Even Simpler, More Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Vanilla cupcake recipe from scratch! Super easy recipe made in just one bowl, with an incredibly moist texture and rich vanilla flavor.
*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:
- The taste has to be amazing.
- 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).
- It has to be relatively easy to make.
- The process of making it should result in as little mess as is humanly possible.
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
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.
Add the soft butter, and mix until it resembles damp sand. This should only take about a minute or so.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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!
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! 😀 😀 😀
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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Even Simpler, More Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups (187.5 g) cake flour*
- 3/4 cup (93.75 g) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, (scant)
- 3/4 cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter, (1 1/2 sticks), softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup (153.33 g) sour cream, (Greek yogurt or buttermilk** can be substituted)
- 1/2 cup (122 g) milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with papers.
- 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.
- Add the butter, mixing on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (about a minute).
- 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.
- Add the sour cream, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste. Stir until fully combined.
- 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.
** 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:
These cupcakes were amazing! Truly, they were simply perfect. I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out absolutely fabulous!! So amazing, thank you for sharing! I was skeptical about how little batter I was putting into the liners but they turned out just fine. I messed up the frosting (didn’t quite follow the directions… had lots of things going on) but I will try again and I’m sure it’ll turn out well too! I’ve tried quite a few recipes on your website and every one of them (except for the vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, which was my fault) turned out amazing! Thank you for sharing your talent and passion with the world, you are now my go-to Food blog! Keep up the great work! You’re awesome!
Wow Daphne! That is so amazing to hear and I really appreciate the great feedback and encouraging words! Thank you so much for making my day. And I’m so happy you liked the cupcakes!
Hi! I noticed that in the chocolate version you can sub buttermilk for the Greek yogurt. Can you make that swap in the vanilla as well?
Hey Teresah! Yes, you absolutely can. Thanks for the great question!
Love your recipe, Allie! I was wondering if I substitute sour cream for greek yogurt, less butter would be required to achieve the same results? Thanks!
Hey Kewpie! That’s a great question- the answer is no, not at all. You can substitute sour cream or buttermilk for Greek yogurt, in equal measure. Hope that helps!
Hello there 🙂 There’s a very mouth watering cupcake recipe there but I wanted to ask what can I add in place of vanilla beans paste? Because that product is very difficult to get from my country 🙁 Will vanilla essence work here?
I’m not familiar with vanilla essence Farwah, but if that’s the same as vanilla extract then it should work just fine! Good luck!
Can I use oil to replace eggs? My son loves vanilla but is allergic to eggs 🙁 Do I need to change anything in the recipe, like the leavening agents, to get the same results if I use oil?
I’m not really sure that oil is a suitable substitute for eggs. I have heard of subbing oil for butter, but not for eggs. I wouldn’t think that oil would provide the binding properties that an egg would, but I have had success with a flax egg substitute. For every egg, add two tablespoons of water to one tablespoon of ground flax seed. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes or until gelled. I hope that’s helpful! Good luck and enjoy 🙂
I’ve made these twice now and they are perfect. Best of all, they have less sugar then the standard cupcake recipe, but you would never know it from their
Thank you so much for the awesome feedback! I tend to prefer desserts that aren’t overly sweet, I think it allows the other flavors to really shine through. I’m so glad you agree!
Thanks for this amazing recipe!
The cake tasted just so wonderful. Its very simple to make it but taste not simple at all!
I’m so happy you liked it, Amber! Thanks so much for the great feedback 🙂
Can I use table salt instead of Kosher salt? If yes, what’s the measurement for it? Thank you!:)
Hi Joyce! Table salt and kosher salt are not interchangeable in equal measure. You can read more about it here: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=substituting%20table%20salt%20for%20kosher%20salt. Hope that helps! Thanks so much and have a great week!
I just made the. Made some mini and some regular size. So easy!! What would make them have little tunnels in them?
OOPS!!! Made these!!!!
Hey Charlotte! I’m so glad you liked them and they were easy! Sounds like you may have had a few air bubbles in the batter 😉
I tried this today. The cupcakes were soft and fluffy. However there were several big holes in them and weren’t high as yours.. like an inch high only when I made 18 cupcakes. Did I do anything wrong?
It sounds like maybe the batter was overworked? Either that or maybe there was an issue with oven temp or leavening. I like to use an oven thermometer just so I can see that my oven is working right. You can buy it at the supermarket for less than $15. And you want to make sure that your baking powder is fresh- there should be an expiration date on the bottom of the canister. The only other thing I can think of is just to make sure they go into the oven right away because that leavening will poop out if the batter sits too long. I hope that helps!
Can i use all cake flour instead of cake and all purpose? What will the difference be?
Hey Carrie! I’d recommend making the recipe as written. Each kind of flour brings a certain level of tenderness/strength to the final result. You can read more about cake flour vs. all-purpose flour here: http://www.wilton.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=7&threadid=168315. Hope that helps!
I tried this recipe and it turns out well! I tried again last night.. but not sure why, the cupcakes turns out harder overnight this time. Not as soft and fluffy like the first time I’ve made it. All the ingredients and steps are the same though…
What could the reason be? Do I need to lower the oven temp even more?
I wouldn’t change a thing, Carrie! If they turned out well for you the first time, chances are something was different the second time around. I just re-tested the recipe last week and the results were consistent. Good luck and thanks for reading!
Hey Allie! I love these cupcakes but I need to make a regular cake for an event. Do you know if this recipe will work for a standard 13 x 9? Thanks!
Hey April! I haven’t tried it myself but I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work. I’m thinking you’ll probably want to double the recipe though- and for cakes I always like to reduce the oven temp to 325. It helps them to not have a big hump in the middle. Obviously keep an eye on it and test for doneness. It will require a longer bake-time. Good luck and enjoy!
Thanks! I increased the recipe to 1.5 and baked it for about 40 minutes. It came out great!! 🙂
Wonderful! I’m so glad you were happy with it and thanks for sharing your experience!
The cupcakes shunk up when they cooled. Have you had that happen ever? It is the strangest thing. The tops are all puckered and have “fallen” now that they are cooled.
Hi Lisa! It used to happen to me from time to time too. Then I found this article: http://www.itsyummi.com/why-cake-sank-in-the-middle/. There are some really great tips there. I learned a lot and it’s really helped me to get better results with cakes. I hope you find it useful too!
Looks so yummy! Can i make a 9×13 sheet cake with this recipe?
Hey Jenny! I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t be sure. If it works out for you please let us know! Thanks so much for reading and for the great question 🙂
Hello. I just wanted say this recipe is “holy grail”!! I have always been weary making cupcakes for fear of being dense and tasteless, but I tried your recipe and they turned out amazing! I knew they were going to be amazing when I saw the batter. I really do like the reverse creaming method, as I had the most silkiest, aerated batter! I took your advice you gave to another commenter and used 1/2cup buttermilk to replace the milk/yogurt, and they came out perfect (coming from a first time cupcake baker)! I think it also helps to use a timer to prevent over mixing. Thank you for sharing your recipes and I’m gonna try to make this buttercream!
That’s wonderful Balencia! Thank you so much for sharing your positive feedback. I’m so happy you liked the process and the outcome! xoxo
Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I made a batch of the vanilla and a batch of the simple chocolate cupcakes from this site for my 3 yr olds birthday party. They are great because they are quick to whip up, make very little mess (only 1 bowl, 1 half cup measure, 1 spatula, and 1 teaspoon dirty!), taste great and freeze well. Great for a busy parent! I made them 2 weeks before the event and froze them and they defrosted beautifully on the day.
By the way, when substituting ground flax seed for eggs in party cupcakes, I always prefer to use Melrose brand ground yellow flax as it is ground very fine and you can’t see it in the batter. When making muffins, or more hearty baked goods I use Bob’s Red Mill ground brown flax which is a coarser grind and results in a ‘healthier’ look and feel. Different brands produce different binding properties so it pays to experiment.
Thank you so much Kathryn, for the awesome feedback and the great tips! I’ve never worked with flax eggs before so this is really useful info. I’m so happy you liked the recipe! And happy belated birthday to your little one 🙂
Hi Allie, we really swear by this recipe, it is the only vanilla cupcake recipe that I use. However, one of the kids at my daughter’s new school has an egg allergy and I am planning to bring cupcakes for her coming birthday. Would you know of a substitute for eggs in this recipe?
Ok, now, I’ve never tried this, but I’ve heard you can make an egg substitute out of ground flax seeds + warm water. Evidently if you allow it to sit for a little while it gels up and has a similar texture to an egg. I can’t vouch for how well it will work but it’s probably worth a try! Here’s another resource you can check out: http://chefinyou.com/egg-substitutes-cooking/. I hope that helps! And thank you so much for the sweet compliments! Good luck Grace and be sure to let us know how you make out, k? 🙂
You can substitute eggs with chai seeds. You soak chai seeds in warm water and add into the batter- the mixture is very gelatine like. I’ve used in all of my baking and it works! The proportion can be looked up in Google. I hope this tip helps!
Thanks so much for the great tip Tanya! I’ve never used chia seeds but I know that flax seeds work in the same way. Very useful info!
Thanks for the recipe. These are delicious!
My pleasure, Melanie! I’m so happy you enjoyed them; thank you so much for letting me know!
I saw this amazing recipe and made these today 🙂
At first when I took them out of the oven they looked great, but then by the time I served them, 5 hours later they had sort of shrunk and condensed (although they still tasted pretty great and everyone loved them!).
Do you have any advice on why this happens and how to avoid it?
PS: I served them with your Chocolate Swiss Meringue Butter Cream, which I made for the first time, and I love it, it’s so nice and light compared to regular butter cream 🙂
Hey Juliane! Thanks so much for reading my blog and trying one of my recipes! I’m so glad you liked the taste but sorry about the shrinking. In my experience that has happened when either a) they are a little bit underbaked, or b) I wrap them up or cover them before they are 100% cool. Sometimes the oven temperature has something to do with it. I would try baking them at a little higher temperature next time, and see if that helps. I’m so glad you liked the buttercream too, isn’t it just so dreamy???
I followed your advice and and I also bought spoon measurements to make sure that I use exactly the right amount of baking powder and baking soda and they turned out beautiful and are not shrinking. Yay 🙂
Do you know why sometimes cupcake bake so that instead of being flat on top, they don’t reach all the way up to the top of the cupcake paper on the sides but they are domed in the middle?
Great! I’m so glad it’s working for you now. The dome can be caused by too much leavening in the recipe and/or too high of an oven temperature. Also it sounds like maybe you could fill your papers a little more. I personally prefer a little bit of a dome on my cupcakes but if you like them flat then maybe try baking at a lower temperature. Good luck and thanks again for reading!
Thanks so much for all your advice!
I just have one more question, hope you don’t mind 🙂
Which tip did you use for the piping the cupcakes in the pictures above? I love the way they look! 🙂
No problem, Juliane! It’s an open star tip. I believe it’s 1M. Good luck and have fun!
These cupcakes look beautiful and I must try them! Never made them with yogurt and I’m curious how they are bona turn! Pinning!
Thanks for pinning, Mira! I think you will really like these, they are a family favorite around here!