Ann Reardon

3D Lightning McQueen Cars Cake Tutorial

lightning mcqueen cars cake  

To make this Lightning McQueen, Cars Cake you will need:

cake pans 11inch (27.94 centimetres) x 15inch (38.1 centimetres) (I had two so I could bake two sheet tins at a time)
chocolate cake x 3
This quantity will make about 40-45 serves.

Template for cutting the cake and fondant pieces



2 x my chocolate buttercream recipe
3 x ganache recipe cooled in the fridge

750g (26.46 ounces) Black fondant (I used Bakels Black Pettinice)
1 kg (2.2 pounds) Red fondant (will be just enough if you are new to decorating you may want to get a bit extra) I used Satin Ice RED
150g (5.29 ounces) White fondant for eyes and windscreen (get 500g (17.64 ounces) and split it up leave some white & colour some yellow/grey/brown)
250g (8.82 ounces) Yellow fondant for side logo
50g (1.76 ounces) Grey fondant for windows (mix a small amount of black fondant with some white)
50g (1.76 ounces) Brown fondant for ‘Rusteze’ symbol

Powdered food colour in red, orange and yellow
silver luster dust
metal piping tip for cutting out eyes – you can use something else round in a similar size
Drinking straws for cutting circles.
circle cutter
thick card to cut for cake board
Platter or cake board to put cake on (see cutting templates for indication of cake size)
Oreos or other flat cream filled circle shaped biscuits x 8

Step 1. Do ahead of time for your Lightning McQueen, Cars Cake

Allow approximately 6 hours to make these well, I like to make extras of things so I can choose the best one.

Print and cut out cake cutting templates

Cut cake board out of thick card and cover with alfoil or tape to waterproof

Make up some Simple Syrup using 1/2 cup or 108g (3.81 ounces) sugar amd 1/2cup or 125mL (4.23 fluid ounces) water.
Heat until the sugar is dissolved then leave to cool. Store excess in the fridge.

Make the fondant details for the car that can be made ahead, see video for instructions:


silver dots x 4
eyes x 2, (I made four so that I could choose the best two)
‘Rusteze’ symbol for bonnet x 1 (I made two and chose the best one)
’95’ x 3 (for each side of the cake and the top)
brake lights
Back of the car with details
Side windows
Back windows

disney cars cake tutorial


Step 2: Making the Cake & Frosting
Bake your chocolate cake x 3 this will make six sheet cakes of which you need five.  In the trays this cake takes 15 minutes to bake (swap top tray to bottom and bottom to top half way through cooking).  My cake tray is 26cm (10.24 inches) x 39cm (15.35 inches)
Make your frosting: double quantity of my chocolate buttercream
and triple quantity of ganache. Cool the ganache in the fridge until firm and then whip into the buttercream.  I had plenty left over to use with the cake scraps to make cake pops, or you can put the excess in a ziploc bag and freeze it.

Step 3: Assembling & Carving your Lightning McQueen, Cars Cake
Watch the video to see this demonstrated.
Set up your cake board to sit 1cm (0.39 inches) above the platter in the middle and 1 1/2cm (0.79 inches) at the front 3cm (1.18 inches) at the back
Using your car template cut out 4 of the layers and assemble with ganache between on top of the cake board. Cut your 5th sheet cake in half and stack on top in the centre. Use your side of car template to check that the cake is high enough in all places and then carve using the side template as your guide.

Place the top of car template 1 on top lined up with the base of the windscreen and cut around to the level of the front bonnet.  Then put the smaller roof template in place and trim across to meet the outline that you just made.

Trim down the centre of the bonnet and the centre of the back of the car.
Cut out the wheels holes deep enough until you reach the cake board.

Cover the whole cake in frosting smoothing as best as you can and the refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Step 4. Decorating your Lightning McQueen, Cars Cake

Make your wheels using fondant and oreos, see video for instructions.

Take the cake out of the fridge and use paper towel to smooth. Put the white in place for the teeth, cover with some non-stick baking paper in the shape of the smile. Cover in red fondant, cut out the smile and then add your pre-made details.
Make and add front windscreen and the side lightning flashes. Clean the cake board and lastly add your wheels.

Step 5. Photo Time
Smile, you did it! Take a photo and upload in the comments section below. Photo Tips: It is hard to get a good photo of the cake at the party so take a photo with the birthday boy or girl before any of the guests arrive.  Pay attention to what is in the background of your picture.

by Ann Reardon How To Cook That


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ann reardon crazy sweet creations cookbook
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All recipe quantities in the book are in grams, ounces and cups.

1,136 Comments View Comments

  1. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann,

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for this tutorial. I wouldn’t have done this without you.
    Here’s what my Lightning Mcqueen cake turned out.


    • Loveley job roselle it looks amazing

  2. Hi Ann
    I purchased the lightening McQueen template on the 22nd August and it never gave me any link of any kind to download. I was expecting something in the post, but have just been on the website again and realised that it is all digital. Oops
    What do I do now??
    Please help!!

    • Hi Jocelyn, It gives you a link as soon as you pay but you may have missed it if you were expecting an item in the post. Your payment has gone through on paypal, I will send a new download link to your email.

      • i missed the link to get the pattern..i payed for it but didnt get anything at least i didnt see where to get it..please can someone help

      • can i get the link for the cars cake pattern..i did pay for it and been waiting foever to get it but didnt realize there was a link..i payed with credit card..i dont want to repay for it to get the link..thank you!

  3. Thank you so much Ann for sharing your template and tutorial. My sons will be thrilled when they see their birthday cake tomorrow! You are brilliant! I enjoyed making this cake following your step-by-step tutorial. I had to improvise for the Rust-eze symbol because I could not find yellow and orange dust powder in time, but I think it came out fine. Again, thank you so much!

