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.

1,221 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.

  12. Hi… i would like to know how much all purpose flour should i use to substitute for cake flour ….or should i stick to the same recipe to get best results… pls confirm…thanks

  13. The cupcakes I made were very light but smell eggs   Very disappointed 

  14. My cupcakes have  not a good flavor .did I do something wrong? 

  15. Dear ma’am,
    If i double the recipe to bake a 9 inches round cake, how long should i bake the cake under 180°c??

  16. Thank you for an amazing recipe. I used the older version many times and I noticed something different today while I was making it. I am waiting for the results from the new recipe. 

  17. Well I thought for sure with all the comments someone would have already asked the question but they didn’t. Here is mine. I see you state it will also make a great cake batter and you mention a 6 inch cake. I’m going to assume this much batter makes at least 2 layers for 6-inch cakes but does it make any more than two layers? I like to have the pans ready just in case. The amount of batter required for at least 15 or 16 cupcakes is a decent amount of batter. I know a lot of 6-inch cakes are three layers these days. Then of course doubling for 8 or 9 inch layers would be two layers. You’ve tackled the one area where I decidedly lack as far as my baking. I don’t know the science or much chemistry behind baking and honestly, it still at times seems like magic to me. If my health were better and I could stand on my feet for more than a few minutes without agonizing pain I think I would go to pastry school. As long as I’m moving I’m pretty good but its that standing in one spot that just me in. It was almost this bad as a kid and I never understood why my feet would be killing me when standing in line to get on a ride or something like that and everyone else is fine. I now know I’ve had this fibromyalgia in me all my life, just in remission.

    I think the thing I like the best about putting anything in an oven versus cooking on the stove is that magic transformation of the mixture. I’m not too shabby at cooking and can turn out some pretty decent meals but baking is my true love. Almost everytime a container of runny, gooey, flowing mess is placed in the oven, sometimes with stuff in it, sometimes not out pops 15 to 75 minutes later this amazing, delicious, beautiful cake or some other pastry. The same is even true with meats and vegetables or potatoes or any conglomeration of items. Just think what some casseroles look like before being baked. We humans wouldn’t touch them for any amount of money but after they’re baked, wow oh wow. With cookies in go blobs which include a variety of ingredients that often have been dropped on a cookie sheet (air flow is my choice. I haven’t had a burnt cookie for YEARS since switching to these. I don’t understand why America’s Test Kitchen show doesn’t like them and this is one of the few times I definitely disagreed with their decision. I often give them as shower or wedding gifts I love mine so much. I wish they were dishwasher safe, as I wish all cake pans were but I guess we can’t have everything in life.) and 6 to 16 minutes later here comes the appropriately crisp or gooey or both cookies.

    I’ve been doing all of this for over 50 years and it STILL amazes me. Think about all the things we have to use to accomplish what we do, stand mixers, food processors, blenders, juicers, scoops, spatulas, zesters, reamers, and some other tools I’m sure I’m forgetting to achieve what we do (I haven’t even added cake decorating) and think what the chefs in the royal courts had to work with in France in the 1600 and 1700s and what they produced. Most of the classic French pastries were created a couple of hundred years ago and people today whine and complain and make excuses about all the reasons they can’t do any of it when these chefs only had the bare necessities of life. And cake decorating, holy moly, I’ve baked since I was a little girl standing on a chair helping women in the family but didn’t take any classes till about 8 years ago. I don’t know what happened, but it seemed shortly after I began the “art” or “craft”, whatever folks want to call it just exploded. Wilton used to be THE premier source for supplies, they barely scratch the surface now. They’re so far behind times it downright sad. I can’t keep up with the new techniques, new tools, new designs, and I don’t even try. Ever since cable television really took off, and then the creation of the internet and the web, food had completely changed in the world. It used to be something you ate to live and at times it was special and/or pretty. But now……how would you even begin to explain what food means in the culture of most civilizations today to someone from another planet? Where do you start? So you keep up the great work with the testing and experimenting and the search for the best of the bunch.

  18. Any recommendations for baking these at altitude? I’m in Denver at just over 5,000 ft.

  19. Would love to know baking times for cake versions. Like 6, 8, 9 inches. I just baked this in one 8 inch pan and it took a long time (at least an hour). 

  20. How could this be converted to cake? I’m making a layer cake and want to use this recipe, but I don’t know how much of a recipe I’d need. Thanks!

  21. Just made these today with my 3year old. They’re delicious!

  22. Did the original recipe used include an extra 50 or 60ml of whole milk? I cant remember if that belonged to this recipe or not :/

  23. I am excited to try this recipe but wanted to ask if you tried using cornstarch in any recipes as I’ve heard that is the secret to the best vanilla cupcakes?  thank you.

  24. Hello! I was wondering…can you easily sub out the vanilla for almond extract? Or would it be too much/ too little? Thanks and lovely recipe!

  25. What’s the best way to store them? I’d like to make them the day before I need them?

    • Hi Jessica, Just keep them loosely covered (generally I put them in a Tupperware type container, but with the lid slightly cracked) for up to a full day in advance.

