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Vanilla Cupcakes

by Nick Makrides
Published: Last Updated on

My Easy Vanilla Cupcakes are bursting with vanilla flavor and stay moist for days! That’s not even the best part. They’re fluffy, soft and bake perfectly flat which makes them really easy to frost buttercream on top!

Vanilla Cupcakes - cut in half

This recipe is based off my much-loved vanilla cupcake recipe which I have updated to stay moist for even longer while still tasting just as delicious.

Vanilla Cupcakes - single cupcake close up

Vanilla Cupcakes - cut in half

Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

What makes these Easy Vanilla Cupcakes so good?

There are so many wonderful things to love about these gorgeous vanilla cupcakes

They’re moist – these cupcakes stay moist for days which makes them a great make ahead of time recipe that will help ease the burden of a big event!

They’re really easy to make – the batter only needs a few simple ingredients most people have in their pantry and fridge and they’re ready to bake in 10 minutes!

They bake flat – the top of these cupcakes don’t crack and that’s because of the low temperature they’re baked at.

These don’t brown! – this is the absolute best cupcake recipe to use if you’re coloring your cupcakes. The low baking temperature results in bright vivid colored cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes - group of cupcakes

What’s different in the updated recipe?

This recipe is updated to stay moist for even longer than the original! And that’s because I’ve added more Greek yogurt and adjusted some of the other ingredients. I’ve also adjusted the batter making process, more on that below! The result is a cupcake that’s fluffy, tasty and still just as versatile to create in any color, flavor or design you like!

Creaming method VS Reverse Creaming method

This cupcake works with both the creaming method and reverse creaming method. You’ll get slightly different results with both batter making methods.

The reverse creaming method is when you mix the butter in with the dry ingredients, vs the creaming method which involves beating the butter and sugar together first. The creaming method results in a slightly fluffier cupcake but takes longer to make, an extra 5 minutes. The reverse creaming method results in a slightly denser cupcake (still moist and delicious). Both have their benefits, but flavor wise, you still get the same delicious result!

I will be including the creaming method and reverse creaming method instructions in the recipe card below.

What frosting Can I use with these cupcakes?

American Buttercream Frosting 2022 - instructional image 03

Vanilla Buttercream – my easy American Buttercream Frosting is easy to make, really versatile and can be used to frost cupcakes! One batch of my buttercream will frost 12 cupcakes if piping high swirls or 20 cupcakes if you’re spreading it on with a knife.

Swiss meringue Buttercream Frosting – This is an ultra-smooth buttercream that is made with gently cooked eggs whites. It’s really shiny and comes out snow white in color.

Cream cheese frosting – My perfectly pipeable cream cheese frosting is the ultimate balance of creamy and tangy. The secret ingredient is milk powder which helps make this frosting creamy and makes it thick enough to pipe.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting – Ganache is always a favorite of mine and it’s perfect for chocolate lovers! I have a perfectly pipeable chocolate ganache frosting and white chocolate ganache frosting recipes that would go great with these cupcakes! The Dark chocolate one is a particular favorite of mine and contrasts nicely with these pale vanilla cupcakes.

Vanilla Cupcakes - baking temperatures

Why is the temperature so low?

Great question! Compared to every other cupcake recipe out there I bake my cupcakes on a really low temperature, on the middle rack, in a fan forced oven for two main reasons.

  1. The cupcakes don’t brown which makes this recipe perfect for getting brightly colored cupcakes when using food gels.
  2. And they bake with a flat top that doesn’t crack which makes them visually pleasing but also easier to frost. The result is a cupcake that is a little denser but still has a delicate crumb and is delicious.

Because of the low temperature the baking time is also increased to 40 minutes so that the cupcakes are fully baked. In my opinion, the longer baking time is totally worth the end result.

Ingredients to make Easy Vanilla Cupcakes!

There are only a few basic ingredients needed to make this cupcake recipe!

