How-to: ship a cupcake (solution?)

March 13, 2008 at 7:25 PM | Posted in cupcakes, shipping | 80 Comments

Who’s really gonna read this paragraph? Everyone will make a beeline scroll down to the pictures first. Am I right? Its ok… go ahead. I’ll wait.

::staring @ my frosted cuppys with glee::

Shipped from California to Massachusetts

IHC shipping in 5 simple steps — (Why 5? Well we all know 5 is better than 4, right Nikki?)

The pièce de résistance. I give you my shipping secret – a plastic cup.

I prepared the cupcake by freezing it and then keeping the moisture in with saran wrap and secured them with a sticker. Next I added foil to the bottom of the cup to keep the cupcake in the cup. I think my next version will be to find cups that have a lid instead of using foil. Think cuppy-accino!

I also needed to find a way for the cupcakes to have limited mobility within the box so I used cardboard scraps and made dividers for individual cupcake compartments.

Waste not want not! I used the box insert to anchor the cups together at the top.

Voila! Close the top, secure it shut and ready to ship!

Alrighty… now that you’ve learned the secret, let’s talk logistics. I knew I didn’t have the luxury of dry ice or insulated shipping boxes like some professional cupcakeries do. I also do not have the funds to pay for overnight shipping either. Maybe I was asking too much with those constraints but I wanted something easy to assemble, cheap and didn’t damage the cupcake.

So I started thinking about some kind of individual container that would make gravity work for me and not against me. After weeks of pondering, it came to me! I remember sipping on a Starbuck’s iced caramel macchiato and I realized that the slightly sloped sides of the plastic cup would work great for shipping cupcakes! (Is that a stretch or what? Goes to show you, you can find inspiration anywhere!) Think about it? When you turn it upside down it doesn’t allow the cupcake to move lower. *light bulb*

I did not try my experiment with regular cupcake liners though. Not sure how well my method would work since cupcake liners tend to be less rigid compared to PNCs. Might have to give that variation a try next time!

So what do you think? Comments? Suggestions? Questions… I am all ears.



  1. I was wondering what kind of frosting this cupcake has. Wouldn’t the saran wrap squish it? Love your shipping idea.

  2. MINN, Good question! In the picture is a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I froze the cupcakes first so the frosting was stiff and then loosely saran wrapped at the top but tight at the bottom. ps. Nice to meet you!

  3. It worked, only one of the cuppys had the littlest squish mark, but honestly most people wouldn’t notice it

  4. OMG awesome! I’m so jealous of the engineering skillz present in that project. I might have to start baking cuppies just so that I can try out the shipping method (and have another excuse to bake!)

  5. NIKKI, little squish is better than nekkid right? ;)

    CAITLIN, engineerbaker in da house! I am not an engineer by education but maybe I got engineer genes? My dad’s an engineer. If you wanna try out my idea, please feel free to send me cupcakes! ;)

  6. Okay so I totally smacked myself in the head when I saw this. You are awesome! Can I please hire you as an engineer? I say patent that thing once you add a lid to the bottom and make yourself some dough!

  7. holy crap, sensei! you are a genius!!! i’m so glad you fulfilled your quest! Congrats!

  8. This is awesome! I must email this to Tommy right away…

  9. Great Job!

  10. My only concern is with the cups being so tall. If the box got warm and turned upside down (I can see it in the postal bin now) then there is a lot of room for that frosting to go sliding if it got enough momentum and the wrapping gave way. Worst case scenario, yes, but I’d probably shorten the cups if possible. Still, between yours & Laura’s solutions, we see there are options for shipping that cost less than $40.

  11. ZEBE – actually the cups being so tall is what prevents movement in the box. If they weren’t so tall they would fly all over the box rather than staying stable.

    I’m sure that at some point between the always hot CA and the not so hot MA they got warm and flipped over and that wasn’t a problem. The wrapping had no chance of coming off the cupcakes because CB secured the bottom of the cupcake with a sticker. The frosting wasn’t going anywhere

  12. Wow! My husband comments on your blog now? He doesn’t even comment on mine! LOL :)

  13. I think it’s brilliant! I don’t have one of those fancy cupcake boxes you put the them in, but I’m thinking I might have to order some and try it out. Would the cups still work if they weren’t so secured? I may have to experiment with this!

  14. Thanks, Nice you meet you too. Ok another question, Do you mark the box fragile or this side up. You see I think it’s amazing that shipping went so well. But then again your idea is really good. You beat the postal system. Amazing.

