Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

While I usually make cakes, everyone needs a go-to easy vanilla cupcake recipe. Cakes take so much time to make and decorate, but cupcakes come together in a flash!! Or at least that’s I feel about them.

Cupcakes also are so much easier to eat. Cakes have to be sliced, you need plates and forks….but cupcakes? You just peel back the liner, and dive right in!

My easy vanilla cupcake recipe is so moist and fluffy!!

Vanilla Cupcakes Don’t Have To Be Boring

Another benefit to having an easy vanilla cupcake recipe up your sleeve? It’s the perfect starting point for so many different flavors of cupcakes! You can add in different extracts, fillings, or frostings, and transform this base recipe into a million different cupcake flavors. 

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.

While we’re on the topic of flavors, if you’re more of a chocolate person, I highly recommend my moist chocolate cake recipe. It also comes together in one bowl, and is packed with chocolate flavor.

What Makes This Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe So Good (and MOIST!)

A notable ingredient in this vanilla cupcake recipe? It uses BUTTERMILK! I don’t know what is is, but I’m absolutely crazy about buttermilk. I love baking with it, and use it in most of my recipes! It makes such a tender crumb, and adds so much moisture! It also gives my cupcakes a delicious tang.

While buttermilk can be found in most grocery stores, some parts of the country or foreign countries don’t sell it! If you’re having a hard time getting your hands on buttermilk, don’t worry.

You can make your own buttermilk! For each cup of buttermilk that the recipe calls for, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to fill 1 cup. You also can use plain, low-fat yogurt as an equal substitute, cup for cup!

The cutest vanilla cupcake, decorated with gold leaf! Made with my one bowl vanilla cupcake recipe, which is so moist and fluffy!!

Don’t Worry About The Dishes: This Recipe Comes Together In One Bowl

 My absolute favorite part of this recipe? It can be made in one bowl! That’s right, you add all your ingredients into one bowl, give it a good stir, and pop these into the oven.I hate making extra dishes, and always try to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to baking.

This recipe can also be made by hand, so no need for hand or stand mixer needed! Just a big ol’ bowl, and a wooden spoon (or at least that’s what I use)!

Don’t Forget The Frosting!!

While the texture and taste of the cupcake is very important, I’d argue that the frosting / decoration on top of the cupcake is equally important. If you have a frosting recipe you love, by all means, top these cupcakes with it!

I usually frost my cupcakes with a half batch of my vanilla buttercream. It’s definitely a sweet frosting, but it is my absolute favorite! It only uses 5 ingredients, and is also super easy to make. I usually make it ahead of time, to make life easier!

My buttercream frosting keeps in the fridge for up to a month in an airtight container. Just be sure to give it a good stir before using it, to get rid of any air bubble that may have formed while it came to room temperature. 

While I do enjoy mixing up my cupcake decorations, the frosting tip I use the most is my Wilton 1m tip (open star). This frosting tip pipes those beautiful and classic swirls that we know and love!

How To Make This Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

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 bowl, and gently combine with a large spoon. Pour in the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. The batter will be very thick, but that’s ok!

Next, add in the water, vanilla, eggs and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 way full.

Scooping my vanilla cupcake batter into my cupcake liners

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 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. If you want to accelerate the cooling process, pop the pans into your freezer for about 30 minutes.

The most delicious vanilla cupcake recipe! They are so fluffy and moist!!

While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the vanilla frosting as instructed in the recipe below. Once  the cupcakes are fully cooled, add a large swirl of buttercream. I used a Wilton 1M tip, but you can use whatever you prefer!

If you don’t have any frosting tips, you can always use a ziplock bag and just trim the tip to have a 2 cm opening.

I also added a bit of gold leaf to these cupcakes to jazz them up! To do this, use a sterile paint brush to gently add the gold leaf sheets of 23k edible gold leaf

My easy vanilla cupcake recipe is so moist and fluffy!!

Recipe Notes:

Before you go to town and whip up a batch of these delicious cupcakes, I have a few tips to help make sure your cupcakes turn out the very best they can:

  • This easy vanilla cupcake recipe can be made in advance! They freeze very well, and can be made up to 2 weeks in advance if stored in an airtight container. I recommend waiting to frost and decorate them until the day you plan to serve them. They should come to room temperature within a couple hours.
  • Be sure your ingredients are at room temperature! It helps them combine easier, and bake more evenly
  • Don’t overmix your batter! If you make this batter by hand, it’s almost impossible to overmix it. But if you use a hand or stand mixer, be sure to mix on a low speed, and to only mix until the ingredients are combined
  • Your cupcakes need to be COMPLETELY cooled before you frost them! If they’re even a little bit warm, the frosting can melt right off. 

If you try this recipe, please tag me @chelsweets, and use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
This easy vanilla cupcake recipe is insanely simple, and equally delicious! It comes together in one bowl, and makes super moist and fluffy cupcakes!!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (150 grams)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (4 grams)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (120 grams)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (56 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)
  • 1 large egg, room temp (57 grams)
  • 1/2 cup water (118 grams)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

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

Instructions

Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 350°F (175°C), and place cupcake liners in baking pans.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large bowl, and gently combine with a large spoon.
  3. Pour in the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. The batter will be very thick, but that's how it should be!
  4. Next, add in the water, vanilla, egg and vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 way full. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. If you want to accelerate the cooling process, pop the pans into your freezer for about 30 minutes.

Vanilla Buttercream

  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 Tablespoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  4. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fit with your favorite frosting tip, and pipe large swirls onto the fully cooled cupcakes.
  5. Garnish as desired, then enjoy!

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.

