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 4 5 8
  1. Rebecca Hymel on September 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I’m a novice baker, I’ve made a couple different recipes for cupcakes & most of the time they have turned out too “heavy”. I was wondering what the significance of the sour cream, in this recipe is? I’m planning on using this recipe this weekend for a friends daughters birthday party, where I am making about 50 cupcakes in a Purple and Green Tinkerbell theme! Any advice would be great!
    Rebecca Hymel


    • Michelle on September 2nd, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Rebecca, The sour cream in this recipe keeps the cupcakes nice and moist.


  2. Liz A on September 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    These cupcakes are delicious. They are super moist, sweet enough, but not too sweet and very easy to make. I made 50 of them for a party and they were a big hit. Thanks for a great recipe.


  3. Mar on September 14, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Hi, Michelle
    I doing a birthday party for my girl who is 1 yr old. I am doing the cupcakes for the party so I interesting in doing your vanilla cupcakes w/ vanilla buttercream. I am so nervous because i dont bake a lot so hopefully my cupcakes can taste really good. However, i would like to know if i can add food coloring to the buttercream frosting so it can taste vanilla but be pink and green. THanks


    • Michelle on September 18th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Mar, Definitely! Just add a little at a time until you get the shade of color you are going for.


  4. Mar on September 14, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Hi michelle,

    I dont bake a lot. I am new to all these baking things so i may ask a stupid question but i am really confuse and hopefully you can help me. What is the difference bewteen icing and frosting and where i can use frosting or icing. Thank you so much.


    • Michelle on September 18th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Mar, Not a stupid question! A lot of people use the terms icing and frosting interchangeably, but for me icing is usually much thinner, like a glaze, while frosting is the thick butter/powdered sugar concoction you find on top of cupcakes.


  5. Chelsey Bon on September 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    What is the sour.cream for because in most vanilla Cupcake recipes don’t require sour cream?


    • Michelle on September 18th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Chelsey, The sour cream helps to keep the cupcakes nice and moist.


  6. Cami on September 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Okay, so BEST VANILLA CUP CAKES I EVER TASTED!!! And these are the only vanilla cupcakes that come out absolutely perfect each time, even if my oven is messed up! HAHA I LOVE YOU FOR PUTTING THIS UP!!


  7. Paige Hofmann on September 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Wow! This website is the coolest! I ADORE cupcakes so finding this site was awesome. I’m actually starting up my own cupcake business with a friend which I’m so excited about!!! Keep posting! :)


  8. Ashley on September 24, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Hi i was wondering if i make the butter cream to night can i leave it on the table for tomorrow or do i have to put it in the frig?

    i have to make a cake for a party so i was wondering if i could frost it tonight and keep it out all night? thank you


    • Michelle on September 26th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      Ashley, You can frost the cupcakes and store them at room temperature in an airtight container overnight. However, if you make the frosting ahead of time I would recommend refrigerating it. You will need to re-whip it before frosting the cupcakes. I find it easiest to make the frosting when you plan on frosting the cupcakes.


  9. Callie on September 26, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I made these cupcakes with th efrosting an dthey were amazing! I love the recipe, and will use this website for everything elese! I made them for a party, and they were a huge hit! I even mixed everything by hand with a whisk! Extra workout! Thank You!


  10. Bnlee on October 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I just wanted to say these cupcakes are absolutely DELICIOUS! i made them once before for my family, and now i am making them once again for a friends birthday. As soon as i found out she wanted cupcakes i went directly to these! You can’t go wrong! There just so good :)


  11. Rida on October 5, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Hi, Can you please tell me a good substitute for Sour cream for this recipe? Want to make it for my father’s birthday tomorrow. Thanks.


    • Michelle on October 10th, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Rida, You could substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream in this recipe.


  12. carol on October 8, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I made these today, was very disappointed, I followed the recipe to the T. Cupcakes turned out heavy and dense :-(


    • Deanna on January 25th, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Mine too!!!!! Very disappointed I made cupcakes before and I love love trying revipes!!!!! I should have read these comments before making them! They turned out horrible and I need to make new ones!!! Ahhhhhh


  13. kala on October 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Can I substitute salted butter for unsalted butter in this recipe?