    • great to hear sandra 😀

  4. Rating: 4.5

    Thank you for your tutorial and template. I think I watched it 50 times! Here is a picture of what I did with your could have been better, but I was pressed with time. I love, love your accent!!

    • AWESOME!!!!! that looks so good Lori congrats

  5. Hi Ann,

    Please advise how do I download the template. Still waiting for your reply.
    Thanking you
    Oanh Nguyen

    • Hi Oanh, click add the cart and pay with paypal or credit card and the link will be there for download straight away and a copy of the link should also be emailed to you.

  6. Hi,

    Great cake! Have just bought the template.

    Would like to check, after frosting the cake and refrigerating it, it is okay to put the fondant on? Will the frost “sweat” and cause the fondant to “sweat” as well?

    If we make the cake one day in advance, can the completed cake be refrigerated?

    • hi jas, sorry for long delay in replying, i’ve been really swamped with comments. It should be fine if it’s been in the fridge. If it’s been in the freezer then you need to let it completely thaw.

  7. Just purchased the template to try for my twin brother birthday. Although it won’t be lightening Mcqueen more just a cake. Very nervous as this will be my first 3d cake. Just noticed though that there is no side mirrors? Any way wish me luck! Yours looks amazing!

    • hi Kiara, how did it turn out?

    • Hola donde puedo comprar la plantilla me pasarías la info gracias

  8. Dear Ann

    I happen to stumble on your website. It is brilliant. Does it cost to subscribe onto your website? Please let me know asap.

    Thank you

    • Hi Judy It is free to subscribe 😀

  9. Rating: 5

    Anne, This cake would be great for my nephew’s birthday!
    He will love it!!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • thanks Vera 🙂

  10. Andrew absolutely loved this cake! it was such a highlight at the party – you are so clever!!

    • Thanks Kristy, glad to see it was loved

  11. cant wait for this to be done by me once i find time. your amazing and really talented. i admire you for your creativeness.

    • thanks Diosa, how did it turn out?

  12. Also,I just bought powder food coloring in red and orange, but I could only find silver and yellow in luster dust. The other two are regular colours, the later 2 are that what you used to?thanks

    • Hi lori, yes i used the powdered colour for the lightning flash and rusteeze symbol and luster for the silver rods on the back

  13. That is brilliant Ann. Thanks so much for posting this.

    • hi Paul, your cakes are awesome!

  14. Rating: 5

    Ann, this is fabulous! You are not only talented, but also generous to share your knowledge!!!
    I don’t think I can ever attempt to make such a complex cake, but you’ve explained the steps in a very very doable and understandable manner.
    Thank you!

    • thanks for the kind feedback Radhika 🙂

  15. Rating: 4.5

    Dear Ann, I was so inspired by your McQueen cake! It looks absolutely beautiful! I suppose I cannot use liquid food colour for painting the fondant as the fondant will be soggy?

    Also I cannot click on the link for the car template. Is there an alternative way of purchasing?

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and video!

    • Hi Kelly, I would not recommend painting it, the link seems ot be working ok here, let me know it you still have problems

  16. How do I purchase the templet for the lighting Mcqueen cake? It will not do anything when I click the little box next to the $4.99?

    • seems to be working when I checked it just them sheri, let me know if you still have problems with it

      • yes! me too. i wanna buy the template. but how?

        • Hi diosa, click on add to cart and the buy page will come up for you 😀

      • Hello, Ann. I admire your work, not just this wonderful cake but everything. I was wondering if you could make and post ”Masha and the bear” cake. It’s a very popular cartoon and my son, even that he’s 8 months old, loves it and I’d like to make that cake for his first birthday. I’m from Serbia so I maybe don’t have all the best equipment you do but I’ll do my best to make the cake if you could guide me.. Please help me… Waiting for your answer…

        • And how do I order the template if I don’t have visa card… Is there any other way to purchase it or to make this cake without it?

          • hi jelena, you can pay with paypal

  17. Just finished watching this and I was completely mesmerised by the end result. Looks absolutely amazing! I’m a big fan of Doctor Who and was wondering if its possible you could make a Tardis cake soon! Can wait for the episodes to come. You’re a real talent!

  18. How many people will this cake feed?
    What a great tutorial!!! U did awesome in explaining it!!!

    • hi Yaneri, that depends on how big you slice it roughly between 15-25

  19. Hi Anne,

    Love the blog! I’m a dedicated follower of it, and all these recipes and cake ideas you come up with are amazing!
    I have taken in an official order for someone’s 21st and I’m only 17… I need to make a cake for this person and I want to cover it with fondant. I’ve worked with fondant before but the smell really puts me off.. but using it gives a really professional finish.
    Just wondering if I wanted to stick ’21’ details on the cake should I make them in advance and dry them and then stick it onto the cake that’s covered in fondant? And also, what colouring do you use to colour your fondant? Gel, powder of liquid?

    • Hi Lewis, I use gel colour for fondant. Yes I would make the numbers ahead and let them dry out

      • Rating: 5

        Hi Ann,

        Congratulations on this amazing cake!!
        Im making it for my nephew next weekend, and Im just wondering, when you put the template for cutting the top of the car, you dont cut right trhough it right? and you only take the excess cake from the side not from the back? ( where the wheel will be)

        thank you so much,


        • hi cecilia yes that is right only cut down to teh level of the bonnet not right the way through

  20. Ann, I have not made the “Cars” cake, but I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with your cake. It is fun and beautiful! The tutorial was very easy to follow, and very detailed. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • thanks Del 🙂

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