This classic, easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe is soft, springy, and can be prepped and baked in under 30 minutes! My vanilla cupcakes are moist with a soft crumb and are made with all butter and no oil for the best buttery flavor. Sweet but light and crowned with a decadent, whipped chocolate buttercream frosting, I think you’ll love these!
My Favorite Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
My typical reaction to being offered a vanilla cupcake is to not-so-subtly glance over the dessert table to check if there are any chocolate cupcakes available before accepting. If there aren’t, I’ll graciously (and totally gracefully, I’m sure) devour one. I’m not exactly the kind of person to turn down sugar, after all, but vanilla has never been my go-to flavor.
But every good baker needs a good vanilla cupcake recipe, and this space was lacking one. Yeah, I have a vanilla cake that many people have successfully converted into cupcakes, but I wanted something a little different to share. But it needed to be good. Really, really, really good.
After months of working to perfect this recipe, about 8 Google Doc pages full of notes, and multiple test runs past my taste-testers, this is it. With its light, moist crumb, its buttery, vanilla-infused flavor, this vanilla cupcake recipe is my new go-to. Like, I would actually pass up a chocolate cupcake for one of these.
Ingredients for Vanilla Cupcakes
My vanilla cupcake recipe uses all basic ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry:
- Butter. Often when making cupcakes I like to use oil for the best texture and a moist cake. This cupcake recipe, however, was carefully crafted to be made with all butter and still be perfectly soft and moist with a light, flavorful crumb!
- Brown Sugar. We’re using both granulated and brown sugar. The brown sugar will make the cupcakes slightly heavier and it enriches the flavor and makes them more moist. I love the addition but if you don’t have brown sugar handy this vanilla cupcake recipe will also work if you substitute more granulated sugar for the brown sugar.
- Eggs. Just one is all you need, actually.
- Vanilla Extract. We’re using a generous 1 ½ teaspoons for 12 cupcakes. These cupcakes have a great vanilla flavor (but it’s not overpowering).
- Flour. I use all-purpose flour, cake flour can be substituted.
- Baking Powder.
- Baking Soda.
- Buttermilk. Another key ingredient that helpsmakes these vanilla cupcakes soft and moist. If you don’t have buttermilk handy, you can make my easy buttermilk substitute instead.
That’s literally all you need for these perfect vanilla cupcakes. They results are delicate and light but still sturdy enough to hold a heavy crown of chocolate frosting. They’re moist and sweet without being over-sweet, they’re just all around perfect, honestly.
How to Make The Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
My vanilla cupcakes are easy to make, and practically fool-proof.
- Cream together butter and sugars. These ingredients should be beaten together until well-combined and light and fluffy.
- Stir in egg and vanilla extract. Make sure these are well incorporated.
- Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to butter mixture, stirring by hand after each addition. Do this part by hand! Well, with a spatula, you know what I mean. Everything should be well-combined, but avoid over-mixing
- Portion into 12-count muffin tin and bake.
While you’ll need to stir the ingredients by hand for the second half of the recipe, you will need a a stand mixer or electric hand mixer for the first half. Creaming together the butter and sugars is critical for the best light and fluffy texture, and it’s not easy (possible?) to properly do this by hand.
What Makes a Cupcake Moist and Fluffy?
There are actually quite a few things that go into this, but I wanted to share the top three things that help make your vanilla cupcakes moist and fluffy.
Using Room Temperature Ingredients
This helps your ingredients to combine properly when mixing. Ingredients of different temperatures will still combine, but they may not end up as well incorporated as you hope, leaving you with an unevenly mixed batter and a cupcake that’s dense.
Mixing, but not over-mixing
When we cream together our butter and sugar and beat in our egg, we’re creating air bubbles in our batter. These are key for a light moist cupcake. When we add in our flour and buttermilk, we start bursting those air bubbles. If you over-mix at this point and too many of your air bubbles collapse, your cupcakes will be dense and dry.
Don’t under-mix either, though! This is just as bad and could leave you with cupcakes that fall apart or flour clumps in the middle of your vanilla cupcakes because the ingredients aren’t properly distributed
Baking for the right amount of time (and not a minute longer).
Vanilla cupcakes will take 17-18 minutes to bake completely. The top should spring back if lightly touched and a toothpick in the center should ideally come out with a few moist crumbs or clean. If you leave them in the oven for too long, a toothpick will still come out clean but the cupcakes will be dry and crumbly when you bite into them.
Another thing worth noting: make sure your oven is actually at the right temperature. Many ovens are actually not calibrated correctly and run hotter or cooler than they indicate, and this is why I keep several inexpensive thermometers in my oven, to make sure the temperature is correct at all times. If your oven is too hot, it will bake your vanilla cupcakes too fast and dry them out!
Whew, are you sick of hearing about vanilla cupcakes yet? Thanks for sticking with me through all that. If you try out this recipe I’d love to know what you think!
More of My Favorite Cupcake Recipes
- Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Funfetti Cupcakes
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes
- Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
- Piñata Cupcakes
Easy Vanilla Cupcakes
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened (85g)
- ¾ cup sugar (150g)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar (50g)
- 1 large egg room temperature preferred
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour (150g)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup buttermilk room temperature preferred (175ml)
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting¹
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (170g)
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (226g)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (320g)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (30ml)
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl -- and use an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until well combined and light and fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Remove butter/sugar mixture from stand mixer and use a spatula to gradually fold in about ¼ of the flour mixture until just combined.
- Add about ¼ cup of the buttermilk and use spatula to fold in until just combined.
- Continue to alternate until flour mixture and buttermilk are completely combined -- mix thoroughly but be sure not to over-mix or your cupcakes could end up dense and dry.