  15. Woohoo!!! I knew you had it in you! You deserve a cupcake for all your efforts. :)

  16. So smart! I never would have thought about that idea either… you put my little idea I had to shame…..

  17. Brilliant! So, did the inverted PNC not work because it was too mobile in the box? Maybe you could still use that idea combined with the current one, so that there would be like an inner PNC shell to prevent any squishing. This thing has taken over my brain lol I’m such a dork. Also, did you cut that insert out with an exacto knife, cus it looks perfect!

  18. Wow!! I am so glad that you figured this out! Makes me want to bake and ship! :)

  19. BB, I think I probably channeled my inner enginner to get this idea. I am inspired by many engineer bloggie friends ;) As for patent, those mofos are hella expensive! and I have a feeling that my “invention” isn’t very patent worth… yet. ;)

    ANDREA, dude! sensei makes me feel old. Let’s think of something else less tranny mess and more FIERCE mkay?

    MRSYABY, haha. AT probably thinks I am the biggest nutso huh?

    APRIL’S TOMMY, I know who you are! Tommy will suffice. haha. I am uber impressed that I get a hubbie comment. My T has no idea what my blog URL is much less comment. That settles it. He gets a husband kick in the arse tonight.

    ZEBE, Actually I think the height of the cups helped it keep stable. It hit right at the top of the lid so there was no room to flip. Not sure about the temp sitch but I think the climate between CA –> MA kinda covers most of it. Though I am not sure being kinda spoiled in CA ;)

    NIKKI, good points. I should update my BU about the sticker. Thanks for being my shipping guinea pig! YRMSMBNB.

  20. MARY, honestly I don’t think it really matters the type of box. The big points for me were immobility of the cupcakes to flip upside down and get smashed. I think if you find any ol box that is the same height as the cup it should work. I do think the dividers helped minimize the space for the cups to fall over too. Give it a try! If you need my address I can email you ;)

    MINN, Nope. I did not put any special instructions on the box. I wanted to see how it would survive the normal rigors of the shipping with no additional pampering so I just tossed it down into the mail shoot sent it on its way. Thanks for your compliments!

    ALANNA, haha. I definitely deserve a cupcake! You offering? I will take a vanilla bean cupcake please… Mmmmm

    NINA, what were you ideas?? I wanna hear!

    KRISTINA, you crack me up! I think the inverted PNC could work but I think I made this batch of frosting kinda high so when I tried to tape the 2 PNCs together it kinda smooshed down on the frosting. I didn’t make the insert. It comes with the special cupcake boxes I have. My efforts with an exacto knife would be hideous!

    APRIL, thanky! Please feel free to ship me cupcakes anytime! haha

  21. you rule, mrs. smartypants!

  22. RACHEYPOO, not sure if its “smarty” or sad that I have so much time on my hands that this is what I fill it with. LOL

  23. What are “sprinkles”? Whatever they are you’ve gotta lot of ’em. 27,000 or so. Do they have something to do with “droggies”?

  24. TODD, is this my hubs?? HAHA! you spelled “dragees” so wrong. thanks for stopping by. Ok you don’t have to sleep on the couch tonight. ;)

  25. Congrats on a job well done!!! (Now, please send me some cuppycakes!)

  26. BETH, haha. I am sure that can be rigged arranged.

  27. Bahaha T you are one funny bastard.

  28. Yay! This makes me so happy…I wanted to make my brother cupcakes for his birthday but I was too afraid of sending them off! I will def keep this in mind :)

  29. SOPHIE, Definitely try it and let me know what you think! Any suggestions appreciate… :)

  30. Amazing how complicated it is to ship such wonderful treats! :)

    Now about that password…. i need hints!

    help! :)

  31. NIKITA, haha. email me yes or no questions.

  32. LOL at Todd’s comment!

  33. Hi i found you on google while looking for ideas on how to ship cupcakes :-). I’ve noticed a number of other forums suggesting that the icing shouldn’t be frozen and that it should be added later – apparently it doesn’t taste as good if it’s frozen. What are your thoughts on that? Do they taste just as good?


  34. AUSCHICK, hi there! I can only go on personal experience and I think if you want to ship it, freezing the frosting is a must in my opinion. I don’t taste a difference freezing or not and I’ve never had any complaints from my “taste-testers” either! If you try to ship some cupcakes using my method, come back and let me know what you think, k? :)

  35. Would it be crazy to try to ship cupcakes to Afghanastan? I have a friend that would I would love to be able to send a birthday cupcake or four. How long would you say a cupcake is good for? Generally when I send him a package it takes about 1 week to get there. Thanks your blog rocks and I’m learning soooo much.

