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. Dear Ann,

    I sent you a couple of Facebook messages after buying your template for further information but never received an answer…
    Please find below my achievement…

    Humidity was tough to work with on an island…. but the end result was ok.
    Thank you for the tutorial.

  2. Good day
    i tried to buy the template but i can’t use paypal it is not supported by my bank. Is there any other way that i can i buy it i live in south africa

  3. Здравствуйте Анна! на вашем сайте заказала 3D Lightning McQueen Cars Cake Tutorial. Очень прошу , вышлите как можно быстрее ! Мне срочно заказали торт , боюсь не успеть , я новичок ! С уважением Наталья.

  4. Hi Ann.I was just wondering ,what fondant do you use?I have tried store bought fondant to use as the decorations but it was too sticky and required a lot of icing sugar.Any suggestions?

    • hi liyana, i use all different brands of fondant. There’s a video on my youtube channel that compares all the different brands.

  5. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann,
    Thanks so much for publishing the Cars cake tutorial. It took me 14 hours to dot it but it was worth it. I made this for my son’s 2nd birthday because he loves cars. I never could have done it without your help!

    • wow 14 hours, that’s huge commitment Jodi, well done!

  6. Rating: 5

    Hi Anne!! This was a great tutorial . I’m so glad I purchased the template. I just started following you on instagram. I cant wait to see all your creative tips. Thanks again.

    • good job cherilyn

  7. Hi tara did the macuin cake for the first time for my son’s birthday and I don’t go out very well and was already mass break and I am an apprentice in this type of work, for me it was not fàcel. What kind of dough used to make the molds? and use refined sugar not paste? and cake batter broke really need your help. I’m from micambique beautiful work. parabens. Bjs

    • Rating: 4

      Hi tara did the macuin cake for the first time for my son’s birthday and I don’t go out very well and was already mass break and I am an apprentice in this type of work, for me it was not fàcel. What kind of dough used to make the molds? and use refined sugar not paste? and cake batter broke really need your help. I’m from micambique beautiful work. parabens. Bjs

      • great job! it turned out good

    • Hi ann I’m sorry I wrote your name wrong thanks

  8. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann,
    Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge like this. Not having done any cake decorating since I was about 5 helping my mum in the kitchen there is no way I would have been able to tackle this without all the detail you have so well put together here!
    On and off it’s taken me quite a while to pull together, but my 2 year old son just wants to keep looking at the cake (I think he really just wants to play with it) so that’s the biggest compliment I could ask for… I hope it survives until his party tomorrow and he doesn’t get upset when all his friends start eating it!

    • Rating: 5

      Here’s how it turned out…

      • Dan, that looks amazing! well done

  9. Dear Ann,

    Congratulations for the great job! This is the best cars cake that I’ve ever seen! Plus, your instructions are really well done so it shouldn’t be that hard to make this cake, even though it will never look like yours. I am really willing to buy your template(hope I can buy it from Switzerland!?), the only issue is that I need to make a strawberry cake and I don’t see any recipe for that…is there a way to make strawberry ganache or frosting? Or maybe the cake itself? I kknow we can’t use fresh fruits with fondant so maybe with strawberry jelly powder or strawberry nesquik? Could you pleeeease give me an idea? I promise I will send you a picture of the cake once it’s done! Thanks a lot!


  10. Rating: 5

    Hello Ann!

    I wanted to thank you for sharing SOOO many ideas and tips on how to create marvelous things! I followed your Cars Tutorial to create a birthday cake for my friend’s 30th birthday. She wanted a VW beetle and your tutorial made the process so easy! Here are a couple of photos of the cake I made with your help! 🙂

    Hugs from Atlanta, Georgia (USA)

    • I love this cake, awesome job. The name on the number plate is a nice touch and the vw logo looks great

  11. Hi Ann! Love your blog and website, and all your recipes!

    My daughter and I are making Lightning for my grandson’s second birthday this next weekend, and I have a question! For coloring the lightning bolts and rusteez piece, could you use the gel colors-liquid instead of powder or will that bleed together? Thanks! We will definitely post a pic of our cake since your tutorial and info is invaluable! Thanks!

