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.

1,159 comments

  1. Can coconut oil but used without effecting the texture or taste too much?

    • I’ve been using this recipe for years. I always use coconut oil and LOVE the result. It gives it a very mild and subtle coconut flavor, but most people can’t even taste it. Good luck!

  2. The recipe that you’ve posted here, is the EXACT same recipe that was posted way back in 2012 on a blog called Natashaskitchen. Even the steps are the same with almost none to tiniest of variations, which would make no difference anyway. I have a hard time believing that you did not just use the original recipe posted on her blog….

    • I am SO sorry that I failed to read that it was your recipe that was used in that other blog! I just reread the recipe and found your blog credited there! I am so embarrassed right now! I made these as a test batch and truly love them.

    • Congratulation, you played yourself. This not only was posted in 2011, but Natasha even said in her post that the original recipe was from Glorious Treats. I hope you’re ashamed of yourself. Accusing someone like this without checking your facts. 

    • Yes, you are correct, this exact recipe is posted on Natasha’s Kitchen, please feel free to mention to her that she could make it quite a bit more clear on her blog that the recipe is mine.

  3. The thing that made me try this recipe before all others was the photo of all the trials. Seriously?! THANK YOU for putting time into finding this. I have tested so many recipes for various reasons, and I know it isn’t easy. Baking supplies aren’t cheap, so with baking I rarely experiment much. 
    THESE ARE FANTASTIC. I changed nothing! I think they also make a great base for flavored or injected cupcakes, but haven’t tried yet. I have pared these with the frosting recipe below and they were a huge hit! 
    Thank you again!
    http://www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com/marshmallow-vanilla-buttercream-frosting/

  4. Hi Glory! I made these last night and they were absolutely perfect. I always cringed when someone would request vanilla cupcakes because I had yet to find a vanilla recipe that I was confident using – they just never seemed to live up to that ” cake mix” taste and texture. Such a relief to have found this recipe!
    My question is: Is this considered to be a good “base recipe” that could be made into several other flavors? Eg. Used to create citrus cupcakes? Fruity cupcakes? Egg nog cupcakes? Spiced cupcakes? Etc. Or do you normally rely on different recipes all together and use this one simply for vanilla cupcakes?

    Thanks!
    Emily

    • I’ve had great success using this as a base recipe for fruity or lighter flavored kes im not too sure about spiced cupcakes but its a really great recipe

  5. Do you have this recipe in a chocolate flavor cupcake recipe? If not, what ratio of cocoa and cake flour would you recommend.

  6. Can you please tell me if I can substitute corn flour for corn starch. .. ?
    If so, what’s the proportion.
    Thanks in advance

  7. I am making these for a Christmas party and they look AMAZING! I made 12 but there slightly larger and I cooked them a bit longer then yours but there still amazing! Thank you for sharing this recipe!! keep doing what your good at!

  8. I tried making a 6 inch cake with this recipe but I’m finding the cake remains raw inside! Any advice? 

    • Hi Saheda, So sorry you didn’t have success. I have made various sized cakes with this recipe, so it is possible. I do not have the baking times listed for all cake sizes because that would be near impossible to made accommodations for all cake sizes, and how much batter is in each cake pan. For any pan size, the cake is done when the top is nicely domed and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter. Generally it’s best to bake larger cakes in layered pans, such as dividing the batter into 2 or 3 pans to make a layer cake, instead of baking all the batter in one pan (with plans to cut into layers). Best of luck!

  9. Hi Glory. I have been having issues with my cupcakes all this while. Seeing your recipe is just a dream come true, I really appreciate you for sharing your recipe some people won’t do that. Thanks a whole bunch, you are a darlyn and the best… muah!

  10. I baked these several times now and they’re very moist.  Do you think melted butter would work in place of the oil?

  11. I’ve baked these three times and they never disappoint. When I baked them for my birthday, using homemade cake flour, people asked me where I bought them! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. Definitely a keeper; I never look at any other vanilla cupcake recipe. With cream cheese frosting, divine. For birthdays, funfetti really dress them up!