  36. MARIANNE, You are such a sweetheart for wanting to ship cupcakes to Afghanistan ♥ Honestly I am not sure how well the frosting will hold up in the traveling heat esp during the summer. Maybe in the winter months would be better to keep the frosting stabilized. The longer that the cupcake can keep frozen/cold it will retain its moisture and taste good but I am really not sure after 7 days. I’d include some ice packs if possible. If you ship some, I would love to hear an update from you/friend about the final result!

  37. You are my new best friend. Thank you so much for posting this! I was just beginning to explore the possibility of shipping cupcakes from my online store and a friend sent me your link. Full credit will go to you for shipping method if/when I decide to go for it!

  38. MISSIE, haha. Always good for the soul to have more best friends. Definitely let me know what you think if you try my shipping solution. I think there’s always room for improvement and would love to hear your thoughts.

  39. Thank you so much for this! I’m going to start using my talents to sell cupcakes and baked goods out of home, and i had no idea how to package and send them! GENIUS!

  40. MELANIE, Your welcome! I wouldn’t say my method is full proof. You’d probably wanna include some ice packs to keep the cupcakes cold esp in the summer. Definitely a good starting idea but something that still needs to be perfected. Let me know if you make any modifications. I love to hear!

  41. Hello, I just tried shipping cupcakes for the first time the other day, with the above method, & it bombed, you can see my experience here please let me know if I have done anything wrong, or if there is a better solution? Thank you!!

  42. KARA, Sorry to hear your cupcakes didn’t survive their trip. :( Did the cupcakes flip in the cup? Did the frosting get smooshed? If its the frosting, did you freeze the cupcake before shipping? Need more details so I know what I did vs what you did.

  43. CB, the cupcakes were fit pretty nicely in the cup, you can’t really tell by the pictures but you can kind of see in 5th picture here, that I took some saran wrap and wrapped it around the top rim of the cupcake so it would stay put.

    The frosting was very smooshed though. I froze them for about 30 min. to an hour before I covered them in saran wrap, & then once they were in the box I froze them over night & the next day until I took them to the post office. It was 2 day shipping also, so they weren’t in there for a week or anything. The sad part is I was doing that as a test, but I sent some out today for a friend’s birthday and I didn’t find out the results of the first delivery until after I sent out the second one! So I’m hoping this second delivery has a better ending.. hah.

  44. KARA, Hmmm… You did everything the same as I did. The only thing I can think of is that I froze the cupcake overnight before wrapping it loosely with saran wrap so it gave the frosting some room to defroze. Did you wrap the saran wrap too tight against the frosting? Hopefully the 2nd batch ships better.

  45. thanks this is great! im baking some cupcakes for a friends birthday but just want to make sure everything is gona work out. I’m supposed to freeze the cupcakes over night? .. If I send them overnight delivery, how will the frosting be when they arrive? .. still frozen? or is there a chance the frosting melts and messes up?

  46. NN, To be honest it really depends on the weather. I would think it would be defrosted by the time it arrives to your friend but it might still retain its shape depending on the weather and how “frozen” the frosting is. I definitely recommend overnight shipping for the best results. Maybe include an ice pack or 2 to keep the temperature consistent during travel too. Hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out. GL!

  47. CB, where did you get the top that you put on the box? or the whole box if they came together.

  48. DENISE, I get my cupcake boxes and inserts from BRP Boxshop. They come in quantities of 100. Hope that helps!

  49. Cool! I just ordered from them today!!!! Thanks

  50. hi,i love ur site,i love to baking too,and sales it online..also find the best way fot sky courier!~
    sale alot and ship alot too.
    haha, i ship cheese cake too some time~i home can be ur friends^.^

  51. can try to slide some unused paper on the empty space,,can less the cakes move!,less the chance shaking

  52. my msn,
    webside ,

    all,can make friends?

  53. I know this post is almost 2 years old … but I just found it, and I gotta say, this is incredibly clever. Good brain on ya.

  54. wow i totally misread that as “i remember shipping an iced macchiato” i’m like who in the hell did she mail a drink to!??!?! anyway this is so extremely clever thanks for sharing!

  55. Hi Clara,

    I still do not understand how the foil keeps the cupcake from smashing into the bottom of the cup if the box were to be turned upside down. Could you please clarify?


  56. Check this shipping idea out!!!
    Putting the cupcakes in a jar!

  57. Thank you so much for posting this idea! I definitely want to give this a try :) Where did you buy your cups and what kind are they (how many ounces) so that I know to get the right ones.