Vanilla Cupcakes - ingredients list

Cake flour

Cake flour is a low gluten flour which results in more delicate crumb and softer cupcake. If you can get cake flour you can make your own by adding 1 cup all-purpose flour to a bowl. Take out 1 tbsp of flour and add 1 tbsp of corn flour (also known as corn starch). Sift at least once. Alternatively, you can replace the cake flour with all-purpose flour.

Caster sugar

Also known as superfine sugar is a sugar that is finer that granulate sugar but not as fine as powdered sugar. It is often used in cake recipes to give you a finer crumb. You can make your own caster sugar if you have a food processor by pulsing granulated sugar a couple times until you get a finer sugar. Alternatively, you can use granulated sugar.

Baking powder

This helps the cupcakes rise and become fluffy.

Salt

I used fine salt. The one shown in the video is pink sea salt. But any type of fine salt will work.

Butter

Make sure your butter is soft! If you store your butter in the fridge, microwave it for 10 seconds at a time, flipping it over each time until it’s soft. Not melted. You want it to be soft enough that if you press on it with your finger there’s a little resistance, but your finger can make a dent.

Eggs

I used large eggs.

Milk

I used whole cows milk, but you can replace it with plant based milk if you wish. Almond, soy and oat milk are best.

Vegetable oil

I used vegetable oil in this recipe. It adds moisture to the cake. You can sunflower oil or any light oil in it’s place. Oils like olive oil are too heavy and will not work.

Greek yogurt

The addition of Greek yogurt in this recipe is not for flavor. In fact, you won’t be able to taste the Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you choose to use that instead). It is there to add moisture to the cupcakes.

Vanilla Extract

Always use good quality vanilla extract when baking, it makes a huge difference. I have a great recipe here for it if you’d like to try your own!

How to get PERFECT VANILLA CUPCAKES every time!

I’m going to give you both methods for making the batter in this section and in the recipe card.

  1. Begin by preheating a fan forced oven to 120C / 250F or a conventional oven to 140C / 275F. Line two cupcake/muffin trays with cupcake liners.

Reverse creaming method

Quick to make, slightly denser cupcake.

  1. Add the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until well combined. Add the softened butter and mix on medium speed until mixture resembles a sand like texture.
  2. Next, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, yogurt and vanilla and mix on low speed until the batter is evenly mixed and no dry ingredients are showing. Take care not to overmix the batter. It is at this stage that you can add any food colorings, sprinkles or flavorings.

Creaming Method

Fluffier cupcake

Vanilla Cupcakes - instructional image 01

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the softened butter, sugar and vanilla and mix on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl using a spatula.

Vanilla Cupcakes - instructional image 02

  1. Next, add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each time and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  2. Add the Greek yogurt, vegetable oil and half the milk and mix until well combined.

Vanilla Cupcakes - instructional image 03

  1. Pour in all of the dry ingredients and remaining milk and mix on medium low speed until no dry ingredients are showing taking care to make sure there are no dry ingredients showing at the bottom.
  2. Use an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners filling them up 3/4 of the way. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Vanilla Cupcakes - instructional image 04

  1. Frost with your favorite frosting of choice. I have some great options on the site, but the most common pairing is my American Buttercream Frosting.

My Top Tips to making amazing Vanilla Cupcakes – every single time!

Measure your flour accurately

The absolute best way to measure most ingredients like flour, sugar and butter is by using a kitchen scale. I use one similar to these scales.

Pure Vanilla Extract - square image

Using good quality Vanilla

This recipe is simple and relies on good quality ingredients, but the most important one is the vanilla you use! I would recommend using only pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.

Making your own vanilla extract is really easy! I have a great recipe here. Tt makes a really great Christmas or birthday gift for your baker friends.

This recipe is so versatile!

You can use this recipe to create all sorts of different flavor combinations, colors and designs!

Vanilla Cupcakes - Collection of cupcake options

  1. Funfetti Cupcakes

  2. Love Shake Cupcakes

  3. Strawberry Mango Margarita Cupcakes

  4. Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

  5. Paris Brest Cupcakes

  6. Sundae Funday Cupcakes

  7. Strawberry Birthday Cake Cupcakes

  8. Unicorn Frappuccino Cupcakes

  9. Rock City High School Dance Cupcakes

  10. Rosé Champaign Cupcakes

  11. Freakfetti Freakshake Cupcakes

  12. Chromatica Cupcakes

  13. Cactus Garden Cupcakes

  14. Nougat Cupcakes

  15. Mollywaffle Freakshake Cupcakes

  16. Monte Blanc Cupcakes

Most commonly asked questions about Vanilla Cupcakes.

