A 21st birthday is a big deal, particularly in the United States. Hitting this milestone means that the whole world opens up for young adults, allowing them to legally drink and smoke. It’s also an emotional coming-of-age point that can mark the beginning of adulthood. That’s often the most important thing.
There are many parts to a 21st birthday. One of them is the cake, which can sometimes be the centerpiece for an entire party. Thankfully, there are plenty of stunning 21st birthday cake ideas. After all, a 21st birthday only comes around once, so it calls for an extra special cake for the celebration, right?
There are some amazing examples out there too. This list is just a small selection of them. Some come from bakeries and professional cake artists, while others come from parents creating elaborate works of art for their own kids.
You can use these images as inspirations for your own designs. A few of the photographers even offer cake creation as a service, so you might be able to hit them up. Or, you could look for birthday cake delivery services. These ship out professional cakes for any occasion and include some impressive ones in the mix.
Also, it’s worth considering that many of these cakes are alcohol-themed because of the association with drinking on your 21st birth in the united states. If the birthday person isn’t a drinker, or you simply don’t want to make it the focal point of the cake, you could still do something special by getting a cake of the month club subscription as a gift.
Cake Ideas For A 21st Birthday
This cake functions both as a celebration and a gift, offering plenty of money and bottles of vodka. The black and silver color scheme is fun too, particularly if this is a cake for a male.
All The Blues
Here’s a different way to play with color. This time the focus is on blue through and through. Adding blue popsicles and balls is a great twist, making the cake stand out even more.
You could easily play around with garnishes, perhaps by swapping these out for a different style or different color.
A Whiskey Barrel Cake
Making cakes in the style of whiskey barrels is a surprisingly common trick. This is one of the best versions I’ve seen. It even looks like a classic Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrel, complete with ice and whiskey bottles.
The cake also features a full bottle of whiskey, so it doubles as a gift. Of course, there’s every chance the entire whiskey bottle gets consumed during the 21st party.
Blueberry With Chocolate
Sometimes all you need is a simple cake with an exceptional garnish, like this one. The large chocolate balls mixed with blackberries, blueberries, and peppermint leaves look fabulous on top of the dark blue cake.
You could easily mix things up too, like with a different icing color and different berries.
Plenty of girls love butterflies, so why not include them on a 21st cake? This one is exceptional, as every aspect of it looks incredibly elegant.
It’s not clear whether the butterflies are edible or not. However, with all the effort that goes into 21st cakes, I’d be surprised if they weren’t.
Does It Come With A Car?
Here’s a more homemade style of cake. It’s a clever one too, particularly if the kid is also getting a car for their 21st (if they’re not, the cake might end up being a slightly mean joke instead).
The Money Cake
What do you give a 21-year-old for their birthday? Money, of course. Money cakes like this are much more exciting than simply giving them cash in a card.
Most of these treats aren’t just money. Instead, they start with a tiered cake, with rolled up notes on all the edges. You could make a green and white cake to match the colors of the money, although this is entirely optional. Any color will work well, as the cake won’t even be visible until the cash is removed.
I love the inclusion of a $100 bow tie on the cake. It makes the whole thing stand out even more.
Whiskey And Pretzels
This cake is simpler than some of the others on this list, but it’s still impressive. The fondant-based whiskey, pretzels, chips, and peanuts are particularly impressive.
You could easily make other snacks instead. What are the gift recipient’s favorite treats?
An Overflow Of Fruit
This cake manages to be simple and complex at the same time. It’s just a basic one layer cake with fruit on the top, but the careful arrangement and the addition of chocolate drips brings the whole thing up a few levels.
The design isn’t personalized at all, so it would work well for almost any 21st party, regardless of the recipient’s interests or gender. That’s helpful, right?
For The Mermaid Lover
Mermaids aren’t just something for little girls. Many teenagers and 20-year-olds love them as well. So, why not make a mermaid-themed cake like this one?
The style is certainly impressive and there are plenty of edible decorations to keep all the guests happy.
This cake is all about the garnishes. Seriously. You have macarons on there, strawberry dipped pretzels, puffs of strawberry cream, Ferrero Rochers, and an entire bottle of sparkling wine.
Burying a bottle of wine in the cake really is a fantastic touch. It makes this much more interesting than a traditional cake.
Ice Cream Birthday Cake
An ice cream cake is normally a cake made from ice cream. This one follows a completely different style, by including actual ice cream cones with frosting arranged to look like ice cream.
It’s not clear whether this is a regular cake or one made with ice cream. Either style would work well.
For The Harley Quinn Lover
This impressive piece looks like it involves an entire edible Harley Quinn figure, while the cake itself is on the simple side.