Nutrition Information

Yield

14 cupcakes

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 386 Total Fat 18g Saturated Fat 9g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 8g Cholesterol 50mg Sodium 211mg Carbohydrates 55g Fiber 0g Sugar 46g Protein 2g

128 thoughts on “Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

  1. Floral cakes by Jessica MV does bean paste work on cakes. Please post a recipe tutorial for:
    1) mung bean paste- bows & macrames
    2)kidney bean paste- beads, sequins& embroidery
    flowers
    3)lotus seed paste- David Austin rose

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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

    1. Yup! but it can slightly change the taste of the frosting, based on how much salt is included in the butter you use <3

  5. 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

  6. 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)?

  7. 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!!!

  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?
    Thanks!!

    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!

    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

  19. 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 ?
    Thanks!
    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

  20. 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

      1. Hi. I’m in Australia and out cup sizes are different. Please could you give the measurements in weight and ml for the liquid. Thank you x

  21. Hi Chelsea! Could you please post the recipe using ounces or grams? I like to measure my ingredients that way so I know I’m being accurate. Thank you!

  22. Hi Chelsea!
    Love your creations. Not sure if anyone asked this before bc i quickly skimmed the previous comments, but can i make my own buttermilk by adding a tbsp of vinegar to whole milk? Will that affect the texture? muffin-like cupcakes are def a no go in this house lol

    1. you totally can! It will be a tiny bit less moist, but it will still taste great! As long as you don’t overmix the batter, it should have a tender crumb 🙂

  23. Wish me luck! I will try to make these cupcakes for Easter breakfast for the community in our church in Jersey City! I pray I can pull this off. If not I’ll just buy in the store:(.

  24. I hope some day i will try one of your recipes!! I love how you make them and decorate them!! ?????? One question though: if i put olive oil instead of vegetable oil or canola oil, it will taste different? ? Thank you.

  25. Hi.. I tried this recipe and it came out great !! Super moist n fluffy !! Can you suggest an egg substitute for this recipe ? I made it substituting egg with 1/4 cup yogurt n it turned out kinda gooey/undercooked..I checked at 17 mins , toothpick came out sticky, baked for another 3 mins, still gooey n another 3 mins n still gooey..
    Any suggestions??.. I was soooo happy n satisfied with the egg version that I expected it to work fine with an egg substitute too 🙁 pls help

    1. Update – tried it with 1/4 cup buttermilk as substitute n got the same result. I thought maybe I’m over mixing it, so made another batch using buttermilk as substitute n very gently mixing.. still no luck..
      What am I missing here? 🙁

      1. Sadly I can’t seem to find the thread that this comment is responding to, but I want to help!! You substituted 1/4 cup of buttermilk in place of what?

      2. Hi, I substituted 1/4 cup buttermilk in place of an egg.. trying to find an egg substitute 🙁

      3. This is the comment I originally posted –>

        “I tried this recipe and it came out great !! Super moist n fluffy !! Can you suggest an egg substitute for this recipe ? I made it substituting egg with 1/4 cup yogurt n it turned out kinda gooey/undercooked..I checked at 17 mins , toothpick came out sticky, baked for another 3 mins, still gooey n another 3 mins n still gooey..
        Any suggestions??.. I was soooo happy n satisfied with the egg version that I expected it to work fine with an egg substitute too ? pls help”

    2. ahh sorry I responded to your other comment before seeing this one! I think most people recommend using 1/4 cup of applesauce to replace 1 egg! I’ve never tried it myself, but it should work! If you add more dairy I think it will be too much moisture in the batter, whereas the apple sauce will help them rise because of all the water in the applesauce! hope that helps <3

      1. Thank you so much … My parents don’t eat egg and I so wanted to make an eggless version of your cupcake coz it was literally so moist n fluffy.. I really hope it works out <3

  26. I used this recipe but added some thin raspberry jam and they were actually the most moist cupcakes I have ever had, they also taste so amazing!! ??

  27. Hi! I’m a home baker and I use your basic vanilla cake recipe for all of my vanilla cakes, your chocolate recipe, etc etc!! Love your recipes. However, although I love the one bowl/no mixer cupcake recipe, I find they don’t separate from the cup without tearing the cake. Maybe I’ll try a different cups. Any other suggestions?

      1. Hi there! Love all of your recipes I’ve tried so far….thank you for sharing them! Unlike Jill, I don’t have a “tearing” issue but mine tend to shrink and some actually pull away from the wrapper. I do use my convection oven and drop the temp to 325 degrees but as I’m typing this I’m wondering if I tried baking without the fan at the temp you recommend if that will make a difference. I probably should have tried that before reaching out to you. 🙂 Anyway, any suggestions that you may have is much appreciated.

      2. haha I’m literally laughing out loud reading this Kimberly!! You’re too funny! I would say try it without the fan at 350, and see if that fixes the issue. Hopefully it will 🙂 Let me know it goes, I’d love to know!!

  28. Made these this past weekend and replaced the vanilla with lemon extract in the buttercream! They were a huge hit so light and fluffy, my new cupcake go to! Thank you 🙂

  29. I’m going to be making these next month for an order! Originally I used a different cupcake recipe but it was so DENSE. if I follow this step by step will it be moist and fluffy?

    1. They should have a tender crumb 🙂 because of the buttermilk they will be slightly less fluffy than if you used whole milk, but it adds an incredible tang and moisture! If your main priority is a fluffy texture, I’d recommend using whole milk in place of the buttermilk <3

    1. I’ve heard of people swapping out the egg for 1/4 cup of apple sauce, but I’m not sure how using condensed milk would work!

    1. Sadly I do not recommend that! They have different impacts on recipes, and this recipe works best with baking powder <3

Let me know what you think!