How to make a Lightning McQueen birthday cake

Updated April 17, 2017

A Lightning McQueen cake is the perfect finishing touch to your child's birthday party. This 3D cake features Lightning McQueen, the main character in Disney's movie, "Cars." Though the cake looks slightly intimidating, you can make it with simple materials found in any grocery store. The only special material needed is the special car cake mould pan. You can personalise cake with your child's name or a phrase or word from the movie.

A few days before you bake, create a spoiler, or fin, for the back of the car with red gum paste. Insert four thick wires vertically into the spoiler as the paste begins to dry to hold the spoiler to the rest of the car.

Mix the cake batter and bake it in the cruiser pan. Let the cake cool, then place in the freezer until completely frozen. Trim off part of the roof and bonnet with a butter knife to get a more sleek race car look.

Cover the entire cake with tan buttercream icing. Layer the red fondant over the icing until the entire car is covered. Pipe on the windows with white buttercream and the #3 or #5 tip.

Use the #2 tip to line the windows with black icing. Use the same tip to pipe on the lightning bolts on the sides, headlights, tail lights and a number on top with the yellow, orange and white buttercream icing. Pipe black numbers onto the passenger side headlight and tail light and the sides of the car with the #2 tip. Use the #2 tip to pipe your child's name or other word onto the bonnet of the car, such as the Rusteeze logo.

Put blue piping gel into the #2 tip and put eyes on the windshield to look like Lightning McQueen. Use the #2 tip to dot the eyes with a black icing dot.

Cut small circles out of the Rice Krispies treats to make the tires. Cover them with black fondant. Dot the centre of the tire with some red fondant and use the #2 tip to write Lightyear on the wheels in white icing.

Mix the batter for the two 355 by 280 mm (14 by 11 inch) cakes using 1 1/2 boxes of cake mix for each and bake the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool, then place one cake on the rectangular cake board. Place the other cake on top of the first to create a double layer base for the car cake to sit on. Cover the base in tan icing and sprinkle with graham cracker to look like desert dirt. Place the plastic cacti decoratively around the spot where the car will sit.

Put four dowels into the middle of the base cakes where the car will sit, two for the front of the car and two for the back. Place the finished Lightning McQueen cake on top of the base over the four dowels. Carefully place the wheels into the wheel wells and insert the spoiler into the back of the car.


Instead of red fondant, you can layer the cake with white fondant and airbrush the cake red. The same trick can be used with the tires. You can use a toothpick to outline windows and the lightning bolt before you ice the car cake.


Don't use too much blue piping gel on the eyes since it will become runny if you push out too much.

Things You'll Need

  • 3D Wilton Cruiser Pan
  • 3 boxes cake mix
  • Butter knife
  • Large rectangular cake board
  • Tips # 2, 3 and 5
  • Red and black fondant
  • Red gumpaste
  • Thick wire
  • Tan, white, orange, yellow, and black buttercream icing
  • Blue tinted piping gel
  • Crushed graham crackers
  • Pre-baked Rice Krispies treats
  • Plastic cacti
  • Toothpick
  • Four dowels
  • 2 355 by 280 mm (14 by 11 inch) cake pans
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About the Author

Brittiany Cahoon began writing professionally in 2003. She has been published as a reporter and columnist in the "Mountaineer Progress," "The Rattler" and other regional newspapers. Cahoon holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Brigham Young University.