This recipe for Classic Vanilla Cupcakes is a must for any home baker's recipe box. Cupcake recipes are perfect to whip up for birthday parties or bake sales. And these vanilla cake cupcakes can be topped with a variety of frostings such as Dark Chocolate Frosting, Oreo Frosting, Salted Caramel Buttercream or Strawberry Buttercream. And, don't forget the sprinkles!
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💕 Why you’ll love this recipe
Nothing beats homemade cupcakes. This is one of those easy recipes that you'll use over and over again. Here are a few recipes why you'll love them:
- Moist cupcakes with a moist crumb, made using pantry staple ingredients
- Fluffy vanilla cupcakes that pair well with lots of different frosting options
- A basic cupcake recipe with a tender crumb
🧾 Ingredients & substitutions
This easy vanilla cupcake recipe uses only pantry staple ingredients which means you can whip up this delicious recipe anytime! Here's what you'll need to make the unfrosted cupcakes:
- All-purpose flour: this is otherwise known as plain flour and it's likely what you have in your pantry already. Cake flour is often used in cupcake recipes and is said to produce a lighter, fluffier cupcake. I have found this not to be the case.
- Baking powder: be sure to check for freshness. If your baking powder is expired or no longer fresh, you will get flat, dense cupcakes rather than fluffy cupcakes. Do not substitute with baking soda
- Whole milk: May be substituted with 2% milk instead. If substituting with non dairy milk such as almond milk or soy milk, the cupcakes may not rise as well. Sour cream is not recommended as a substitute for the milk in this recipe
- Vanilla extract: I always recommend using pure vanilla extract rather than imitation vanilla. The quality makes a difference in your baked goods. And since these are simple vanilla cupcakes where vanilla flavor is the star, I would recommend you use the highest quality vanilla you can afford. Heilala, Watkins, McCormick, and Nielsen Massey are all good ones! Vanilla bean paste may be substituted in equal amounts
- Butter: use unsalted butter and make sure it is room temperature. Remove the butter from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking so it has time to reach room temperature. This will ensure the butter incorporates evenly into the cupcake batter without leaving chunks of butter throughout. Try using your favorite vegan butter and non dairy milk for a dairy free cupcake recipe
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs: For this recipe, you'll need large eggs. And you'll be using the whole egg, not just the egg whites or egg yolks. Four eggs are needed for this recipe. Using the whole egg helps provide richness to the cake. Be sure to remove your eggs from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking so that you have room temperature eggs with which to bake. Room temperature ingredients are essential to allow dry ingredients and wet ingredients to incorporate evenly into a smooth, even, homogenous batter
✨How to make Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
These homemade vanilla cupcakes are made using the standard creaming method. This means fat, in this case room temperature butter, and sugar are mixed together until they are light and fluffy.
This process creates an emulsion, or a homogenous mixture of ingredients, that helps give the cupcake structure and helps it rise while producing a tender crumb.
There are many recipes out there for moist vanilla cupcakes. While many of them yield delicious results, I wanted to provide you the best cupcakes made in the easiest way. Here's how:
Preheat the oven temperature to 350ºF. Place cupcake liners (paper liners) in a standard muffin tin. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment affixed or with an electric mixer or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar, starting on low speed until it comes together then turn the speed to medium speed or medium-high speed and mix 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is well mixed.
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk/vanilla in 3 additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix just until there is no visible flour. Do not overmix.
Using a ¼ cup ice cream scoop, divide batter into each lined well of the cupcake pan. The wells should be no more than ⅔ full to avoid the cupcakes from overflowing. Bake for 18-20 mins, rotating the cupcake pan halfway through. The edges should look slightly golden brown and the tops should look dry while the center of the cupcakes should bounce back when pressed gently with your fingertip.
Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
👩🍳 Pro Tips
- Make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature before making this recipe. Room temperature ingredients are essential to allow dry ingredients and wet ingredients to incorporate evenly into a smooth, even, homogenous batter. This will allow the cupcakes to look the same as well as provide them with well mixed ingredients that help them rise and produce the best results
- Use an ice cream scoop to measure out the cupcake batter to ¼ cup. This will ensure all your cupcakes are the same size. And if you use the proper amount, filling the cupcake wells ⅔ full, it'll prevent the cupcakes from overflowing. Know how much cupcake batter per cupcake to ensure all your cupcakes turn out beautifully
- Unfrosted cupcakes that are completely cool can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Naked cupcakes can be frozen in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months. For the best taste, allow to come to room temperature before frosting and serving
- Store frosted cupcakes in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week
- For best results, do not wrap naked cupcakes in plastic wrap, as the tops tend to stick to the wrap. Instead, store in a large, airtight container or cover with wax paper or parchment paper when storing at room temperature
Looking for a small batch vanilla cupcakes recipe? Try cutting this recipe in half to make 12 perfect vanilla cupcakes. Prepare and bake according to recipe instructions. You'll need:
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
Want to make mini cupcakes instead? Use a mini cupcake pan and mini paper liners. Fill ⅔ - ¾ of the way and bake the cupcakes for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown at the edges. This recipe will yield 48 mini vanilla cupcakes.
This is a frequently asked question for sure! How much batter per cupcake will depend on the recipe and size of your cupcake pan or muffin cups. If you've ever wondered how much cupcake batter per cupcake, for standard cupcakes, you'll need about ¼ cup of cupcake batter per cupcake. The important part is to not overfill your cupcake wells. Fill them ⅔ full, otherwise they'll overflow.
Keeping cupcakes moist comes down to the ingredients used in the recipe and how they are stored. For this recipe, we use 4 large eggs, milk and 1 cup of butter, all of which help keep the cupcakes moist.
Storing cooled cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge will also help them retain moisture. Be sure to bring them to room temperature before frosting and serving, if storing in the fridge.
Cold cupcakes may seem dry, as the butter solidifies in the fridge. Once at room temperature, the cupcakes will be just right and perfectly moist.
To freeze, allow the cupcakes to cool. Store them in freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. For best results, store cupcakes without frosting. Allow to come to room temperature before frosting and serving.
To make mini vanilla cupcakes, use a mini cupcake pan and mini paper liners. Prepare this recipe according to the directions. Then fill the cupcake wells ⅔ - ¾ of the way and bake the cupcakes for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown at the edges. This recipe will yield 48 mini vanilla cupcakes.
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- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place cupcake liners in 2 standard muffin pans. Set aside
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and vanilla extract. Set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar, first on low speed until it comes together then turn the speed to medium-high and mix 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl
- Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is well mixed
- With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk/vanilla in 3 additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix just until there is no visible flour. Do not overmix
- Scoop ¼ cup of batter into each lined well of the cupcake pan. The wells should be no more than ⅔ full. Bake for 18-20 mins, rotating the cupcake pan halfway through. The edges should look slightly golden brown and the tops should look dry and bounce back when pressed gently with your fingertip.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting