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.
Made half of this recipe yesterday to surprise my husband who has been craving vanilla cupcakes and he liked it very much ? thank you for sharing your well curated vanilla cupcake recipe! Will definitely keep this on my files!
How sweet of you to make them for your husband, Jessica! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
I actually don’t think vanilla cupcakes are boring at all. I make my own vanilla extract and I added the seed content of one vanilla bean and these turned out to be something I would consider putting in front of my customers for sure. Slightly dense so experimenting. The sour cream does beat a liquid dairy product. Crime fraiche would add the tang I’m missing. And it’s so easy to make yourself. Great recipe. Thank you!
So glad you liked the cupcakes, Todd! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment 🙂
Creme fraiche that is. Phone corrections stink.
Made these cupcakes last night for my daughters birthday and the cupcakes came out dense. Made them exactly like the directions said. Not sure what went wrong. Was looking forward to these at her party today.
I’m so sorry, Courtney. I hate to hear when a recipe doesn’t turn out quite right for someone. It’s hard to say why they were so dense, since there are so many things that can affect baked goods. Did you spoon and level the flour as mentioned in the recipe? The reason I ask is because if you scoop it out of the container, the flour can become packed into the cup and you can end up with too much flour and dense cupcakes. Another reason could be due to over mixing the batter, I always mix everything until it’s just combined. I hope that helps, sorry again that they didn’t turn out for you.
Delicious! I dyed the frosting blue, and they turned out great! 🙂 I also added small silver pearls to add a decorative flair. Thanks so much.
So glad you liked the cupcakes, Jacob! I love to dye the frosting too for different occasions, definitely need to look for some silver pearls next time now!
Wow!!! This is an amazing recipe. Fluffy and so tasty! I did not have sour cream so I substituted 1.5 cups of soy milk and they came out so good. Thank you!
Glad to hear you enjoyed the cupcakes, Elly! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hi i tried this recipe for my cousins birthday and they turned out amazing! They rose so well and perfectly and i was worried about how they would taste with the sour cream but they were delicious. Frosting was also perfect…thanks!
That’s wonderful to hear, Sana! I’m so glad you enjoyed the cupcakes 🙂
Hi Danielle just made your vanilla cupcakes for my son’s fall party. I’m must say they turned out perfect, baking from scratch is not my best skill because it never seems to come out right . The only thing I substituted was the sour cream, I used plain Greek yogurt instead. But they came out great this will be my go to vanilla cupcake recipe! Now just gotta find a chocolate ?
I’m so happy to hear that, Daniella! I also have a chocolate cupcake recipe on my blog that I use all of the time here’s a link: http://www.livewellbakeoften.com/2016/10/06/chocolate-cupcakes-recipe/.
Omggggg I loveeee these cupcakes so yummy first I thought that the dough was too salty but after backing they were perfekt
My whole family loved them
Greetings from Switzerland
So glad you enjoyed the cupcakes! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment 🙂
I’m going to try this recipe, but I’m wondering what adjustments you would recommend for altitude (5900 ft above sea level to be precise). Born and raised at sea level and now living in the Denver suburbs… I’ve read several books about how to bake at altitude but it’s always a gamble.
Hi, Cindy! I don’t have any experience baking at high altitude, so I can’t really give any suggestions. This is a really helpful guide that I’ve recommended to others though: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
Can these cupcakes be made,frosted then freezer for later?
Hey Jen! I haven’t tried freezing these cupcakes once they’re frosted yet, but I think it should be fine. If you’re freezing them once they’re frosted, I would place them on a baking sheet and freeze all of the cupcakes for several hours first. Once the cupcakes and frosting are completely frozen, then you should be able to wrap them in some plastic wrap and store them in a freezer container without messing up the frosting. When you’re ready to thaw them, remove the plastic wrap and thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours on your counter.
Another option would be to freeze the cupcakes and frosting separately. You can thaw both in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature on your counter for a few hours. Once the frosting is room temperature, just mix it up again and frost the cupcakes. Hope that helps!
Thank you Danielle 🙂
I made these for an end of class party we had at school yesterday. I tasted one myself and I was like “wow these are pretty good!”. I did not expect three people to ask me if they could take home the leftovers. One person even offered to pay me for them! Amazing recipe, thank you for posting!
