You're going to love this easy recipe for classic Vanilla Cupcakes. These homemade cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and full of delicious vanilla flavor making this recipe the only recipe you’ll ever need. The incredibly delicious recipe is easy to make and in less than an hour, you’ll have delicious melt-in-your-mouth cupcakes to share with family and friends.
Why This Recipe Tastes So Good
I think these are the best vanilla cupcakes you’ll ever have. I tested the recipe 8 times to ensure a cupcake with a nice rise outside in addition to a moist, fluffy, and flavorful interior.
Two of the biggest complaints I hear about cupcakes are that they’re dry or don’t have any flavor. This classic vanilla cupcake recipe solves that problem. The right ratio of room-temperature butter, sugar, and egg to flour produces moist cupcakes that stay soft. Sour cream ensures a nice moist crumb.
Using the reverse cream method reduces the development of gluten, so the cupcakes stay soft and tender. Vanilla beans and pure vanilla extract provide lots of unmistakable vanilla flavor to the cupcake. These are the perfect cupcakes for birthday parties or special occasions.
Ingredients You’ll Need for These Cupcakes
Here is what you’ll need for this easy vanilla cupcake recipe:
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: Flour provides the structure for the cupcake
- Granulated Sugar: Adds sweetness and helps ensure moist cupcakes.
- Unsalted Butter: Adds fat, flavor, and moisture to the cupcake. I recommend using unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt in the final bake. Some recipes use vegetable oil, but you'll love the taste of butter in these cupcakes.
- Sour Cream:: The acid in the sour cream helps create a tender crumb. I purposely don’t add baking soda because I don’t want to neutralize the acid. If you don't have sour cream you can replace it with whole milk.
- Baking Powder: The baking helps the cupcakes rise once they hit the heat of the oven.
- Whole Eggs: The egg yolks provide flavor and fat helping to create a soft cupcake. The egg whites provide structure to the cupcake.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract bumps up the flavor of these cupcakes.
- Vanilla Bean: The vanilla bean seeds are the main flavor component of these cupcakes. If you don't have or can't get vanilla beans, use vanilla bean paste.
- Kosher Salt: A little salt elevates all the other flavors.
How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes
Before you start mixing make sure the butter, eggs, and sour cream are all at room temperature. For baking purposes, room temperature is between 65 - 68F degrees.
For this cupcake recipe and most of my other cupcake recipes, I use the reverse creaming method. This method creates a light, airy fluffy cupcake with a level top that is perfect for decorating.
In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, the vanilla extract, and part of the sour cream. Line the muffin pan with paper liners.
Place the dry ingredients - all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment mix the dry ingredients on low speed until there are combined.
Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on medium speed just until the cupcake batter is creamy about 1 minute. Be careful not to overmix the batter, which could result in a sunken cupcake. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Add the egg mixture in two batches beating after each addition until the eggs are incorporated.
Divide the cupcake batter between the 12 cupcake liners. Each cupcake should be about ⅔ full and the amount of batter should weigh about 60 grams in each liner.
Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and slightly domed and spring back when you press the top of the cupcakes with your finger.
You can also check for doneness by checking the center of the cupcakes with an instant-read thermometer. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Let them cool in the muffin pan for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling to room temperate before frosting them.
Frosting the Cupcakes
Once your cupcakes are cooled to room temperature, it’s time to frost them. My favorite frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream, which is perfect for these cupcakes. Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcake with a piping bag and my favorite tip, Wilton 1M. Other frosting or buttercream options that work really well include:
- Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Ermine Frosting
The Swiss Meringue buttercream is perfect if you're serving these cupcakes on a warm day. The ermine frosting is perfect if you want a frosting similar to Swiss meringue, but don't have enough eggs. And the vanilla buttercream frosting is perfect if you want something tasty, quick, and easy.