Can I add sprinkles to the batter?

Vanilla Cupcakes - sprinkles being mixed into batter

Yep! Most types will work but just take care not to overmix your batter once they’ve been added otherwise the colors will bleed and make the batter grey. I would recommend adding them right before scooping the batter into the cupcake liners. About 1/2 cup of sprinkles will work.

Which cupcake liners do you use?

I get this question so much! Here are the measurements of the cupcake/muffin tin and liners I use. If you use bigger liners fill them the same amount, 3/4 of the way. You’ll just get less cupcakes that are bigger.

Cupcake Baking Tin

Brand: Wiltshire
Easy Bake Muffin Tray 12 cup Grey
Bottom 5.5cm
Height: 3cm
Top: 7cm

Cupcake Liners

Brand: Confeta
Bottom: 5cm
Height: 4cm
Top: 7.5cm

How do I know when my cupcakes have baked?

If you insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of one of the cupcakes it should come out with dry crumbs. If it comes out with batter, the cupcakes need more baking. I tend to just touch the top of the cupcakes and if it bounces back when I gently press on one, then I know they’re done.

How do I color my cupcakes?

There are a number of ways to color cupcakes. The two methods I would recommend are by using pureed or freeze-dried fruits. Pureed fruits added to the batter will result in a longer baking time. Freeze dried will not. Although this will not result in bright colors.

The best way to get brightly colored cupcakes is by using food gel. I use either Chefmaster or Americolor food gel coloring. Wilton Food colors don’t give you nice bright colors. Food gel can be added once the batter is finished. Add a couple drops and use a spatula too mix until evenly colored.

How long do these cupcakes last for?

These cupcakes can be made 1-2 days in advance and then frosted the day of serving. They will last 3-4 days once baked.

Why have my cupcakes sunk in the middle?

If your cupcakes have sunk in the middle, it’s likely that they’re undercooked. Every oven is different so baking time can differ. This can be fixed by getting an oven thermometer which will give you an accurate temperature reading in your oven.

Why have my cupcakes risen like volcanoes and cracked?

Your oven temperature was too high which results in a rapid rise! Again, every oven works differently. The best way to accurately measure your oven temperature and get to know the way it works is to use an oven thermometer. It’ll give you a really accurate temperature reading.

This can also be cause by batter that wasn’t mix properly. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is mixed properly and no dry ingredients remain.

Why have my cupcake liners come away from my cupcakes?

This happens for a couple reasons:

  • Your cupcakes sweated – transfer your cupcakes to a cooling giving them a bit of space so that they can cool. If you let them cool in the cupcake tin the heat can cause condensation which will soften the liners and cause them to come away from your cupcake liners
  • Your cupcake liners are low quality – not all cupcake liners are equal! You want to use greaseproof cupcake liners. The ones I use and sweat by are by a company called confeta. But these ones work great too, although they’re smaller than the ones I use. I wouldn’t recommend silicone cupcake liners.
  • Your cupcakes are underbaked – if your cupcakes are underbaked then there’s a good chance the liners will come away
  • You overmixed your batter – this is one of the biggest reasons liners come away from your cupcake liners! Take care only to mix the batter until no dry ingredients are showing and be gentle when mixing in food gel coloring. When batter is over mixed it can work the gluten so that when they cool after baking, they shrink and the liners come away.

Can I turn these cupcakes into a cake?

Yes! You can use this cupcake recipe to turn it into one 8” cake. Simply spray the bottom and sides of your cake tin with oil spray, line the bottom with baking paper and bake on 140C / 285F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will be just under 2 inches in height.

Vanilla Cupcakes - single cupcake close up

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So much fun happening here and it’s a great community to be a part of!

