How to Make an Easy Smash Cake

Celebrate your little one’s first birthday with these simple tips! Learn how to make a smash cake for a less stress party day so there’s more room for fun.

A first birthday is a huge accomplishment! What greater way to celebrate keeping the tiny human alive for a year than by throwing a party to say “woohoo! we did it!” When I was planning Clara’s first birthday party, I knew she needed a cake all for herself to help celebrate that special day and I thought I’d share with you how easy it was to make a smash cake.

And before I hear in the comments about how my one-year-old shouldn’t be eating a sugary cake…let me just say you do what you want and I’ll do what I want. :) My sweet girl eats super healthy 98% of the time, so eating some cake once a year is totally allowed.

Little girl with 1st birthday cake image.

I don’t know about you, but party planning for me is so fun but also a major time suck! I’ve learned to plan parties based on what I enjoy doing and go simple for the other aspects.

For me, that means buying donut holes for a donut hole tree from the store, spending hours making decorations (because that’s what I love), and using boxed cake mix for the smash cake and snowflake cupcakes.

So, if you’re like me and love the big picture party planning and cutesy details but don’t love making the food, here’s what you need to make an easy smash cake for your little one without needing to spend an arm and a leg ordering one from the local baker.


  • Pillsbury devil’s food chocolate cake mix
  • Semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • Whipped cream cheese frosting
  • Ramekin the size of the cake you want
  • Sprinkles – I tried a few variations before I found this purple sanding sugar that worked perfect!
  • A “1” candle or something to show your little one is one-years-old – This is the candle I bought off Etsy. It was the perfect size for our smash cake and the glitter didn’t fall off the candle like some do.
  • Straw or spoon
  • Cake stand

How to Make a Smash Cake

Ready to make your darling cake? You can start this a day or two before your party, actually, I suggest you do that. You’ll see why in a minute.

1. Start by making up the cake mix as instructed and throw in a handful of chocolate chips because guys if we’re going all out and giving her chocolate cake, we might as well give her the good stuff. Chocolate chips always kick a boxed cake mix up a notch. #AmIRight

Cake mix, chocolate chips and small white pot image.

2. Decide what size you want your smash cake. We had two mini dutch ovens that were the perfect size for what I was imagining. Bake your cake based on the box instructions.

3. Once your cake is out of the oven and cooled, take it out of the cake pan, wrap it tight in saran wrap, and throw it in the freezer. Let your cakes freeze overnight or for at least 4 hours. I promise you, this will save you so much mess and trouble later.

4. When you’re ready to decorate your cake, pull it out of the freezer and trim your cake so that it is straight with a serrated knife. Cutting your cake is 1000x easier when your cake has been freezing. Our mini dutch ovens didn’t have perfectly straight sides so when I stacked the cake I put the widest area together in the middle to make cutting it straight easier.

Hand using a knife to cut edges from cake image.

5. Now for my next time saver…store bought frosting. Besides tasting so yummy, it saves time and mess when you’re in the middle of setting up for a party. I used the whipped frosting and I can say not one person/baby complained about it being store bought frosting.

Duncan Hines whipped cake frosting image.

6. Once your cake is frosted to perfection, grab the sanding sugar and start decorating. I chose to do a rim around the top edge and then I wanted the bottom edge to have the purple pop as well. However, it’s not as easy as it seems. After a few failed attempts, I grabbed a straw and started blowing sugar on the edge of the cake. I kinda loved it!!

White cake with purple sugar in edges and 1 candle image.

Blue straw blowing purple sugar on white cake image.

Maybe not the most sanitary but for a cake that only my child is eating, it worked and looked cute. After the fact I realized I could have grabbed a spoon to sprinkle the sugar on the bottom edge for a similar effect.

White smash cake with number one candle on top image.

And there we have it!! Add a candle and you have a simple smash cake that will be adorable for those first birthday party pictures. Because, honestly friends, that’s the point of the smash cake, right? It’s not like I want her to eat cake but I do want cute photos to document the special day. 

White 1st birthday smash cake with purple trim on cake plate image.

Before I forget to mention it, in my mom’s group we’ve had quite the discussions about planning a big party and then baby doesn’t even want to touch the cake. Our secret? Baby led weaning.

I could write a few posts about baby led weaning, but I seriously think it’s the reason Clara just went for the cake. It made for the absolute cutest photos!! We completely skipped the baby food that so many people think you have to do and she started eating solid food at 6 months old. By a year old, eating cake was nothing.

Pretty little girl in purple headband eating first birthday cake image.

Little girl in purple headband with chocolate cake all over her face and hands image.

Do you need an easy smash cake for an upcoming first birthday?

Tell me in the comments below if you have a theme and what it is. I love hearing all the creative party ideas people come up.

You may also like the other posts from this hot chocolate bar first birthday party. Find them all here…

Hot Chocolate Bar

Hot chocolate bar party image.

How to Make a Donut Tree
Hot chocolate bar with donut hole tree image.

Snowflake Cupcake Toppers
Cupackes with purple snowflake toppers.

S’more Party Favors
S'more ingredients wrapped in cellophane and tied with snowflake image.

How to Make DIY Whimsical Picture Frames
Sparkly silver frame with little baby on purple pillow image.

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