Transporting cupcakes is a dangerous game. They’re fragile, tiny cakes so easily crushed that it’s a harrowing experience trying to get them out of a car intact.
No matter how careful you are, there’s always the possibility of leaving some cupcake residue on its container. That makes the question, how to transport cupcakes, one of art and skill.
How to Transport Cupcakes
Despite this difficulty, there are many ways to transport cupcakes safely. A few of the more popular ideas include:
- Buy a cupcake carrier
- Take them in their tray
- Buy a baked goods display box
- Use Tupperware
- Use a takeout food container
- Make a box
- Use a roasting pan
- Stick them to parchment paper to keep them from sliding around
- Use a shelf liner
- Wrap them individually in plastic wrap/gift wrap them
Use a Cupcake Carrier
Perhaps the simplest and most fail-proof method to transport cupcakes is with a cupcake carrier. A carrier, or cupcake caddy, has indents to fit each cupcake, much like a muffin tin. It also comes with a clip-on lid to prevent anything from squishing your cupcakes from above.
You can purchase cupcake carriers from various department stores and pick the one that suits you best. After all, you’ll probably find these carriers to have unique distinctions that set them apart. Some have tiers or shelves so you can stack your cupcakes safely inside without having to worry about crushing the ones below.
Others have multiple purposes, like carrying cakes or bread as well as cupcakes. And some might be display-ready for bake sales with a protective covering to keep the cupcakes secure during travel.
Of course, there’s no need to find a super fancy cupcake carrier if you don’t want to. If you buy cupcakes from a bakery, you can save the container they come in and use that as your carrier.
It’s a perfectly simple substitute for a department store version: there are already indents and a protective cover for your cupcakes, and you don’t have to spend more money. However, plastic bakery containers aren’t as sturdy as other carriers, so if you prefer something more durable, consider a cupcake caddy.
Use Your Muffin Tin
After you bake your cupcakes and ice them to perfection, simply put them back into your muffin or cupcake tin for easy transport. Once the tray has cooled, it’ll be safe to handle and you can put it anywhere knowing it will hold your cupcakes secure.
If you need to cover your cupcakes, there are plenty of ways to do so while they are in their tray. A large rectangular Tupperware becomes a lid if it can fit over your tray. Even if it’s far too large for the tray, it will protect the top of your cupcakes from getting crushed by anything.
If you plan on decorating your cupcakes after you transport them, you can cover your tray will cling wrap or a dish towel for the journey. Then, you can take your icing along in a separate container or make it on-sight to prevent any cupcake disasters on-route.
To use your cupcake tray most effectively, bake your cupcakes inside liners. The liners will make it easy to take your cupcakes out once they’re baked, but they also make it easy to put them back in the tray. Liners prevent the need to clean your muffin tin if your cupcakes happen to stick.
Use a Covered Box
If you have the right number of cupcakes, using any simple, covered box will keep them secure and safe. Covered boxes could be any one of these suggestions:
- Baked goods box
- Homemade box
- Takeout container
A box that used to house other kinds of baked goods can effectively house cupcakes too. Boxes that are specifically meant for baked goods often take into account spacing issues. They will be more likely to fit an even number of cupcakes with a healthy topping of icing, unlike other boxes you might find.
Baked goods boxes also sometimes have windows so you can see the product inside. These can be especially helpful if you want to check on your cupcakes without opening up the entire box. A window can tell you if your cupcakes are getting squished, and you’ll know immediately if they get jostled.
Tupperware is the sturdiest choice and best if you want to keep your cupcakes protected. Often, they have lids that snap closed securely, so you don’t have to worry about your box randomly opening and spilling your cupcakes everywhere.
However, Tupperware boxes are sometimes awkward sizes and don’t always fit the number of cupcakes you have. Using a larger box than necessary and taking up the remaining space with spacers, other goodies, or even tissue is a better choice than using a Tupperware that’s too small and might squish your creations.
You can make your own box out of leftover cardboard, or anything that remotely acts like a tray. A clean gardening tray could hold cupcakes, as could a topless tissue box, or a roasting pan. As long as it’s level and clean with a lip to prevent your goodies from sliding off the edge, you can get creative with your cupcake trays.
Though these won’t come with a lid, you can fashion some yourself from cardboard or large food containers that can fit overtop the main tray.
If you’re not going very far, stretching cling wrap over top of the cupcakes can offer some protection. You can prop the wrap off the cupcakes using toothpicks to keep it from smearing your icing.
An old takeout container that’s been washed can easily carry cupcakes. However, it’s important to pay attention to how many cupcakes you need to carry and the size of the container. Not all takeout containers are the same.
At the same time, even if it fits your cupcakes, the lid might crush the top of the icing. Be extra careful in closing a takeout box so you don’t accidentally destroy all your hard work.
