Tiered Unicorn Cake (shot of the front, pastel frosting)

Tiered Unicorn Cake

Because when it comes to unicorns...

....more is better! 

I've done a few Unicorn cakes, but most of them have been single-tier cakes - below I've scaled my favorite cake recipes so you can make a gorgeous tiered Unicorn cake with no guesswork! 

I wrote detailed instructions below, so I know it looks like a short book. :/ Don't let the instructions intimidate you! Tiers are easy to stack, and both tiers are easy to decorate!

To use the top tier as a smash cake - 
If you'd like to use the top cake tier as a smash cake, I recommend 'doctoring up' a cake mix for your top 6-inch cake layers. (I know; scratch cake purists please hear me out on this one! 😉 Nothing beats scratch cakes for taste, but my favorite recipes bake too dense for little hands to smash.  After many smash cakes over several years, I've found cake mixes to work the best.

To make vanilla (rather than chocolate) cake layers - 
Here's a link to my favorite Vanilla Cake layer recipe; just scroll down to the 1.5x scaled recipe! 

One more Decorating note -
When I put the cake in the video together, I actually used a bit more than two recipes of frosting to cover the cake tiers and to decorate. Granted; I'm a little heavy-handed with my use of frosting. :/ I've included a double recipe, but here's a link to a single recipe should you need a little bit more!


What if I've never made a tiered cake before??

  • First time for everything - I can almost guarantee it's easier than you think!
    Give the video a quick watch; it's less than a minute long (you can hit the 'Jump to Video' button above).
    For a more in-depth overview I like this video - 'How to make a Tiered Cake' by Chelsweets - to see the whole process! I like using plastic straws instead of wooden dowels personally, but that's up to you. Any questions please send me an email

Do I have to make the cake / frosting from scratch? 

  • Absolutely not if you don't want to! You can substitute 3 of your favorite chocolate cake mixes plus the ingredients the mixes calls for; keep the baking pans the same! 
    Store bought frosting is usually a little thinner than my recipe; add a 1/4 cup of extra powdered sugar at a time until you reach a consistency that spreads and stays in place on the cake well. 

Can I make the cake / frosting ahead of time? 

  • Definitely! Wrap the cake layers well and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Transfer the frosting to a zip-lock bag and squeeze out the extra air, and again - refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. 
    On a related note – cover any remaining cake well after serving to keep it from drying out - it will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for 3-5 days. 

Recipe, supplies, and all my tips are below! 🙂 Enjoy!

(Disclosure: As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases, and my posts often contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you!) 

Don't forget to pin for later!
Tiered Unicorn Cake - pinterest pin

Tiered Unicorn Cake

The endlessly-popular Unicorn Cake - sized to serve a party! Don't be intimidated; this tiered Unicorn Cake is easier than you think!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time37 minutes
Decorating time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 7 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Large Unicorn Cake, Tiered Unicorn Cake, Unicorn Cake, Unicorn Cake for large party
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 745kcal
Author: Sarah H



Chocolate Cake Layers: (1.5x)

  • 4 ½ cups all purpose flour (525g)
  • 3 1/3 cups caster sugar (675g)
  • 1 ¼ cups cocoa powder (150g)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter (3 sticks, softened)
  • 6 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk (500mL)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting – 2x recipe



Cake layers

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180C). Prepare 3 8-inch cake pans and 2 6-inch pans with baker's floured spray (or grease and line pans with parchment paper).
  • Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle (or hand mixer or whisk) until well combined.
  • Add in bits of softened butter, mixing until no lumps of butter are visible and the mixture looks crumbly.
  • Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and beat for another 20 seconds.
  • Fill your pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part. I had about 550 grams in my 8-inch pans, and about 375 in my 6-inch pans. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans, and cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
  • While you’re waiting…make your frosting!

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.


  • Once the layers have fully cooled, they can be leveled if needed with a leveler or serrated knife and ruler. (Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.)
  • Place a smear of frosting on your cake circles (to keep the cakes from sliding while you decorate) and center an 8-inch cake layer in the center of the large cake circle. Spread the layer with frosting and add the next layer on top. Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.
  • Next, repeat the same process with your smaller cardboard circle and cake layers. Of note – if your circles aren’t pre-center-punched, be sure to grab a dowel or straw and make your own hole in the exact center of the circle! This will allow you to center the top tier on the base tier later on.
  • Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake tiers to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
  • Once your crumb coats have set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layers of frosting and smooth. I like to use a large offset spatula and bench scraper for this part, and I used an icing comb to texture my base tier.
  • For my larger tier, I was able to smooth the frosting fairly well free-handed, but I struggled getting the sides smoothed on my smaller one. Trimming the layers just smaller than the cake circle and using the cardboard as a guide for my bench scraper worked well for smoothing the frosting on the top tier! Once your cakes are covered, place them into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

Okaaaay. The stacking process!

  • How to Make a Tiered Cake’ by Chelsweets is still my favorite video tutorial to date – sometimes seeing the process can be very helpful!
  • Basically, doweling a tiered cake is done to ensure that the top tier doesn’t crush the lower tier, as well as keeping it centered. I used four shorter cut-to-height plastic straws for my base tier dowels, and one taller one cut at an angle in the center to hold my top tier in place.
  • Grab your ruler for this next part! Push the straws/dowels (cut to the height of the cake) down into the base tier just over one inch from the cake edge, placing them evenly at quarter intervals around the cake. Place your last, tallest straw or dowel into the exact center of the cake, making sure to keep it straight up as you press down. Now you’re ready – center the hole in the bottom of your top tier cake circle over the tallest dowel and let the top tier gently down onto the base tier. The dowel will poke into the center of the top tier to hold it in place.

The fun part - Decorating!

  • I found that my cardboard cake circle showed more than I was happy with, so I piped some extra frosting onto the base of the top tier and added some sprinkles to hide it.
  • (I placed my unicorn horn / ears at the beginning so I could pipe around them, but you can add them at the end if you prefer!)
  • To pipe on the unicorn ‘mane,’ split remaining frosting into four parts, and color them purple, pink, yellow, and teal. Transfer your colored frosting to each of four piping bags fitted with piping nozzles – I used a variety of mostly star-shaped tips, but you can use whatever shape you would like!
  • I started with the larger piping bags and piped a large rosette onto the unicorn’s ‘forehead’, and worked my way backward from there. I love being able to see the mane when looking at the cake from the front, so my unicorn had a very wide mane of frosting decorations, but you can make it as wide or narrow as you choose.
  • Add (or pipe) unicorn eyes to the front of the top cake tier.
  • (Optional - add some pearlized sprinkles to the frosting for a bit of extra shine!)
  • Step back, admire your cake, and find someone to give you a high-five! (Shoot me a DM on Instagram if you can’t find anyone right away!) Enjoy!



(Please note nutrition information is an estimate and may not be exactly accurate.) 


Serving: 1slice (1/24th cake) | Calories: 745kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 38g

Did you make this Tiered Unicorn Cake? 

Let me know how it went – or make my day and find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

You can also add a comment or a recipe rating at the bottom of the page! 🙂


Tiered Unicorn Chocolate Cake Layers

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