Pirate Ship Cake Designs

Boys love pirates and they would love a pirate ship cake for their birthday. Below you can find several theme designs you can get ideas from. Take a look at a few of them, and pick the one you like the most. Enjoy!

Pirate Ship Birthday Cake Gallery:
(Click on a picture below to view a larger cake image
and read baking instructions)

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Pirate ship cake submitted by Yvonne S. from Kingsport, TN

Pirate Party Cake

This cake was a combinations of ideas for pirate cakes as seen on this site.

The pirate ship was made from one large Sarah Lee pound cake and one regular size Sarah Lee pound cake. The texture of the pound cake allows the decorations to hold better.

Candy was used for decorations as well as toys from "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" pirate ship. The sheet cake was made from a Duncan Hines cake mix and the icing is a cream cheese butter cream icing.

The cake had to be transported 30 miles and held together well. I am not a cake decorator and this was a labor of love for my Grandson's 4th Birthday! He loved it and the cake was delicious.

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Pirate ship cake submitted by Jennifer O. from Damascus, MD

Pirate Ship Birthday Cake

My son wanted a pirate ship for his 3rd birthday. I used his Fisher Price Imaginext toy pirate ship as inspiration. All supplies can be found at a local grocery store, local candy store, or Michael's.


  • 3 boxes of cake mix (I preferred 2 yellow cakes and 1 pound cake)
  • 9 eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • 5 tubs of chocolate icing
  • 1 tub buttercream icing
  • Crisco
  • Vanilla wafers (plank)
  • Chocolate covered pretzel circles (port-holes)
  • Fudge shop fudge sticks (railing wall)
  • Snickers mini squares (base of canon)
  • Pirouette rolled vanilla wafers (canon)
  • Fudge Stripes (2 cookies only)
  • Grasshopper cookies (look like wheels)
  • 1 lb. royal icing mix


  • White Chicklets (windows)
  • Sesame candies (shutters)
  • Fire roasted peanuts (firing canon)
  • Candy covered peanuts (canon balls)


  • Lightning McQueen Wilton's cake pan (almost right shape for a ship)
  • 12x12 cake pan
  • Small cooling racks
  • Parchment paper
  • Electric mixer and mixing bowls (multiple sizes)
  • Large knife (to level cakes)
  • Icing spatula
  • Wilson's icing dye (golden yellow)
  • 1 cardboard cake board 13x19 (cake sits on)
  • Piping tip (#2 or #4)
  • Craft dowels

I prepared this cake the day before the party, but the royal icing was made several days earlier to dry completely.

Royal Icing:

I drew all the shapes on parchment paper. Laid the wax paper over top and piped out the royal icing. All ingredients were premixed in the bag, just water and golden yellow coloring added during blending.

I made railings, windows with port-holes (chocolate covered pretzel circles), a seahorse for the front of the ship, swirls, ladders, and nets.

Bake Cakes:

  1. Grease the McQueen and 12x12 cake pans. Layer the bottom in parchment paper cut to the size of the pan. (This helps the cake come out without anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.)

  2. Prepare the box of pound cake mix, following instructions on the box (i.e. combining cake mix, 3 eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1 1/4 cup water in a large mixing bowl).

    Mix on low for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes at medium until smooth. Pour it into the McQueen pan. This makes a very solid base to build from.

  3. Prepare the second box of cake mix and pour it into the 12x12 pan. Prepare and add the third box of cake mix to the 12x12 pan. A bit may be left over as you don't want to overfill the pan and cause spillage in the oven.

  4. Bake the cakes. I did at 325°F for about 35 minutes, but consult the cake mix for your specific type of pan and make sure that the cake is done using a toothpick. I baked the McQueen and the 12x12 together.

  5. Allow cakes to cool slightly, then run a knife around the sides and flip onto a cooking rack. Pull off the parchment paper and flip again. Once the cakes are significantly cool, take a large knife and level the cakes, cutting off the raised centers.

    You don't need to be exactly perfect as this cut surface is going to be the bottom of each of the layers. Cut off the windshield of McQueen and angle toward back to make the ship shape.

