Comparing Different Brands of Tempera Cakes

Wondering which brand of tempera cakes to buy or even wondering what in the world tempera cakes are? Here’s why we’ve fallen in love with them and which brands are our favorites!

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What are tempera cakes and which brands were our favorites?~


We recently fell in love with tempera cakes after being introduced to them by Lucy’s awesome first grade teacher. When I got online to purchase our own set, I saw so many different tempera cakes out there and wondered which to get, so, I decided to just buy them all! That way I could find out the pros and cons to each brand and share the results with you!

This is not a sponsored post. I purchased each set of tempera cakes on my own and was not given any sets to review or any compensation for this post.  (I just really wanted  to try them out!) This post does contain affiliate links. 

What are tempera cakes?

Tempera cakes are pretty much a mix between liquid tempera paints and watercolors. They’re in the form of cakes and you use water and a brush with them (like the watercolors you’re used to), but the color is more opaque than watercolors. Many of the paints, when dry, resemble the look of regular tempera paints on paper.

Comparing Different Brands of Tempera Cakes~


What are the advantages and disadvantages to tempera cakes?


Tempera cakes are perfect for when you want to do a painting activity with very little prep or mess. You don’t have to grab all the bottles of tempera paints and squirt them into their containers- you just grab the tray of cakes, a brush, and a cup of water, and you’re all set. There’s very little involved in setting up and clean up. Also, even though the cakes seem small, they will last you quite a while.


On the other hand, regular tempera paints are much more suited to color mixing, which both my kids love to do when painting. The colors of liquid tempera paint ends up much more vibrant than the cakes, so if you’re looking for super bold colors in your artwork, you’ll want to put in the extra effort and pull out the tempera bottles. Also, because of the smoothness of painting with regular tempera paint, I find it to be a much more calming and relaxing activity. (These are our favorite regular tempera paints.)


Comparing Different Brands of Tempera Cakes~


Which brands of tempera cakes were our favorite?

I purchased eight different brands of tempera cakes to try out. I focused on the boldness and smoothness of the paints, the ease of use, the trays they came in, as well as a few more things that stuck out to me as I tried each set of tempera cakes.

To make sure I kept the comparisons as equal as possible, I used the same type of paper and the same brush for each brand. I cleaned the water and brush between brands and tested the colors in the same order when trying out each brand. (I focused on yellow, red, and blue.)


Tempera Cake Results

Here are the results of our tempera cake comparisons. I’ve listed them in order of our favorite to least favorite.

1. Alphacolor Biggie Cakes

Purchased on Amazon for $19.30

– Rectangular Cakes: Ours measured 1.75 inches x 2 inches.

– This set came with eight colors.

Alphacolor Biggie Tempera Cakes


  • Once the wet paintbrush was dipped into the water and rubbed onto the dry cake, it only took a good 5-10 swirls to get a good amount of paint on the brush.
  • The paint felt very smooth when painting on the paper.
  • The color was very bold once it dried onto the paper.
  • You can buy individual replacements when you run out of colors.


  • The tray was flimsy, making it hard for kids to carry around.

Alphacolor Biggie Tempera Cakes


2. Sargent Art

Purchased on Amazon for 12.92

– Circular cakes: Measured 2.25 inches across

– This set came with 9 colors.

sargent art tempera cakes


  • Once the wet paintbrush was dipped into the water and rubbed onto the dry cake, it took about 10 swirls to get a good amount of paint on the brush.
  • The paints started out feeling a bit rough, but got smoother as they were used.
  • The color was fairly bold once it dried on the paper.


  • The tray was flimsy, making it hard for kids to carry around.

sargent art tempera cakes


3. Colorations by Discount School Supply

Purchased from Discount School Supply for 10.99

– Circular cakes: Measured 2.25 inches across

– This set came with 8 colors.

colorations tempera cakes


  • Once the wet paintbrush was dipped into the water and rubbed onto the dry cake, it took just about 5 swirls to get a good amount of paint on the brush.
  • The paints felt fairly smooth to paint with.
  • The color was fairly bold once it dried on the paper, although not as bold as the previous two brands.
  • You can buy a second set of 8 cakes in some neat colors. DSS also offers classroom packs, refills, and special trays for the cakes.


  • The container they cakes came in was flimsy making it hard for kids to carry around (but you have the option of purchasing a sturdy tray on their website).

colorations tempera cakes


4-6. First Impressions, Sax, and Blick Tempera Cakes

I lumped these three together because although they’re sold under different names, they seemed to be the exact same paint. I’m not 100% sure on that, but they all looked exactly the same, and I got the same results with all three.

