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.
Thank you Danielle, I’ve made most of your recipes and love them all. I also love that I don’t have to scroll for hours to find your recipes also the recipes are written in very easy ways for reading
Danielle, this recipe – and the fabulous reviews! – have turned me from dreading making vanilla cupcakes to fully anticipating the finished product! I prefer… flavors…(!) but was tasked with vanilla cake/vanilla frosting for a friend’s birthday next week. I may be overthinking things: I am concerned about the frosting holding up in hot and humid summer temps, as we are forecast to be in the high 80’s with high humidity. We will be celebrating in a city park, and between traveling there and whatever eating and festivities take place prior to cake, it likely will be a few hours from my fridge ’til presentation and consumption. Any suggestions you may have are most welcome! (Should I adjust this frosting recipe? Use a different one? Simply keep them over cooler packs for the duration? I’m a confident cake baker, but absolutely the opposite when it comes to buttery frostings – and ones like swiss buttercream that require temp checks scare the heck out of me!)
I’d recommend keeping them over some ice packs in a cooler until right before you plan to serve them and they should be fine. Shortening has a higher melting point than butter, so you could swap out half of the butter with an equal amount of shortening too.
Massive success!!! I made this frosting with half shortening, half butter and it worked like a dream. I did wimp out on piped swirls and simply spread using a knife. It was 94 degrees F and crazy humidity yesterday afternoon; the cupcakes were probably 2 hours over ice packs in a cooler, and not a sprinkle or subtle swirl were out of place when they finally were served. Or should I say gobbled up? Rave reviews from all! Thank you SO much Danielle for your recipes, your timely reply, and the confidence boost!
So happy to hear that they turned out great and everyone loved them!
Can you substitute gluten free flour for regular flour?
And can I substitute regular milk in the frosting recipe if I don’t have heavy whipping cream?
If it’s one that substitutes 1:1 for all-purpose flour, I think it would be okay. Yes, you can use milk in the frosting.
I’d give this recipe 10 stars if I could! It has changed my mind about “plain old” vanilla, and also received rave reviews from the vanilla lovers it was baked for. Fluffy, moist cake with a light sweetness and nice vanilla scent. The cakes domed beautifully, too, though they weren’t all that tall – I probably could have filled the tins a little more for an even dozen. Instead, I made the “extra” into a slightly larger cake in a ramekin for the birthday guy, which also baked great. I made 2 separate batches, first with only 3/4 cup sugar – but those seemed more muffin-like in flavor and texture, so I made the 2nd batch according to the recipe and they were great. Frosting sure is sweet! But I spread it instead of piling high and the partygoers all thought it was perfect – and they weren’t even sugar-hungry kids! Thanks Danielle!!
For this recipie and your chocolate cupcake recipe I got heavy whipping cream is that ok because it just says heavy cream?
Yes, they’re pretty much the same thing!
Hi Danielle made these and they werw truly amazing but will this recipe change if I use 1 egg instead of 2
It will likely change the texture of the cupcakes, I’d recommend sticking with 2 eggs in this recipe.
Hi, i am wondering if I could make this cupcake recipe into a cake? It tasted so good and I want my cake to taste the same. What do you suggest for time and temp?
Yes, that would be fine. It’s enough for one 8 or 9-inch cake. I’m not sure on the baking time but I would guess 25 to 35 minutes at 350°F.
I did your red velvet it was amazing. I followed the recipe and it came out perfect. I am now going to try the cupcakes. I know it will also be amazing. Thank you Danielle.
I have made your white chocolate chip cranberry cookies and added almond extract and a little bit of lemon juice in the batter and they came out amazing, then I made your chocolate chip cookies and did 1 tblsp of vanilla and 1 tblsp of almond extract and everyone loved them. Instead of regular flour can I use cake flour instead, and can I use almond extract instead of vanilla in the batter instead?
You can use cake flour in this recipe, but I’d recommend increasing it to 1 and 1/2 cups. You can also add some almond extract, but I would only use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.
Looking forward to trying this recipe but can would want to make it dairy free. What do you suggest as a substitute for the sour cream? thanks
You could use almond milk in place of the heavy cream.
Can you use medium size eggs instead of of large eggs?
I recommend using 2 large eggs. You probably can use the medium eggs, but you would need to use the equivalent of two large eggs which is 100 grams total (without the shell). If you have a scale, you could lightly beat 3 medium eggs and weigh out 100 grams.
I made this for this weekend but needed to cancel. Can I freeze these? If yes, is in a ziplock bag sufficient and for how long would they last? Thank you.
Yes, you can freeze the cupcakes for up to 3 months. A freezer bag would be fine, I would just press as much air out of the bag as you can.
These cupcakes turned out so good!! I added some raspberry jam on the tops before frosting and it was delicious! I’m sure other preserves would be good too.
Danielle, these cupcakes are absolutely INCREDIBLE! I’ve been struggling with vanilla cupcake recipes lately, where they sometimes come out great but sometimes come out dense, or gummy, or whatever, and I decided to return to your blog since your lemon poppyseed bundt cake is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I’m so glad I did, because this is an absolutely delicious cupcake that is so easy and comes out perfect every time! I will only be using this recipe from now on!
Thank you so much, Lauren! So glad you loved these cupcakes and the lemon poppy seed cake too!
These are my absolute favourite vanilla cupcakes, thank you! If I had to use this to make a mini 4 inch cake, how many tins would you use, I’m almost thinking 6 but not sure
I would guess about 5 to 6 tins.
I made over 50 of these for my son’s school’s halloween party. Some of them I coloured red, some green and some orange. I froze them in advance because I would not have time to bake them the day before, and they were delicious after thawing them.
For the topping I made swiss butter cream, which was also colored to different colors and decorated with sugar eyes, sprinkles and some edible glass. They were such a hit and sold out fast!
Had to try a couple myself and they tasted great.
This recipe is a keeper! Thank you so much for sharing it 🙂
I made the vanilla cupcake using your recipe and it was awesome. This will be my go to recipe.
Thanks for sharing and hope to learn more from you.
I am making these this weekend with my granddaughter!!!
Cupcake tops are a little hard but cupcake is moist. Is cupcake supposed to be this way?
They shouldn’t be hard. Have you checked your oven temperature with an oven thermometer?
These are the best cupcakes and the only recipe I use. Thank you their delicious?
Can I skip the sour cream?
No, the cupcakes wouldn’t taste good if you left it out. You can replace it with plain Greek yogurt though.