  58. I think they were regular ol clear cups from my grocery store. Sorry I can’t be more exact. (This post is 2 years old and my memory isn’t what it use to be. LOL) You could bring in a frozen cupcake (You’ll probably get some weird looks!) and see how it fits inside one of the cups before buying. Just make sure that the cup is tapered enough so that the cupcake doesn’t slip inside the cup. HTH!

  59. Sorry if my instructions were confusing. It’s not really the foil that keeps the cupcake from smashing. It’s the cup. You’ll want to find a cup that has tapered sides so that when you put a cupcake inside and turn the upside down, the cupcake doesn’t move b/c the width of the cup is smaller than the width of the cupcake liner. Does that make more sense?

  60. We ship cupcakes all over the us!
    We even change the recipes to suit your diet!
    Low fat, low carb, or low calorie.
    Gourmet cupcakes for all occasions.

    Our method is surprisingly similar to yours!!

  61. I found you while looking for ideas to ship birthday cupcakes to my son in college. I’m definitely going to give this a shot.

  62. I need to ship 50 cupcakes for a party. now let me make sure I understand how you did this:
    1. You froze the frosted cupcakrs overnight.
    2. Then you loosely wrapped them in saran wrap.
    3. Place a plastic cup over the cupcake and secure the bottom with foil.
    4. Place then in a cupcake box with a top that gives each cupcake the own space.
    5. Put the top one and ship.
    Did I miss a step or do I have it?

  63. I just can’t wrap my hear around this and I don’t see pictures on my computer for what ever reason. Question 1, how do you get the cupcake in with out messing up the frosting, 2, How do you get it out??? maybe I could cut the cup then tape it back together?

  64. We just used this method to ship 100 cupcakes from New York to Washington State and it worked wonderfully!!! Thank you so SO much!!!

  65. One way that works really really good is to use individual treat boxes that are shaped like Chinese take out boxes. Narrow on bottom, wider on top. It fits the cupcake perfectly, nice and snug. THEN you put the individual boxes side by side in whatever you are shipping in. It helps them arrive safe and pretty. Also, it keeps them in individual servings too!

  66. Holy smokes you are a genius!

  67. @Guilt-Free Comfort @Guiltfreecomfor —

    Did you use the plastic cup method along with the individual treat boxes? If not, how did you keep the frosting from smooshing?

  68. Also, if you go to any party supply shop, dollar store, or walmart you can buy 6-8 pks of tiny chinese food boxes. They have all kinds of pretty designs and colors and are the perfect size for cupcakes. Each can hold a single cupcake formly in place while it ships.

  69. I am going to try this. I don’t have to ship across the country just from Liberty, Tx to Corpus Christi, TX. I will let you know how it goes. I will be using the regular cup since my customer wants full sized cupcakes. I am hoping I can find a cupcake box today becuase I have never seen these before today. Thanks for the info.

  70. i want to send 48 cup cakes to california from ohio, but i want to know if these will all go into one box? i used bubble wrap for cake pops to michigan, none cracked. thanks can’t afford many boxes

  71. Sorry. I’m not sure I understand your question. If you have a box big enough to fit the 48 cupcakes than you don’t need to buy more than one box.

  72. I tried this technique, and included little flags inserted in…The were packaged in commerical plastic cupcake containers, with the plastic cups on top…taped and wrapped in bubble wrap..securely in a box where they could not move around. The cupcakes went from California to Wisconsin. They arrived in a big mess! The cupcakes were tossed out of the plastic cupcake container and the frosting was all over the sides of the plastic cups. I did freeze before shipping too. It was a good idea..and I really had high hopes it would work. I think cupcakes must be shipped without frosting. It’s the only way.

  73. If the box tips over, how do you keep the icing from being smooshed? I’m starting an online cupcake business and I want to keep my cupcakes pretty.

  74. Sorry my technique didn’t work for you :(

  75. The tapered sides of the cup keeps it from slipping so you want to make sure you find a cup size that accommodates the right spacing so it doesn’t slip. Hope that helps! Good luck with your cupcake biz.

  76. Your pictures aren’t showing for me it says that you have to upgrade to pro because your bandwidth is exceded.

  77. I dont disagree with this blog!!!

  78. Hi!! The cups are such a fab idea and the frozen frosting is incredible idea too!!!! BUT I’m a visual learner is there a better way to describe to me the purpose of the sticker? It does boggle me a bit :)

  79. i sell alcholic cupcakes and i like the freezing beefore shipping but most alcohol dont freeze. so how can i ship at a low cost.

  80. I love your idea! I have been trying different ideas in my head. I am definitely going to try this. Thanks! I will let you know how it works. I will be shipping from PA to Texas.

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