  12. Hi Glory,
    I wanted to say thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. As someone who started out, being new to cooking, being new to baking, I googled, how to make the best vanilla cupcakes – Google led me to your website. And I have made your recipe again and again and people cannot stop gushing on my new fangled baking skills!!! I have you to thank for… …

    P.S. – I am not sure how many years back you posted this recipe, but I still use it in Jan, 2017 ☺

  13. So, I don’t have cake flour or buttermilk. Do you think it will taste okay if I make both of those ingredients?

    • I’ve made these cupcakes with home made cake flour and homemade buttermilk and they came out amazing! I’m making these into a cake for my sisters dirty thirty birthday! 

  14. Hi ..Can I use your recipe without eggs or can I substitute with some other ingredient ?

    Thanks in advance.

  15. I’ve made many different cupcakes and used tons of different recipes, but this is the one that I always come back to! Love it! I also change up the flavor sometimes and replace the vanilla with almond. 

  16. I’m hoping you can offer some advice…I have made this recipe several times in the past and it came out perfect every time – just like in your photo. I tried making them today and ruined two batches before giving up. 
    The first batch I used melted butter because all I had was extra virgin olive oil (not lite tasting) and I didn’t want them to taste off. I forgot and put the sugar in with the flour mix. They came out with a sunken hole in the center and tasted awful. I thought perhaps because of my sugar mistake.
    I threw them out and started again. This time I used the EVOO. This batch was worse than the first…sunken centers and spread everywhere. 
    I can’t figure out what I did wrong. I know it isn’t the recipe because the times I have used it in the past, they were great.  I loved this recipe because it was quick, easy, tasted and looked awesome. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  17. With over 40 years of baking experience, I still made a test batch of these cupcakes in anticipation of making them as a friend’s birthday treat. I couldn’t have been more disappointed with the results. Filling the muffin cups 2/3 full made them overflow onto the top of the muffin tin and make those awful “muffin tops” I don’t like. The cups I didn’t quite get 2/3 full were better, but not by much. Regardless of how full the cups were, several still sunk during baking, so weren’t “pretty”. Oh well, I thought, I can cover that up with frosting. While I didn’t expect the flavor to be as rich as my tried and true butter-based cupcake recipe, I found the overall flavor to be on the bland side, despite using the full amount listed in the above ingredient list and using Penzeys double strength vanilla, which always makes my baked goods taste richer. I love trying new recipes, but one sample of the finished cupcakes convinced me that this recipe is not for me.

  18. I printed this recipe, have baked about 5 batches and then lost the recipe. So happy I managed to stumble across it again

  19. Will powdered buttermilk affect the texture versus liquid?

  20. Hi! Thanks for your recipe. I also made a test batch of these cupcakes and had the same result as Deborah – above. Do you have any suggestions as to how to prevent the cupcakes from rising so much? I tried to fill them once 2/3 the way, and then filled them 1/2 way – but they still rose to tall peaks. What are your thoughts on using less baking soda/powder? I love the way they taste and would love to try again!

  21. Id like to double the recipe. Can I do this without compromising the integrity of the recipe?

  22. Hi! I have been using this amazing recipe as my ‘go to’ for about four years now!! I have always made it the day before or the day of. However, I’m looking to make it a week in advance of a birthday, and I have never frozen cakes before, what would be your advice for freezing this particular cake? (Three 8″ round layers, plus cupcakes) Thanks! 

  23. These cupcakes literally melt in your mouth, very moist and sweet to perfection. I cannot wait to decorate them, I only make one batch, and next time I will use a zipper bag for an easy pouring to the liners. Thank You for sharing your knowldege.

