Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

[Note: Since posting this recipe, I have a newer, improved vanilla cupcake recipe that I would recommend over this one. You can find it here >> Classic Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting]

I can’t remember if I mentioned to you our little jaunt to Georgetown over the summer. I don’t think I did, did I? In any case, we descended on Georgetown with the sole purpose of taste testing cupcakes. Our first stop was naturally Georgetown Cupcake, which is featured on the TLC series “DC Cupcakes”. After struggling to find a parking spot and then standing in a 30-minute line on the hottest day of summer (I think the temp topped 110 that day), we finally got to place our order. We decided to get a 1/2 dozen of assorted cupcakes – vanilla/vanilla, chocolate/chocolate, chocolate/ganache, salted caramel, vanilla/chocolate, and chocolate/peanut butter. From there, we headed to a different area of Georgetown to check out Baked and Wired. They are a small, hip little establishment that sells not only cupcakes but also slices of pie, quiche, and some other baked goods. We got a strawberry and red velvet there. Our verdict? The red velvet and strawberry at Baked and Wired were phenomenal and better than any of the ones we got at Georgetown Cupcake, but the best one there was definitely the vanilla/vanilla. Inspired by the trip, I’m sharing these cupcakes because I think everyone needs a classic yellow cupcake recipe and fabulous vanilla frosting stashed away in their recipe binder. Don’t ya think?

This is a great combo of cupcake and frosting, and both are super duper easy. The cupcakes are buttery, melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the frosting definitely gives the cupcakes a run for their money. Not surprising that I think that since I AM a frosting girl at heart. This is my absolute favorite frosting recipe, one that I concocted a few months ago and that I used as a basis for such things as my Espresso Buttercream Frosting (which made an appearance on top of the Mocha Cupcakes), Maple-Bacon Buttercream Frosting (which topped the Pancake Cupcakes), and The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes. Needless to say, it is my go-to frosting recipe, and I hope it will become yours too!

Stay tuned… the next cupcake posted will be red velvet!

Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 24 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


Vanilla Cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
½ cup sour cream
1 large egg , room temperature
2 large egg yolks , room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

3. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

4. Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

5. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.

(Cupcake recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated; Frosting recipe is a Brown Eyed Baker original)


620 Responses to “Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting”

Comment Pages 1 2 3 8
  1. Kristina @ spabettie on October 28, 2010 at 2:36 am

    these are gorgeous… I really need a frosting lesson… this frosting looks like you have a REALLY BIG tip that made one big plop instead of swirling around… how DID you do it?? 😀


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Kristina, I use a Wilton 1M tip. And those are actually miniature cupcakes so they didn’t require a lot of swirling since I used a big tip :)


      • Quinn on November 4th, 2010 at 10:59 am

        Hi! I am going to bake your cupcakes but I was wondering if the recipe made 12 miniature cupcakes or 12 regular size. You confused me with your proir comment! Please help me!


        • Michelle on November 4th, 2010 at 11:17 am

          Hi Quinn, The recipe makes 12 regular size cupcakes, sorry for the confusion. I just used it to make 24 minis.


          • Serena on April 11th, 2011 at 1:52 am


            I was wondering how long you baked the mini cupcakes (I usually make everything mini since I feel less guilty eating them!) :) I’m assuming 20-24 min is for the regular cupcakes? Thanks so much! I love your blog and have tried a few of the recipes that you have posted, with great success!


          • Michelle on April 11th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

            I start checking the mini size around 8 minutes. Enjoy!


            • Julie on March 16th, 2013 at 11:52 am

              I was wondering if it was possible to do the recipe without the sour cream?? or maybe replace it with something else?? thanks
              p.s i love your website :)

          • Kal el on December 29th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

            My fiancé and I are getting married at the courthouse Tommorow with the big wedding next year. Since this is just us I’m baking your recipe for a special dinner Tommorow Just wanted to say thanks in advance and let you know


    • Virginia on August 1st, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Instead of swirling it around, you place the tip on the middle of the cupcake, and keep the pressure on the pastry bag until the icing is big enough for you. :)


  2. veena on October 28, 2010 at 5:52 am

    These cupcakes looks so yum…. well looking forward for the red velvet cupcakes.. thanks for taking into consideration the request..


