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Steel Magnolias Armadillo Butt Cupcakes

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A couple of weeks ago cohosted the Sunday afternoon matinee of Steel Magnolias! (I also shared a recipe for a shrub I call “The Shelby.”)  I loved that movie! Who doesn’t love that movie! It’s all just fun. Plus Dolly Parton. And, y’all know I love Dolly Parton. One of the scenes that have become legendary included the armadillo groomsman’s cake. With it in mind, I came up with these cupcakes you can’t leave behind! 😉 Armadillo Butt Cupcakes. They are super fun and you can use your favorite red velvet cake recipe or the one I am using here. (It’s a fancy one using beets instead of food coloring.) Who doesn’t love red velvet cake? My dear friend Angie Mosier says, who is an incredible baker in her own right, once very aptly described red velvet cake as “the Dolly Parton of cakes—she’s a little bit tacky, but you love her.


Armadillo Cupcakes

The video says it all! This is a fun big baking project start to finish. If you want to skip the beets (no pun intended) you can replace them with ¾ cup of oil or unsweetened applesauce. Then, use food coloring to achieve the red color or just use your favorite red velvet cake recipe.

Who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting? It’s as easy as it can be. But, I’m not to judge. If you need to cheat and use store-bought icing, then you need to use store-bought icing. Let’s be real. We’re making armadillo behinds complete with twirled tootsie roll tail. #WWDD?

Y’all stay safe.

Bon Appetit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

Need another weekend baking project? Check out my Cheesy Golden Onion Pull-Apart Biscuits! 

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Virginia Willis’ Armadillo Butt Cupcakes

Makes 1 ½ quarts batter for 24 cupcakes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 24
Author: Virginia Willis


  • 3 medium beets well-scrubbed
  • 1 cup canola oil more if needed
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 16-ounce box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons whole milk as needed
  • black gel food coloring
  • 24 tootsie rolls


  • Heat the oven to 350. Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil. Place the beets on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until very tender, 1 to 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove and let cool until just warm to the touch in the foil. Peel the beets and coarsely chop.
  • Place the chopped beets in the large bowl of a large food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until chunky, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the food processor running, add the oil and continue processing until very smooth. Add buttermilk and eggs. Puree until smooth.
  • Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse until well-combined. If you have a large food processor you can continue in the processor, if not, sift the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the wet ingredients from the food processor to the dry and stir until combined by hand.
  • For cupcakes: Line the tin with cupcake liners. Using a ice cream scoop, a spoon, or a liquid measuring cup, fill the liners no more than 2/3 full. Transfer to the oven and bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool.
  • Meanwhile, to prepare the frosting, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle or beater attachment or with a handheld mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until very smooth. Sift over the confectioners’ sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. If too stiff, add the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve the correct consistency. Add black food coloring and stir until pale grey.
  • Using an offset spatula, ice the cupcakes with the grey icing. Once the icing is slightly set, use a straw to make “plates” across the top of the cupcake.
  • To make the tails: Working with 1 at time, place a tootsie roll in a glass bowl and microwave until warm and barely soft, about 5 seconds, depending on the strength of the microwave. Roll the warm tootsie roll into a long-pointed tail. While warm, use a toothpick to notch and create the tail plates.
  • Think of Steel Magnolias and serve within 2-3 days.

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Please note that this post may contain affiliate links.

Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Virginia, If you are in Augusta, you should have driven across the river to Titan’s Peach Orchard in Ridge Springs. When I lived in Aiken it was my go to peach orchard. I will give this a try here in CA. Miss my SC peaches. (I believe they are the largest peach producer in the country, plus SC produces more peaches than GA. (we used to live on Jekyll Island, GA)

  2. Bennie

    These are adorable!! i live in sw georgia and we are stalking an armadillo that is tearing up our lawn! I have been looking for a theme for a party when everyone can get together again so i like the steel magnolia idea!! love your books!

  3. Paul

    Virginia! Those are awesome! I’m going to make those and cupa cupa cupa!!! You are the best!

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