How to Store These Cupcakes
If not frosting and serving the cupcakes the same day as they are baked, stored the unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to two days. After the cupcakes are frosted they can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 days depending on the room temperature.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- For the best results weigh the flour, butter, and sour cream. Too much flour or too little butter will result in dry cupcakes. Using a scale will ensure the best results for your cupcakes.
- The butter, sour cream, and eggs should be a room temperature to ensure that the batter emulsifies properly. Cold butter won’t fully incorporate and cold eggs will result in a dense rubbery texture.
- Don’t overfill the cupcake liners. The cupcakes will overflow and possibly stick to the pan.
- Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting them. Otherwise, the frosting will melt and slide off to the side.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make these cupcakes up to 2 days in advance. Store them at room temperature in an airtight container.
If your cupcakes are dry it is most likely because you added too much flour.
If your cupcakes sank in the center it is probably because you overmixed the batter or added too much baking powder.
If the cupcakes are dense it may be because you used cold eggs, overmixed the batter, or used too much flour.
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If You Like This Recipe, Try These Recipes
- Cupcake Liners
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 large (100 grams) large eggs room temperature
- 2/3 cup (161 grams) sour cream room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 2/3 cups (212 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 tablespoons (169 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line the muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Place the sugar in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean and place the beans in the sugar. Use your fingers to rub the vanilla bean into the sugar until it is dispersed throughout the sugar.
- In a small bowl combine the eggs, vanilla extract and 1/3 third of the sour cream and whisk the ingredients together. Cut the butter into 8 pieces.
- Add the all-purpose flour, the salt and the baking powder to the vanilla sugar in the mixing bowl. With the paddle attachment mix the dry ingredients on medium-low for 30 seconds to thoroughly combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and remaining sour cream and mix on medium speed until the butter and sour cream are thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overmix. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the egg mixture in two batches, mixing on medium speed until the egg mixture is thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottoms of the bowl and fold the batter by hand to ensure all the batter is mixed together.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups of the muffin pan, about 60 grams each. Each muffin tin should be about 2/3 full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes until they are done. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan to a wire rack. Let the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them.
- If making the cupcakes one day in advance before frosting them, store the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature.
How to Decorate the Cupcakes
- Using a Pastry Bag: Fit your pastry bag with an open star tip or your favorite decorating tip and fill it with frosting. Starting at the outside edge of the cupcake, pipe frosting in a swirl with the tip about 1/4" to 1/2" above the cupcake, exerting even pressure on the bag continuously. Finish the swirl in the center of the cupcake by removing the pressure and lift up the tip slightly as you near the center. If you’re new to decorating cupcakes it may take some practice.
- Using a Knife or Offset Spatula: Use a spoon to add about 2 tablespoons of buttercream to the cupcake. Use the back of a spoon, a non-serrated butter knife, or a small offset spatula to spread the buttercream to the edge. While pressing down on the frosting slightly, move your spoon or knife in a spiral pattern from the outside edge of the cupcake to the center of the cupcake, to create a pretty spiral or swoop.
- The unfrosted cupcakes are good at room temperature in an airtight container for up to two days. Once the cupcakes are frosted they should be consumed with one day.
Cheryl Guice says
Hi Cheryl, my name is Cheryl also. I’ve been looking for a vanilla cupcake recipe for awhile now. I’ve read yours and I think it’s the one! Sour cream, 2 kinds of vanilla…my kind of baker! I can’t wait to try it. By the way, how would it scale for an 8” cake, double layer? Would it work?
Thanks so much,
Cheryl Norris says
I hope you try this recipe soon. I am really happy with the final result.
Scaling this recipe for an 8-inch cake pan requires some additional testing. For instance, the amount of baking powder is based on the size of the cupcake tins and the exposed surface area of each cupcake. The typical rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of baking powder for every 1 cup (125 grams) of flour. If I followed that rule for the cupcakes they would rise then sink. For the 8-inch cake you can follow that rule, but that still doesn't tell you the right amount for the other ingredients.
I hope this explanation helps. I will be testing a vanilla layer cake soon.