Paid: 9.49 for First Impressions on Amazon (9 cakes), 12.19 for Sax on Amazon (9 cakes), and 6.95 for Blick Tempera Cakes (6 cakes) on

– Circular cakes: Measured 2.25 inches across

tempera cakes


  • Came with a sturdy tray
  • The cakes felt pretty smooth when painting.
  • The Blick tempera cakes can be bought individually when you need to refill certain colors, but don’t want to buy the entire set again.


  • It took about 20 strokes with a wet paintbrush to get a good color off the dry cakes.
  • The color wasn’t as vibrant as the previous brands.

tempera cakes

7. Prang Classic Tempera Cakes

Paid 16.99 on Amazon

– Square cakes measuring 1.4 inches x 1.4 inches

– 9 colors with a brush

prang tempera cakes


  • Thin, but fairly sturdy tray
  • Comes with a brush
  • Only 5-10 strokes with a wet brush to get the paints ready to go
  • Felt fairly smooth to paint with


  • I noticed a slight paint-like odor when using the paints.
  • The colors weren’t as bold as the previous brands.

prang tempera cakes


8. Creativity Street/Chenille Kraft

Purchased on Amazon for $11.99

– Circular Cakes: Ours measured 2.25 inches across.

– This set came with nine colors.

creativity street tempera cakes


  • Nice assortment of colors


  • Flimsy tray, making it hard to carry
  • The paints felt grainy while painting.
  • I noticed a paint odor as I was using the cakes.
  • The cakes disintegrated more quickly than the others.
  • These paints resulted in the least bold colors of all the paints I tried.

creativity street tempera cakes


Which Tempera Cakes I would Buy

For Home

My overall favorite was definitely the Alphacolor Biggies. They were the most pleasant to use, and I loved how bold the colors looked on the paper. The only drawback is they can be more expensive than the others. I will definitely buy more of these to use at home with the kids.

The Sargent Art cakes were a close second. The colors weren’t quite as vibrant as the Alphacolor, but they were still very bold, and the Sargent Art is less expensive than the Alphacolor. I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase these again.

For the Classroom

If I were purchasing tempera cakes for my classroom, I’d probably get the Colorations brand. They were affordable, and I love all the buying options: classroom sets, various colors, paint trays and refills.

I love how First Impressions, Sax, and Blick (numbers 4-6) came with a nice tray and were easy to use.  The color wasn’t as bold as the others, but other than that, they were fine, and I love how you can buy refills for the Blick tempera cakes.


Comparing Different Brands of Tempera Cakes~

What about you? Do you have a favorite brand of tempera cakes or any tips to share?



A must-have art supply for toddlers and preschoolers- tempera cakes! Which brand of tempera is the best for painting and other art projects? See our results! ~


  1. Awesome write up! I love the ease of cake tempera but the only drawback is the lack of mixing capabilities and the chalky-ness with the finished painting. Still, a MUST in the art room.
    Great post!

  2. Great post! You can buy the muffin trays from blocks and put tempera refills in them yourself. I buy the biggie cakes, and put them in these trays. They fit great!

  3. We use tempera cakes all the time in our classroom. I use a spray bottle with water to spray the cakes to get them damp and ready to use in the morning. That way the paint goes on thick because it’s already wet 🙂 Sometimes I spray with a mixture of water/sanitizer to keep it from molding (I inherited the Prang brand initially and they were molded/smelly). I prefer Blick’s brand because of the tray and refill option.

  4. I’m so glad to read this post, as I’ve always been curious about other brands.

    What we order are simply called “Tempera cakes” from the Sax/ School Specialty catalog. One big thing your comparison left out is cost. We buy the refill cakes at around $3/6 of the same color, versus the Alphacolor refill which,seem,to,be,2.85 each?

    Pro and con for the tempera cakes in trays of 6 that we use : the cakes last a VERY long time, but they become impossible to remove from the tray! These round cakes are also just the right size for muffin tins or individual applesauce cups ( good for when we want to limit color choices, like trying a blue wash over oil pastels or crayons.)

    As others mentioned, I use a spray bottle to wept the cakes before use, and I often swirl the paint brush around to get the water,really filled with color. I sometimes,out,up a sign which shows the steps “Paint, Paper, Water” . Early experimenters are definitely more interested in the color mixing than getting anything down on paper!

  5. Prang used to sell refills but now have stopped. Let’s bombard them to sell them again. I like Prang because it comes with 9 colors that students want, have empty wells and a lid for mixing, and lid allows them to be instantly stacked for quick clean-up. An added plus is that it comes with a brush included.

  6. I am from asia. Our classrooms here dont use these cakes. I would love to try them with my kids.
    Would any of u share any tips on using these tempera cakes?
    How long do they last?a year 2 years?
    My kids are grouped in six groups. Is it enough to jz buy six sets of the cakes?i am tight on budget.w
    Which brand is the best to buy?i am keen on buying colorations as suggested by the writer above.
    I love ur review btw..saved me from surfing the net for too long.. 🙂

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