ugly sweater cake
This Ugly Sweater Cake recipe makes it easy to create a tacky Christmas treat with bright colors and cheerful designs. Using a simple pantry staples, plus holiday garnishes, it’s fun to design a delicious dessert!
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Table of Contents
  1. Simple and Sweet Ugly Sweater Cake - Super cute for Christmas dessert
  2. Why We Love This Ugly Sweater Cake Recipe
  3. Ingredients / Shopping List
  4. Substitutions and Additions
  5. Recommended Tools
  6. How to Make an Ugly Sweater Cake
  7. Storage Tips
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. Other Easy Christmas Recipes
  10. Ugly Sweater Cake Recipe

This Ugly Sweater Cake recipe makes it easy to create a tacky Christmas dessert with all the bright colors and cheerful designs you’d find on a cloth version but in food form. Using a boxed cake mix combined with 4 simple pantry staples, plus frosting and holiday garnishes, it’s so much fun to design a dessert with crazy cute details that tastes delicious!

ugly sweater cake hero image

Simple and Sweet Ugly Sweater Cake – Super cute for Christmas dessert

It’s sweater season and time to bake an Ugly Sweater Cake! Whether you are dressing for a contest, a parade, or a party, it’s always fun to bring ugly fashion to your food. This trend, once considered a joke, is now one of Christmas’s most popular traditions–that’s why we made it so easy to bake this cake so you too can partake in the spirit of the season.

You literally combine a box of cake mix with a few ingredients, frost it, and add a bunch of candy decorations to create the perfect pastry for this special occasion.

Forget the boring store-bought Ugly Sweater Cake and make your own version full of embarrassing embellishments, pretty-ugly patterns, buttons, and little lights, because this year’s “outfit” is edible!

No matter how you slice it, this recipe takes the cake (ok, that was corny!) for the cutest, tackiest, showiest Ugly Sweat Cake that is fun to share with friends and family.

Why We Love This Ugly Sweater Cake Recipe

  • Easy to make with a box of cake mix and simple ingredients.
  • Deliciously adorable sweet treat.
  • Trending and traditional ugly fashion in food-form.
  • Fun to decorate with your entire family.
  • Perfect to serve for holiday parties or on Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (yes, that’s a thing!).
  • Simple to customize with creative combinations and designs.
a piece of ugly-sweater-cake on a plate

Ingredients / Shopping List

  • White cake mix: You can substitute a yellow or vanilla or even a chocolate cake mix if you prefer.
  • Nutmeg: You can substitute cinnamon or omit this ingredient if you aren’t a fan of nutmeg.
  • Orange juice: You can substitute water or milk.
  • Eggs
  • Salted butter (melted): Vegetable oil can be substituted if necessary.
  • Whipped white frosting tubs: You can substitute vanilla or cream cheese frosting.
  • Red food coloring
  • Green food coloring 
  • Twizzlers pull’n’peel strips: You can use red icing instead if you prefer.
  • Mike and Ike candies
  • Mini pretzel stick
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • Mini candy cane candies 
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Orange and brown jimmies: You can substitute icing or omit these though your snowmen won’t be quite as cute. 
  • Mini pretzels
  • Biscoff cookie: You can substitute a round, brown cookie or cracker if necessary.
  • Blue mini M&Ms
  • Red and brown peanut butter M&Ms (1 red, 4 brown): You can change up the colors or use another type of M&M if you prefer.

Substitutions and Additions

  • Change the Cake Flavors: You can combine any cake, spice, and juice flavoring that you’d like. For example, try a chocolate cake with cranberry juice or a yellow cake with cinnamon and apple cider.
  • Flavor Your Frosting: Use some almond or maple extract or some lemon or orange zest to add a bit of zing without changing the color of the frosting.
  • Change The Frosting Colors: Even though we tend to think of red and green as the standard “Christmas colors”, there is no reason why you can’t make an orange and purple ugly sweater cake! Pick your favorite colors and see how it turns out!
  • Customize Your Cake Colors and Candies: Get creative with your personal favorite candy and colors. There is no reason that you have to stick with regular Mike and Ike candies for the Christmas lights. You can use their other flavors or even change it up with M&Ms of any color. Feel free to use any round candy for the sweater buttons and decorate your reindeer with any round candy or sprinkles you have on hand.
  • Style Your Own Sweater: This recipe is just a guideline to get you started. Get the whole family involved and make a patchwork sweater to show off everyone’s creativity!
ugly sweater cake