  3. holly on October 28, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Can you adapt this for a full cake? Looking for a good cake recipe for my daughter’s princess-themed birthday cake. This looks delicious!


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Holly, I haven’t, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. I think you would probably want to double the recipe and make two 8″ or 9″ cakes.


      • Nimisha Goel on July 29th, 2013 at 5:55 am

        I used half of this recipe to make a 4 inch cake yesterday, it turned out great, however it took almost double the oven time, about 40 minutes!!


  4. Amalia on October 28, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I followed your recipe fr the frosting to make an almond frosting and it worked perfectly! just take away the vanilla and add almond extract! Thank you is wonderful!



    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Oooh great idea Amalia, thanks for sharing!


  5. Elizabeth B. on October 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

    YAY! I’m so glad you liked Baked&Wired – I’ve lived in DC for ages, and I always tell people to go there instead of G’town Cupcake :) Their cupcakes are bigger and they have more frosting (which is my favorite part of any cake)


  6. Emily @ Darby O'Shea on October 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Vanilla/vanilla is always one of my favorite cupcakes. But, I’m so excited to see your red velvet recipe! I have a long history of shouting at Yankees that Red Velvet is NOT A CHOCOLATE CAKE, dernit! This makes me disproportionately interested in any appearance of red velvet. More of my thoughts on the matter here:


  7. Michelle on October 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

    If you ever find yourself back at Georgetown Cupcake, call ahead to make an order. It allows you to skip the line! But I’m so glad to hear you preferred Baked & Wired – it’s my favorite pick in the area!


  8. Kim on October 28, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I completely agree, I thought Georgetown Cupcakes were so over rated and I was completely disappointed! And at 2.75 a cupcake I was expecting something that would knock my socks off! The cake was so dry with very little taste. I can’t wait to try this recipe!


  9. Ram on October 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Hi Michelle, I’m so happy that you posted a really good looking vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting, it’s one of my favorite cupcakes! I’ve never done a vanilla frosting without milk or cream, what’s the difference with just vanilla on it?


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Ram, Not much of a difference. I have made frostings with cream, but usually only a tablespoon or two, so I can’t tell much of a difference at all.


  10. Barbara on October 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    The owner of Baked and Wired is my husband’s cousin, Theresa. I’m glad you enjoyed it. She’s a Midwest girl at heart (and by birth) and many of the recipes she uses are modified from her family. Your cupcakes look very yummy.


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

      Hi Barbara, So neat to hear your connection to Baked & Wired and the background of the recipes! Small world! Maybe you can snag me a “behind the scenes” pass sometime :)


      • Barbara on November 4th, 2010 at 8:27 am

        I’ve not been “behind the scenes” myself, as I’m in Ohio and she’s in, well, Georgetown, but Theresa is as nice as she can be — she has her hands in everything there. I’m sure if you just ask, she would be happy to show you around. She’d love to read your post. I’ll pass it on to her mom, who, I’m sure, will pass it on to her.


        • Michelle on November 8th, 2010 at 9:51 pm

          Aw thanks Barbara, I will have to try to touch base with her the next time I’m in the area. And thank you for passing along the post, I hope she appreciates it! :)


  11. the blissful baker on October 28, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    when i was in dc last month, i tried going to georgetown cupcakes but the line was so long that we just headed over to baked and wired. i loved it! the cupcakes were amazing! i had a peach cupcake with almond frosting and it was TO DIE FOR.


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:26 pm

      Oooh peach and almond sounds delicious! I don’t remember seeing that option when we were there!