    • hi kimberly, sorry about the delay in replying, yes gel works best

  12. Hi where I can download the template pls some one answer me

    • Hi Moza, the link to purchase the template is on the 6th line of this post

  13. Rating: 5

    hello ann, after months of repeatedly watching your tutorial, i finally made this cars 3d cake! thank you for sharing your ideas.. i really had a hard time working with this fondant because of humidity. i am still thankful i made it for my nephew, he was really happy about his cake.. he said it was cool! thanks again ann! godbless u always!
    btw, i also made a minion cake twice already but i dnt think its perfect yet, so maybe on my 3rd try i could post it in your website already..

    • Hi Claire, wow well done and happy birthday to your nephew, you could try adding a little tylose powder to your fondant and see if that helps, only do on a small test batch first. If helps make it dry out quicker.

  14. Hi Rachel, where did you get the cutting templates?

    • hi sherou, on the sixth line of this post there is the link to buy the template

  15. My son’s birthday is in a couple weeks. How many days in advance can I make the details for the car and how long ahead should I plan on baking the cake.

    Thank you. Your tutorial is super helpful. This will be my first time to make fondant so I’m very nervous but very excited.

    • Hi Ohmaya, you can make the fondant details a couple of months-3 days ahead. The cake I would not make more than 2 days ahead, cakes are better fresh.

  16. Hi Ann, just downloaded your template, but I do have a question. When using the templates for the roof, how many layers of cake are you cutting through? Also do you think it would be okay if I baked the full 11×15″x2″ with the full batter amount and then just cut it in half so I get 1″ layers?

    Please help, I really want to attempt this cake!!

    • hi Kathy, if you cake pan is deep enough then yes you can bake more at once if you prefer. I find it bakes quicker in layers.
      you cut down to the bonnet/hood level, because you have already carved it from the side template you will be able to see how far down that is one your cake.

  17. HI Ann, I’m a big fan of your web and youtube channel. Yesterday, I’ve made a mcqueen cake accoring to your guide..the fondant decoration came out great but my problem is the cake. It took me a very long time to bake and it’s also crack and was a bit undercook in the middle. I’m not sure why. I baked it at 160 C as u suggested but I use 9×13 inch pan and a small 9×6 pan. I baked it for over 30 min and its still underdone (but crispt at the side and surface. Am I supposed to divide 1 batch of batter into two 11×15 pan? or fill in the pan less than 1/2 full? I noticed in your vdo that each of your layer is very thin. Please help!! I will try making it again this weekend . Thank you so much

    • Hi Nitty, yes this is a mud cake so takes a long time to bake if you do it in larger pans which is why I suggest baking in flat trays. The top will look a little ‘cracked’ or almost like there is a thin layer on top, it is not the prettiest of cakes but the taste is so much better than any other chocolate cake that I still use it every time.

  18. Rating: 5

    Thank you so much for the tutorial, Ann! My son Enrico was so happy with his cars cake. A big “Ciao” from Italy!

    • YAY it look sambaing, happy birthday to your son

  19. Hi Ann

    How tall are your cake layers? I don’t have the same pans as you, so I want to make sure I’m making an appropriate height… thanks!

    • Hi Rachel, if you print out the template and stack your cake to the same height as the roof of the side template it will be perfect, it doesn’t matter if the individual layers are slightly thicker.

  20. Thanks Ann.. Please tell me did you think about the ”masha and bear” cake, is there a possibility you could make it or should I look for something else because I’ll have to make one cake before the b-day for practice so that the other one looks great?

    • hi jelena, all requests go onto the list and the ones that are asked for the most get done first, sorry this one is not near the top yet.

      • Ok, thanks anyway.. I was wondering, what’s that ”cream” you use for tempering chocolate, do you make it and how, or you buy it? what is it similar to, so if I can’t find it in Serbia maybe I could make it somehow. And if I don’t have a microwave is it possible to temper chocolate in the oven? thanks Ann so much, i hope i’m not to annoying but i’m new at all this..

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