Homemade vanilla cupcakes are tender, moist, and made entirely from scratch. These yellow cupcakes are topped with a sweet and velvety American buttercream frosting.
This recipe for vanilla homemade cupcakes makes the perfect birthday cupcake. Made with simple, easy to find ingredients, these cupcakes turn out perfect every time.
They're incredibly moist, tender, and soft - the perfect homemade cupcake recipe. And after many reader requests, I've even made this recipe into a sheet cake - vanilla sheet cake (with directions for 3 pan sizes!).
I've topped these cupcakes with an American buttercream frosting. Another great option is my chocolate buttercream frosting. Buttercream frosting is very sweet, like a bakery frosting. If you'd like a less sweet option, try making a light homemade whipped cream for topping your cupcakes instead.
Yes, this recipe can be made with all-purpose flour. However, your cupcakes will turn out with a coarser texture when using all-purpose flour, which is why I highly recommend using cake flour instead.
Using cake flour will give you a more tender cupcake. Cake flour is made for baking cakes, so why not grab a box to keep on hand in your home?
I like to use Swans Down cake flour, because it's easy to find in all of my local grocery stores. One box is only a few dollars, and in my experience, makes a world of difference when baking cakes.
Room temperature ingredients
For this recipe, you'll need room temperature eggs, milk, and butter.
Room temperature ingredients are important because your ingredients will cream together smoothly, without lumps. This helps to ensure your cupcakes turn out perfectly, every time.
Simply place these ingredients on the counter top about an hour before you begin baking.
Cupcake tips and tricks
Be sure not to over-mix your batter, because this adds extra air to your batter. When your cupcakes bake, they will rise quickly, then sink in the middle due to the excess air.
If using a hand mixer, mix your batter on low speed. Or, use a spoon or spatula instead.
I also recommend allowing your cupcakes to cool completely before unwrapping or frosting. Unwrapping a warm cupcake will cause the cupcake to stick to the paper liners.
Frosting a warm cupcake may melt your frosting, especially if you're using a butter based frosting like buttercream.
Portioning cupcake batter
I use a large cookie scoop to make sure each cupcake is the same size. If you don't have one, it holds 3 tablespoons of batter.
This recipe will make enough batter for 15 cupcakes using my measuring method above. If you only have a 12 cupcake pan, do not distribute all of the batter between 12 cupcakes. Your batter will spill over the edges when baking.
Instead, Evenly fill your 12 cupcake liners, bake, and discard the rest of the batter (or bake a second batch of 3). I like to keep a 24 cupcake pan on hand for these occasions.
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting - sweet, traditional buttercream frosting
- American Buttercream Frosting - sweet, traditional buttercream frosting (this recipe is included below)
- Whipped Buttercream Frosting - fluffier than a traditional buttercream
- Homemade Whipped Cream - light and much less sweet than buttercream
Any buttercream frosting is great for piping or knife decorating - they're very easy to work with. Traditional buttercream frostings are also very sweet, so you could use less (if you want) to top your cupcakes.
For years I've used this simple Wilton Cupcake Decorating Kit to decorate my cupcakes. It comes with four piping tips, bags, and easy to read instructions. I also purchased this additional coupler to make it easy secure the piping tips and to change out tips halfway through decorating.
Whipped cream is a less sweet option that can easily be dolloped on top of each cupcake.
Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup milk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
American Buttercream Frosting
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with liners, set aside.
- In a bowl, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add butter and sugar. Beat until creamed and fluffy.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated and smooth.
- Add half of your dry ingredients to butter mixture. Stir until just combined. Add half of milk, again stirring until just combined. Repeat once more, adding remaining dry ingredients, and remaining milk, stirring until just incorporated.
- Portion batter between 15 cupcake liners, filling about halfway full. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
American Buttercream Frosting
- In a large bowl, add room temperature butter and beat until creamy, about 1 minute.
- Add confectioner's sugar and slowly mix until ingredients are fully combined. Then, whip at high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Add vanilla extract and heavy cream, then whip until fluffy, another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pipe or spread frosting with a knife onto cupcakes and serve.
- Cupcakes are best served the same day of baking, but will remain moist for up to 48 hours when covered in a sealed container.
- This recipe can be made with all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, but the texture will be coarser and cupcakes will not turn out as tender. I highly recommend using cake flour.
- The frosting recipe will make enough to pipe tall, dramatic frosting onto each cupcake (like shown in the photos). If you'd like to make less frosting and spread on with a knife, cut the recipe in half.