Vanilla cupcake recipe from scratch!  Super easy recipe made in just one bowl, with an incredibly moist texture and rich vanilla flavor.

Close up image of a vanilla cupcake with a swirl of buttercream, with a few more vanilla cupcakes in the background.

*This vanilla cupcake recipe originally published on May 1, 2014. I thought it was about time it was updated. So, I’ve added a few answers to some frequently asked questions. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these vanilla cupcakes as much as my family and I do!*

This post has been a long time coming.

My Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes recipe has been one of the most popular (and commented upon!) posts on Baking a Moment since it was published back in July.  But there were a few issues, and a lot of questions I wish I had addressed within the post.

And I just keep getting pickier and pickier.  After a while, it started to bug me that the batter was a bit drippy.  I’m a tough one to please!  And for me to want to keep making a recipe, over and over, it has to meet all of the following prerequisites:

  1. The taste has to be amazing.
  2. The texture has to be spot on (for a cupcake, this means moist and tender, but sturdy enough to stand up to lots of yummy frosting).
  3. It has to be relatively easy to make.
  4. The process of making it should result in as little mess as is humanly possible.

Vanilla Cupcakes arranged on a wooden board and white pedestal, with a text overlay reading "Even Simpler, More Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes."

This new and improved vanilla cupcake recipe hits on all cylinders.

WHAT MAKES THIS VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE SPECIAL?

The flavor is bangin’, rich and buttery with a big hit of aromatic vanilla.

It bakes up moist and soft, with a fine crumb and a slightly domed top.

The method for making the batter is simple as can be, and because it utilizes the reverse creaming method (more on that here), you’re looking at a one-bowl wonder.  One that will not leave messy drips all over your counter and cupcake pan 😉

This newer vanilla cupcake recipe is based upon the last one, with a little tweak here, a little tweak there.

The key difference between this one and the last is the addition of sour cream.  The final result won’t taste sour, but the acid in the yogurt reacts with the baking soda to help the cupcakes puff up and hold a nice dome.

And it makes the batter so nice and thick, with an airy texture almost like whipped cream.

HOW TO MAKE THIS VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE

I don’t often do in-process photos (because, quite frankly, they’re kind of a pain), but I really wanted to make this post more of a picture tutorial.  I know from the last time, that you guys are really on a quest for the ultimate cupcake, and so hopefully these step by step pics will help to answer your every little question and get you exactly the results you are after!

Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together just until combined.

I like to use cake flour, because it’s got less gluten than all purpose flour, and so it results in a lighter, more tender cake.  You can read more about that here: Why Use Cake Flour.

You can find it at the regular supermarket, on the same shelf with all the other flours, or you can just order it online: Cake Flour.

Side by side collage of dry ingredients in bowl and dry ingredients with cubed butter added.

Add the soft butter, and mix until it resembles damp sand.  This should only take about a minute or so.

Close up image of mixing bowl containing dry ingredients with butter worked in.

After the butter has been worked in, you can add the eggs.  One at a time, and make sure each one is completely incorporated before adding the next.

I love this kind of paddle attachment– it has a silicone edge that reaches all the way to the bottom of the bowl, so you know all the ingredients are well incorporated.  And you don’t have to keep stopping the mixer to scrape the bowl.

Side by side collage of eggs added to vanilla cupcake recipe and eggs stirred into batter.

Finally, add the sour cream, milk, and vanilla.

When it comes to ingredients that add flavor, I recommend using the highest quality.  I often cut costs with generic sugar and baking soda, but when it comes to butter and vanilla, invest and indulge!  It makes such a difference!

Collage of liquid ingredients added to batter, finished vanilla cupcake batter, cookie scoop containing batter, and close up of vanilla cupcake batter in bowl.

You’ll see the leavening start to activate right away!  The batter is really thick and almost airy.  I love it!

Please, please, please, do not overfill your cupcake papers.  This vanilla cupcake recipe puffs up in the oven, a lot, and you don’t want mushroom tops.  Maybe that’s ok for a muffin, but not a cupcake!

No more than half full.  I’ve made and remade this recipe, and if you fill 24 cups equally, you should be good.  I use a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop, a little less than 2 scoops per cupcake.  So that’s about 3 tablespoons of batter to a cupcake.

Unbaked vanilla cupcakes in cupcake pan.

HOW TO BAKE VANILLA CUPCAKES

Now for a few words about baking.  I cannot stress enough that you must check your cupcakes.  Set the timer for a minute less that the recipe states (to avoid overbaking).

