tbsp at a time). Or if the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Divide the frosting between 2 bowls, and color one light purple, and the other light blue using a drip of gel food coloring.

Place the light purple into a frosting bag with a round opening (I cut my piping bag to have a 2 cm opening).

Put the light blue frosting a separate bag with an open star tip (Wilton 1M).

Decorate These Mermaid Tail Cupcakes

Once  the cupcakes are fully cooled, add a swirl of purple buttercream.

Pour mermaid sprinkles into a small bowl, and dunk the cupcake into the sprinkles to cover the frosting entirely.

Adding a fondant mermaid tail to my mermaid cupcakes

Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake, and then gently insert the fondant mermaid tail into the center of the swirl.

20 DIY Mermaid Birthday Party Ideas - Susie Harris

Saturday 25th of March 2023

[…] The under-the-sea-themed cake begins with a classic white cake that is topped with fluffy buttercream whipped and shells made of white chocolate. This cake is sure to bring joy along with great pictures to any gathering or party together (or like me, you can just have a casual Sunday). …)! Tutorial […]


Thursday 26th of May 2022

I really liked the cake recipe. I didn't color the cake since I was adding a little filling. The frosting was very good as well.

Jackie Wooten

Friday 21st of June 2019

Looks great. Where did you get those cupcake liners?


Wednesday 3rd of July 2019

Thanks Jackie! they're actually just plain white liners I ordered on amazon! The colors are from the colorful cupcake batter that's peaking through.

Here's the link to the white cupcake liners I use, if you want it:


Thursday 4th of October 2018

How do you stop the fondant from breaking?


Monday 15th of October 2018

I let the fondant tails dry fully before I add them onto the cupcakes!

Johanna Smith

Monday 21st of May 2018

What fondant do you use?


Wednesday 27th of February 2019

Hey what do you mean by buttermilk on the cupcakes recipe is that butter or milk??


Friday 25th of May 2018

I use the Satin Ice brand, which I order on Amazon!