Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting are fluffy and delicious with a velvety smooth buttercream frosting. This is seriously the best vanilla cupcake I’ve ever tasted!

Everybody loves cupcakes, and these are one of our favorite recipes. They are simple and classic, giving some of our fancier treats, like Strawberry Cupcakes and Coconut Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling, a run for their money.

vanilla cupcake on a white plate surrounded by cupcakes

Moist Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

I’ll be the first to admit, that while I love to bake cakes and cupcakes, they have never been my forte. I have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, but a really good vanilla cake recipe has eluded me for quite some time.

I’ve tried my fair share, but I really wanted something fluffy and light while still moist and delicious, and this vanilla cupcake recipe definitely fits the bill. So moist, so tender, and so easy, this is a simple treat you’ll want to make over and over again.

What makes cupcakes light and fluffy?

The key to a light and fluffy cupcake is all about the mixing. Overmix your batter and you’ll wind up with a dense cupcake. Always mix at a low speed and mix just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

white cupcakecake with white frosting and sprinkles on small white plate

Ingredients for vanilla cupcakes

This is a basic cake recipe with common ingredients like all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda and sugar, plus melted butter, an egg, milk and sour cream to keep it moist. Most cake recipes will call for 1 tablespoon of vanilla, but for moist vanilla cupcakes you’re going to double that, and use the best quality real vanilla extract you can find. Ir you can make your own vanilla extract from scratch.

How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes

The key to a good cake or muffin batter is combining the ingredients just right. You don’t want to overmix the flour into the batter as it can result in a dense and chewy cake rather that something light and fluffy.

  1. Have your ingredients ready at room temperature. The butter may take longer, but the egg, sour cream and milk can sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes or so. Room temperature ingredients bond together very easily since they’re warmer, creating a seamless and evenly textured batter.
  2. Mix your dry and wet ingredients separately. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder/soda together in a separate bowl and then adding them to the wet batter ensure that everything is evenly mixed and incorporated without the risk of overmixing. We’ve already determined that’s not a good thing.
  3. Always use cupcake liners for cupcakes. This isn’t a necessity; you can easily make cupcakes without liners . But get yourself some good quality, grease proof liners and you have to worry about your cake sticking to the paper ever again. Plus, if you’re feeding a crowd they are much easier to serve. Set the liners in your cupcake pan before making the batter so they’re ready to go.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to fill them. This is my favorite tool and favorite tip when making cupcakes. If you want evenly sized cupcakes, do yourself a favor and grab one of these spring release ice cream scoops. They are the perfect size to fill about 2/3 – ¾ of the cups which is exactly what you need.
  5. Bake. Once you’ve scooped your batter into the pretty little liners, it’s time to bake them. Set a timer, set two if you have to, and make sure to check on your cupcakes. You want them to be domed and slightly sunken in the center rather than peaked at the top. If you’re unsure, use the toothpick test and if no batter clings to your toothpicks, the cupcakes are done.

overhead shot of cupcakes with white frosting and sprinlkes

How to decorate cupcakes

You can really put any kind of topping you like on your cupcakes, I won’t judge. Cool the cupcakes completely, and make my favorite simple buttercream frosting. But you can go with chocolate, or peanut frosting, or even just a dollop of cool whip. Chocolate ganache is always nice or maybe a dip in some creamy Nutella. Oh the possibilities!

How to Make Buttercream Frosting

Unlike baking, which can feel like a complicated math problem sometimes, making the perfect frosting is pretty simple. It requires heavy mixing on high speed, and the recipes are typically pretty forgiving. If you feel it’s too sweet, add a pinch of salt and maybe a little more butter. Too thin? Add more powdered sugar. On the flip side if it’s too thick, add more milk. As long as you follow the basic guidelines of the recipe, you’ll be rewarded with a fluffy, creamy vanilla buttercream to ice your vanilla cupcakes.

