Classic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

While I usually make cakes, I do sometimes dabble with cupcakes!

Having a good vanilla cupcake recipe is so wonderful, since vanilla cupcakes are the perfect starting point for so many different types of cupcakes.

Want a lemon cupcake? Throw in some lemon zest, and swap the vanilla extract with lemon extract!

Need to make a strawberry cupcake? Fill the center with your favorite strawberry jam, and top with a strawberry buttercream!!

See what I mean? Once you have a foundation recipe you love, it’s so easy to alter it to create whatever flavor of cupcake you want.

After testing out several different recipes, it’s my favorite and now my go to! It’s a 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.

You can use regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, but I highly recommend using buttermilk! While it does make the cupcakes slightly less fluffy, it gives them incredible moisture and really adds to the flavor of the cupcake.

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

Begin by preheating 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. I like to use an ice cream scoop to do this, to make sure I add the same amount of batter into each cupcake liner. I find I can make 12-14 cupcakes using this recipe, depending on how full I fill them, and slight variations between cupcake pans and liners.

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!

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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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Easy One-Bowl Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

This classic vanilla cupcake recipe is so easy to make! This recipes makes super moist and delicious cupcakes.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chelsweets, easy vanilla cupcakes, one bowl vanilla cupcake recipe, vanilla cupcake recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 14 cupcakes


  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1/2 cup water



  1. Begin by preheating oven to 350°F (175°C) and lining a large cupcake pan.

  2. 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.

  3. Add in the water, vanilla, and vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together.

  4. Next, mix in the egg until well combined.

  5. Fill cupcake liners about half full, then bake for 17-18 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

  6. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow them to cool in the baking tray for a few minutes, them place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can also be used to make mini cupcakes! This recipe makes about 40 mini cupcakes, which only need to bake for 9-10 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake and cool, I like to whip up a small batch of  vanilla buttercream recipe to frost them with.

Small Batch Vanilla Buttercream Recipe

This is a smaller batch of my favorite vanilla buttercream! It's great for a batch of cupcakes, or a smaller cake (6 inches or less).

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword american buttercream recipe, small batch frosting, vanilla frosting recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 6 inch cake


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (217 grams)
  • 4 cups powdered sugat (454 grams)
  • 1 pinch salt (2 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (15 grams)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8 grams)



  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.

  2. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 

  3. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Recipe Notes

If you are making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!


77 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!

  14. I have made a vanilla cupcake recipe before but it didn’t seem like the vanilla flavor came through enough. Could I add vanilla bean paste to add more flavor? Or what is your recommendation on adding more vanilla?

  15. Do you have a regular chocolate cupcake recipe? If not, what all do I add to the vanilla recipe to make it a chocolate cupcake?

  16. I tried this recipe several times and every single time it is as thin as water which does not make sense. At first I used a light buttermilk and figured it may be that, but then I substituted with whole milk and got the same result. I also tried using measuring cups first time and second time I weighed everything, but still have the same result. I used a brown organic egg, not sure if that has to do with anything either. Do you know what I could have done wrong?

      1. Sorry I am knew to your forum and didn’t realize I posted the same question twice. Do you recommend weighing vs measuring the cups? For example, when I measure 1 1/4 cup I don’t get 162g which is what your recipe calls for.

      2. I’d recommend weighing, since that’s the most accurate way to ensure the amounts! however, if you’re off by a few grams, it shouldn’t really affect the final result! This recipe isn’t very finicky, it’s just a thin batter 🙂

  17. Making from scratch cupcakes for the first time for my daughter and sons birthday this weekend. I just followed this recipe, line for line but both batches smell and taste like raw flour. Do you have any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong?

    1. That’s so strange!! every oven bakes a little differently, I’d recommend maybe baking them a bit longer? Or maybe trying a different flour brand?

  18. If I wanted to make alcohol infused cupcakes using this recipe… would you recommend I sub the liquor w the water? Can’t wait for your reply. Thanks!

  19. I made the recipe today, it tasted really good however it was VERY Lumpy. I had to sieve the batter.. what did I do wrong?

    1. i’m not quite sure! Were all your ingredients at room temp? I have a full YT tutorial showing exactly how I make my cupcake batter, maybe that will help identify if you did anything differently <3

  20. Hi Chelsea
    I am curious as to what exactly makes this recipe different from the vanilla layer cake recipe you have..
    Like what ingredients do what that you changed to get one recipe to bake more flat ?
    By the way, do you know if there is a difference in the cake when using low-fat vs full fat buttercream ?

    1. either low fat or full fat buttermilk will work! I usually use buttermilk with 2% milk fat. The recipes vary quite a bit in terms of the type of fat use, different wet ingredients, and a lot more leavening agents. By using oil instead of butter and a lot more baking powder (in regards to the ratio of batter), the cupcakes turn out fluffier, rise higher, and have a different texture than my layer cake recipe, which bakes flat <3

  21. Hi! I’ve been watching your videos for months now and thought I would make the vanilla cupcakes and butter cream! I’ve never made buttercream before. The powdered sugar was a little chunky so now my frosting is chunky! Do you have any advice? I used the Whole Foods organic powdered cane sugar so maybe it doesn’t contain anti-caking agents? I’m excited still about them

    1. it could come down to the type of powdered sugar you’re using! If you’ve having issues with clumps, I’d recommend sifted the powdered sugar next time, or trying a different brand (I use domino’s powdered sugar and it works great). Hope that helps, happy baking!! <3

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