  6. Using McQueen as a guide, cut a second piece of cake out of the 12x12 to the same shape (works best if you freeze the cakes first). Cut a piece of card to shape for 2nd layer.

  7. For third layers only, cut out front and back pieces and place onto their own cards. You will ice from bottom up.

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Decorating the Cake :

  1. I crumb coated all layers with chocolate first. Then I completely covered the McQueen layer with chocolate icing. Secured with cake dowels and layered the next layer on top. Continued with the chocolate icing upwards. Repeated with front and back 3rd tiers.

  2. Canons: used icing to mold together the Snickers mini square with the Grasshopper wheels, the Pirouette canon, and the exploding fire roasted peanut. Added piles of canon balls in corners. (I couldn't get another full canon.)

  3. Fudge wafers for railings (which the canon fires over), and a vanilla wafer for a plank.

  4. Wheel: used a fudge wafer, a Snicker's square, and a Fudge Stripe.

  5. Added swirls to sides and port-hole windows. Used 6 Chicklets as the large state windows on back with sesame seed candy shutters.

  6. Tinted the buttercream icing blue, and piped waves and water around the ship.

  7. Crow's nest: slid a Fudge Stripe down the large craft dowel, and secured rounded railings with leftover chocolate icing.

  8. Added paper sails to the craft dowels. (Paper flags and toothpicks can also be added.)

  9. Added seahorse to ship's front.

  10. Added toy pirates at various positions around the ship. Enjoy!

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Pirate ship cake submitted by Theresa P. from Thompson, Canada

Pirate Ship Cakes

My son wanted chocolate mint flavor - so I used a cake mix, but instead of making as directed I used 4 eggs, 1 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup buttermilk and 2 tsp peppermint extract. This will make the cake denser so that it is stable enough for a 3D cake.

I made two 8" round cakes. When they were cooled, I leveled and cut them in half.

I layered the half cakes with chocolate buttercream making a large semi-circle cake. Then I cut a square shape out of the flat side for the ship deck.

Cut the bottom of the ship flat so that it could sit on a flat surface. Then I took a serrated knife, and carved a bow on the front.

At this point I wrapped coins in foil and stuck them all over. (This turned out to be a bad idea...it almost created a shipwreck!) If you want to have coins in the cake, I recommend putting them in the icing between the layers!

Crumb coat, do not skip this step! Use a thin icing and coat the whole cake lightly. Then you can freeze to decorate later, or just allow it to set well before you decorate the cake. This will prevent cake crumbs from getting in your icing.

This is a good time to make the sails, flags and crow's nest. I used long bamboo skewers for the masts. To make the sails look authentic, take copy paper and crumple it up, then "paint" it with very strong tea and let dry. Cut the sails from this "aged" paper.

For the flags, I just printed small jolly rogers from clip art online, and cut the white parts out. I glued them on small pieces of construction paper.

The crow's nest took a little more finesse. I used a dark chocolate truffle (Walmart brand - but any round one would do). Using a sharp knife I cut the top 1/3 off the truffle.

To get a hole through the truffle for the skewer: I heated a large needle, and slowly melted a hole through the chocolate.

It took some time: heat it, and press it in, clean it and heat it again. Don't push too hard, or your truffle breaks and you have to start again!

When you put the truffle onto the skewer, you may need a little melted chocolate or paraffin at the bottom to hold it up.

Finally, I was ready for the decorating. I pulled my cake out of the freezer and unwrapped it about 1/2 hour before I wanted to work on it. Then I frosted it all with buttercream.

Here's my recipe:

  • 1 lb. butter, creamed well
  • 6 tsp vanilla
  • 8 Tbsp milk
  • 6 1/2 cups icing sugar (1 kg less 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup flour (at least)

To mark the "boards" of the ship, a toothpick works great. You can get straighter lines if you use a ruler to mark (just press it in a bit). I found all kinds of interesting candies and pretzels at the bulk food store, and let my creativity go.

I used red toothpicks for the deck rails and black licorice strings for the top rail. BBQ flavored rings made nice portholes, and grate shaped pretzels made nice windows at the stern. Pretzel sticks made a nice gangplank. A few Lego pirates and my ship was complete!