You can choose to just spread on the frosting, or if you’re feeling fancy, use a piping bag and tips.

vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream

Pro Tips for the best Vanilla Cupcakes

I’ve made these quite a few times now, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

  • Measure your flour properly. Rather than scooping your flour, use a spoon to sprinkle the flour into the measuring cup, then level off the top with the flat side of a knife.
  • Buy good quality vanilla. I recommend getting high quality ingredients always when you can, but the vanilla for your vanilla cupcakes recipe is especially important. Make sure you are getting real vanilla extra and not imitation.
  • Match the occasion. The great thing about vanilla buttercream is it’s a blank canvas. Try adding food coloring to it to match your party decor.
  • Don’t forget the sprinkles! Colored sprinkles can set the mood from totally fun with multi-colored jimmies or nonperils, or totally classy with some shiny, sparkly sugar pearls.

Storage and Freezing

Storage: Store in the refrigerator after two hours. Once they’ve been chilled in the fridge they should sit out for several minutes before eating.

Freezing: Place cupcakes in a single layer in a large freezer safe container. Pop them in the fridge for up to 4 months. Thaw in the fridge and enjoy.

cupcakes with white frosting and sprinkles

More Cupcakes and Baked Goods

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A close up of a vanilla cupcake on a plate, with vanilla frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

These Easy Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream are fluffy delicious with a creamy buttercream frosting. This is seriously the best vanilla cupcake I've ever tasted!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 444kcal

Ingredients
  

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions
 

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the sugar and melted butter until smooth (mixture will be gritty). Whisk in eggs, then sour cream, milk and vanilla extract until combined.
  • Slowly add in dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Batter will be thick.
  • Fill cupcake lines ⅔ of the way full (about ¼ cup of batter). Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer), beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy; 2-3 minutes.
  • Add confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk. Turn mixer up to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. If mixture is too thick, add more milk, a teaspoon at a time. If too thin, add more confectioners sugar, a little at a time.
  • Frost cooled cupcakes using a spreader or a piping bag. Depending on how much frosting you use on each cupcake, there may be some leftover.

Notes

This recipe will make about a dozen cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the cups.
Depending on how much frosting you use per cupcake, there may be some leftover.

Nutrition

Calories: 444kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 3gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 118mgPotassium: 115mgFiber: 1gSugar: 47gVitamin A: 671IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 1mg
Keyword 7 layer dip, buttercream frosting, vanilla cupcakes

This post was first published in 2018 and updated in 2021 to include some tried and tested pro tips that we hope you find useful. 

 

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Fantastic recipe!! And the tips were super helpful too.. love to bake but I’m still inexperienced this recipe is easy fun and delicious ❤️❤️❤️

  2. My daughter wanted to make cupcakes and just picked yours randomly (she’s 9). The whole family agreed this is the best vanilla cupcake recipe we ever tried. Simple enough for a 9 year old to make with little assistant and turned out wonderful. We substituted the sour cream for vanilla Greek yogurt!!!

  3. Hello, Kristin Maxwell. My name is Alyssa and I love baking. I bake almost every day. I tried this recipe and it was amazing, thank you.

    1. Yes you can. Replace some of the powdered sugar with cocoa, and add milk as needed to thin out the consistency.

  4. Amazing cupcakes. I’m not a baker but this came out Amazing. For the frosting I would cut in half the ingredients. I had a lot left over and I did 3 cups of sugar.

  5. OMG! These were the best cupcakes and buttercream I have ever had. After tasting these, I will never use another vanilla cupcake recipe!!!!

  6. These were AMAZING! This is the first time I have baked anything vanilla, and I am SO glad I found this recipe! DELISH!

  7. Great directions and tips for success. Delicious, light, fluffy bakery style cupcake. This recipe is a keeper.
    I especially like that it makes 12 cupcakes.
    I made a buttercream frosting and have it in a piping bag and we will enjoy a freshly made cupcake when the craving hits. It was delicious with a freshly sliced strawberry filling!

  8. This recipe is amazing!!! The instructions were really simple and easy to follow. And the cupcakes turned out great! I made them for my family and they were a huge hit. Thank you so much! 🙂

    Side note: I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, plus I doubled the recipe, and they still turned out really well

  9. It was great!
    But instead of using sour cream I used cream cheese it was great. This recipe needs 5 stars!

  10. Hi Kristin, I came across your website looking for a cupcake recipe and yours seem to be a winner complete with helpful tips.
    Could i know what is the best way to convert your cup measurements to grams pls. Thanks a load

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