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: 5

    Well I really tried. This was my first 3D cake.

    I didn’t use your chocolate cake recipe, and instead used one that I normally make. It is a very moist cake so it was harder to get it to the shape I wanted (mental note for next time). The extra pieces of cake that I cut off and the frosting came in handy :p

    I made the numbers, headlights, logo and so on days ahead and the wheels as well so it made the assembly go reasonably smooth.

    In person he looks like half McQueen, half Tow mater:p

    But in the end all that mattered was if my nephew liked it. He was so excited when I drove up to his house because he knew I was making it (I had to talk him down from previously wanting a cake with a fair AND mickey mouse on it…I still have no idea where he got that idea from). He was so happy when he saw it, that any of the flaws didn’t matter to him.

    I love your website and youtube page. I look forward to what you will post on Friday!!

    • hey that looks like you did a great job Nadine, well done!

  2. Hi Ann – Is it possible to make this cake one month in advance? What is the best way to store it? In an airtight container in the freezer? If so, how long would it need to defrost for before serving? Or could it be stored in the fridge without drying out? thanks

    • no, sorry Rora

  3. Hi, I am making this for my son’s birthday but can’t find an 11″x15″ cake tin. Can I use smaller ones with the recipe and how deep does it need to be, will a Swiss roll tin do the job?
    Also, I have made some of the bits to go on it but when I did the rusteze sign, the powdered colour has faded and seems to have soaked into the brown icing. Is this because I used ready to roll icing instead of flower paste? Do I need to let it dry our first?

    • Hi Donna, that is interesting, I didn’t have that problem I used fondant not sugar paste too so it’s not that. Perhaps a different brand of colour? can you give it another coat?

  4. Hi ann,
    I am planning to make this cake for my little guy’s birthday next month. How many serving does 11″-15″ inch pans serve? And if I buy the templets can I resize it according to my serving capacity? As in can I make a bigger or smaller cake?

    Please help thanks

    • yes you can resize it to make the cake bigger or smaller using a different printing setting

      • Rating: 5

        hi ann, Thanks a ton for the wonderful idea n printable instructions it was easy to follow and i came up with this. Its not exactly the reddish red coz i made the fondant at home but its okay since it was my sons party. Everybody loved it my son loved it what more can i ask.

        • thankyou, that’s great news & it looks wonderful!

  5. Had to make this for a little man who turned 3
    Your tutorial was fantastic lots of pause and rewind lol
    Thank you

    • 😀

  6. Hi Ann,
    Just purchased templates for lightning mcqueen and thomas the train, did not get a link to download and have paid, previous post states download are automatic. I’ve checked my emails several times and nothings there.
    Please advise.

    • hi connie, i will send these again to your email

  7. and the cake 😉

  8. Hi! cheers from sweden! my daughter loved her cake!

  9. Rating: 4


    • excellent, well done Jannika

  10. Rating: 5

    Thank you so much Ann, you are a genius! It was my first time doing a cake with fondant and I made my own marshmallow recipe. I didn’t account for the humidity here in Florida but it still turned out beautifully and it tasted really great too!

    • lovely Sameul

  11. Rating: 5

    hi anna thanks for the tutorial and templates! but i was sad because my end result was not really the way i expected it to be. i was done but then my fondant started getting sticky and wet so put powdered sugar to dry it. unfortunately, i have put too much that i did not expect what happened next. i was about to deliver it but when i tried to brush off the powdered sugar, a lot of it won’t come off.. it’s really disappointing.. i attached the picture of it.. tell me what you think thanks

    • Hi Johanna, If you take ti out of the fridge it will get a slight layer of moisture on it which will evaporate off if you just leave it. You have added icing sugar and basically made white icing (just like if you mix icing sugar and water in a bowl) and have a layer of white icing on your cake. It’s a bit hard to rescue from there but after all that work I’d still try – perhaps a damp paint brush and try and wash a little section at a time.

  12. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann,

    Thank you so much for your tutorial! My little boy loved his cake! He still talks about it months later.

    Thanks so much!
    Larina 🙂

    • Lovley Larina, I love how cakes become such a memory for them

  13. Hi Ann!
    I found your website about year ago and fall in love with it 🙂
    Your tutorials are clear and it makes baking and decorating easy.
    It was my first 3D cake I know its not perfect but my son was excited and delighted.

    • awesome Karolina

  14. Rating: 5

    A thousand and one thank yous for posting the tutorial and template for this cake! my son loves this , and so for the first time I attempted to bake a cake and decorate using fondant! I can’t believe I pulled it off, my son was so excited and so were all the guests. I’m now attempting the hunger games one for my friend’s upcoming birthday!!! Thanks again! I love your work!

    • so cool well done Evangeline

  15. Thank you for the great tutorial! This was my first fondant cake, it took me forever to make it, but the look on my 3-year old face was worth the efforts!

    • Rating: 4.5

      Here’s the picture!

      • So good Annie-Claude

  16. Rating: 5

    Thank you Ann, I did it! (more or less)
    🙂 It was a real success in my godson’s birthday Party… I asked my boyfriend to make an innovation an place LEDs making the front lights. Here’s the final result…

    • Rating: 5

      Picture of McQueen cake – Santiago 4th Btday

      • love the lights idea great job on the cake too

  17. Rating: 4.5

    Second time ever using fondant and thought i was being way too ambitious attempting this cake for my 3yr old’s birthday but it turned out pretty good 🙂
    He was so stoked with it, he raved about his “Wightning Mcqueen” cake for days lol

    • so cute wightning mcqueen

  18. How do I resize this template? it comes up on adobe and ther is no place to resize it.

    • Hi Stac if you print it as is it makes it the size shown in the video, if you’d like a different size then you will need to adjust it using programs on your computer or enlarge on a photocopier

  19. Rating: 5

    Hi Ann,

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for your tutorial and the awesome templete!

    Thank you!

    Love from Malaysia,

    • great job, it turned out awesome!

  20. Rating: 4.5

    … and the back …

    • awesome

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