Make sure you leave a comment down bellow if you try this recipe, or just say hello! I’d love to hear from you! I’ll see you all on the following recipe!

N x

Vanilla Cupcakes - pinterest image

Vanilla Cupcakes - with cupcake liner off

Easy Vanilla Cupcakes

Serves 12

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 3 1/2 cups (420g) cake flour see notes
  • 1 cup (210g) caster sugar see notes
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/3 cup (85g) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk room temperature (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup (85ml) vegetable oil see notes
  • 1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt or sour cream see notes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste


Instructions

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Preheat a fan forced oven to 120C / 250F or a convectional oven to 140C / 275F. Line two cupcake/muffin trays with cupcake liners. See notes for measurements.

Reverse creaming method - quick to make, slightly denser cupcake.

  • Add the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until well combined. Add the softened butter and mix on medium speed until mixture resembles a sand like texture.
  • Next, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, yogurt and vanilla and mix on low speed until the batter is evenly mixed and no dry ingredients are showing. Take care not to overmix the batter. It is at this stage that you can add any food colorings, sprinkles or flavorings.

Creaming Method - fluffier cupcake

  • In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, add the softened butter, sugar and vanilla and mix on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl using a spatula.
  • Next, add the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each time and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Add the Greek yogurt, vegetable oil and half the milk and mix until well combined.
  • Pour in all of the dry ingredients and remaining milk and mix on medium low speed until no dry ingredients are showing taking care to make sure there are no dry ingredients showing at the bottom.
  • Use an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners filling them up 3/4 of the way. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Frost with your favorite frosting of choice. I have some great options on the site, but the most common pairing is my American Buttercream Frosting.

Notes

Storage
Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
Cake flour
Cake flour is a low gluten flour which results in more delicate crumb and softer cupcake. If you can get cake flour you can make your own by adding 1 cup all-purpose flour to a bowl. Take out 1 tbsp of flour and add 1 tbsp of corn flour (also known as corn starch). Sift at least once. Alternatively, you can replace the cake flour with all-purpose flour.
Caster sugar
Also known as superfine sugar is a sugar that is finer that granulate sugar but not as fine as powdered sugar. It is often used in cake recipes to give you a finer crumb. You can make your own caster sugar if you have a food processor by pulsing granulated sugar a couple times until you get a finer sugar. Alternatively, you can use granulated sugar.
Milk
I used whole cows milk, but you can replace it with plant based milk if you wish. Almond, soy and oat milk are best.
Vegetable oil
I used vegetable oil in this recipe. It adds moisture to the cake. You can sunflower oil or any light oil in it’s place. Oils like olive oil are too heavy and will not work.
Greek yogurt
The addition of Greek yogurt in this recipe is not for flavor. In fact, you won’t be able to taste the Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you choose to use that instead). It is there to add moisture to the cupcakes.
Tools and equipment
Cupcake Baking Tin
Wiltshire Easy Bake Muffin Tray 12 cup Grey
Bottom 5.5cm
Height: 3cm
Top: 7cm
Cupcake Liners
Confetta
Bottom: 5cm
Height: 4cm
Top: 7.5cm

Nutrition

Calories : 327kcal
Carbonhydrates: 45g
Protein: 7g
Fat: 14g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g
Monounsaturated Fat : 3g
Trans Fat : 0.3g
Cholesterol: 45mg
Sodium: 228mg
Potassium : 101mg
Fiber: 1g
Sugar : 18g
Vitamin A: 247IU
Calcium: 112mg
Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclosure

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26 comments

Ajita Nawathe August 4, 2021 - 6:41 pm

Hey want to try this recipe can we scale down for a smaller batch?

Reply
Nick Makrides September 19, 2021 - 5:39 am

Hi Ajita, you can halve the recipe if you wish 🙂 N x

Reply
Andrea September 11, 2021 - 6:23 pm

How many oz is your cupcake liner? And what size of scoop do you use with it?