  12. megan @ whatmegansmaking on October 28, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I have been thinking about cupcakes non-stop recently! These are going on the list – beautiful :)


  13. on October 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Vanilla power!!!!! \m/ 😀


  14. RavieNomNoms on October 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    What gorgeous cupcakes! The buttercream frosting just sounds like it is to die for! That would be so dangerous if I ever put those on cupcakes or if the icing ever actually made it TO the cupcakes haha, yum


  15. Kim - Liv Life on October 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I’m with Raven… I’m not certain how much of the frosting would actually make it to the cupcakes! An excellent recipe to have on hand for those “I need a good cupcake” occasions!


  16. Joanne on October 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Those look so gorgeous. I love cupcakes. They are so elegant and you can just taste the light cakey sweetness when looking at beautiful pics such as yours. Great job.


  17. Gillian on October 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Yay for Baked and Wired! They are a million times better than Georgetown Cupcake and there’s never a line!


  18. Liz @ Blog is the New Black on October 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    A classic combo. Well done! I am going to DC next weekend and checking out DC cupcakes, too!


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

      Liz, definitely check out Baked & Wired too!


  19. Lisa on October 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Can’t wait to try some of your recipes! I don’t bake often due to me eating all of the product but still need to try your chocolate with peanut butter frosting. I almost never make vanilla anything due to my love of chocolate but this is good to have on hand. As for red velvet, I’m not from the South and still don’t understand the fascination with it. It’s not chocolate, it’s not vanilla…what the heck is it? Can’t wait to see what the explanation is in next post. I’ve tried to make it, I’ve tried buying it…still don’t get it. It’s like the red-headed stepchild of cakes to me. Anyway, the holidays are now upon us and it’s time to bake! Thanks for your fabulous site!


  20. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on October 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    My husband and I were just talking about our favorite cupcakes the other day, and when I said mine were vanilla flavored with vanilla frosting, he looked at me like I had a third eye! These will always be the best cupcake to me – classic, simple and super delicious! Thanks for sharing, Michelle.


  21. Katrina on October 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Vanilla on vanilla is my kind of cupcake! They’re cute looking too!


  22. Sarah @ pão e queijo on October 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    What a great classic- I love vanilla cupcakes! Yours turned out so pretty, too!


  23. Greedy Guts on October 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Michelle, everything you touch turns to gold. I wish my simple vanilla cupcakes looked this good!


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:30 pm

      Aw you are too sweet. I’m sure your cupcakes look fabulous!


  24. Beth on October 28, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    OMG I’m gonna make these this weekend. I am going to double the recipe, and I hope it will still come out the same. Please oh Please share how you get that lovely dolop on top of the the little cake. Thank you, and I’m looking forward to the red velvet one coming soon. Hopefully it will have cream cheese frosting…


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Beth, I use a Wilton 1M decorating tip and just swirl away!


  25. leslie on October 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Awesome! I am printing out your cupcake recipe..I have yet to find the perfect one.


  26. Tracy on October 28, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    I love vanilla; these look amazing! I can’t wait to try that frosting!


  27. Paula on October 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Always love having vanilla cake/cupcake recipes and your buttercream looks so pretty. Both recipes will be tried out in my house! Thanks for posting.


  28. Anne on October 29, 2010 at 1:41 am

    These look amazing!! Absolutely loved the CHOCOLATE buttercream recipe you posted a little bit ago, SO i know the vanilla one will not disappoint!! Thanks!!!


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      So happy to hear you enjoyed the chocolate buttercream Anne!


  29. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) on October 29, 2010 at 7:17 am

    I agree the best cupcakes are the simplest and everyone needs to have a basic vanilla recipe cupcake ! Looks delicious


  30. Danielle on October 29, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I made these last night for a Halloween work party. Delicious! Especially the icing. It holds it’s shape very well. I decorated with Halloween sprinkles and a candy corn pumpkin.


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      Yay, so glad you enjoyed these Danielle! Love how you decorated them!


  31. Kim on October 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I made these for a party last night along with your dark chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, both were delicious! So yummy and moist – I will definitely be making these again.