    • Michelle on October 10th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      Yes, but omit the salt that is called for in the recipe.


  14. carol on October 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I made these cupcakes last week, I wasn’t impressed! The batter seemed like it was missing liquid, milk or something. Cupcakes turned out heavy and dry, missed the mark on this recipe :-(


    • Kim R. on January 6th, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      I had the same issue, but they were still very tasty. I am wondering what I did wrong or if they were supposed to be that way.


  15. yvonne on October 12, 2011 at 5:49 am

    any idea if this would be suitable for making rainbow cupcakes?
    I have a basic vanilla recipe that I love, but when i mix the gel colours in, i think too much stirring thins down the batter too much.
    Would love to try this recipe if it can withstand the stirring, what are your opinions? (:


    • Michelle on October 12th, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Yvonne, Although I haven’t tried it, I think these would be fine for rainbow cupcakes. If you make them I’d love to know how they turned out!


  16. Kristin on October 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Hi. I made these cupcakes at school for a bakesale. The cake didnt taste good and the texture was dense, but i really loved the icing. Could you give me any tips on what I did wrong?


  17. Kristin on October 20, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Your cupcakes look wonderful! Do they dome nicely when baked? I am also wondering where you buy your cupcake papers. The ones in the photo look larger than the minis you can buy at Michaels. Do they peel away from the cake after baking? Thanks.


    • Michelle on October 21st, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Kristin, Yes they do have nice domes. The mini liners in the picture came from a baking supply store; my mom bought them years ago and found a sleeve of extras and gave them to me. They do not peel away.


  18. dede on October 22, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    im so happy the i cing worked perfectly


  19. Mally on October 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    These cupcakes are delicious!!!! Made these more than a few times! the only thing I do different is add some tablespoons of vanilla pudding in the batter!


  20. su on October 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    On of my two favourite cupcake recipes thus far! Find the other one at


  21. PEARSE on October 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    PEARSE October 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm
    it came dense and heavy for me too. and the dough was very thick. I saw so many people having the same (dense) problem. . I s this recipe from Cook’s illustrated.
    please let us know why we are all getting dense cakes. the flavour is good though.are we missing a wet ingredient


  22. Tamie on November 2, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Made the cupcakes (different frosting) tonight and they are fantastic. Thanks for such a delicious, easy recipe!


  23. Jaimie Hanson on November 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    Would cake flour make the cupcakes a different texture?



    • Michelle on November 2nd, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      Hi Jaimie, Yes, cake flour would give the cupcakes a finer texture, perhaps make them a bit more prone to crumble. I haven’t tested the recipe with cake flour, so I couldn’t say for sure exactly how they would turn out.


  24. may on November 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    i made these cupcakes for my little sister’s halloween party at her pre-k class last weekend and they were a big hit with the kids & teachers! because i know kids loveee to put chocolate in everything (who wouldnt?!) i added semi bittersweet chocolate chips in 1 batch (i made 2 batches of mini cupcakes) and the ones with the chocolate chips inside were their favorites! i also put in some orange & red colorings for the frosting. may i say that they were simply delicious?! thanks for sharing!!!


  25. Debbie on November 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Hi, I am new to you website, but very interested. I am in need of a pink champagne cupcake (Daughter in laws fav) using a boxed cake mix perhaps?!? Suggestions… also on a frosting that would go with…
    Thank you!


  26. Lindsey on November 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It was simple, easy and delicious. I used it to make darling “Thing 1 and Thing 2” cupcakes for a baby shower and they were fantastic. Check out my website for the full post! I hope you don’t mind that I linked back to your website. I received so many compliments and requests for the recipe at the shower that I wanted to share.


    • Michelle on November 18th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Lindsey, Absolutely not! Thank you for sharing!


  27. Brittney on November 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    These cupcakes are really good and I freqently make them! I had just recently bought a 24 count mini-cupcake tin and I was wondering how long to bake them in that tin? I’d greatly appreciate your responce. Thanks!


    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Brittney, I would start checking them around 8 minutes to make sure they aren’t overdone. Enjoy!


  28. San San on November 28, 2011 at 1:02 am

    hi! i don’t particularly like the hint of sour cream in the cupcakes, can i substitute milk or all purpose cream instead and still get the same product?


