Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

Simply the BEST vanilla cupcake recipe!

This week I’ve made 6 batches of vanilla cupcakes and a vanilla cake.  I feel like my oven has been on for 42 hours straight!  =)  What are all these cupcakes for, you might ask.  Well, for me… and for science, and for you too.  Confused yet?   I’ll explain…

  I have been on a search for a perfect vanilla cupcake recipe for several years.  I have tried Martha’s, Magnolia’s, Billy’s and Amy Sedaris’.  I’ve read the Cake Bible from cover to cover (really!).  I’ve googled until I can’t google anymore!  Some of the recipes were good, just not perfect.  I’ve considered just giving up… maybe my expectations were to high.  I wanted a vanilla cupcake recipe that was as light and fluffy as a box mix, but without all the funny chemicals.  I wanted a cupcake that was flavorful and moist.  And I wanted it to be almost as easy to make from scratch as from a box.

This week, I wasn’t going to stop until I found what I was looking for.  So I baked and baked… then went to the store for more butter and sugar, and baked some more!  I tried recipes with butter, oil, or some of both… recipes with milk, buttermilk, or sour cream… 1 egg, 2 eggs, 5 eggs… baking powder, baking soda… bake at 350*, bake at 325*…

I made cupcakes that were lopsided, over-flowing, over-baked, and just plain ugly…

And then I made these…

They looked beautiful and tasted perfect, so I double checked all my notes to make sure I could remember what I put in them… then I made another batch to make sure it was THE ONE.

They were just as perfect!!  I think I heard angels singing….

Simply the BEST vanilla cupcake recipe!

I am SO happy to share the results of my many experiments.  I am perfectly happy with these cupcakes and look forward to making them again and again.  Now certainly, peoples tastes and preferences vary greatly.  I love these, my husband (my #1 taste tester) loves them, and I hope many of you will too.  As with any recipe, it is very important to use the best quality ingredients you can.  You will notice the recipe calls for cake flour, which is a bit more expensive than all-purpose flour, but I have found it is essential to produce the light and fluffy texture I was looking for.  Also, the recipe uses oil instead of butter.  I realized most cupcake recipes (from scratch) call for butter, and yet box mixes (which have the texture I was looking for) are baked using oil.  I was concerned that using only oil would leave the cupcakes without adequate flavor, but I found that with good quality vanilla, these cupcakes are delicious and flavorful.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

Recipe by Glorious Treats

Yields- 15-16 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups cake flour

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)

1/3 cup milk (whole or low fat, but avoid fat free)

1/3 cup sour cream (full fat or light, but avoid fat free)

Directions-

* Preheat oven to 350*F.

* In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside.

* In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, beat.

* Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add the milk, then the rest of the flour and the sour cream.  Beat until just combined.  Scrap down the side of the bowl.

* The batter will be thin.   Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners.  Fill liners about 2/3 full.

* Bake cupcakes in pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes.

* Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.

* Frost as desired when fully cool.  I love to use my favorite Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

* Feel free to use this recipe for a cake as well.  The recipe above will work for a 6″ cake.  Double the recipe for an 8″ or 9″ cake.

* A note about Cake Flour-  Cake Flour has a lower protein content than traditional all-purpose flour, which results in a more tender, delicate crumb in the finished product.  If you can not find or access cake flour, feel free to substitute as necessary, but your results will vary from the original recipe.

RECIPE UPDATED – May 2017

I have made this recipe many times with success, but in an effort to always be improving (even great recipes) I’ve made a couple small updates to this recipe (which are now listed above).  My original recipe included 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder (now reduced to 3/4), 3/4 cup sugar (now increased to 1 cup) and 1/2 cup buttermilk (now updated to 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup sour cream).

Prop notes-

Brown cupcake liners from Simply Caked.  The pretty purple cupcake liners are from Confectionery House.  The pearlized sprinkles are from Sweet Baking Supply.  Cupcake stands available at Farmhouse Wares.

1,180 comments

  1. Made these for my daughter’s birthday this weekend and they came out amazing! I followed the recipe exactly. Thank you so much!!!

  2. I have a question has anyone tried adding this as a base cupcake ??what measurements and what ingredients were used ?

  3. I have been using the older cupcake recipe which includes using buttermilk. Just came across the updated version of the recipe. Any reason why it changed?

    • i was wondering also, i never had a complaint about the old version actually everyone loves them. …

    • If you’ve been using the older version successfully, then stick with that! The small updates make for just a slightly thicker batter and a bit less leavening, which would help with some of the uneven rising problems a few readers were having. The increase in sugar offsets the extra tang of the sour cream. So… really the end results of either version are extremely similar.

  4. Hi! Just a quick note … I was considering substituting Full Fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream and just wanted to get your thoughts on it. Your recipe sounds delicious and wholesome. I can’t wait to try it! 

  5. Can I triple this recipe or do you think it would not work out? I’m having a bake sale and would rather make a huge batch instead of a couple small ones. 

    • If you have more than one oven, so you can bake multiple pans at a time, doubling or tripling would be fine… otherwise I’d do one recipe at a time. Once baking soda and baking powder are added to a recipe (to liquid), they start to activate and that batter should not just be left to sit for too long. You can save some time by measuring out all the ingredients for three batched (in sets of bowls), so you can do a bit of an assembly line.

  6. I love this recipe and have been using it for a few years now. This year for my daughters party we have a friend coming who has an egg allergy. Any idea what I could use as a substitute for egg that would still make these the best cupcakes we have had?

  7. I’ve made your original recipe several times for a few years now. The recipe is so good, I use it for cakes and cupcakes. I’m not sure if I’m willing to try the newer version! What about the recipe did you feel needed changing? The only thing I did differently was, I had to double the recipe to make a cake, so I doubled everything except the oil. I just put 1/2 cup of oil for the whole cake. It comes out amazing and I always get compliments how moist and delicious it is. Thank you so much for posting the original recipe measurements because I never actually wrote it down. I just always come back to your site. Thanks so much!!  

    Oh by the way, how much cocoa powder would I have to put to make the cake/cupcakes chocolate? I was thinking 1/4 cup for each recipe (so 1/2 cup for the doubled recipe). Thanks again!! 

  8. Oh never mind! I just read all the comments and you answered my question about why you changed it. The buttermilk is definitely the secret ingredient! 

  9. I don’t think the revised recipe works for me. I remember making these a few years ago and used buttermilk and they were amazing. This time I tried them and they did not turn out well. Not sure what I did wrong. Having a bash at 2nd batch with an extra 1/3 cup of milk

  10. Where can the old recipe be found?

  11. Hi! Absolutely loooove the recipe but I was wondering what temperature you suggest cooking a double recipe as a cake at? Also how long? Ive tried it twice now as a cake but it seems to get pretty brown edges. Thank you. :)

    • So glad you enjoy the recipe! I have made the recipe as a cake several times, and I’ll agree that the top and sides will get quite brown by the time the center is properly cooked. One suggestion would be to bake less batter in the pan… meaning if you’re making a double layer cake, divide the batter into two pans versus baking it all in one pan and then cutting later. The bake time will depend on the size of pans you’re using and the amount of batter in each pan. The cake is done when the top has a slight dome and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter.

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