This is across the board, not just with this recipe, but with ALL recipes.

Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or bamboo skewer into the thickest part of your cake.  If it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, you are good to go.  If it’s gooey or there are lots of sticky crumbs clinging to it, add a minute to the timer and then check ’em again.

Ovens are tricky.  No two are exactly the same.  Some run hot, some cold.  Some are hot in one area and cold in another.  (Try to position the rack in the middle of your oven, so the heat can circulate evenly, all around.)  I keep a little oven thermometer in mine so I can be sure it’s calibrated correctly, or if not, I can adjust accordingly.

Side-by-side photo collage showing best moist cupcake unfrosted next to a cupcake cut in half, showing the fine, even crumb inside.

Even Simpler More Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes | Baking a Moment

WHAT KIND OF FROSTING TO USE ON VANILLA CUPCAKES

These cupcakes taste wonderful with all sorts of frostings!  I personally love them with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but they are also just heavenly with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Or Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Can you tell I like Swiss meringue buttercream?

Many vanilla cupcakes with tall swirls of whipped cream.

But for today’s post I wanted to keep it on the simpler side, so I’ve used this Whipped Cream Frosting, which contains a little bit of cream cheese to keep it stable.

It’s really fluffy and light, and has just a hint of sweetness to it.

I should caution you that it will probably never hold stiff peaks in the mixing bowl, but somehow, it miraculously does hold it’s shape (surprisingly well!) when piped.  I would make the frosting no more than a few hours before serving, and keep it refrigerated, since it contains dairy.

I use this kind of pastry bag for piping, and this kind of tip.

Check out the video on my Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes post, to learn how to pipe a tall swirl like what you in these pics.

And here are a few more great options for frostings that would pair well with this vanilla cupcake recipe:

Vanilla cupcakes with a tall swirl of frosting, arranged on a cake stand.

CAN THIS VANILLA CUPCAKE RECIPE BE MADE AHEAD?

If you want to make these cupcakes ahead, you totally can!  Just keep them unfrosted.  They’ll keep well in an airtight container, for up to 3 days at room temperature, in the fridge for a week and a half or so, and for months in the freezer!

Thaw at room temperature and then frost and decorate however you like!

I also find that they seem to get more moist the day after they’re baked.  Don’t know what that’s all about, but it works for me!

PS- If cupcakes are your thing, be sure to check out my Simply Perfect Chocolate Cupcake recipe!  It might just be my favorite recipe on this whole website!  😀 😀 😀

Arrangement of vanilla cupcakes on a white surface with a light wood background.

Hopefully I didn’t leave anything out, but if you have a question I didn’t answer, please feel free to leave me a comment below.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and have lots of success with it!  There’s just nothing better than a homemade cupcake, from scratch, especially if it’s this easy to make!

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5 from 6 votes
Close up image of a vanilla cupcake with a swirl of buttercream, with a few more vanilla cupcakes in the background.
Even Simpler, More Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
18 mins
Total Time
33 mins
 

How to Make a Perfect Vanilla Cupcake, From Scratch! This Tutorial, with Pictures, is based upon my Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. The New Recipe is Even Simpler, and More Perfect! You’ll love the Moist, Tender Texture and Rich Vanilla Flavor, and this Method is Easy as be, with just One Bowl!

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best vanilla cupcake recipe, how to make vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cupcake recipe, vanilla cupcakes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 148 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with papers.
  2. Place the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer, and stir on low speed to combine.
  3. Add the butter, mixing on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about a minute).
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Add the sour cream, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste. Stir until fully combined.

  6. Fill the papers half full and bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

* Learn more about cake flour here: Why Use Cake Flour?
** If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute by stirring 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice into 2/3 cup of regular milk. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, or until thickened and slightly curdled.
*** This cupcake recipe can also be baked in three 6-inch diameter, two 8-inch or 9-inch diameter cake pans, or in a 9x13-inch pan. Bake times may need to be extended.  You'll know your cake is done baking when a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.  Click here for the layer cake version of this recipe: Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe.

Some other cupcake recipes you might enjoy:

Nutrition Facts
Even Simpler, More Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 33mg11%
Sodium 121mg5%
Potassium 51mg1%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 245IU5%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 26mg3%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Close-up image of a vanilla cupcake, with a text overlay reading "Vanilla Cupcakes."

Close-up image of a vanilla cupcake, with a text overlay reading "Vanilla Cupcakes."

Close-up image of a vanilla cupcake, with a text overlay reading "Vanilla Cupcakes."