Learn why your cupcakes are sinking in the middle and how to fix them! Get perfect cupcakes every time!
This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Be sure to read the rest of the cupcake 101 baking series!
As much as I love to bake, there is nothing more frustrating when the timer goes off and I open the door to find instead of light and fluffy perfect cupcakes there are sunken disasters. #cupcake fail
Baking is a science, so unfortunately that means every time you go to bake it’s like starting a new experiment. Things like temperature, mixing time, and the way the ingredients react all play a role in how your baked goods end up.
So when it comes to your cupcakes sinking, it boils down to a few possible reasons.
Reason #1 Your Cupcakes Are Sinking In The Middle: You opened the oven door early.
It’s so tempting to sneak a peak into the oven to see how things are doing. But if you open the oven too early before you cupcakes have had a chance to set up. So resist the urge, and don’t open the oven door until your time goes off. If it’s the first time you are trying a new recipe, I always set my timer a few minutes earlier than what the recipe calls for to ensure I don’t overbake them.
How To Fix This: Well this one is easy right? NO peeking. I know it’s tough. If you really can’t help yourself, turn your oven light on and take a peek through the window instead.
Reason #2 Your Cupcakes Are Sinking In The Middle: You over-mixed your batter.
When mixing your batter, you are incorporating air into it. If you over-mix, you incorporate too much air. And when those cupcakes bake, that air will escape creating that sunken effect. So pay attention to how long you mix for if you are using a stand mixer and don’t put your mixer on too high.
How To Fix This: Well I guess the obvious answer is don’t overmix right? But sometimes you just don’t know when that is. I always recommend when adding your dry ingredients, to finish the last bit of mixing by hand. You’re less likely to overmix when mixing by hand. And stop mixing as soon as the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
Reason #3 Your Cupcakes Are Sinking In The Middle: Your leavening agents have expired.
Meaning your baking soda and baking powder are no longer fresh. Baking is a science and that means chemical reactions are happening in your bowl. The baking powder and/or baking soda called for in your cupcake recipe is what is causing your cupcakes to rise. If your baking powder or baking soda has expired, then your cupcakes definitely will fail.
How To Fix This: Test your baking powder and baking soda before you start if you are unsure!
To test your baking soda: Mix a 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl with a 1/4 cup vinegar. If it bubbles, then they are good to use. If not, then throw it out and start fresh!
To test your baking powder: Mix a 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl with a 1/4 cup hot water. If it bubbles, then it’s good to use! If not, throw it out and buy new!
Reason #4 Your Cupcakes Are Sinking In The Middle: Your oven temperature is too high.
If the oven temperature is too high, it will cause your cupcakes too rise too quickly, causing them to then fall flat later. Try baking them at a lower temperature. It might be also that your oven isn’t calibrated correctly either.
How To Fix This: One of the tips I give in my Oven 101 post is investing in an oven thermometer. Not all ovens are running at the temperature it says it is. The only way to tell is to get an oven thermometer.
Reason #5 Your cupcakes are sinking are in the middle: You took them out too early.
Just like reason #1 with NO peeking. Same goes if you take them out too early. When they cool, they will sink in on themselves. So be sure to let your cupcakes cook through!
How To Fix This: I use a toothpick inserted in the middle to see if any wet batter clings to the toothpick. I also use the touch test, but gently pressing on the cupcake to see if it springs back.
Reason #6 Your cupcakes are sinking in the middle: You didn’t follow the recipe.
If you are making a chocolate cupcake, your recipe will most likely call for cocoa powder. The problem is you might not know which one to use. Or use the wrong one. Natural and dutch processed cocoa powder are very different and not to be used interchangeably. In other words, follow the recipe.
Same thing goes with dairy. If the recipe calls for buttermilk. Don’t use regular milk instead. When you swap one ingredient for another, you are altering the chemical balance of the recipe and this can affect the overall outcome.
How To Fix This: Stick to the recipe. Baking is a science. So if the recipe calls for a certain ingredient, use that and give yourself a piece of mind that your cupcakes will come out as planned.
For more cupcake help check out these Ultimate Cupcake Guides:
So hopefully that helps your cupcakes come out perfectly every time. And don’t forget to catch up the cupcake 101 baking series posts:
Get My Buttercream Cheatsheet!
Join the community to get the tips, tricks, and simple from scratch recipes so you can start baking delicious desserts today. PLUS I will send you my Buttercream Cheatsheet with 13 ways to flavor your buttercream!