Background image graphic of microscopes, lightbulbs and magnets.

Decorate cell cupcakes

Join Bake Off star and scientist Yan to create your own cells using cupcakes, icing and sweets.


Our bodies are made up of trillions of building blocks called cells, which work to together to keep your body running.

There are lots of different cells with different functions, such as brain cells, lung cells, liver cells and skin cells. At the Francis Crick Institute, we study all types of cells to better understand how the human body works when it's healthy, and when it's not.

What you'll need

  • Plain cupcakes 

  • Icing, e.g. buttercream

  • Big round sweet, e.g. giant chocolate buttons or fried eggs

  • Oval sweets, e.g. jelly beans

  • Multi-layer sweets, e.g. rainbow wands (chopped up) 

  • Long thin sweet, e.g. strawberry laces 

  • Ring-shaped sweet, e.g. jelly ring

  • Small round sweets e.g. Smarties

  • Top tip

    Top tips

    • You can either make the cakes and icing yourself (try this recipe!) or use shop-bought ones.
    • Don't worry if you can't get the exact sweets we recommend - look for ones that look similar!



  • Get your cupcake ready.

  • Prepare your sweets

    You’ll need to chop up your rainbow wands. Be careful and have adult supervision if you're using scissors!

  • Spread your icing

    Get your buttercream icing and spread it on the cupcake using a knife or the back of a spoon. You’ve just added the cytosol – this is the fluid within the cell

  • Creating our cells

    Now for the fun part! You’ll be using the sweets to represent different structures of the cells - the organelles. Follow the picture and Yan's video.

    Cupcakes decorated to look like cells.

    Which sweet is each part of the cell? 

    • Icing = cytosol 
    • Giant chocolate button/fried egg = nucleus 
    • Strawberry laces = cell membrane
    • Jelly beans = mitochondria
    • Rainbow wands = Golgi apparatus
    • Smarties = lysosome
    • Jelly ring = vesicle

    What do the organelles (different structures inside the cell) do? 

    • Cytosol: the fluid within which the organelles are suspended. 
    • Nucleus: contains the cell’s instructions, in the form of ‘DNA’, and controls the activities of the cell.
    • Cell membrane: Keeps the cell contents separate from the surroundings, and controls what moves in and out of the cell
    • Mitochondria: the powerhouse of the cell, where oxygen and sugar are used to generate energy.  
    • Lysosome: the cell’s recycling centre, unwanted material is broken down for re-use. 
    • Vesicles: fluid filled sack that transports things between organelles and the cell membrane. 
    • Golgi apparatus: produces vesicles and lysosomes