21 21st Birthday Cake Ideas

Sometimes, birthday cakes are easy. When you are a kid, all you want is your favorite character. When you’re older, all you want is that all those candles don’t catch fire.

If you are worried about what to do about that special someone’s 21st birthday, worry no more. Something on this list is bound to solve your dilemma.

21st Birthday Cake Ideas for Her

Some girls still like girlie things, no matter their age. Check out these cakes fit for a princess.

1. New use for old pans

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A lot of people forget about their number pans the second kids grow up a little. It’s a shame since it doesn’t take a lot to make those cakes look a bit more sophisticated. A few flowers and gold hearts, and you have a cake worthy of a fully grown princess.

2. Retiring the doll

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Almost all girls have had a doll birthday cake when they were little. It’s time to retire the doll and replace it with a bottle of bubbly.

3. A new journey

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21 is a huge milestone and a beginning of a new chapter in life. Celebrate it with images of the birthday girl’s favorite city or country printed out on edible paper.

4. For the girliest of girls

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Some more symbolism with butterflies emerging from their cocoons and flying into the world.

This design is perfect for that girly girl. It’s worthy of a princess, yet it is a lot more sophisticated than what you would expect when you hear the words “butterfly cake”.

21st Birthday Cake Ideas for Guys

Guys tend not to care about cakes at this age. But will these change his mind?

5. Holy minimalism!

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When it comes to guys, often less is more. Keep it simple with his favorite color and a metallic accent. Finnish with a cake topper and/or candles.

6. Quick upgrade

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He said he doesn’t want a cake? Well, he’ll want this one! Bake his favorite and “decorate” it with age-appropriate items. It will be a hit!

7. Club pride

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Boys never grow out of their sports-themed cakes. The only thing that changes is how to decorate it. Print the team’s logo on edible paper and cover the cake in team colors. Job done.

Last-minute Topping

No time to make a cake from scratch? Here are a few toppers you can use to customize the one from the shop. They will work with your signature birthday cake as well.

8. A different stroke

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Brush font toppers are everywhere and, honestly, they are getting a bit boring. This design is fresh, different, yet versatile. It will equally work on a cake that is swamped with fruit and flowers, as it will work on one with a plain layer of fondant.

9. Party girl

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This will not be a cake that you can bring in front of grandma. But I double dare you to tell me that it won’t be something everyone will talk about for a long while.

10. A cup of cake

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Going the cupcake route? No one will mind if they don’t come in crazy colors with the right toppers. This set has a mixture of safe and more fun designs, so you can hit the right tone easily.

11. Beers and cheers

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Don’t know how to decorate the cake for that guy or tomboy? Keep it simple, load it with buttercream, and pop one of these right in. It’s even better if it goes on top of the Guinness chocolate cake.

12. Level 21

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About 80% of Gen Z play video games. If they own a console, believe me, this topper will make them happy. That is unless you chose to bring the cake out in the middle of a boss fight.

Next level

Ready for a challenge? Then try your hand at one of these.

13. Vegas, baby!

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Vegas is the dream destination of anyone celebrating their 21st birthday. Can’t go to the Sin City? Maybe this cake can do instead.

14. Cottagecore

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@Instagram @jm_cakes_

Cottagecore has been huge these past 2 years, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

If your special someone likes to channel their inner Marie Antoinette, this cake is perfect for them. A perfect blend of baroque and pastoral – the queen would approve!

15. Sugarcraft

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I hope you have some amazing sugar skills. If you don’t, this cake will never happen. But then again, the 21st is very special, so it may be worth it to go the extra mile.

When Cake is Not a Cake

In France, birthdays are a perfect occasion to build a croquembouche. But let’s not stop there. Many single-serving desserts will be a great replacement for a traditional cake.

16. Classic with a twist

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You can go for a classic, or you can take that extra step. These cream puffs are covered with chocolate ganache. It may take longer to decorate, but at least it means that you don’t have to bother with caramel and it’s easier to put together.

17. Homer’s delight

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This is such a cheat. Go to that fancy doughnut place and pick up a few boxes. Then all you have to do is to stack them over a cardboard cone 10 minutes before it’s time to bring out the cake. Then, sit back and enjoy everyone’s amazement and awe.

18. The magic mallow

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Do you want to send the cake without it falling apart? Don’t send a cake, send a marshmallow croquembouche.

They stick together easily, so there’s no worrying about what will happen to them in transport. And, don’t you think it looks unique and stunning?

Boozy Cakes

Of course, we had to booze it up at some point! It’s the 21st after all! So here are tried, tested, and approved recipes that will put everyone in a celebratory mood. Well, as long they like chocolate.

19. Guinness cake

Chocolate and Guinness Cake

If you have a guy that is not very excited about having a cake for their birthday, wait until you tell him that you’re making this one. Plus, the recipe comes from an Irish baker who doesn’t like to complicate her recipes, so it’s bound to be a success.

20. Red wine cake


The tanginess of red wine lightens up this chocolate cake. Think Black Fores Gateau, but a lot better. This is one of those times when you want to use the wine you like to drink. Still, don’t bother going for the expensive stuff.

21. Irish whiskey cake

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Or use Scotch or American bourbon. Even rum will work great! And the best part? This cake is made with cake mix. It’s impossible to mess it up, even if this is the first thing you’ve ever baked.

Time to Bake!

Now that your inspiration is flowing, it’s time to pick a cake, get the ingredients and plan when to bake. If by some chance you didn’t find your idea here; check out my DIY beer cake, I made. It’s great for a 21st birthday or a “cake” for a guy really at any age.

We’ve also got some great ideas for 21st birthday gifts and birthday photoshoot ideas you’ll need to check out!