  24. Thanks for the recipe,tried it today and it was very tasty. God bless you for sharing.

  25. So glad I have this recipe book marked now as I keep printing and losing the recipe. About to bake an Easter batch using this as a base recipe. It’s the only recipe I use now, Thank you once again

  26. I am so happy that I stumbled upon your website after hrs and hrs of searching for the best vanilla cupcake recipe. I’ve tried so many different recipes and they were all a fail. Your recipe is so amazing. The taste and texture is perfection. I am making this recipe into a cake for my sisters birthday tomorrow. I can’t wait to try the rest of the recipes               

  27. Thanks, Glory, for sharing your recipe! I have baked for many years, but was always on a quest for a good vanilla cupcake. I believe I have found it now! I was just wondering if you had tried using melted butter, in place of the oil. I do prefer the taste of butter, but I really did like the texture of the cupcake as is.

  28. Great recipe! My cupcakes turned out wonderfully. The only tweak I had to make was that my cupcakes took 15 or so minutes to bake. Don’t know why that is, but otherwise, this recipe worked very well!

  29. Also in the process of baking, tall peaks rose in the middle of the cupcake. They’re dense and heavy like a muffin, not light and fluffy like a cupcake. Not recommended for special, private, or public attraction and selling.

    • Same thing happened to me :( Not recommended by me either

    • Did you guys use cake flour or all purpose flour? I’ve used cake flour in the original and updated recipe and they come out light. The updated recipe took a few minutes longer to bake though and ended up browner. 

  30. I would add extra vanilla! It worked for me ☺️

  31. I too have not found a fabulous vanilla cupcake recipe so I’m excited to try these tomorrow! I am a scratch baker but must admit I love the texture (and taste-must be a childhood memory thing) of boxed cake mix!

    I’m wondering if I can use half butter and half oil? Have you tried that in all of your trials? Also, does it matter if ingredients are room temp or cold? Oh, and the last thing is, I have to make 200 cupcakes for a party this weekend. I hate to bake cupcakes too far in advance so I will make them all a day ahead. The problem I find is that when I store the cupcakes in a Tupperware or whatever, the next day the tops are sticky! Is there a better way to store cupcakes so this doesn’t happen? Thank you!

    • Hi Juli,
      A couple things… it always makes me nervous when people are trying a new-to-them recipe and planning to make it for a large party. With that said, I have made this recipe successfully many times, so you should be able to do the same.

      As for half butter half oil, I have tried it that way, but it was several years ago and I went back to all oil, so to be honest I can’t remember if there was an issue or just not worth the extra step. Feel free to experiment.

      As for baking the day ahead, yes, moisture will come up to the tops of the cupcakes, I have found the best way to reduce (but not eliminate) this is to keep the cupcakes loosely covered, not in a sealed container. Give them a bit of breathing room =) So if you’re putting the cupcakes in tupperware, do not seal the lid, just set the lid on top, and then skew slightly to the side so there is some air flow into the container.

      Happy baking!

  32. Hi! I just tried the updated recipe and found that I had to bake my cupcakes a few minutes longer which in turn resulted in a browner top. Did you have to make adjustments in the temperature or place the muffinnoans in the lower part of the oven so that wouldn’t brown on top as much but still cook thoroughly?

  33. Your recipe is absolutely delicious and also very heart healthy. I used 2 percent milk and the reduced fat sour cream and it came out perfectly instead of all the recipes calling for over a stick of butter. The only difference is that I had to bake mine for 25 minutes at 350 degrees instead of the time listed. The problem could be my oven but I always believe in baking until done and not going by recipes since everyone’s oven is different. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I will be using mine for mini Strawberry Shortcakes!

  34. Amazing!!! Everyone loved it and I’ve been looking for a recipe for such a long  time! Thank you for sharing!  

  35. I love your recipes. You have helped me so much with my baking. I’m self taught. Your vanilla cupcakes , vanilla cake is the most perfect recipe. I’m a new baker. Under the name of Ramble Rose Cupcakes. Your recipes have worked for every time, I’m baking  for close to 3years now. Thank you so very much.

  36. I would like to add some rainbow jimmies (sprinkles) to the batter to make a rainbow bit cake….do you think this would work?

