Tender, perfectly moist and sweet, this Vanilla cupcakes recipe is perfect for every occasion! Top with a simple American Buttercream or Swiss Meringue Frosting. If you love these, you will also love these Lemon Cupcakes, Chocolate Cupcakes and Strawberry Cupcakes.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many cupcakes I’ve baked in my lifetime. I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds of little tender cakes adorned with creamy, sweet frosting. But no matter how many times I’ve made them, I never get tired of it!
These Vanilla Cupcakes are one of the first cupcakes I perfected. They may seem a little boring, but I think it’s important to have one recipe in your collection that can be used over and over again. Cupcakes have the incredible ability to be customized, then savored in just a couple swift bites.
I know there are million and one cupcake recipes out there but I was on a mission to make the BEST one, and I did just that.
VANILLA CUPCAKES RECIPE INGREDIENTS
Vanilla Cupcakes are incredibly simple but simple recipes call for important ingredient choices. To achieve well-balanced, tender, and flavorful cupcakes, we need to understand our ingredients and use them properly.
Here’s what we’re using today:
- VEGETABLE OIL– Using vegetable oil in cake is known to give the moistest results; the reason is that vegetable oil remains liquid at room temperature, while butter turns solid. Other than giving you a moister cake, using oil will also yield a tender cake that falls apart in your mouth as you bite into it.
- UNSALTED BUTTER- When you cream butter and sugar together, it creates an aerated mixture that provides lift before, during, and after baking.
- GRANULATED SUGAR- The fine crystals in granulated sugar don’t cake together, which makes it easier to work it. Vanilla cupcakes require quite a bit of sugar to achieve the desired sweetness.
- EGGS- Eggs add structure, leavening, and color to our cupcakes. It’s the balance between eggs and flour that help provide the height and texture we’re looking for.
- ALL PURPOSE FLOUR- Flour is the base to our cake. For the best results, be sure to properly measure and sift it.
- BAKING POWDER & BAKING SODA- Both ingredients are chemical leavening agents that cause batters to rise when baked. If either of these ingredients is over a year old, I’d recommend testing their reactivity and replacing them if needed.
- SALT– Salt enhances flavor and perks up the depth and complexity of all the other ingredients.
- SOUR CREAM- Adding sour cream to cake gives more moisture and flavor. The acid in sour cream produces a very fine crumb because it tenderizes the gluten in the flour.
- WHOLE MILK- The protein content, fat, sugar, and overall creaminess of whole milk is ideal for creating delicious, moist cakes.
- VANILLA PASTE OR EXTRACT- If you can get the paste, DO IT! Vanilla also works as a flavor enhancer here! Without it, cakes and cookies tend to be bland.
TIPS FOR CUPCAKE BAKING
These cupcakes couldn’t be easier to make! Seriously, all you need is one bowl, a cupcake tin, and about 30 minutes.
To make it even simpler, here are a few of my BEST cupcake making tips:
- Measure the Flour Correctly! The most common mistake made in cupcake baking is adding too much flour. Use the spoon and level method for consistent, exact results. Fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- Use Good Vanilla. You can use cheap flour, sour cream, milk, and even butter but you just have to use good vanilla for this recipe. Good quality vanilla is fresher, more aromatic and flavorful. Bonus points if you use vanilla bean paste!
- Don’t Forget the Cupcake Liners. I hate when cupcakes stick to the pan! To avoid that, I choose to use cupcake liners. If that’s not your jam, be sure to thoroughly grease and flour the pan.
- Completely Cool Before Frosting. If you try to frost your cupcakes while they’re still warm, the frosting will melt and you’ll have a soupy-sticky mess. Allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature before smothering them with frosting.
WHICH TYPE OF FROSTING IS BEST FOR VANILLA CUPCAKES?
You should view these Vanilla Cupcakes as an open canvas: a base for your own personal masterpiece! Coat each cupcake in the spread of your choice. Anything from chocolate ganache to brown butter butter creams will work here.
To get you thinking, here are my favorite smear choices:
AMERICAN BUTTERCREAM: SWEET AND EASY
American Buttercream Frosting is the easiest to make out of all frosting recipes out there. If you are familiar with Swiss Meringue or Italian meringue frostings, you know they require more steps and preparation.
However, with American buttercream frosting recipes, butter and sugar get creamed to perfection and are the base of something incredible. Check out my American Buttercream post for useful tips, tricks, and a step-by-step guide!
SWISS BUTTERCREAM: SMOOTH, LIGHT, AND A LITTLE LESS SWEET
Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a frosting made by combining granulated sugar and egg whites, warming them together over a water bath, then whipping them until stiff. The result is an incredibly airy yet decadent topping used for cakes, cupcakes, macarons and so much more!
Though I love a classic, sugar laden spread, this buttercream is one I love to trot out when I’m looking to elevate a dessert! Follow my Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe for the ultimate cupcake topping!
HOW LONG WILL THESE CUPCAKES KEEP FOR?
Vanilla Cupcakes will keep overnight, if left covered. Use an overturned bowl or a cupcake keeper to ensure they’re safe from dirt, bacteria, and whatever else is lurking around. You can refrigerate them for up to 3 days but they should come to room temperature again before serving. Butter based cakes need to warm up a bit.
If unfrosted, you can wrap and freeze these cupcakes for up to 2 months.
GRANDBABY CAKES’ BEST CUPCAKE RECIPES
Grandbaby Cakes is the best place to find unique, flavorful cupcakes by the dozen! After you’ve had a couple of these vanilla cupcakes try out a few more of my absolute FAVORITES:
Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour sifted
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 1/3 cup whole milk or another milk of your choice
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste for a deep vanilla flavor
- Start by preheating your oven to 325°F then place paper liners in 2 12-cup muffin pans. You will need 4 more so you can wait until a batch of cupcakes bake before lining with the remaining ones.
- In your mixer bowl, add oil and butter and beat for 2 minutes on high speed. Slowly add in sugar and beat on high speed for an additional 4-5 minutes until very pale yellow and fluffy. Next, add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed.
- Turn your mixer down to its lowest speed, and slowly add flour into batter in two increments then add baking powder, salt and baking soda. Be careful not to over beat.
- Lastly, add sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract, scrape down sides and mix until just combined and turn off mixer.
- Scoop batter into liners 3/4s full and bake for 16-19 minutes (mine bake in about 18 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. They should be completely set in the center.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.
Use Good Vanilla. You can use cheap flour, sour cream, milk, and even butter but you just have to use good vanilla for this recipe. Good quality vanilla is fresher, more aromatic and flavorful. Bonus points if you use vanilla bean paste!
Don’t Forget the Cupcake Liners. I hate when cupcakes stick to the pan! To avoid that, I choose to use cupcake liners. If that’s not your jam, be sure to thoroughly grease and flour the pan.
Completely Cool Before Frosting. If you try to frost your cupcakes while they’re still warm, the frosting will melt and you’ll have a soupy-sticky mess. Allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature before smothering them with frosting.