    What tip do you use for your icing swirl? I attempted with what I have but I think I need a basic lesson on icing, so instead I just used an icing spatula. Not as pretty but just as a good.


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      So happy to hear both cupcakes were a hit! I used a Wilton 1M decorating tip for the swirl. I will have to do a post on decorating cupcakes one of these days!


  32. Serena @ Seriously Soupy on October 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Wow – those are gorgeous-looking cupcakes. I’m going to try to make them for my daughter’s b-day in Feb.


  33. Krista on November 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I didn’t try the cupcake recipe but I did make icing. It turned out GREAT! I hate making icing from scratch, it is a very long process and normally it never turns out right for me. But your step by step instructions were so helpful! Thx :)


    • Michelle on November 1st, 2010 at 10:24 pm

      Yay so glad you’ve been converted to homemade icing! :)


  34. Sortachef on November 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I have a soft spot for good buttercream icing… and your delicious photo has me drooling. Thanks for a great recipe!


  35. Sarah on November 2, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    Yes, please do a post on decorating cupcakes. Your’s always look amazing!

    Sarah x


  36. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on November 3, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Everyone does need one in their binder, I’m still on the lookout for mine though! This looks amazing.


  37. Lindsey @ Burn Me Not on November 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I made mocha cupcakes this past weekend and used this icing as the base for my espresso icing. Delightful!! :)


  38. the urban baker on November 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    these look pretty near perfect! I love the rosette like frosting! I have to make cupcakes tomorrow, for 80….I may go this route!!! Just lovely!


    • Michelle on November 8th, 2010 at 9:37 pm

      Wow, 80 cupcakes! Did you use this recipe?


  39. Jeni Rae on November 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Just made these cupcakes and they came out AMAZING!! I’m diabetic so i used splenda in the batter and it still came out great!! They were so moist and buttery! for the icing it was great too but i added a little lemon juice for a little kick and that hit the spot =) thanks for the post it is now my go to cupcake recipe.


    • Michelle on November 8th, 2010 at 9:38 pm

      Awesome to know that these hold up well to a Splenda substitution, thank you so much for sharing!!


  40. jennie on November 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    funny, funny because i adore everything baked and wired but gtown’s salted caramel might be my favorite cupcake in the world. glad you got to try a little bit of everything!


  41. Rosanna on December 15, 2010 at 11:47 am


    I live in Italy and have limited access to some ingredients used for American recipes. For example, I want to make sugar cookies with royal icing; however, they don’t sell meringue powder, and I’m skeptical about using raw egg whites. Could I use your vanilla buttercream frosting for sugar cookies? Something tells me that it wouldn’t work…what do you think?


    • Michelle on December 16th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Rosanna, you could definitely use the vanilla buttercream to frost sugar cookies, but you wouldn’t be able to flood it and get that smooth finish, since it has much different properties than the royal icing. That said, I’ve never turned down a sugar cookie slathered with buttercream 😉


  42. Rose Gold on December 30, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Gorgeous cupcake. I love the butter cream frosting perfect for vanilla cupcakes just like this. This is a great recipe.


  43. Cherissa on January 14, 2011 at 12:18 am

    I made these cupcakes last night, and my first comment is on the buttercream frosting…DANGEROUS! Seriously, I ate about a cup of it, strictly for sampling purposes…I swear! 😉 It was so delicious that I could not stop. It was smooth and easy to make and the flavor was perhaps my favorite frosting ever! My cupcakes turned out kind of dry. I’m not sure why? The flavor was there, the texture was good, but I definitely needed some milk! I took these to my book club meeting, they weren’t as big of a hit as the Lemon-Limoncello, but they did get good reviews! Another benefit to these: they were so quick and easy to make! In fact, after making the Lemon cupcakes I thought “hmm, I might need more than 12 cupcakes…I’ll try Vanilla!” and I whipped these up in about 10 or 15 minutes!


