Classic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

I’m about to start a cupcake series, and plan to use this recipe as the base recipe for all my cupcakes. After testing out several different recipes, it’s my favorite and now my go to! It’s a slightly modified version of Life Love and Sugar’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe.

I swapped out the regular milk and used buttermilk (my personal preference!), and made it all in one bowl! I hate making extra dishes, and always try to simplify recipes when baking.

I always frost my cupcakes with a half batch of my American buttercream, and usually use a Wilton 1m tip (open star).

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cup (162g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (212g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water

Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Yield: 12-14 regular cupcakes, about 40 mini cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 17 minutes for regular cupcakes, 9-10 minutes for mini cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the water, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Next, mix in the egg until well combined.

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Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 way full, and bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

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While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the vanilla frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Once  the cupcakes are fully cooled, add a large swirl of buttercream. I used a Wilton 2D tip, but you can use whatever you prefer! If you don’t have any frosting tips, you can always use a zip lock bag and just trim the tip to have a 2 cm opening.

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I also added a bit of gold leaf to these cupcakes to jazz them up! I gently added the gold leaf using a sterile paint brush and sheets of 23k edible gold leaf. I purchase mine on amazon!

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I work in finance during day, and like to think of myself as a baker by night! Follow me here at, on instagram @chelsweets, and on YouTube ( ) to see my creations :D

49 thoughts on “Classic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

  1. Hi
    Your recipes all look lovely! I’m baking cupcakes for work tomorrow, using your buttercream recipe can i frost them tonight and leave them out overnight or should i refrigerate? What would keep them fresh until tomorrow? Thanks im advance!

    1. I’m from an Asian country and I’m not quite sure as to our vegetable oil suits this.can you be precise at to what oil is it? Palm oil?

  2. I used this recipe and made them lemon flavored instead and they came out amazing! I was just wondering if this recipe would work for a cake too?

  3. Hi Chelsea! I used your Baby Panda Vanilla cupcake recipe recently and now am comparing this vanilla cupcake version to the panda one. I see in this new recipe there isn’t any baking soda. Is that accurate? Wanted to check in because I am making 100 cupcakes for a wedding next weekend! Thank you!

    1. There’s no baking soda but there is baking powder! these don’t get a very big dome on the top as they bake, but i think that makes them easier to frost! Best of luck with the wedding cupcakes <3

      1. I tried this recipe with the sour cream and they were delicious! Thank you, this will be my go to vanilla cupcake recipe

  4. Hi Chels, i love your videos. Do you mix this by hand or by a stand mixer? Is there a risk using a stand mixer? And why do you use oil and not butter? always wanted to know

  5. Just made these cupcakes… omg. Super easy and very yummy. I’m planning on making these for my daughter’s first bday. Are you able to make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze (frosting later)?

  6. Made these tonight, they looked perfected, tasted great but were spongey almost like angel food, did I do something wrong? Like I said it was yummy!!!

  7. I tried this recipe and loved it but I noticed that the top half of the cupcake was nice and moist and the bottom half was super dense. I am not sure what I did wrong

  8. My cakes were too much softened from inside although I follow the exact recepie.. i dont know what happened?? Can you tell me what is the reason?? The cake appeared uncook nd sticky from inside

  9. Hey Chelsea! I was wondering is there a substitution for the 1/2 cup of water in the cupcakes? What does the water help with can you use more buttermilk instead?

  10. Hi! I was wondering what brand and where do you get your food coloring? I want to make a frosting and dye it dark purple but I am always hesitant on my frosting tasting like food coloring. Also, do you use that same food coloring to dye your cakes too? I’ve been wanting to make red velvet but again hesitant on it.

  11. Hi! I love your recipes. I’m making these for easter dinner.
    One question: this recipe of buttercream also serves 12-14 standard size cupcakes?

    1. It really depends on how you’re frosting them! If you’re making large swirls, you’ll have a bit leftover, but it’ll be close to the right amount! If you’re doing small swirls or buttercream rosettes, you could frost about 2 dozen cupcakes!

  12. Thank you for sharing with us fellow bake-aholics! I really have enjoyed your videos. I’ve not used americolor gels before… are there any bitter tasting colors (i.e.: Red, Black, etc.) that you would recommend staying away from in the americolor line?

    1. of course, I’m always happy to share!! I think almost every red and black gel food coloring (no matter the brand) have a bit of an after taste! But americolor has a no-taste red food coloring which is better than the normal red!

  13. Hi. I’d like to try your vanilla cupcake recipe. I’ve been having a real difficult time lately with dense cupcakes. I follow the recipes exactly and each recipe I try is the same problem. HELP!

    1. The buttermilk in the recipe does make it slightly denser, but it shouldn’t be that different from the texture of a normal cupcake. If that really bothers you, you can replace the buttermilk with normal whole milk, which should lighten them up a bit!

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