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔-¾ of the way full with batter (do not over-fill, if you have any leftover batter discard it) and bake on 350F (175C) for 17-18 minutes or until tops spring back when gently touched (the tops will be fairly flat, these do not puff up in the oven like muffins) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs or clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely in pans before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips at 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until chips are completely melted. Set aside and allow to cool slightly (about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally).
- Cream room temperature butter with an electric mixer. Stir in slightly cooled chocolate and beat well.
- Gradually add sugar, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl occasionally.
- Sprinkle in salt and vanilla extract, stir well.
- Gradually add heavy cream, increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute, pausing halfway through to scrape down sides of bowl.
- Spoon frosting into a piping bag fitted with tip of choice (I used a large French tip) and pipe on cooled cupcakes.
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.
I originally shared this Vanilla Cupcake Recipe 05/15/2017. Post has been updated and a video added 03/25/2019. The recipe remains the same; even though I tried to improve upon it I found it was pretty much perfect as written!
Easy to make and delicious!
By far the best cup cake recipe I have ever used. Light and fluffy and moist.
Used a different icing recipe though.
Thanks so much for this recipe. I am going to use it tomorrow for a sponge cake just for interest sake and see how it turns out.
Hi Sam. I baked two batches of these and they were delicious but they kept sinking in. I filled the liners up halfway and I was wondering if there was any other reason why they sink.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so sorry to hear that your cupcakes sunk, Lillian! 🙁 The most common reason for this is overmixing the batter. If overmixed, too much air can be incorporated, which causes the cupcakes to rise then deflate. Another cause could be that your oven temp is too high, which can cause the cake to rise too rapidly. Investing in an oven thermometer is always a good idea! We hope that helps. 🙂
Made these for a birthday party this weekend. As host, I forgot to eat one. But the guests raved!! I even got an unsolicited “best cupcake I’ve ever had” from our resident foodie. Will make again. Maybe just for myself!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We love hearing that, Rebecca! Thanks so much for using our recipe ❤
Hi where can I find the sprinkles that you used?!
Hi Ashley! I make my own blends using a variety of sprinkles that I buy in bulk, I’m sorry I don’t have a direct link.
Do you think this can be made as a small cake in an 8-inch square baking pan? Your vanilla cake recipe looks good, but is too much for us.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Deborah! We’d recommend that you cut our vanilla cake recipe in half instead. 😊
I basically love all your recipes. You’re my go to girl! 🙂 I do love this vanilla cupcake recipe but there are times I’d love for them to have a little dome on top. Are there any slight adjustments or recommendations on how to get them to dome. Btw, thank you for noting that these bake flat or I would have thought I was completely doing something wrong lol
Hi Neidra! Thank you so much for trying and trusting my recipes, I really appreciate it! Unfortunately I have not yet found a way to get the cupcakes to dome without altering the moist texture and buttery flavor that they have. However, my vanilla cake can be made into cupcakes instead (instructions on how to do so in the notes section of the recipe), they do bake up with a dome. I hope that helps!!
Hi Sam, I made these cupcakes and they are very tender and fluffy (possibly slightly under baked as they dipped a little after coming out of the oven). I used soft light brown sugar and caster mix and the batter was quite beige. The baked cupcakes are also beige/brown and not light like yours. I only managed to get 11 cakes from the batch too which was a bit disappointing – I guess my cases are bigger.
Hi Sharon! I’m not sure why the color was off, were any of the ingredients particularly dark in color, like the butter, or a very dark vanilla? That seems very strange!
The vanilla extract is dark brown, but it doesn’t discolour other vanilla cupcake recipes. Butter was pale yellow. I can only think it was the light brown sugar.
Yes that’s very strange! I’m honestly not sure, I used Domino brand brown sugar and it did not discolor mine.
Discard the leftover cupcake batter, heck no! I keep a couple of 3″ cake pans for just this reason. I doubled the recipe and got 48 mini cupcakes and 4 full size cupcakes (I also have a six cupcake pan). These cupcakes were interesting to bake. I loved the technique of keeping mixing the batter to a minimum. I just tried one hot and they are super fluffy with a kind of caramelly flavor that is really yummy. Must be the brown sugar! I have a can of dulce de leche caramel and am planning on mixing a few tablespoons of that into my frosting. Going to a picnic tomorrow and know these will be a hit! Just like the rest of the recipes on this site. Thanks!
Can I make the cupcakes in advance and freeze them until I need them?
Hi Jen! That will work just fine. 🙂
I made 4 dozens of your easy vanilla cupcakes for my nephew’s grad party & it came out very well. Love the moist & spongy soft texture.
Your recipes are Great!
Thank you & God Bless!
I’m so glad everyone enjoyed them so much, Annie! 🙂
So I went ahead and doubled the recipe because I need to make about 4 dozen cupcakes for my kid’s birthday and for my neighbor’s birthday. The cupcakes look very moist but they aren’t springy. In fact, they deflated the minute I took them out the oven. Is this normal? I didn’t over mix and I followed the recipe by even using a spatula to alternate between the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, as I mixed these into the sugar wet ingredients. I’m about to make a second batch of 2 dozen but I’m worried that these will deflate again. Can you please advise?
Thanks in advance.
Hi Sandra! I’m sorry to hear that they deflated! They may have needed an extra minute or two in the oven.
Hi there. Could I triple the ingredients to make 36 cupcakes or so think it’s better to do each dozen to the instruction of the recipe?
Thanks in advance.
Ashley @ Sugar Spun Run
Hello, Sandra! You can easily triple the recipe with no problem. 🙂
Do you use full fat Buttermilk?
Hi Carrie! Yes I use full fat buttermilk here. 🙂
Great recipe! Easy to make, and the students loved them!