These fluffy and moist Birthday Cupcakes are flecked with sprinkles and topped with your favorite frosting. My recipe serves 12 and doubles easily. Recipe includes a how-to video!
Homemade Birthday Cupcakes
Birthday cake may be the classic birthday dessert, but I’m here today to make a case for birthday cupcakes.
Not only do they bake in less time and require less decorating, BUT they also save you the task of getting that perfect slice (anyone else have anxiety about this, or just me?) since they’re already pre-portioned!
And when you stack them on a cake stand, they have the same stately appearance as a layer cake…have I convinced you yet?
Today’s recipe is adapted from my yellow cake recipe, which means it’s quick to make and uses ingredients that are already in your pantry. The results are sweet, moist, and fluffy cupcakes with an incredible vanilla flavor and plenty of sprinkles. I personally love topping them with my white chocolate buttercream, but the frosting options are truly endless here.
Why use my recipe:
- Just 20 minutes of prep!
- Uses carefully selected ingredients for perfectly moist results.
- No mixer needed…yay!
- Makes 12 cupcakes, but can easily be doubled for 24.
- Pairs well with any frosting–I suggest a few of my favorites below!
What You Need
Most of the ingredients used to make my birthday cupcakes are pantry staples, including:
- Cake flour. This makes these cupcakes extra soft and tender! You could substitute this with all-purpose flour, but just know your cupcakes won’t be quite as soft. If you use all-purpose flour, it will be the same if measuring by weight; if you are measuring by cups, it will be 1 ⅓ cup.
- Oil. I tried omitting the oil entirely from this recipe and substituting with butter, but the cupcakes weren’t as moist. I know seed oils aren’t popular right now (not even in my own home), so I did try this recipe using avocado oil (I did this in my video) and olive oil. Olive oil gives a subtle flavor, but I couldn’t pick up any flavor with the avocado oil nor could my taste-testers, so if you want to avoid seed oils, use avocado oil.
- Sour cream. This works similarly to buttermilk in that it adds moisture and contributes a subtle tanginess that complements the sweetness of the cupcakes. Plain full-fat Greek yogurt would also work.
- Unsalted butter. Not only does melted butter make this recipe easy to mix by hand, but it also provides the best flavor and texture.
- Sprinkles. Use jimmies or quins (round, flat discs). Nonpareils will bleed into your batter, so I don’t recommend them there, but they work totally fine for sprinkling on top of your frosting.
SAM’S TIP: Swapping some of the vanilla extract for almond extract will give these birthday cupcakes a fun depth of flavor. It adds just a little something special, and isn’t that what birthdays are all about anyway?
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Birthday Cupcakes
- Combine the dry ingredients with a whisk.
- Add the butter and oil and stir until combined.
- Mix together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl or measuring cup.
- Add the milk into the sour cream mixture, then stir this into your batter until uniform.
- Add the sprinkles and stir until evenly incorporated.
- Divide your batter into a lined cupcake pan, making sure to fill the liners only ¾ of the way full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this!). Discard any excess batter, as this can make the cupcakes overflow onto the cupcake pan.
- Bake the cupcakes for 17-19 minutes at 350F. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Frost with your favorite frosting–suggestions below!
SAM’S TIP: Take your cupcakes out of the pan after cooling 5-10 minutes, otherwise the wrappers might become soggy from steam.
Frequently Asked Questions
I personally love using my white chocolate buttercream on these birthday cupcakes, but my chocolate frosting (used in my video below), strawberry frosting, Swiss meringue buttercream, fudge frosting, vanilla frosting, and whipped cream frosting are all excellent choices as well!
I haven’t tried it, but I suspect a 1:1 gluten free all-purpose flour would work just fine here. If you do try this, I’d love to know how it works out for you!
While you can always spread your frosting on your cupcakes with a knife, I actually find this to be more time consuming (and less attractive!) than just piping the frosting with a piping bag and tip.
My favorite piping tip for cupcakes is the Ateco 848 (affiliate link); it’s a large, closed star tip that works equally well for for piping rosettes or just a simple swirl design.
Looking for another birthday cake alternative? Try my birthday cake cookies next!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 1 ½ cups (170 g) cake flour
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter melted and cooled until no longer warm to the touch
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable, avocado, or canola oil (or use olive oil, just note that they will impart a subtle taste on the finished product)
- ½ cup (113 g) sour cream
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
- ⅓ cup sprinkles jimmies or quins, nonpareils are not advised
- 1 batch white chocolate frosting or your favorite frosting
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.1 ½ cups (170 g) cake flour, 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add melted butter and oil and stir until combined.6 Tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable, avocado, or canola oil
- In a separate small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract, then whisk in milk.½ cup (113 g) sour cream, 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
- Add sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until batter is uniform and well-combined.
- Stir in sprinkles.⅓ cup sprinkles
- Divide batter into prepared cupcake tin, filling only ¾ full (note: if you fill up any higher the cupcake tops may spread a bit on the tin, if you have excess batter just discard rather than overfill) and bake in center rack of oven for 17-19 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in baking pan for 5-10 minutes before carefully removing to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.1 batch white chocolate frosting
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
FrostingThe frosting I used in my video is my favorite chocolate frosting.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.