This is one of the nicest comments I’ve ever received, Alexandra! Thank you! I’m always so happy to hear when a recipe turns out so well for someone 🙂
can i replace sour cream with another thing ?
I’ve only tested the recipe with sour cream, so it’s hard to give suggestions for a substitution. Something like plain Greek yogurt may work, since it’s similar to sour cream.
This is the most awesome cupcake recipe I’ve ever tried. They turned out super soft and fluffy. Although I substituted the sour cream with half cup milk ( room temperature) at the butter and sugar mixing stage. Worked very well. But of course sour cream has its own amazing effects. Thanks Danielle.
So glad you liked the cupcakes and to hear that the milk worked great! Thank you for sharing!
Just baked these cupcakes today and they were amazing! I did not even try the frosting yet – I was looking for something to fill my craving for not too sweet yet not too heavy. They turned out so fluffy and light – a definite keeper. I even used low fat sour cream as I constantly watch what I consume calorie wise. Today was my first “treat” since I did not splurge at all during the holidays. Great recipe – a definite keeper!
You definitely deserve a cupcake for not splurging during the holidays, that’s amazing! I’m so glad you liked the cupcakes 🙂
For some reason i feel like i couldn’t get the frosting right; it tasted as if the confectioners sugar wasn’t properly blended but I mixed it on med-high speed for about 10 minutes or so and it still felt grainy-like. Is there something you could recommend or suggest that i do to get the correct consistency?
Hi Bianca, I’m sorry to hear that the frosting turned out grainy for you. There could be several reasons, but here are some suggestions. Make sure the butter is softened all the way to room temperature, that will ensure that the butter and sugar incorporate together much better. Another thing you could do is add 1/2 cup of the confectioners sugar at a time and make sure it’s well combined with the butter before adding more. Another thing that may help is to sift the powdered sugar before adding it the butter as well.
Thank you so much. I’ll be sure to try out your suggestions. I need to get the frosting right for my son’s birthday party this weekend. Your cupcake recipe is amazing! I made a batch to test out before his party and he ate 6 sans frosting. Needless to say, they were a hit!
I’m so glad your son loved the cupcakes, Bianca! I have a post going up on Thursday that’s all about making buttercream, so maybe that will help as well. 🙂
Awesome recipe. Tried it today and loved it!!
I added only one egg as I did not want my cake to taste eggy 🙂 Also, reduced the sugar to 3/4 cup and salt to a pinch. Cakes were still moist and yummy. Thanks for the recipe Danielle !
I baked these today. They tasted great. I have a couple of questions. First, what size scoop do you use to scoop these in the pans. I have several. All different. I used one and had a little extra batter so went and just added to each one to make 14 cupcakes. I used a level scoop to start with.
Next, the cupcakes came out of the oven and were kind of tall and then they went down abit. I notice all of my cupcakes that I bake with buttermilk and soda remain tall after I take them out. I did use cake flour instead of regular AP flour.
Thanks for all of your commenting. You put a lot of work into your website.
Hi, Robin! I use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the liners, but my cookie scoop is just 2 tablespoons so I eyeball it to make sure that I have about the same in each one. Also, did they fall just a little bit or quite a bit when you took them out of the oven? It could be that they need to bake just a little bit longer. Also, when you’re mixing the batter it helps to make sure everything is mixed until just combined. If you mix a little too much, that can incorporate more air into the batter and cause them to fall a little too. I hope that helps, I’m glad you thought they tasted great too!
Thanks for replying. That’s great knowing about the scoop. And they just slightly fell! On all of my cupcakes I always add flour and sour creme and mix with Kitchen Aid for about 5 seconds and then finish by gently folding by hand so I’m sure not to overmix.
And I meant to click “five star” and I accidentally hit the “four star”. Sorry about that. Thanks again!!
No worries, Robin! And I’m not quite sure what would make them fall a bit, maybe try baking them just a couple minutes longer if you make them again and see if that helps 🙂
I surely will try again Danielle! One more question. If you add vinegar to whole milk in place of the buttermilk, do you think doing that will change the texture of the recipe? Thanks again!
Are you asking for another recipe, this one doesn’t call for buttermilk? I have used vinegar (or lemon juice) and whole milk in place of buttermilk in recipes and I’ve never noticed much of a difference. I typically do 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, then fill the measuring cup to 1 cup, stir it around, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Hope that helps! 🙂
Oh goodness Danielle, yes so sorry, I had been looking at your chocolate cupcake recipe which had the vinegar. I’m so sorry. But thank you for your reply. It helps a lot.
Thank you so much for responding to all of these questions. I don’t know how you bake and do all of this. My hat is off to you. Really appreciated!!!
That’s ok, I just wanted to make sure! The buttermilk substitute should work fine in my chocolate cupcake recipe. And thank you for your kind comments too, Robin. I appreciate it!
I’ve tried a few vanilla cupcake recipe… Wasn’t really satisfied… This recipe my dear perfect! I actually own the desert business in Texas and this recipe has been added to our menu! Thank you so much for sharing ❤️
This is one of the best comments I’ve ever received, Falisha! I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you 🙂
Made these this morning for my God-daughter’s bday party, and they are absolutely delicious!!! Extra moist and full of vanilla flavor!!
So glad you liked the cupcakes, Brandi! I hope your God-daughter’s party goes great and everyone enjoys the cupcakes! 🙂
Hi! I have a question, can you use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? Thanks.
I haven’t tried using Greek yogurt yet, but someone else mentioned that they’ve had success using it in this recipe. It’s pretty similar to sour cream, so I think it would probably be fine.
Thank you so much Danielle
It’s a very good cupcake, it’s almost perfect. It’s very fluffy and delicious. I used a pudding I made from scratch that it mango flavor instead of sour cream because I would like a mango flavored cake. And I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp mango purée, and it still turned out good. Therefore I’m sure that the recipe itself without alteration will be amazing as well! Thanks for sharing your recipe.
So glad to hear that you enjoyed the recipe, Mary Anne. Love the idea of making a mango flavored version, your adjustments sound wonderful!
I made an apple cinnamon version tonight and used cinnamon applesauce instead of sour cream. You made a perfect proportion of dry and wet ingredients plus the addition of sour cream (or any other alternatives) that made the cake itself fluffy and moist and most of all delicious! Thank you again for sharing! I’m so glad I came across it.
I am not a great baker and was searching for something delicious and fool-proof for my son’s first birthday. I made these this weekend and they turned out amazing!! Light and fluffy, adults and kids alike loved them. I don’t know if it was the sour cream or spooning my flour into measuring cups but this was possibly the most successful baking I’ve managed 🙂
I’m so happy to hear that everyone loved the cupcakes, Megan! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment 🙂
The cupcakes look delicious! What tip did you use for piping the frosting?
Thank you, Jen! I used the Wilton 1M tip for the frosting on these cupcakes.
for Chinese new Year I made these and i died the frosting orange and added white sprinkles. they were to die for!!
So glad you enjoyed the cupcakes! The orange frosting and sprinkles sound so fun!
We made these tonight. Unfortunately they were very dry and not good.
Sorry to hear that, Layla. Did you make any adjustments to the recipe? Did you make sure to spoon & level the flour into your measuring cup as well? I’d be happy to try to help you figure out what may have happened.
We did. My husband is OCD about recipes for baking. They were very muffin like in texture which isn’t what we wanted. I think I just need a different recipe. I really appreciate the personal response! Best to you!
Let me rephrase that. My husband actually suffers from OCD and it affects him when he is following recipes. No deviation accepted and every step checked twice.
Do you think this recipe would come out just as moist if I did it as a cake instead of cupcakes?
Hi, Tamara! I haven’t tried this as a cake yet, so I’m not quite sure. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out!
My husband says this is best vanilla cupcake. My kids loved it too. Cream cheese addition made the cake that much better. Thanks again.
So glad to hear that everyone enjoyed the cupcakes, Seema!
This recipe produced exactly 14 good looking cupcakes but they turned out a little dense. If I want them a little moister, do I add a little more sour cream or something else? I’m making these for a baby shower again soon. The frosting was perfect, just need to work on my piping skills:)
Hi, Diane! I haven’t tried these with more sour cream or using something else (such as milk) yet. I imagine using whole milk would create a little bit of a lighter texture. But since I haven’t tried it and don’t know how it would turn out, it’s hard to give suggestions. If you do try adjusting the recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out!