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How to Make an Edible Cell Model


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Learn how to make an edible cell model, using cake and candies, that looks as incredible as it tastes.

Our science text had instructions for a Plaster of Paris model, but I’m somewhat opposed to projects I have to store and very much in favor of those we can eat! Yeah, we opted for making our model out of cake instead.

It looked amazing and it tasted delicious. Much better than the Plaster of Paris cell would have tasted – and no storage required! Learn how to make an edible cell cake for your next biology project.

I scoured the web for inspiration and found a great plant cell cake and an animal cell cake. We used the animal cell directions as our main source of inspiration.

Ingredients for an Edible Cell Model

  • Cake mix (and ingredients to make it)
  • Vanilla icing
  • Food coloring
  • Various candies to represent organelles
  • Toothpicks and mailing labels for labeling the organelles

Suggested candy for an edible cell model:

  • Blue Mike and Ikes = mitochondria
  • Pink Mike and Ikes = smooth endoplasmic reticulum
  • Air Head Bites = vacuoles
  • Air Heads Xtremes = rough endoplasmic reticulum
  • Sour gummy worms = Golgi apparatus
  • Candy disc sprinkles = ribosomes
  • Cupcake = nucleus

How to Make an Edible Cell Model

Step 1

Bake the cake mix according to package directions. We used round cake pans since we were doing an animal cell model. We also used a little of the batter to make one cupcake to represent the nucleus. Allow the cakes to cool completely, then, assemble as normal with some of the icing between the two layers.

Step 2

Use food coloring to tint the icing so that you have one color to represent the cytoplasm, a second to represent the cell membrane, and a third to represent the nucleus.

Pro Tip:  Start with white frosting and use colors that mix easily to form new colors. That way, you don’t have to divide icing and guesstimate how much you’ll need for each cell part.

Add a few drops of food coloring to the vanilla frosting and mix well to create the cytoplasm. Frost only the top of the cake.

Next, add a few drops of food coloring (using a different color) to tint the icing a different shade (green pictured). Frost only the sides of the cake with the second color. This color represents the cell membrane.

Finally, add a few more drops of food coloring to the remaining icing to create a third color to represent the nucleus. We chose to add red, which created a rather unappetizing color. Just something to think about.

Cut the top off the cupcake. Place it on the top of the cake to represent the nucleus and frost it.

You can discard the bottom of the cupcake if you chose. However, I recommend, that you put a little leftover icing on it and eat it while your kids aren’t looking!

Step 3

Place the candies on the cake to represent the cell’s organelles. As we placed each candy on the cake, we reviewed the job of the organelles.

My kids decorating the original cell cake

  • Pink Mike and Ikes = smooth endoplasmic reticulum. This is where the lipids that form the cell membrane are made.
  • Blue Mike and Ikes = mitochondria. These are the powerhouses of the cell, where energy is created.
  • Candy disc sprinkles = ribosomes. They create the proteins that are used in the cell.
  • Airhead Xtremes = rough endoplasmic reticulum. These are the “conveyor belts” that take the protein created by the ribosomes to the Golgi apparatus.
  • Sour gummy worms = Golgi apparatus. This is where the simple proteins are assembled into more complex proteins.
  • Air Heads Bites = vacuoles. These are the storage closets of the cell, where supplies and waste are stored.
  • Pink icing = cytoplasm, the jelly-like substance inside the cell.
  • Purple icing = cell membrane, the part of the cell that encloses and protects it.
  • Cupcake = nucleus, where the cell’s DNA resides.

Step 4

Use the toothpicks and mailing labels to make flags and correctly label each of the organelles. As you label each, review the organelle and its job again.

Step 5

Take lots of pictures…then, eat your yummy cell cake!

You can find lots more ideas for hands-on fun in my e-book Hands-On Learning, which includes 10 full-color, step-by-step tutorials and dozens of ideas for cross-curricular, hands-on activities. It’s free for subscribers.

Have fun learning together!

Did you enjoy this project? Please pin, tweet, or share on Facebook!

This article was written by Kris Bales–the previous owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. 

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45 Comments

  1. We were supposed to be making the plaster of paris model last week but had so many unexpected things crops up that we skipped it. I was going to find a worksheet instead but this looks much more fun – not to mention tastier!

  2. I’m doing this for a science project in science at school! These ideas are awesome! Thanks you! This is going to help me a lot!

      1. I am also doing this for a project a school. I does not seem hard and it does not take that long. Not to mention, I love to eat!!!

  3. I’m doing this for my cell model project for highschool biology and I was wondering how you did the labels because nothing is working for me!!

    1. We wrote the organelle name on one label, then, stuck it back-to-back with a second label with the toothpick in between. Hope that helps!

  4. My daughter is in the 7th grade and we just finished purchasing the supplies. We will be making this tomorrow. Thanks for the great idea.

  5. Thank you for the inspiring idea! My daughter and I had so much fun making this project together for her science class. I appreciate you taking the time to share it with all of us.

    1. We didn’t. I’d say just to store it the same way you normally store a regular cake. Hope that helps!

  6. I sincerely appreciate all the homeschooling moms that share information as you have. Public school has gotten so horrible. I’d love to homeschool but honestly…I’m too afraid that I don’t know enough/remember enough for my children (9th grade girl & 2 6th grade boys) to be able to help them properly.
    Again, thank you for sharing, my boys will be doing this for their project – 1 animal cell and 1 plant cell.

    1. Thankfully, you don’t have to know/remember it all. That’s what the teacher’s manuals are for. 🙂 I have really enjoyed learning and relearning a lot of things alongside my kids, too. Have fun with the cell cake!

  7. Hi, I’m making the cell cake, and following your recipe, I was wondering if you had a picture of the whole cake when it was finished. And maybe could post that. I need to finish the cake before tomorrow.
    Thanks!

  8. We live and homeschool on a sailboat, so I don’t like doing many projects that need to be stored either. This is great. This week we are making cookies three ways to learn about different types of rocks. My son is only kinder age, so I’ll modify this cell cake a bit, but we’re going to do it. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I love this. My daughter and I made one of these for our home school group a few years back. I found it to be so cool — educational and edible!

  10. Does any one know if that is all 13 pieces of the cell because I love this idea but if there is not all 13, then i cant do it and I would get really mad and I really want to do this for my 7th grade cell project. Thank you so much! :}

    1. Hi Skyla! All you need to do is use your creativity! 🙂 If there’s a part of a cell that isn’t already listed, just choose whatever kind of candy you think best represents that part and add it to your edible cell model.

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