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These vanilla cupcakes are my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe ever. Tender, moist, and lots of vanilla flavor going on. I frost with the best vanilla buttercream frosting in the end. And these vanilla buttermilk cupcakes are made with just 8 simple ingredients!
New and Improved (01/17/2024) This recipe has been updated to be even better! The cupcakes are now made with cake flour and buttermilk to make them even more tender and soft! I also reduced the baking powder as well to account for these changes.
Every good baker needs a go to vanilla cupcake in their arsenal. And friends. This is it.
It’s funny isn’t that being called vanilla means plain and boring? Poor, poor vanilla. I mean being called vanilla should be like the highest compliment ever. Like my vanilla cake recipe with chocolate frosting. It’s divine! Who needs chocolate? Oh wait, me I also need chocolate. I need them both. But today it’s vanilla’s time to shine.
But I feel like because vanilla is such a pure and simple flavor, unadorned, and just “take me as I am” it can sometimes fall flat. But I swear by these vanilla cupcakes.
To make soft, tender cupcakes I relied on two key ingredients: buttermilk and cake flour. These are two powerhouses when it comes to cupcakes. The buttermilk and cake flour make for a wonderfully soft and tender cupcake! Don’t swap them out!
These are the perfect vanilla cupcakes you want to serve at all the birthday parties. Skip making the birthday cake and make these vanilla buttermilk cupcakes instead.
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- This easy vanilla cupcake recipe uses melted butter so it comes together in minutes and no mixer is needed!
- When it’s summertime then you have to make these S’mores cupcakes with toasted meringue frosting and graham cracker bottom!
- Get a mixing bowl and make the easiest cake ever! This Tornado cake recipe (aka do nothing cake) made with crushed pineapple, coconut, and pecans!
Why This Is The Only Vanilla Cupcake Recipe You’ll Need
- Quick To Mix Up
- Tender, Soft Crumb
- Makes A Perfect Dozen Fluffy Cupcakes
- Perfect Cupcake For Birthday Parties
- And Wonderful Blank Canvas For Your Favorite Frosting!
Ingredients For This Vanilla Cupcake Recipe:
- Cake Flour – I recommend cake flour instead of all purpose flour so you get a soft, tender crumb. If you don’t have any cake flour, you can make your own cake flour. If you use regular flour your cupcakes might not come out quite as tender. Be sure to measure your flour correctly so your cupcakes don’t come out too heavy or dry. Be sure to check out the my other cake flour recipes!
- Baking Powder
- Butter – I always bake and recommend using unsalted butter vs. salted butter so I can control the amount of salt. If you only have salted butter then you can try reducing or omitting the salt altogether. Make sure to use room temperature butter so it’s creamed together with the sugar well, so air is incorporated. This is what helps make for a fluffy cupcake that rises well.
- Eggs – Make sure the eggs are room temperature so they don’t seize up the butter.
- Vanilla – I used vanilla extract but you could also swap and use vanilla bean paste
- ButterMilk – I found that using buttermilk resulted in a much tender crumb than using regular milk. If you don’t have any, you can make your own buttermilk from using whole milk and lemon juice (or vinegar).
How To Make These Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
- Preheat your oven to 350oF, and line your cupcake pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk your dry ingredient together ( cake flour, baking powder, and salt) in a bowl and set aside.
Heather’s Baking Tip
Measure your flour correctly so you get a light, fluffy cupcake and not a dense, dry one. Measuring by weight is best, but if measuring by volume then stir the flour first in the bag. Then spoon the flour into your cup and level it off. Do not pack it down into the cup as it can result in over-measuring.
3. Adds the eggs one at a time. Scraping down the bowl after each addition.
4. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cream for an additional 15 seconds.
Why do you alternate the ingredients?
Alternating the ingredients with the dry ingredients and milk is important in achieving a smooth batter that you don’t have to over-mix. If you added all the buttermilk at once it could cause the batter to separate, instead of a smooth batter. Adding all the dry ingredients can result in overmixing, which can make for a tough chewy cupcake. So by alternating the ingredients we will get a moist, tender cupcake in the end with a soft crumb!
6. Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. You can also touch the top of a cupcake and it should spring back to the touch.
You want to remove the cupcakes from the oven, and allow to cool in the cupcake tin for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling on a wire cooling rack.
Frosting Your Vanilla Cupcake
Once your homemade vanilla cupcakes are cooled it’s time to frost your vanilla cupcake! To get that high beautiful swirl on my cupcakes I use a large closed star tip and piping bag. I used my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting <– so creamy, light, fluffy vanilla frosting ever. This vanilla buttercream frosting is made with butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla.
But hey why stop there? These vanilla cupcakes are a perfect blank canvas.
Try my cream cheese frosting (just 4 simple ingredients!)
You can store these cupcake frosted in the fridge for up to 3 days, or unfrosted covered overnight in an airtight container. But when serving, if refrigerated with frosting, make sure to bring to room temperature as the frosting can harden and it’s like eating a stick of butter!
Yes vanilla cupcakes freeze wonderfully. You can freeze cupcakes, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months. Check out my post on how to freeze cupcakes.
More Recipe Tips For Success!
- Check that oven temperature. Not all ovens are calibrated correctly, so use an oven thermometer to make sure yours is running at the correct temperature.
- Bake in the middle of your oven. You want to make sure that the cupcakes bake evenly. And it can help if your oven has hot spots, then to rotate your pans halfway through baking.
- Use quality vanilla extract. These are vanilla cupcakes after all, so don’t cheap out on the vanilla. Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Make sure your refrigerator ingredients are at room temperature. You cannot use cold butter, eggs, or buttermilk in this recipe or your cupcake batter will not be smooth and could affect how they rise in the end. Take your dairy ingredients out of the fridge about 30 minutes to 1 hour before.
- Don’t overfill your cupcakes. This could result in your cupcakes sinking in the middle after baking and ugly cupcake tops. Scoop about 2/3 full.
- Check for doneness. You want to make sure to check with a toothpick to look for moist crumbs, and the tops should spring back to the touch.
More Recipes To Try:
If you love this recipe, then be sure to subscribe to join a community of bakers! And as a thank you I will send you my buttercream cheatsheet!
Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
- 1 1/4 cups (150g) cake flour *spooned and leveled
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 sticks, 113 g) unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk at room temperature
For the frosting
- 1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks, 283 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (283 g) powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make the cupcakes
- Prep oven and pans. Position rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350° F (180°C). Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside.1 1/4 cups (150g) cake flour 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cream butter and sugar Cream together the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 1/2 cup (1 sticks, 113 g) unsalted butter 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla and beat to combine. 2 large eggs 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- Alternate dry ingredients with buttermilk. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
- Bake cupcakes. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting
- In your stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy for about 1 to 2 minutes.1 1/4 cup (2 1/2 sticks, 283 g) unsalted butter
- With mixer off, add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at at time. Then mix on low speed until combined. 2 1/2 cups (283 g) powdered sugar
- With mixer off, add your heavy cream and vanilla extract and then mix on low until combined. 2 Tablespoons heavy cream 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Then mix on medium to medium-high speed for 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes immediately or store for later use.
- Use right away on cooled cupcakes. If not using right away, then store in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You will need to mix the frosting again when ready to use to bring it back to that light and fluffy texture.
- Making ahead/Storage: You can store these cupcake frosted in the fridge for up to 3 days, or unfrosted covered overnight. But when serving, if refrigerated with frosting, make sure to bring to room temperature as the frosting can harden and it’s like eating a stick of butter!
- Freezing: Yes vanilla cupcakes freeze wonderfully. You can freeze cupcakes, frosted or unfrosted, for up to 3 months. Check out my post on how to freeze cupcakes.
- Frosting your cupcakes: I use my Ateco pastry tips and plastic piping bags