To make the "sea" I covered a large baking sheet with foil. Blue Jell-O made with half the liquid created an ocean. While it was setting, I used leftover cake scraps to make an island shape.

I made this directly on the Jell-O, but if you're concerned about making a mess you can easily make it on a cake board. Then freeze it when you're done.

After I made a pile, I iced it with buttercream, and covered it well with graham crumbs. (Next time I will use a lighter color icing since it showed through the crumbs.)

I used tube shaped cookies for the palm tree trunks. The tree tops are construction paper. A few pirate Lego pieces, and my island is complete.

Now to place the ship on the sea. I recommend that you don't do what I did! I placed the ship directly on the Jell-O.

As the Jell-O warmed, it did not support the ship so well. Between the warm Jell-O and the coins in my cake, I had a shipwreck on my hands! (It was easily fixed by tying it together with a long licorice string - you couldn't even tell.)

I recommend cutting out a place for the ship to sit directly on the pan, or to place the ship on the pan before pouring the Jell-O.

Altogether a fun cake for my son's 6th birthday. I had a fun time being creative and everyone had a great party!

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Pirate ship cake submitted by Jessica E. from Holiday, FL

Pirate Ship Cake

I enjoyed making this cake, in fact it's all I thought about for weeks!

I made two 8" round cakes, and let them cool for 15 minutes. Then I trimmed the edges, and cut the cakes in half.

I put them in the freezer in saran wrap for about 25 minutes to firm them up. (Freezing makes it easier to frost and put the cakes together.)

Once the cake was firm enough, I set it on a Lazy Susan (so I can spin it around). Frosted the two halves with chocolate frosting, and then frosted the rest of the cake in chocolate.

If you don't have any professional frosting kits, then use a spatula (works wonders). I put the cake back in the freezer to firm for about an hour this time.

After the cake was firmed, I set it back on the Lazy Susan. Then took a butter knife to make the lines around the cake.

For the sails, I printed out pirate ship's off the computer and attached them to wooden bamboo skewers (or you could use chop sticks).

For the plank, I just cut out a piece of cardboard and added red frosting. Then put it in the cake.

I added Tootsie Rolls along the edge of the cake. Frosted Milk Balls for the cannon balls and Snickers for the cannons. My son had a few pirates along with a treasure chest, so I added those to the cake.

We truly had a blast making this cake, and it's something I do all the time. I hope you enjoy!

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Pirate ship cake submitted by Candice P. from Verona, NY

Pirate Ship Theme Cake

For this pirate ship cake, you'll need 4 cake mixes of your choice. I used vanilla and chocolate. Bakes as directed on box. I made 2 square 8x8 cakes, and 3 9in round cakes.

Once cakes are baked, flip them out of the pan onto aluminum foil and place your heaviest pot on top of them for about 15 min. This seams to make the cake a little more moist and dense.

Once the cakes are cool enough to frost, with chocolate frosting glue together the 8x8 square cakes. Then all 3 of the 9in round cakes.

To make sure the cake was stable, I used praline cookies as support, that way it was still edible. I just pressed them through the cakes. Now place cakes in the freezer till frozen. They are easier to cut and frost when they are frozen.

When you are ready to cut the ship out, the 8x8 squares are the center of the ship. Take the 3 9in rounds and cut them in half. These will be the front and back of the cake.

Line the front of the ship and back of the ship up with the center, and start to cut out the shape you want your ship to be. Use chocolate frosting to hold the ends to the center. I used the the extra pieces I cut off the ends to make the railing on the ship. I glued them on with chocolate frosting and on this part I did need to use toothpicks to hold them in place.

After the ship was assembled I put it back in the freezer till it was ready to be decorated (I decorated mine the day before the party). I frosted the frozen cake with chocolate frosting, and to make it look like wood I just made wavy lines with a fork. I used chocolate covered malt balls for cannon balls, netting found at a craft store along the sides of the ship.

I made the sails from tea stained paper. I cut them in triangles and burnt the edges and use brown makers to draw on them. I hot glued them to giant marshmallow sticks. The brass decorations along the edge of the ship are fancy thumb tacks I found at a craft store. I also used blue frosting to make waves at the bottom of the ship.

I started making this cake about 3 days before the party.

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