Amazing (But Easy) TV Dinner Cupcakes Wow the Crowd

TV Dinner cupcakes are perfect for a Backwards Day party or April Fools Day Party where you get to eat dessert first, but they are also a great way to add a little fun to any day. And oh-so-easy to make.

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drumstick TV dinner cupcakes tutorial
chicken leg drumstick cupcake
tv dinner corn on the cob cupcakes
tv dinner mashed potatoes cupcake
tv dinner peas and carrots cupcake
retro tv dinner
retro tv dinner

Don’t these TV Dinner cupcakes look like the real thing?

But they are YUMMIER. . .

And the best part? They are easy to make! All you do is bake the cupcakes, frost them and plop candies on where they should go. Easy-breezy but they look fantastic.

The thing that really makes them look like a “TV Dinner” is serving them in aluminum muffin tins.

I discovered them in the most amazing cupcake decorating book on the planet, Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.

All of the cupcakes are so creative but I have to say these are my favorite, so I made them first!

I love the retro feel. Back “in the day” when TV dinners were first invented, all the cool families used to their TV dinner on TV trays in front of the television, the most amazing technology of its day.

hello cupcake book by karen tack

(Remember Mike Teavee from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? That’s what he did! I’m sure he’d love these cupcakes. . .)

Meet Mike Teavee - 1971 Version

Our tip from experience:

Buy the candies for decorating one day, bake your cupcakes on another and then decorate them the next day so it’s fun and not overwhelming. These cupcakes are easy to do but very time consuming, especially if you’re making several sets.

TV Dinner cupcakes require special candies for the decorations, donut holes for the chicken legs and the usual baking supplies so I ended up going to several different stores in order to acquire all the necessary items. I visited one of my favorite candy stores, the Nutty Chocolatier where I could get the correct color of Starbursts, Runts and Jelly Belly jelly beans. That was enough for one day!

Chicken Drumstick Cupcakes

These chicken drumstick cupcakes are impressive.

  • Cupcakes (1 per drumstick)
  • White Frosting
  • Donut Holes or Cake Pops (1 per drumstick)
  • Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • White Fondant
  1. Make your cupcakes and cake pops (unless you’re going to keep it easy and buy donut holes)

  2. Frost your cupcake with the white icing.

  3. Put a donut hole or cake pop on top of the cupcake and “glue” in place with more icing.

  4. Roll a piece of white fondant into a tube shape – just like you would with playdough – and add two balls at the top to create the bone. (Don’t make the bone too big and heavy or it will not stay in the cupcake.) Cut the end opposite the balls into a point.

  5. Poke a hole in the top of the donut hole-cupcake and insert the fondant bone. 

  6. Frost the top around the bone and sprinkle on the graham cracker crumbs.

how to make chicken drumstick cupcakes


Corn on the Cob Cupcakes

Wonderful Jelly Belly Jelly Beans make it look like corn.

  • Cupcake
  • White Frosting
  • French Vanilla Jelly Belly
  • Caramel Corn Jelly Belly
  • Lemon Yellow Jelly Belly
  • 1 Yellow Starburst
  1. Frost the cupcakes.

  2. Arrange the jelly beans in 5 rows across the top, varying the color pattern. I discovered that it looked better to cluster the same color together once in awhile and to make the pattern random.

  3. Put the Starburst on top to look like a pat of butter melting on them. (I sprinkled with pepper for added realism but it would taste better with black and white decorating sugar instead.)

  4. Put one corn cupcake in the muffin tin for the retro TV Dinner set, or put 3 together on a serving plate for a corn on the cob appearance.

I used the three different colored Jelly Belly but you could keep it simple and just use the Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly beans.


Peas and Carrots Cupcake

Fun & sweet cupcake with Starbursts and Runts

  • Cupcake
  • White Frosting
  • Green Runts
  • Orange Starburst
  • Green Food Coloring
  1. Cut orange Starburst into cubes.

  2. Tint white icing a shade of green to match the Runts and frost cupcake. (Put one drop of green food coloring at a time and mix, until it is the exact color you’re wanting.)

  3. Arrange the Starburst cubes and green Runts on top. (A random pattern looks more realistic.)

starburst cut up for cupcakes


Mashed Potatoes Cupcake

Looks like creamy whipped potatoes with gravy, but tastes even better!

  • Cupcake
  • White Frosting
  • Starburst
  • Butterscotch Sauce
  1. Cut a yellow Starburst in half to make a thinner “pat” that looks like butter.

  2. Frost cupcake in swirls, creating a circular crevice in the top to hold a little butterscotch sauce.

  3. Put Starburst on top, angled to look like a pat of butter on top of potatoes.

  4. Slowly drip butterscotch sauce on to pool in crevice you created and drip down sides.


Want to make these for backwards fun? See our Backwards Party ideas.

backwards party ideas

Whether you want a full Backwards Day extravaganza or a backwards theme for family night, we have suggestions for all play modules: backwards food ideas, backwards games & movies for all ages, backwards costumes with a backwards fashion show, backwards invitations, backwards decorations – including TPing the party room.

Want more cupcakes? See all of our recipes.

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Want to see our new cupcake recipes & party ideas?

merrymaker woman with cupcake
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