This means you could easily just buy a model of whatever character you like and use that as the centerpiece for the cake. Why not choose a character that the 21-year-old loves? There are plenty to choose from.
Passed Out Before It’s Begun
Here’s a perfect cake for a family with a sense of humor. The beer bottles look real, while most other parts of the treat should be entirely edible.
Sure, the cake would take a lot of work to pull off, but it would be seriously worth it.
With Corona To Top It Off
This one uses a fairly typical sheet cake at the base, topped with cream, plenty of fresh fruit, and a Corona. The approach still gives you a fantastic 21st cake, but you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare it.
There’s plenty of room for changes too, like using different fruits or a different type of beer. You could even switch the cake out. Perhaps a chocolate cake and chocolate stout as the beer?
Here’s one for any kid who’s in love with his wheels (or is dreaming about having some). The pictured version was a chocolate mud cake, but you could make any type of cake imaginable.
This would be a fantastic party cake, especially if it was completely unexpected.
For The Girl With Style
This cake just oozes style. Seriously. It’s more elegant than most 21st cakes and is certain to impress. It would be particularly good for a small gathering, as there isn’t that much cake to go around.
Then again, it’s so pretty that you mightn’t want to cut into it at all.
The Definition Of Elegance
Here’s another elegant treat. This one looks a little like a top hat with some amazing flowers on the front.
The color is probably the most stunning feature, as you don’t see this type of dark red on cakes often at all.
Just Making A Point
Some cakes are all about humor and that’s particularly true here. According to the description, the cake was literally based on Zaid’s bedroom, which would have made it hilarious.
There isn’t much actual cake going on here. However, there are plenty of similar examples where the sleeping kid and their bedroom is used as a topper for a traditional buttercream cake. Following the topper style would give you more than enough cake to share.
The Dark Money Cake
This money cake steers far away from the traditional design, while still providing plenty of cash.
The black coloring is interesting too. This is normally the last color you’d choose for a cake, yet somehow it works. This could be perfect for anyone who is completely over ‘girly’ cakes.
21 With Flowers And Treats
Making numbers like this allows you to use a relatively simple cake as the base, then really lean into the toppings. This version features macrons, plenty of fresh fruit, sweets, and flowers, plus yellow icing. Really, it’s all going on here.
Galaxy Mirror Cake
Mirror cakes use a special glaze to give them the reflective style you see in the image. The cake itself is normally pretty simple, often with a mousse style.
It’s the glaze that really sets these treats off. They’re not all that difficult to make either. If you don’t like the galaxy style, there are plenty of other colors and patterns to experiment with.
Cookies And Cream Cheers
It’s easy to miss, but this cake is patterned like a giant trash can, one that’s overflowing with Oreos and Jack Daniel’s, rather than actual trash.
The chocolate running down the side is an excellent finishing touch. It would add more flavor to the cake as well, making it particularly enjoyable. The only challenge would be slicing the cake. Where would you begin?
Most cakes use a few toppings and that’s it. This one goes overboard with every version of chocolate that you can imagine. The Maltesers on the side are a particularly good touch.
The cake is also completely customizable. You could run with any type of chocolate you wanted. The cake would always look and taste amazing.
For The Music Fan
This cake is much simpler than the previous entries. Still, sometimes simple is a good thing. It would be a great way to celebrate anyone who loves music or perhaps a DJ in the making.
What’s there to say about this cake? Well… it’s beautiful, for one thing. The combination of blue, white, and gold works exceptionally well.
The golden balls are amazing too. They’re not even as difficult as they seem, as there are plenty of online tutorials that teach you to make these for yourself. Most of the time the balls are made from Styrofoam, although you can make edible versions as well.
For The Beauty Queen
This cake could be fun for anyone who loves beauty and fashion. All of the items are completely edible and look realistic.
While the cake was originally designed for an 17th birthday, it’s just as relevant for a 21st.
This cake breaks the mold, as it doesn’t even try to be elegant. It’s simply bright and bold instead. The candy is a perfect finishing touch that complements the multicolored cake base.
You could easily play with different types of candies or colors on the cake. Honestly, there are no hard rules. Just go with whatever works for you.
Yellow, Blue, Chocolate, And Booze
This cake has some of the themes we’ve seen before, including a little booze and some chocolate. The blue and white addition is new, though, and livens things up nicely.
This coloring mostly comes from the sprinkles and two candles, so it would be easy to change to other colors if you want.
While this cake was made for a 40th birthday, it would be perfect for a 21st as well. The bright pink contrasts excellently with the gold leaf, balls, and other decorations, bringing the whole cake up several notches.
The two tiered effect is always good too. There are even donuts! Exciting, right?
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