Reply
Nick Makrides September 12, 2021 - 2:15 am

Hi Andrea, the cupcake liners measure Bottom: 5cm, Height: 4cm, Top: 7.5cm. The scoop size I use for this recipe has a bowl diameter of 6.5cm bowl. N x

Reply
Ann February 18, 2022 - 7:31 am

Hi. Love your cupcake recipes. I was wondering if I can add instant coffee granules to the wet mixture so that I can have coffee flavored cupcakes? Thanks in advance.

Reply
Nick Makrides August 2, 2022 - 10:50 am

Hi Ann! Thanks so much! Yep, you can do that. But It would be better if you mixed it in a couple tbsp of boiling water first and then mixed it into the milk. Hope that helps! N x

Reply
Sonya March 4, 2022 - 7:30 am

Hello. A beginner here. Is All Purpose Flour the same as plain flour? When you refer to fine salt, do you mean just plain Saxa table salt?

Reply
Nick Makrides August 2, 2022 - 10:06 am

Hi Sonya! That’s right! N x

Reply
Kristy Armstrong March 24, 2022 - 8:46 pm

5 stars
Hi Nick, I just wanted to let you know I’ve been making your vanilla cupcakes for YEARS and they are always delicious. I’ve always wondered if they would work if I swapped out the plain flour and baking powder with self raising flour? I only ask as today I had no baking powder! Let me know if you’ve tried it. Love your recipes and videos. I always recommend your recipes to my friends 🙂

Reply
Nick Makrides April 27, 2022 - 1:27 am

Hi Kristy!, hmm, I’ve never tried it, but I think it could work. If you try it, let me know. I’d love to her how it went! N x

Reply
Alexia April 6, 2022 - 12:53 am

Hi Nick! I was wondering if there is a chance to convert the recipe to grams? I usually hace problems with cups, o where I can find a convertor for this one. Thank you so much. Love from Peru

Reply
Nick Makrides April 27, 2022 - 12:54 am

Hi Alexia! Theres a little button under the ingredients list that allows you to switch the ingredients to cups or grams 🙂 N x

Reply
Andrea June 6, 2022 - 9:56 pm

Hi is this recipe easily doubled? Thank you

Reply
Nick Makrides June 14, 2022 - 11:38 am

Yep! N x

Reply
Nessa July 6, 2022 - 12:09 am

Hi! Could this recipe be used for rainbow cupcakes (separate and colour the batter after completely mixing and before baking)?

Reply
Nick Makrides July 11, 2022 - 1:48 am

Yes! N x

Reply
Pauline July 18, 2022 - 6:24 pm

How is the frosting made please – I am in the UK

Reply
Nick Makrides August 1, 2022 - 4:18 am

I’ve got a great Vanilla frosting recipe here if you’d like to give it a go!

Reply
Craig B August 4, 2022 - 3:59 pm

I’m in the US and curious. In our homes the ovens are typically Conventional. I know that using a Convection Oven the temp is usually lower than Conventional. I’m assuming I could set it around 290-300f ? I’ve never tried baking at lower temperatures and want to try out your method. Thank you!

Reply
Nick Makrides August 30, 2022 - 11:24 am

Hi Craig, a fan forced oven is generally set 20C lower than a convention oven. so for this recipe I would recommend baking at 140C.

Reply
Lauren August 7, 2022 - 2:37 pm

Hi Nick! I’m not allowed vegetable oil in my household, so am I able to use coconut oil instead?

Reply
Nick Makrides August 30, 2022 - 11:21 am

mm, coconut oil is quite heavy. I would recommend vegetable oil instead. N x

Reply
Lauren August 8, 2022 - 12:57 pm

Oh, and will a whisk attachment on a handheld mixer work?

Reply
Nick Makrides August 30, 2022 - 11:19 am

A hand held mixer would be better! N x

Reply
Michelle September 8, 2022 - 8:10 am

Hi Nick, just checking if all purpose flour is the same as self raising? I’m pretty sure you’ve mentioned it before but I’ve totally forgot in my panic tonight making cakes for my last day tomorrow 😳
Cheers Michelle

Reply
Nick Makrides September 9, 2022 - 10:44 am

Hi Michelle! No, self raising flour has baking powder and purpose has no baking powder. N x

Reply

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