    • Michelle on November 28th, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Neither of those will result in the moist texture that the sour cream provides. If you must substitute, I would only recommend plain yogurt.


      • San San on November 28th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

        thanks! I was also wondering, can I substitute sourcream or yogurt for the buttermilk in your red velvet cupcakes? We don’t have buttermilk here in our area..btw, the vanilla cupcakes were awesome. =)


        • Michelle on November 30th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

          I’m glad you enjoyed the cupcakes! I would not substitute for the buttermilk in the red velvet, as it has a specific reaction with the vinegar and cocoa powder.


          • San San on November 30th, 2011 at 11:04 pm

            hi! i substituted the sour cream because i really couldn’t find any buttermilk and they tasted great!=) not much in the color department though but that was okay;) i have a question though, you recommend storing them at room temperature, but i find that the next day, my cupcake tops turn that normal?the same thing happened with my vanilla cupcakes.


            • Michelle on December 1st, 2011 at 6:26 pm

              Usually that tends to happen if you store them before they are 100% cool.

  29. Caroline on November 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    These cupcakes were FANTABULOUS! my sister and i put chocolate chips from morsels into them! this recipe is great for chocolate and vanilla lovers alike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<333333333333333333333


  30. tammy bigelow on December 1, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Hi I made the cupcakes yesterday and they are real dense. I thought they would be real moist. Did I do something wrong?


    • Michelle on December 1st, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Hi Tammy, That’s so hard to gauge since there are so many variables in baking. Did you make any ingredient substitutions, did you do any techniques differently, do you have an oven thermometer to ensure that the temperature is indeed correct? Overmixing can also lead to a dense batter as well.


  31. BitchinBaker on December 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I was very excited to try this recipe because I was looking for a less complex recipe that I could easily triple. I was very disappointed in the way this batter turned out. It was thick and had an awful after taste. It resembled a bread dough, instead of a cake batter. I hate to say that I was very disappointed.


  32. Anna Grace on December 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    it looks great michelle! i always thought that vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream would be boring… you’re making me rethink that! thanks for the good recipe.. and do you have brown eyes???? okay, just kidding!!!!


  33. Missy on December 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I dont have a stand up mixer. can a hand held mixer be used and get the same result?


    • Michelle on December 12th, 2011 at 11:13 pm

      Hi Missy, Yes, definitely!


  34. Kim on December 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    What did I do wrong? Mine came out so dense they were almost not edible. I followed the recipe to the tee but not so good. Help.


    • Michelle on December 16th, 2011 at 12:17 am

      Hi Kim, Cupcakes can sometimes turn out dense due to overmixing and/or overbaking.


  35. Gretchen on December 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Delicious cupcakes! They turned out perfectly and are now one of my Top 10 favorites. Thanks again …


  36. Hannah on October 22, 2012 at 12:00 am

    There’s a hair in the first cupcake in the pic…but these look delicious, can’t wait to try them! Thank’s for the recipe!


  37. melinda on October 29, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I need to asked someone who is more experience. I try doing frosting alot of times and it is not firm enough to make the frosting “stand up”. any idea why? thanks :)


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      Hi Melinda, Without seeing the recipe(s) you’ve been using, it would be impossible for me to speculate as to why, and air temperature/humidity can also be a factor. In general, though, the more sugar, the stiffer the frosting will be.


      • melinda on November 3rd, 2012 at 11:36 am

        the ingredients was 3/4cup sugars (but i use caster sugar), 3 large egg whites, 1&1/2 stick butter and a pinch of salt.

        I don’t like my cupcakes too sweet. I did realize that most of the sugar stated in the recipe will be 2-3 cup of sugar. what do u advice if i don’t want my frosting to be too sweet and yet get a firm frosting? thanks :))


  38. Eden on October 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I made the cupcakes and buttercream frosing last night and the frosting is amazing! The cupcakes had a wonderful flavor, but for some reason mine came out very dense, like a muffin. I beat them with a and mixer ( I don’t have a stand mixer) for 30 seconds. Do you think I should have mixed the batter a bit longer? Or maybe added a bit of water? Thank you so much for both recipes. I will definitley be trying some of your other ones :)


    • Michelle on November 1st, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Hi Eden, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the frosting, but sorry the texture of these cupcakes didn’t work out for you. There are a couple of reasons that the cupcakes could turn out dense – overmixing the batter is definitely one, and although you listed a time, your mixer could have been powerful. Did you use the visual clues (smooth and satiny)? Sometimes it will take more or less of the specified time to reach the correct result, which is why using any visual clues in a recipe is useful. I hope that helps!