  26. Tried these, they are AMAZING! Used Greek Yoghurt instead of sour cream, turned out just fine :) My frosting however was waaaaay too soft. It was fine, but then I added cream cheese to it, which made it too soft. I guess I need to add more powdred sugar then? But I really don’t like my frosting that sweet. Are there any other options? 

  27. Hoping to make this recipe as mini cupcakes tonight…have you tried? How long should I bake them? Thanks 

    Love your vanilla and chocolate cream cheese frosting recipes! So good!!

  28. This is the very best recipe for vanilla cupcakes!! I cannot believe how very moist they are!! You really came up with an outstanding recipe!! Thank you  

  29. How long do you think I should bake these if I am making mini cupcakes?  I’ve made these before for my daughters birthday and they turned out great!  

  30. So I tried the cupcake recipe, for my daughter’s 10th birthday at school. I have parents texting me asking me about these cupcakes her kids came home talking about, and the teacher as well! And then for my daughter’s 13th birthday last week, I tried the cake recipe version. Followed directions, and double the ingredients. What I found by doubling the ingredients as not only did I have enough for 29 inch cakes, but three with one doubles batch. I single batch works just fine not doubled  for (2) 9 inch cakes. I’ve also realized that the cakes came out a little heavy  on the oil side. While super moist I think next time I’m going to cut the oil back At least 1/4 of a cup.

  31. As a serial hobbyist, this week I took on the challenge of making cupcakes. Using another popular recipe , my cupcakes would cave-in, would not dome, or they were flat. After four attempts I almost gave up. Then I came across this recipe. Now, I have to admit, I am a guy that has no cooking skills whatsoever. I followed this recipe and my cupcakes (15 cupcakes) turned out marvelous! Beautifully domed and yummy! I took three of them to my neighbors house for them to try. They didn’t believe I baked them. I asked them to try them and let me know what they thought. 30 minutes later they were knocking at my door asking if I had anymore…lol! Now the only thing I did different was I baked them with convection oven at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. I may be becoming a cupcake baking addict! I just need to learn how to pipe the icing. They cupcakes are delicious but boy are they are ugly! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  32. OMG. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this recipe. I too spent a day in the kitchen with a hilarious mess of ugly flat small and wierd cupcakes, trying to find ONE good recipe. Everyone claimed to have the best recipe yet I had failure after failure…one seemed to be egg flavoured butter foam at the end. Ick!
    I have made this over and over, with various flavour tweaks (steeping earl grey tea bags into the milk for London fog, adding other extracts and seats, etc) for my small home cupcake business and it’s perfect every time! I also made a cake for fun, perfect too.
    Thanks again

  33. Thank you!!!! Finally. A vanilla cupcake recipe that doesn’t suck. So many times, my cupcakes have ended up dry, or if not dry the first day, certainly the second. This is the best vanilla cupcake recipe I’ve ever encountered. I tried both your original version and the updated version, and the updated version works perfectly for me. It is moist, the flavor is on point, and the texture and mouthfeel is very good. I’m going to try to make the cake version of this too. Cannot wait!

  34. Have you tried this recipe for a stacked naked cake? I’m trying to find a good recipe to make my daughter’s unicorn birthday cake! Thank you!

  35. These do look yummy but I have some questions:

    1) what could I use to replace the sugar- would 1/3 maple syrup instead of milk work?
    2) would coconut sugar work?

    • Hi Kiran,
      I’ve only made the recipe as listed (with cane sugar), so I’m not sure of the result with alternative sugars. It will require some experimenting, as I would imagine you might need to make other adjustments as well… but feel free to experiment.

  36. I’ve made these several times. We love them, great flavor. The last time I put a lime frosting on top and it was great. Mild but flavorful 

  37. Hey. Can we skip the cream? Is it necessary
    to add it or can we make the cupcakes without it as well?

    • Are you asking about the sour cream? Feel fee to experiment, but the results will vary from mine. If you plan to omit the sour cream, I’d replace both the milk and sour cream amounts (totaling 2/3 cup) with buttermilk. Happy baking!

  38. My daughter wants strawberry shortcake cupcakes for her birthday. Any suggestions would be appreciated. The cupcake recipe sounds like it would be a great base.

  39. Wow I recently made these both with normal plain flour and again with cake flour- it’s amazing the difference cake flour makes!!! An absolute must!  
    Do you know if this recipe freezes well? 
    Thankyou!

  40. Seriously this recipe is crack! I’ve been making it for at least 2 years and every single time i do everyone says it’s the best cake they ever had.

  41. Can we not use sour cream or use anything to replace it?

  42. Have you tried freezing the cupcakes? I’m looking for a wedding cupcake but want to bake them in advance

    • I freeze these cupcakes (and as a cake) all the time. Defrost on the counter and you’re good to go. They still taste great after months in the freezer!!!

  43. Have you tried using butter instead of oil? Thanks.

  44. Best recipe ever! Thanks so much! I will be making this recipe ALL THE TIME and with different variations.!

  45. These turned out great!  The only tweak I made was to separate eggs and whip egg whites to soft peaks, then add them at the end.  Cupcakes were light, fluffy, and had excellent flavor and crumb.

  46. I have made the older version of this recipe countless times and it is my to-go-to vanilla cupcake recipe. Thank you!!!

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