  44. Julie on January 17, 2011 at 1:11 am

    You are wonderful. Just made this tonight and it was the best homemade cake recipe I have ever made. Yum! The frosting turned out great too! THANK YOU!


  45. simommie on January 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I have been on a quest for the “ultimate cupcake” recipe – think simple, delicious, able to devour easily in two bites! This one, while simple, did not quite hit on all cylinders. The batter did not have the “smooth and satiny” texture described in the recipe (?) so I added a little milk and orange juice, and while the cupcakes WERE good, they still were too borderline “cornbread muffin” for me to greedily devour one in two bites – one of my criteria for a perfect cupcake. I felt compelled to finish out of guilt because I had started it, not because I absolutely wanted to. Perhaps I overbeat the batter, but it was so thick to start, I figured maybe there was a liquid ingredient missing. I frosted them with a swiss buttercream, and some I filled with the same buttercream or a strawberry jam. I will continue on my quest for the “ultimate” cupcake, but this was a great stop along the way!


    • emily on August 9th, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      I had the same problem with the texture/heaviness of my cupcakes. really disappointed bc the flavor was grreat


      • Bri on October 21st, 2013 at 3:39 am

        I had the same issue. I didnt even use a beater so there is no way mine could have been over beaten. But the final texture was so thick, almost like cookie dough, that I really thought the recipe was missing a wet ingredient. I added some milk which helped with the consistency a bit, but I mostly could taste the flour and sour cream, which was odd for a cupcake. I definitely didn’t feel compelled to even finish the one I tasted, let alone the whole batch. I’m sure with a bit of tweaking though, this recipe could be amazing! It was very simple and easy to throw together, and they came out extremely moist.


        • Kristina on January 28th, 2014 at 4:29 pm

          I had the same issue as well. It definitely seemed like a wet ingredient was missing. The batter was just very thick, more like for butter cookies, only stickier. I was so confused. Ended up adding quite a lot of milk until it looked like cupcake batter that can be poured into baking cups (well, i did not make it liquid enough to pour, more like plop into the baking cups). The taste was ok.. not your usual can’t-get-enough perfect cupcake though.


  46. Lisa on February 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I just made these and while they are good if you just use them as a regular cupcake, they are not good for filling at all as they become far too crumbly when trying to eat them. If you cut out a hole to fill with something, the walls of the hole don’t hold up very well once you have taken a couple of bites. They were nice and strong in vanilla flavour though, and if I was to make mini cupcakes I would probably use them again :)


  47. shabunam on February 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Wowowowoo , these cupcakes look amazing , I love your blog 😀


  48. Abby on February 20, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I also felt like the cupcakes had a cornbread texture and thought that I must have left out a wet ingredient, but I didn’t. Was this a crumbly cupcake or did I do something wrong? What do you think happened? I’d like to try again, so any advice would be appreeciated. Thanks for your help!


    • Michelle on February 22nd, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Abby, I’m sorry these didn’t quite turn out for you. It definitely isn’t a crumbly cupcake – it’s a soft, moist buttery cupcake. Hard to say what happened if you didn’t make any substitutions and you have an oven thermometer and are sure the baking temp wasn’t off. Sometimes baked goods can be crumbly or not as moist if they are overmixed though.


  49. wendy on February 27, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I found this recipe and immediately went to the store for sour cream. Other than sour cream (which I usually have in the frig.) I have everything in the kitchen. It was easy and delicious. My husband who is a chocoholic said, “they are very good for vanilla”. Put it this way, I made a Chocolate cake and these great cup cakes for his birthday and he has had more cup cakes then cake! Very nice cup cake. I plan to use these for my daughter’s baby shower and mount them in flower pots as center pieces. We are having a Tea Party Shower.


  50. Jinxy on March 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I totally made these cupcakes in Yellow and Pink for my best friend’s birthday last weekend. They turned out AMAZING! We were at a bar, so I bribed the staff with cupcakes, and now they love me forever! Thanks for another amazing recipe!


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