  37. Like you I’ve been on a never ending hunt to find the perfect vanilla cupcake, I hope I found it. I don’t even remember what day it is! I have found in the past that using cake flour gives the cake a corny flavor, for some reason many of the white cupcake or cake recipes I’ve tried end up tasting like corn muffins. Do you have any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong?

  38. Hi Glory! Can I use normal cream like the sweetened ins except for the sour cream

  39. I made this cake and is super moist, but it a yellow cake not a white cake. Is there a way to make it white?

    • Yes, because this recipe uses whole eggs, the results (as pictured) are light yellow (from the egg yolks). The only way to bake a true “white” cake is to use only egg whites, but then you’ll need to increase the fat to offset the missing fat from the egg yolks. I have not experimented with removing the egg yolks, so I’m not sure of exactly what to suggest, but please feel free to experiment.

  40. I loved your “perfect vanilla cupcakes” recipe for years now, but I recently just looked up your recipe and found that you’ve changed it slightly, by taking out the butter milk, less baking powder and adding sour cream. Is the never version of your recipe with the sour cream better?
    Thanks

  41. How would you suggest making these as lemon cupcakes? Could I just add lemon zest and fresh juice to the recipe as is or would that be too much liquid? Thanks!

  42. I just watched a barefoot ontessa episode where she said if yu dont have cake flour for every cup of regular four take out 2 tbs and replace with corn starch!

  43. Is there a print friendly button? I couldn’t seem to find one. If not- may be try to add an add on? Thanks for the recipe!

  44. ‘Perfect’ vanilla cupcakes is not an exaggeration by any means. They are perfect in every way. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe, made them and loved them!

  45. PS. For all those concerned about cake flour, I didn’t have it either so I measured out the flour, then removed two tablespoons and one teaspoon worth and replaced it with the same amount of cornflour. Then I sieved the flour and cornflour and voila, cake flour!

  46. Just made these cupcakes, they are so amazing. I filled the cup slightly over half way and got perfectly smooth domes (I prefer a small dome as opposed to a flattish cupcake) Next time will have to play around with baking times and oven temperature so I don’t get a crust. I love the soft texture and the fact that they not overly sweet, means I can go crazy with the frosting thanks Glory!

  47. I tried this cupcake recipeand did NOT have the same success. My cupcakes looked like the 2nd picture/batch.  The texture resembled spongy, cornbread muffins, tho the cake did have a good flavor. 

    • I’m so sorry to hear you did not have success! Without being with you in the kitchen it’s very hard to know what to suggest. The cakes will be spongy… versus a more dense style butter cake, so it might just come down to personal preference.

  48. These were Super! As I was making mini cupcakes for our family of 3, I halved the recipe and although I didn’t have cake flour (all purpose non bleached) they came out perfect! Great recipe that I’ve bookmarked

  49. First, let me say this recipe is *delicious*, and I deeply appreciate the time and effort the author has put into this website and this recipe. However, maybe there is an error in the ingredients? – 1 1/4 cup cake flour to the equivalent of ~1 1/2 cup liquids (2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil, 1/3c milk, 1/3c sour cream) seems too wet. I made this three times in a row, all with cake flour – once exactly as listed, 2nd with firm packed 1 1/4cup flour. Both spread/sunk terribly (2nd less so). 3rd try I used 3/4 cup sugar, 1 full tsp baking powder, with 1 3/4 cup flour & baked for ~18min. Texture/dimensions turned out beautifully, although will do 1c sugar next time as they weren’t very sweet. This will definitely be my go-to for vanilla cupcakes going forward!!

  50. Hi Glory, I found this recipe on Pinterest and after reading All reviews, I cannot wait to make them for my daughter’s Gender Reveal Party is this Saturday. My question is, how would adding food color to the batter affect the consistency? I’m wanting to make different colored cupcakes. Any suggestions?  Has any tried that yet? 
    Thank you and looking forward to trying these cupcakes… they look yummy 😉

    • Hi! You should be able to add food coloring with no other changes to the recipe at all. Now, the batter is very thin, so if you are planning to add several colors of batter to a single cupcake, they will blend quite a bit. Feel free to experiment. Happy baking!

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