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How to Make an Ugly Sweater Cake

This Ugly Sweater Cake recipe makes it easy to create a tacky Christmas treat with bright colors and cheerful designs using a boxed cake mix combined with 4 simple pantry staples (plus candy decorations). Simply follow these step-by-step instructions to design a dessert with crazy cute details that tastes delicious!

Bake the cake:

  1. Whisk together the cake mix and nutmeg.
  2. Add orange juice, eggs, and butter and beat until smooth.
    Whisk together the cake mix, nutmeg, orange juice, eggs, and butter
  3. Pour batter into baking pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 23-28 minutes.
    Pour batter into baking pan
  4. When cake has cooled, place a board on top of the pan and invert it to turn out the cake.

To Decorate the Cake:

  1. Mix together frosting and red food coloring until you reach a deep, Christmas red color.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together frosting and green food coloring.
  3. Frost on a “V neck” with white frosting onto the middle of the top of the short side of the cake. Then, vertically frost half of the rest of the cake, with red frosting and the other half with green frosting.
  4. To make the button up seam, pipe white frosting to outline the V-neck and down the middle of the cake. On the red half of the sweater, pipe 2 lines to separate the red side into 4 even spaces.
    Pro Tip: Use a piping bag with a star tip for this step.
    Frost on a “V neck” into the cake
  5. Loop pull’n’peel strips across the green half of the cake to make a “string of lights”.
  6. Place Mike and Ike candies along the string to create “lights”. 
    string of lights from pull’n’peel strips and Mike and Ike candies
  7. Place the pretzel stick on the top third of the red side of the cake. Pipe green frosting onto the pretzel stick to make a tree. Make a longer strip on the bottom and make each strip shorter as you move up towards the top of the tree.
    Pro Tip: Use a piping bag with a small, round tip for this step.
  8. Decorate the Christmas Tree with sprinkles.
    decorate the cake with Christmas Tree
  9. In the next section of the red side, add mini candy cane decorations or fill with sprinkles.
  10. Make two snowmen using mini marshmallows in the next section of the red side. Use white frosting to hold an orange jimmie as a nose and two brown jimmies as arms on each snowman. Decorate with Christmas sprinkles, optional.
    decorate with candy canes and snow man
  11. On the portion of the red half of the cake, place the two mini pretzels with the half of the Biscoff cookie on top to make a reindeer. Use white frosting to attach two mini M&Ms as eyes and red peanut butter M&M as a nose.
    make a reindeer from biscotti 
  12. Make buttons down the front of the sweater with brown peanut butter M&Ms.
    Pro Tip: Buttons should be placed on top of the white strip that you piped on in step 4.  
  13. Decorate with additional sprinkles, optional, and enjoy eating your ugly sweater!
    ugly sweater cake

Storage Tips

  • To Store: Once frosted and decorated, this Christmas cake can be stored at room temperature, uncovered, for up to 1 week. Once you cut it, it should be stored covered.
  • To Freeze: This cake can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months but the candies may not keep their color and consistency after thawing. 
cut a square off the sweater cake

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make any changes to this Ugly Sweater Cake?

This Ugly Sweater Cake should be as individual and unique as you are! Feel free to make any changes that you’d like to make it feel personal to you.

What makes a Christmas sweater ugly?

An ugly Christmas sweater is any Christmas-themed sweater that could be considered in bad taste, tacky, or gaudy. The idea is that the more embellishments—tinsel, reindeer, Santa Clauses, candy canes, elves, presents, etc.—the uglier the sweater.

Can I bake my cake from scratch and then decorate it?