  39. Marie on November 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve been searching for an amazing vanilla cupcake recipe and after a few unsuccessful recipes, I tried your recipe and it was AWESOME!! I was skeptical when you mentioned the batter would be watery but wow.. Delicious! Fluffy! Moist! The perfect cupcake! I can’t wait to try your other recipes! Thank you for sharing!


  40. Caroline on November 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I have made these twice so far… Once I needed an unfrosted cupcake for my daughters Halloween party. The kids decorated and ate, all of the kids were quiet and ate every last crumb. My daughter begged me to make them again for us so I did, along with the frosting recipe and they are FANTASTIC! I have tried making cake recipes and converted to cupcakes, but they always come out flat on top and too moist. This recipe has a wonderful density and a perfect dome when baked. Also, I have been looking for a good frosting recipe and this is it. I cringed when I saw 2 sticks of butter, so I halved the frosting and it was plenty for 12 cupcakes. Thank you, this will be made in our house for a long time!!


  41. Lexi on November 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Can i replace the sour cream with whole milk?


    • Michelle on November 9th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Lexi, No, sour cream and milk have two completely different sets of properties when it comes to baking. If you need to substitute the sour cream, I would recommend plain yogurt.


  42. Silvia on November 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Michelle!
    I made your vanilla cupcakes today for a taste testing and I loved them! No dense or cornbread-like cupcake for me, thank goodness! I must admit that I was surprised that there was no milk in your recipe but decided to follow the recipe to the T, and I am glad I did! I would like to make them for a birthday, so I need to double or triple the recipe, but I am no expert baker and I don’t know how to calculate the quantities of ingredients needed for 24 or 36 cupcakes. Could you please help me with that? Thanks!


  43. Samantha on November 12, 2012 at 1:08 am

    helpp. How do i make the frosting! Just add all together and mix????


    • Michelle on November 13th, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      The instructions for the frosting are listed in the recipe above, beginning with step #4.


  44. Samantha on November 12, 2012 at 1:09 am

    helpp? How do i make the frosting ?


  45. cupcakeolo on November 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    hi! love this recipe my husband asks for it all the time! my go to vanilla cupcake! just wondering if i can make it as a cake? Thanks!


    • Michelle on November 15th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      So glad you and your husband enjoy the cupcakes! I have not used this recipe for a cake, but if you were to do so, you would need to double the recipe for an 8 or 9″ layer cake, or 9×13″ cake, and increase the baking time a little bit (I haven’t done it so I couldn’t say exactly how much).


  46. haley ahrenstorff on November 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Would the frosting work okay to dye? I am hosting a baby shower so wondered about dying blue :)


    • Michelle on December 2nd, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Hi Haley, Yes, I have dyed this frosting before, and it works great. Happy baking!


  47. Linda on December 5, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Hi, Michelle

    Can I frost the cupcakes two days before my party? Or not?


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Hi Linda, I probably would only do the day before, if you need to do it ahead. Be sure to store them in an airtight container at room temperature.


  48. Dawn on December 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    My 4 year old wanted to bake vanilla cupcakes and so I googled recipes and decided on yours. Let me tell you, we were not disappointed!! We all loved them and my husband says it’s some of the best frosting ever. YUM! Pinning now and thanks for sharing!!


  49. Dawn on December 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Oh and I subbed plain greek yogurt for the sour cream since it’s what I had on hand. A wee bit healthier and still so good! At least I tell myself it’s healthier. :)


  50. Abigail on December 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    These were so awful when I made them! I’m not sure what I did wrong- do you have any ideas? They were very heavy and the batter looked like bread dough :( I was so bummed and this recipe looked great. Help please! All of my cupcakes have turned out except these….. It had to have been me because everyone else had great reviews on them! Thanks!


Comment Pages 1 2 3 4 5 8

Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)