Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
This homemade vanilla cupcake recipe isn’t short of pure vanilla flavor! The cupcakes are moist, and the buttercream is smooth and creamy. This is the perfect dessert for any occasion!
If you think vanilla cupcakes are boring, you’ve clearly been eating the wrong ones.
When done properly, homemade vanilla cupcakes are moist, tender, and full of vanilla flavor. I’m happy to report that these cupcakes tick all the boxes, and then some!
I topped these vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting to stick with the vanilla theme, but you’re welcome to use any flavor of frosting you’d like. You can even add a few drops of food coloring to transform the cupcakes into a special holiday treat.
This scratch recipe is almost as easy to prepare as a box mix, but with 10 times more flavor!
This truly is the best vanilla cupcake recipe, in terms of both results and ingredients. It uses everyday ingredients I always have on hand, which is perfect for last-minute entertaining.
Here’s a quick summary of the key ingredients needed to make them:
- Flour: Be sure to spoon the flour out of the bag and into your measuring cup. If you scoop the flour out of the bag with the measuring cup, you’ll end up compacting it and will measure out too much by mistake. I have a full post that explains more about the spoon and level method here.
- Unsalted butter: I always use unsalted butter for baked goods because the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between brands. You may use salted butter in the cupcake batter, but you will need to reduce the salt to 1/8 teaspoon.
- Sugar: You’ll need one cup of granulated sugar to make the cupcake batter. These cupcakes are sweet, but the sugar doesn’t outshine the vanilla flavor.
- Vanilla extract: The vanilla is the star of the show, so it’s important to use a good-quality bottle. Pure vanilla extract is preferred.
- Sour cream: Full-fat sour cream adds moisture to the cupcakes and also ensures they’re sturdy enough to hold a lot of frosting while still remaining light and fluffy.
- Heavy cream: Produces the richest vanilla frosting, but whole milk or half and half will also work.
How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes
This is such an easy vanilla cupcake recipe that bakers of all levels can master. I’ve provided detailed instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post, but here’s an overview of the baking process.
First, you’ll make the cupcakes:
- Prep the baking pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 14 cupcakes, so you’ll either need to use a second muffin pan or you can bake the cupcakes in batches.
- Combine the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Combine the wet ingredients: In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy. This step may take about 4 to 5 minutes, so be patient! Then, add the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream.
- Finish the batter: Add the dry ingredients to the wet, taking care not to overmix the batter.
- Bake: Divide the batter among 14 cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
While the cupcakes are cooling, you can make the vanilla frosting:
- Beat the butter: Using either a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and mix until combined, then mix in the heavy cream on low speed until smooth.
- Frost the cupcakes: Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, you may frost them. I have a full tutorial on how to frost cupcakes, if you need some assistance!
Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?
Absolutely! The cupcakes can be baked 24 hours in advance. Let them cool completely, then store in an airtight container on your countertop. The frosting can be prepared 1 to 2 days in advance as well. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Allow the frosting to come to room temperature on the counter, then frost the cupcakes.
The frosted cupcakes may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge one to two days ahead of time. If you store them in the fridge, I’d recommend letting them come to room temperature on the counter before serving.
Can the Sour Cream Be Substituted?
I highly recommend using full-fat sour cream in this vanilla cupcake recipe if at all possible. The cupcakes won’t taste like sour cream at all, it simply adds moisture to the cupcakes.
If you’re out of sour cream, you may replace it with an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt. In a pinch, buttermilk will work, just note that using buttermilk will somewhat alter the texture of the cupcakes.
Can This Recipe Be Used to Make a Cake?
Yes, you can bake the batter in one 9-inch round cake pan and increase the baking time to 30 minutes. For a layered cake, you may double the recipe or try my classic vanilla cake recipe instead.
Other Frosting Options
I paired these vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, but you can top them with any flavor of frosting you’d like. Here are a few other options that you can try:
- Strawberry Frosting
- Peanut Butter Frosting
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Chocolate Buttercream
- Ermine Frosting
- Bring all of the ingredients (eggs, butter, sour cream, etc.) to room temperature for best results. This helps the batter come together more evenly and makes for a better cupcake.
- Only mix in the dry ingredients until just combined! Over mixing the batter can lead to dense cupcakes.
- Make sure to only fill each cupcake liner a little over halfway full. It won’t seem like much, but the cupcakes will rise quite a bit as they’re baking in the oven.
- You must wait to frost the cupcakes until they’ve cooled completely to room temperature. If you try to frost them when they’re still warm, the frosting will melt and slide off.
More Easy Cupcake Recipes to Make!
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour spooned & leveled (165 grams)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (115 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup full fat sour cream (120 grams)
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (230 grams)
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar (360 grams)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (30ml)
To make the vanilla cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second muffin pan with 2 liners (this recipe will make 14 cupcakes). Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Add in the sour cream and mix until fully combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them a little over half way full. You should end up with exactly 14 cupcakes.
- Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Remove all of the cupcakes from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
- Add in the confectioner's sugar and vanilla and mix on low until fully combined. Slowly add in the heavy cream and mix on low speed until the frosting is smooth and well combined.
- Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.