You can absolutely bake a homemade cake and follow our easy instructions to decorate your ugly sweater. This recipe uses a boxed cake mix for ease and simplicity.

a piece of ugly-sweater-cake on a plate

Other Easy Christmas Recipes

5 from 1 vote
ugly sweater cake

Ugly Sweater Cake

Serves — 12
This Ugly Sweater Cake recipe makes it easy to create a tacky Christmas treat with bright colors and cheerful designs. Using a simple pantry staples, plus holiday garnishes, it’s fun to design a delicious dessert!
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins

Ingredients
  

For the cake:

  • 15.25 ounce white cake mix
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • cup salted butter melted

For the decoration:

  • 12 ounce tubs whipped white frosting divided
  • Red food coloring
  • Green food coloring
  • 2 Twizzlers pull’n’peel strips
  • 5 ounce theater box Mike and Ike candies
  • 1 mini pretzel stick
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • 4 mini candy cane candies
  • 6 mini marshmallows
  • 2 orange jimmies
  • 4 brown jimmies
  • 2 mini pretzels
  • ½ Biscoff cookie
  • 2 blue mini M&Ms
  • 1 red peanut butter M&M
  • 4 brown peanut butter M&Ms

Instructions
 

To make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and thoroughly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the cake mix and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add in the orange juice, eggs and melted butter and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour into the greased baking pan and bake for 23-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Place a cake board or cutting board on top of the pan and invert it to turn out the cake.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

To decorate the cake

  • Place ¾ of a frosting container in a medium mixing bowl and add in some red food coloring. Mix until you reach a deep, Christmas red color.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, mix together ¾ of the other frosting container and green food coloring.
  • Use some of the remaining white frosting to frost on a “V neck” onto the middle of the top of the short side of the cake. Frost half of the rest of the cake, vertically, with red frosting and the other half with green frosting. Reserve about 2 Tablespoons of the green frosting to make a Christmas tree.
  • Use a piping bag and star tip to pipe the remainder of the white frosting as an outline of the neck and down the middle of the cake to make the button up seam. On the red half of the sweater, pipe 2 lines to separate the red side into 4 even spaces.
  • Separate the pull’n’peel strips so that you have several thin strings. Loop them across the green half of the cake to make a “string of lights”. Place Mike and Ike candies every inch or so as “lights” on the string.
  • On the red side of the cake, place the pretzel stick on the top third of the cake. Pipe the rest of the green frosting onto the pretzel stick, using a small, round tip, to make a tree. Make a longer strip on the bottom and make each strip shorter as you move up towards the top.
  • Decorate the Christmas Tree with the Christmas sprinkles.
  • In the next section place mini candy cane decorations or fill with sprinkles.
  • On the middle third of the red half of the cake, place the mini marshmallows to make two snowmen. Use a little white frosting to place an orange jimmie as a nose and two brown jimmies as arms on each snowman. Decorate around the snowmen with Christmas sprinkles, optional.
  • On the bottom third of the red half of the cake, place the two mini pretzels with the half of the Biscoff cookie on top to make a reindeer. Use a little white frosting to place on the two mini M&Ms as eyes and the red peanut butter M&M as a nose.
  • Place the brown peanut butter M&Ms down the front of the sweater, on top of the white strip that you piped on, to make buttons.
  • Decorate with additional Christmas sprinkles, optional. Enjoy eating your ugly sweater!

Jenn’s Notes

Storage:
  • To Store: Once frosted and decorated, this Ugly Sweater cake can be stored at room temperature, uncovered, for up to 1 week. Once you cut it, it should be stored covered.
  • To Freeze: This cake can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months but the candies may not keep their color and consistency after thawing. 

Nutrition Info

Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 400mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg
Jennifer Fishkind

About Jenn

Jenn is a mom to three beautiful boys, wife to an amazing husband, social influencer and blogger. I love all things easy recipes, easy crafts, all things hacks, traveling EVERYWHERE and feeding my Pinterest addiction!

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Comments

  1. Hi Jenn,

    I absolutely LOVE this cake and can’t wait to make it closer to Christmas. Thanks so much for creating it, and presenting it so beautifully here with all the details. Well done,

    Warm regards,
    Morgan

  2. 5 stars
    Love this cake. My nieces/nephews have an ugly sweater competition every Xmas eve. Definitely making this cake for our celebration…now can I beat their sweaters? Thanks for this great idea!