If your takeout box does comfortably hold all the cupcakes you want, you can reuse it as many times as you like.
For these kinds of containers to work effectively, they must provide these three things:
- No extra room between cupcakes
- Safety from jostling
- Room between cupcake frosting and cover
Ideally, the cupcakes should get to your destination without being squashed. Though it sounds easy enough to do, there are several factors you should consider to reduce problems with your covered box.
Room Between Cupcakes
If you don’t have enough room for all your cupcakes, obviously you will need a larger box. Unfortunately, sometimes the next size up is too large entirely. The extra space could make your cupcakes slide around. Sliding cupcakes could get crushed by the box walls or other cupcakes.
If you want your cupcakes to sit securely, you can pad the extra gaps with dish towels, napkins, or any soft substance that fits.
Whatever you use, be sure it won’t force your cupcake into the container wall. It must be light enough to absorb any movement but not cause the cupcakes to shift any more than they already would. There are plenty of materials you can use for padding:
- Crumpled parchment paper
- Light cardboard (like Kleenex boxes)
- Dish towels
Make Your Own Separations
You can make DIY dividers for your cupcakes to help space them out inside their container. Using thin cardboard, like Kleenex box cardboard, you can put up intersecting walls to form squares inside the box.
Each cupcake can sit in its own square, just like it would sit in the indent of a muffin tray. The walls will keep the cupcakes evenly spaced out and less likely to run into each other.
Another way to fix sliding cupcakes is to line the bottom of the box with parchment paper. Then, put a small dollop of icing or melted chocolate underneath each cupcake.
When the icing or chocolate hardens, it will glue the cupcake to the parchment paper. That way the cupcakes will stay put and not crash into each other, even if you take a corner a little too sharp as you drive.
Non-Stick Shelf Liner
Another option to prevent sliding is to line your box with a non-stick or non-skid shelf liner. The grippy surface will keep the cupcakes right where you want them so they don’t bump into each other during the trip.
Safety from Jostling
Depending on what your covered box is made of, it will provide more or less protection to your cupcakes. At the same time, what you’re transporting along with the cupcakes could pose a danger to their well-being.
If you’re driving in your car, for instance, and you’re only transporting a single box of cupcakes, you’re probably okay to have a less sturdy box. However, if you’re carrying a lot of things in your trunk or back seat that might slide around or even fall on your cupcakes, a sturdier box is the way to go.
If you’re traveling by yourself, you might want to opt for a larger box that you can securely fasten with a seat belt. Belting in your cupcakes might seem silly, but at the very least it will keep your box from moving and make it more likely that your cupcakes will arrive intact.
Room for Frosting
When choosing a box with a lid, remember to pay attention to what your frosting looks like. If you’re the sort of person who loves decadence and has added an extra five inches of sugary goodness onto your cupcakes, you’ll need a deep box and tall lid. However, if this isn’t a concern, a shallower box with a cling wrap top will easily fit your needs.
Large boxes or containers are useless when you only want to carry a single cupcake across town. It’s much better to find a smaller box for a smaller load: that way it’s less bulky and there’s less risk of accidentally smashing your cupcake inside the walls.
More often than not, takeout or leftover boxes are great for smaller food transportation. Boxes from Chinese food restaurants, Pho soups, or Thai noodles can be cleaned up to hold a single cupcake. The box will protect the cupcake from outside contamination, and reasonably hold up under pressure.
If you and your cupcake are in for a bumpy ride, a takeout container will keep your creation from getting crushed. However, you might find a bit too much icing has made a home on the box walls. This is always a risk when transporting a cupcake, so just be sure to move the box gently to reduce the possibility of an icing transfer as much as possible.
Individually gift-wrapping your cupcakes can make them easy to transport and cute at the same time.
Using cling wrap or fancier wrapping paper, stand each cupcake in the center of a large square and tie the ends with ribbon above the icing. A stiffer paper will help keep your cupcake contained and safe from bumps. Individually wrapping them also makes it easy to unload them from your vehicle of choice.
Laying a flat tray in your car trunk can provide a stable place to set each of your cupcakes. This will make them less likely to tip over, and the wrapping paper will keep them from squishing each other.
Transport Options for Cupcakes
Aside from packaging ideas, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of safe transport. These include:
- Putting your cupcakes on a flat surface
- Drive/ride slowly
- Don’t stack anything next to your cupcakes
- Keep the container from sliding in your vehicle
Being careful with how to transport cupcakes will prevent them from getting damaged during travel. A secure box that won’t let them slide around on the inside is the best choice. Carrier boxes, muffin tins, or any flat surface that can keep a cupcake upright will provide some level of protection and convenience for taking a cupcake from one place to the other.