Best Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

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This is the best vanilla cupcake recipe! Made from scratch with simple ingredients, these vanilla cupcakes are moist with a perfect crumb. Topped with homemade frosting they are the ultimate birthday cupcakes. Ditch boxed mixes and make these homemade vanilla cupcakes instead.

a Vanilla Cupcake topped with white frosting and sprinkles


We celebrate many birthdays in our family, so over the years I have perfected from-scratch birthday treats like these homemade vanilla cupcakes (along with our favorite chocolate cake, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla buttercream and chocolate frosting)!

Since we celebrate so often (there are 8 of us), I prefer to make our indulgent treats from scratch instead of using box mixes to avoid preservatives and artificial dyes/flavors. And these vanilla cupcakes are so easy to make you won’t regret ditching the box mixes once and for all.

This is the best vanilla cupcake recipe I’ve ever had. Made from scratch with simple ingredients, these vanilla cupcakes are moist with a perfect crumb. Topped with homemade vanilla frosting or vanilla buttercream, they are the ultimate birthday cupcakes.

a Vanilla Cupcake laying on it's side with a bite taken out of it

Vanilla Cupcake Recipe: Ingredients & Substitutions

overhead photo of the labeled ingredients in this Vanilla Cupcake recipe
  • All-purpose flour. Cake flour or bread flour can be used in place of all-purpose flour.
  • Salted butter. Unsalted butter works well too. You can replace up to ¼ cup of the butter with canola oil, if desired.
  • Granulated sugar. There really isn’t a substitute for the sugar. I suggest regular white sugar or organic cane sugar for the best results. 
  • Sour cream. Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream. I recommend using full-fat ingredients.
  • Whole milk. Again, I am an advocate for using full-fat whole milk in these vanilla cupcakes. You could substitute 2% milk but nothing with a lower fat content. Also heavy cream or half and half.
  • Canola oil. Oil keeps these vanilla cupcakes moist. You can substitute equal amounts of melted butter or another neutral oil if desired, however canola oil yields the best results. 
  • Vanilla extract. You can switch up the extract and use almond, peppermint, orange, etc. if you prefer flavored cupcakes.
  • Frosting. I suggest this homemade chocolate buttercream frosting , vanilla buttercream, cream cheese frosting or vanilla frosting (great for decorating).
5 Vanilla Cupcakes topped with white frosting

How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes

This vanilla cupcake recipe is easy to make. We’ll walk through the process step-by-step, and don’t forget to watch the video.

Begin by lining two standard muffin pans with liners and lightly grease each liner with cooking spray, set aside.

Then, make the cupcake batter. Start by combining the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes - combining the dry ingredients

Next, in the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat butter and sugar for 1 minute.

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes - beating together butter and sugar

Then, add the eggs and vanilla and beat again for 1 minute.  

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes - adding eggs and vanilla

Next, add the sour cream, milk and canola oil and stir until combined.

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes -  adding milk, oil and sour cream

Lastly, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes - combining wet and dry ingredients

Bake

Once the batter is finished, fill each prepared cupcake liner with ¼ cup of batter.

Then, bake the vanilla cupcakes in the preheated oven for 19-22 minutes, or until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Cool

Place baking pans on a wire cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes - in a muffin pan before and after baking

Frost

When the vanilla cupcakes are cooled, frost them with vanilla buttercream frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting or homemade vanilla frosting and serve! I use the following tools to decorate cupcakes:

two photos showing How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes - frosting the cupcakes

Store

Store these homemade vanilla cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Serve at room temperature. 

Freeze

It’s really easy to bake a batch of vanilla cupcakes from scratch and freeze them. Simply follow the recipe and let them cool completely. Then transfer the unfrosted cupcakes to an airtight container and freeze in a single layer until you’re ready to frost and serve. 

Thaw them at room temperature (do not microwave or heat in the oven).

4 Vanilla Cupcakes topped with white frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes FAQs

What makes cupcakes light and fluffy (what is the secret to fluffy cupcakes)?

The texture is all in the recipe you use. In this recipe, the combination of sour cream, oil and eggs helps give it a nice fluffy texture. Also, beating the butter, sugar & eggs well then only carefully mixing in the rest of the ingredients helps create air pockets in the batter that keeps them light and fluffy.

Should cupcakes be flat or domed?

I prefer flat cupcakes because they are easier to frost, which is why I created this recipe that bakes nice, flat cupcakes.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, this recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

a Vanilla Cupcake topped with with frosting and sprinkles with a bite taken out of it

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Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

Laura
The best vanilla cupcake recipe! Made from scratch with simple ingredients, these vanilla cupcakes are moist with a perfect crumb. Topped with homemade frosting they are the ultimate birthday cupcakes. Ditch boxed mixes and make these homemade vanilla cupcakes instead.
5 from 23 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cucpakes
Calories 154
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line two standard muffin pans with liners and lightly grease each liner with cooking spray, set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat butter and sugar for 1 minute.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat for 1 minute.
  • Add sour cream, milk and canola oil and stir until combined.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.
  • Fill each cupcake liner with ¼ cup batter.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 19-22 minutes, or until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
  • Place the baking pans on a wire cooling rack and cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer the to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, frost and serve.

Video

Notes

*nutrition facts calculated for only the cupcakes without frosting.
Ingredient Substitutions
  • All-purpose flour. Cake flour or bread flour can be used in place of all-purpose flour.
  • Salted butter. Unsalted butter works well too. You can replace up to ¼ cup of the butter with canola oil, if desired.
  • Granulated sugar. There really isn’t a substitute for the sugar. I suggest regular white sugar or organic cane sugar for the best results. 
  • Sour cream. Full-fat, plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream. I recommend using full-fat ingredients.
  • Whole milk. Again, I am an advocate for using full-fat whole milk in these vanilla cupcakes. You could substitute 2% milk but nothing with a lower fat content. Also heavy cream or half and half.
  • Canola oil. Oil keeps these vanilla cupcakes moist. You can substitute equal amounts of melted butter or another neutral oil if desired, however canola oil yields the best results. 
  • Vanilla extract. You can switch up the extract and use almond, peppermint, orange, etc. if you prefer flavored cupcakes.
  • Frosting. I suggest this homemade chocolate buttercream frosting, vanilla buttercream or this vanilla frosting (great for decorating). 
Store
Store these homemade vanilla cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Serve at room temperature. 
Freeze
It’s really easy to bake a batch of vanilla cupcakes from scratch and freeze them. Simply follow the recipe and let them cool completely. Then transfer the unfrosted cupcakes to an airtight container and freeze in a single layer until you’re ready to frost and serve. 
Thaw them at room temperature (do not microwave or heat in the oven).

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 154kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 119mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 184IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe I actually had to use mayonnaise to substitute for sour cream. Thank you it was delicious wish I could show pictures too, but it was yummy. Almost like the box version just better.

  2. Hello Laura,
    I see inyour comment you said you like nice flat cupcakes, If I would like these cupcakes to dome a little, would you suggest that I add additional baking power? Or baking soda? Or will it not work with this recipe? (I think I would like to try this recipe because it called for both butter & oil. I am going to assume that these cupcakes are nice and moist)
    Thank-you!