These classic vanilla cupcakes are light and fluffy and perfect for any occasion! These are the best classic vanilla cupcakes from scratch!
These vanilla cupcakes are wonderful for children’s parties, birthdays, or any celebration! And, they are SO simple to make. This recipe is pretty basic and uses typical pantry items.
I’ve also included a simple vanilla buttercream recipe, but to be honest, I really love them plain, especially with coffee in the morning!
What you’ll need:
Flour: I use all purpose flour, but you could also you self-rising flour, instead, just omit the baking powder.
Sugar: I use regular, granulated sugar.
Buttermilk: I usually make my own by adding some white vinegar to milk and letting it sit for about 5 minutes.
Egg: I use 1 organic egg.
Vanilla: I like using vanilla extract.
Oil: I use a bit of vegetable oil to make them moist.
Salt: I use just a pinch for flavor.
Baking powder: To help them rise.
Butter: I think the combination of butter and vegetable oil makes these cupcakes more flavorful. You will also need some butter for the buttercream.
Powdered sugar: I use sifted powdered sugar to make the buttercream.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & TIPS FOR SUCCESS
To get really light and fluffy cupcakes, you need to incorporate some air into the batter to create bubbles, but not too much! That’s why you should NEVER overmix the batter, because it literally bursts those air bubbles, making the cupcakes dense and flat. Remember, you’re aiming for light and fluffy cupcakes, not pancakes!
There are probably 2 main reasons for this: overbaking and/or adding too much flour. When you overbake the cupcakes, the excessive heat causes the moisture inside them to evaporate.
You really need to measure the flour correctly in baking. If you pack the flour into the measuring cup, you’ll end up with more flour, which will result in dense and dry cupcakes. Check out my post where I get into more detail about how to measure flour properly and why it's so important.
To get consistent results every single time, I highly suggest you use a digital scale. A digital scale also saves me a lot of time because I don’t need to wash any measuring cups or spoons. I just weigh all my ingredients before I start.
Of course! As long as you grease the pan really well and then flour it before adding the batter.
I usually use a cookie scoop to fill the liners a little over halfway full, about ⅔ or ¾ full. You could also use an ice cream scoop.
I just use a knife to frost them when I'm not making them for a special occasion. If you want to get creative, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip. For the cupcakes you see in these pictures, I used a Wilton 1M tip.
In my opinion, 2 things make cupcakes moist: buttermilk and vegetable oil! I think cupcakes made with a combination of buttermilk and vegetable oil also stay moist longer as opposed to ones made with just butter. You could also use brown sugar for moistness, but I usually don’t because it’s sweeter than granulated sugar.
How to make your own buttermilk
I make my own buttermilk by adding ½ tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup and then adding enough milk to make ½ cup (125 ml). I just stir it well and let it sit for about 5-8 minutes. It’ll curdle and become thick, just like buttermilk!
How to store frosted cupcakes
You can keep them at room temperature for 1-2 days, but if it's hot where you live, I would refrigerate them, instead. Frosted cupcakes can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Just make sure they’re in an airtight container so they don’t dry out.
How to freeze cupcakes
I always freeze cupcakes plain, without frosting. After they’ve completely cooled, I put them in 2 freezer bags so that they don’t absorb any smells from the freezer. Before sealing the bag, I make sure the cupcakes are sitting flat. I always put them in an area in the freezer where I know they won’t get squashed (obviously)! They can be stored in the freezer for up to about 2 months.
How to freeze cupcakes in the liners
Let them cool COMPLETELY. If you freeze them in the liners while they’re still warm, condensation will form which could make the cupcakes soggy!
How to thaw cupcakes
The best way to thaw cupcakes is to put them in the refrigerator overnight. But if you’re impatient like me, you could thaw them on your countertop. Cupcakes don’t really take that long to thaw, although it does depend on where you live and the climate. After taking them out of the freezer and out of the bags, I place them on a cooling rack and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. It usually takes a couple of hours for them to thaw completely at room temperature.
Other ways to top vanilla cupcakes besides frosting
Like I said, these cupcakes are great on their own, but I often add different toppings as buttercream isn’t really popular in my family!
If you’re not crazy about buttercream frosting or want to try something different on vanilla cupcakes, here are a few suggestions:
Powdered sugar or Cocoa powder: Just dust them with some powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder. You could also use stencils and create beautiful designs on top!
Glaze: Make a simple glaze with powdered sugar and water or milk and drizzle over the cupcakes. An oldie, but goodie!
Nutella: Generously spread some Nutella on top. Nutella is great with just about anything, isn’t it?? I don’t think you could ever go wrong with Nutella!
Chocolate: You could melt some of your favorite chocolate and spoon it over the cupcakes. Or, better yet, you could pour some of this delicious homemade chocolate syrup on them - yummy!!!
REAL Vanilla Cupcakes
Using ground vanilla bean powder instead of vanilla extract makes AMAZING cupcakes, especially with all those gorgeous flecks of vanilla inside! I love using ground vanilla bean powder! It made such a difference when I used it in my easy no-churn vanilla ice cream! You should give it a try!
For colorful funfetti cupcakes, add ½ cup sprinkles to the batter.
You can fill the cupcakes with lots of different sweet treats, like peanut butter, Nutella, jam, fruit, or candy!
Want healthier cupcakes? Check out these Sugar Free Whole Wheat Chocolate Cupcakes!
Let me know how these classic vanilla cupcakes turn out for you in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!
MORE CUPCAKE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
- 1 ¼ cup (190 g / 6.7 oz) all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature (or see the NOTES below on how to make your own)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the buttercream frosting
- ¾ cup (6 oz / 170 g) unsalted butter, soft, at room temperature, but not melted
- 3½ - 4 cups (400 g / 14 oz) SIFTED powdered sugar, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ - 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed
- gel-based red food coloring (optional)
For the cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
- Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- If you're making your own buttermilk, see the NOTE below and make it now. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it's creamy.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and mix well. Then add the buttermilk and oil and mix until everything is fully incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until JUST combined. Don't overmix.
- Fill the cupcake liners with the batter, a little over halfway full. I like using a cookie scoop.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- When done, take the cupcakes out of the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completley.
- Make sure they are completely cool before frosting them.
For the buttercream frosting
- Beat the butter until it's soft and creamy, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the powdered sugar and the remaining ingredients and beat for at least 5 minutes, until it gets really light. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.
- If the buttercream is too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the consistency you like. If you wish, use a toothpick to add a tiny drop of food coloring and mix well.
- Frost the cooled cupcakes.