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


My Cookbook

ann reardon crazy sweet creations cookbook
Stores that sell my book listed by country:
All recipe quantities in the book are in grams, ounces and cups.

1,136 Comments View Comments

  1. Rating: 4.5

    My five-year-old niece asked for a Lightning McQueen cake for her birthday. Your tutorial saved me!
    So here’s the result, with a few comments:
    1. Since the cake had to travel 75 miles, I was apprehensive about having it sitting above the cake platter, and opted add another layers on the bottom. Not as pretty, but safer…
    2. My local store did not have powder color in either red or orange (thankfully, I still had silver at home). Tried coloring the details with edible markers (which came out a mess), then with gel food color (an even bigger mess), and in the end simply printed it on edible paper. Again, not as pretty, but did the job.
    3. Forgot to do the smile before covering the whole cake with fondant (I guess that’s what happens when you do two cakes on the same day). Tried to correct it afterwards, but it was impossible, so I ended up just sticking white fondant into the gash. Not great.
    I used your recipe for the chocolate cake – absolutely decadent 😉 thank you so much for the recipe!
    And for the frosting used two parts of your chocolate icing mixed with two parts ganache (instead of three), which came out great.
    So, once again, thank you!

  2. Rating: 4

    me quedó muy lindo gracias, ahora quiero hacer el minios ese no es con moldes?

    • Rating: 4.5

      Aqui la otra vista que emoción

    • Yoleidis peralta, Bien hecho!

  3. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann! I absolutely LOVE your video! What a clever girl you are!! Can you please tell me how long it took you to make the whole cake, not just the numbers etc, as I would like to know how to price something like this before I attempt it 🙂 Off to buy your tutorial now!! So excited 🙂

  4. Rating: 5

    I just bought your templates fro the Lightning McQueen cake. I loved your video. I didn’t have much notice on this cake so the video is really going to help me out and the templates. Thank goodness you have these. I will send you a pic of my cake when completed. Thank you so very much!

  5. Hi, I would like to make this for my sons third birthday but this particular cake is HUGE! I was wondering, before I purchase your template, if the cake size is scalable? I’d like something much smaller. Thanks!

  6. Thank u soo much ur cake was such inspiration for me so had make it for my son’s first birthday! ! I loved making it!

    • That’s great to hear Shazeena.

  7. yo trate de traducir pero no se pudo, queria comprar los templates pero no se cuanto es el valor son 4 dolares americanos? ! nos e puede traducir, hay otro metodo para saber.cuanto pagare? gracias. me guato el video.

    • Hola Rosa, La única forma de adquirir la plantilla es a través del enlace que aparece en el correo, oa través de la página de la tienda.
      Por lo general, los precios se muestran en la moneda local.

      • Hola son 5 dolares, multiplica los 5 dolares por la trm del dia de tu pais y te da el precio, te sale comprar con la debito o la crédito pero a mi no me dejo con la debito tuve que usar la de crédito y te piden tu direccion electronica y otros datos, te mandan la plantilla en pdf la debes descargar en el link que te mandan en el correo y listo!

  8. Ann I have gone everywhere and can’t find simple syrup. Is there anything I can use instead

    • Hi Natalie, Simple Syrup is a little sugar syrup you make to dress your cake to keep it moist and reduce crumbing. Simple Syrup:
      1/4 cup or 54g (1.9 ounces) sugar mixed with 1/4 cup or 58g (2.05 ounces) of water. Heat until the sugar has just dissolved. Allow to cool and add some vanilla essence.

  9. Rating: 5

    Nixon’s 3rd birthday.

    • Hi Kazpart. Your lightning looks great! Love the Birthday Disc on the front!

  10. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann,

    Thank you so much for your explain everything very clearly and easy to follow. I followed all your instructions and did a beautiful car cake for my 3 year old son. He loved it and got lot of compliments too. I thought doing a 3D car cake is impossible but after watching your video I was surprised. I couldn’t do it without your help. Thank you so much for your wonderful work.

    • Awesome job Gothamie, especially for a first go. Thanks for the great feedback.

  11. Hi Ann, I can’t buy the template, erro message “Please enter a valid postcode”. I’m from Brazil. Thanks.

    • Hi Claudio, Some countries are unable to purchase on Selz via credit card, so your region may not have access to credit card purchases. In that case paypal may be an option.

  12. Hi! Could someone please tell me how far in advance I can make this cake, and how to store it? TIA!

    • let me clarify.. I know I can make the decorations a month ahead, but the actual cake- could I make as early as 2 days before party? & do I store in fridge? covered? Thanks!

      • Hi Katy, Ann recommends assembling it the day before. 2 days before and it wont taste fresh. It best to store it in the fridge. You shouldn’t need to cover it. When you take it out the fondant will go a bit shiny. This should dissappear as the cake comes to room temperature. Don’t store the cake in the freezer. Hope that helps.

  13. Rating: 5

    This is my first ever attempt to make a 3D cake. Thanks to you it was a success. Your instructions are fantastic.

    • Brilliant job Resh! This is a fabulous first effort. Thanks for the feedback.

  14. Rating: 5

    Great tutorial. First time 3-D and full fondant cover. My boy loves it!!

    • Hi Katrina, We love your work. I especially like the way you have decorated the board. Well done!

  15. Rating: 4

    another picture 🙂

    • Hi Coralie, Your cake has turned out brilliantly. Well done!

  16. Rating: 5

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. my kid was so so happy!

  17. Rating: 5

    Thanks for the great template and video my son asked for lightning McQueen and Spider-man I adapted this one to do this in one cake! He is gonna be wrapped!!

    • hi tita vannesa she followed your tutorial using the template that she print

  18. Rating: 5

    Little Hugo was really happy with his birthday cake next week i ll’try the fire truck thank you for you rien template!!!

    • Rating: 5

      It is my first 3D cake as well!!! Second picture sorry for the qualité picture but it was late in the night!!! Second picture

      • Great Job Coquelin anne.

  19. Rating: 4.5

    Hi ann. I made one mcqueen car. Not so detail. My first carve cake. Yay for me

    • Hi ilyana yaha, This looks amazing for a very first effort. Well done!

  20. Rating: 5

    Dear Ann, Many thanks for this lightening McQueen cars template. I made the cake for my son’s 4th Birthday and he loved it! It was my thirst 3D cake. So here are pictures of 🙂
    cheers from Switzerland, andrea

    • Rating: 4.5

      second picture

    • Hi Andrea, This looks amazing. Your detail looks spot on!

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