These vanilla cupcakes are incredibly tender, soft, and moist. It’s hard to just eat one! Be sure to also check out our latest sour cream vanilla cupcakes for an all new cupcake experience!
* This post was updated with new photos and a tweaked recipe 🙂
I have a love-hate relationship with decorating cakes. I love it because of all of the fun and creativity you can have. I hate it because my decorations usually end up looking … less than ideal (to put it nicely).
But at least it gives me an excuse to eat it and try again.
That’s partially why I love cupcakes. I find it’s much easier and quicker to make cupcakes than it is to make a whole cake. AND frosting cupcakes is soo much easier than frosting a cake.
How to make vanilla cupcakes step by step:
For prep, line a 12 count cupcake tin with cupcake liners and preheat your oven to 350°F.
To make vanilla cupcakes, first start by mixing the dry ingredients together. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. Set the dry mix aside to work on the wet ingredients.
In a large bowl, cream together your butter and sugar. You can do this by hand or with a mixer.
Using a mixer is usually easier, but making the batter by hand makes it feel like I worked out enough to justify having 10 cupcakes. Pros and cons!
You need to mix the butter and sugar together until all or most of the sugar granules have dissolved into the butter, and it lightens in color and fluffs up.
Add your eggs and flavorings. For the eggs, it’s best to use room temperature, just because they’ll whip into the butter more easily. Cold eggs will cause your butter to chill and seize up which can make mixing more difficult.
It’s also important to add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition, to make sure they incorporate more easily. The fat in butter and the water in eggs like to separate, so adding them one at a time helps emulsify them together.
This is also where you add your flavorings. I always add vanilla, and sometimes I add some citrus zest. More on different flavorings below!
Add dry ingredients and milk. Start by adding half of your dry ingredients with all of the milk. Whisk to incorporate. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir until all of the ingredients are just incorporated and you no longer see dry flour. Careful not to over mix! Some lumps are completely normal (and encouraged!)
Portion out and bake. Using 2 spoons or an ice cream scoop, portion your batter out evenly into the prepared cupcake tin. Bake the cupcakes in the center of your 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely. Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely! Frost away!
What ingredients are in vanilla cupcakes:
For the ingredients, I wanted to keep things simple: flour, baking powder, salt, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. These ingredients will give you a perfectly tender, moist, and soft cupcake!
These are cupcakes without sour cream because (if you’re like me) it tends to be the forgotten one on the shopping list!
Tips for vanilla cupcake success:
Cupcakes are a quicker and easier way to enjoy cake in smaller portions. That being said, there are a few tips to keep in mind when making cupcakes to make sure they’re successful!
Tip #1: Use cornstarch! This is the only tweak I’ve made to this recipe since it was first published. If you know me, you probably know by now that I love using cornstarch in baking! In this recipe, the cornstarch helps yields a more soft and tender cupcake. And who doesn’t love that??
Tip #2: Don’t over mix the batter! This is really the biggest and most important tip for making any cake. You should mix your batter until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Over mixing can cause cakes to come out dry and dense (because overworked gluten = heavier batters). So please do watch out for this!
Tip #3: Start checking on your cupcakes early. This recipe calls for a bake time of 15 to 20 minutes, but you should ideally start checking on the cupcakes closer to the 15 minute mark. Cupcakes dry out quite suddenly so make sure you keep an eye on them. They’re sneaky!
Tip #4: Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting. Trust me, you’ll appreciate the patience. Frosting soup is not as good as it sounds. (If it even sounds good?)
Vanilla cupcakes size variations:
You can make this recipe into jumbo or mini vanilla cupcakes. To make large vanilla cupcakes, this batter makes approximately 8 jumbo cupcakes. The bake time will take a bit longer (20 to 25 minutes instead).
This recipe makes A LOT of mini vanilla cupcakes. You can get about 48 mini cupcakes! It takes a bit longer to divide the batter (it’s so tedious but they’re so cute), but you save time on baking (they’ll bake in around 10 minutes).
Vanilla cupcake add-ins:
The beauty of vanilla cupcakes comes from the fact that they’re almost a blank canvas! They don’t have an overpowering flavor, so you can add a lot of different favorings.
Of course, the classic is vanilla flavor! You can use regular vanilla extract, or make vanilla bean cupcakes by adding some vanilla seeds to the batter.
Other extracts you can use include almond extract (again, a little is all you need), lemon extract, or peppermint extract (especially fun around the holidays!).
You can also add different zests and other extracts.
For zests, you can add the zest of any of your favorite citrus fruits (like lemon, orange, and lime). Just bear in mind these zests really pack some flavor. So a little does go a long way!
Finally, one of my favorite ways to switch up regular vanilla cupcakes is by hollowing out the center and piping in a filling before frosting! Some of my favorites include adding jams, fudge sauce, ganache, caramel sauce, and pastry cream!
Vanilla cupcake frosting:
You can frost your cupcakes with whatever frosting or icing you love! I usually stick with a vanilla icing for cupcakes or frosting, but chocolate frostings are also delicious! My two favorite frostings to serve with cupcakes are vanilla buttercream and chocolate buttercream frosting. This time around, I used a full batch of my vanilla frosting for cupcakes.
If you liked these vanilla cupcakes, you may also like some of these other recipes:
Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
- 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 batch buttercream frosting (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count cupcake tin with paper liners, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together your butter and sugar, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Beat the butter and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light and creamy.
- Add your eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add your vanilla, and mix to combine.
- Add in half of your dry mix, and mix until incorporated. Whisk in your buttermilk, then add the remaining half of your dry ingredients. Whisk again until you no longer see any dry ingredients in the batter. Take care not to over mix! Some lumps are normal.
- Portion out the batter into your cupcake tin, filling each cup around 2/3 full. Bake in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool for about 10 minutes in the cupcake tin, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature before frosting and serving.