Moist Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting.

These super moist yellow cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting reign supreme in the dessert world. Soft, fluffy, and bursting with buttery flavor. Homemade tastes 1,000x better than a box!

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes

It’s been a few years since I made classic yellow cupcakes. If you click over, you will see that I clearly used an iPhone in the first few months of my blog’s life. My eyes hurt.

Nothing, and I mean nothing beats a classic yellow cupcake topped with milk chocolate frosting. And I know I’m pretty biased because sprinkles is my middle name (not really but it should be), but yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting taste 1,000x better when there are rainbow sprinkles on top. Am I right or amIright?

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

To celebrate the wedding getting sooo close, I set out to make a brand new recipe for yellow cupcakes. Though my original recipe is quite impressive, sometimes change is a good thing. And I clearly need some updated photos.

Yellow cupcakes are about as classic as apple pie. As iconic as chocolate chip cookies and as supreme as chocolate cake. I can’t remember a single birthday without a yellow cupcake covered in creamy chocolate frosting.

The homemade yellow cupcakes I remember from growing up are rich, tender, moist little versions of yellow sheet cake. Covered with mounds of whipped, luscious chocolate frosting. Each bite seemed to completely melt in my mouth – though most of it ended up on my face and fingers. All good desserts are messy.

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Before you go reaching for boxed mixes and canned frosting, take 2 seconds to read this sentence: NOTHING beats the flavor of a homemade yellow cupcake. If you’re shaking your head doubting your cupcake baking skills, let me tell you that it is not impossible to make a buttery, rich, moist yellow cake from scratch! And you can do it with everyday ingredients like milk, flour, sugar, and eggs. You can! You can.

These yellow cupcakes taste quite similar to my very vanilla cupcakes, but have a fluffier texture. Less vanilla flavor, more buttery flavor. They’re darker in color and richer in taste (thanks to the egg yolks). My yellow cupcakes require a little more patience and a few more steps, but once you take that first bite – it is soooo worth it.

Let’s dive in. ↓

Homemade Milk Chocolate Frosting - smooth, velvety, and rich! Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

A few things:

(1) The butter and sugar are creamed together. I find this creates a cakier tasting cupcake with a lighter crumb. Make sure you beat the butter and sugar together until they are nice and fluffy. At least 3 minutes. It seems like a long time, but trust me. You are beating air into the mixture which produces a lighter textured cake.

(2) Separate the eggs. I tested a few methods these past few weeks and went through nearly 1 dozen eggs in my yellow cupcake mission. I found the fluffiest texture is produced when the egg yolks are mixed with the creamed butter/sugar. And the egg whites are whipped to a foamy, thick texture and then folded into the batter right before baking.

See photo of whipped egg whites below the recipe for a visual.

(3) Use whole milk. Not skim, almond, coconut, 1%, 2%, etc. If you want a rich taste and a moist texture, whole milk will get you there. I rarely have whole milk, so I know it’s annoying to go out and buy it for one recipe. But luckily you can use extras to make these pancakes, this quiche, this cake, and this french toast. If you want your cupcakes to taste like mine, use whole milk. **Buttermilk would be the only other acceptable liquid.

(4) This milk chocolate frosting is a reader favorite. It makes several appearances in my cookbook and is one of my personal favorites. Plus, it’s so easy to make. I give some suggestions for other frostings you may use in the recipe notes, so take a peek.

No piping tip for these cupcakes, just a simple swirl of milk chocolate frosting using a knife. I suggest this cupcake icing knife. Inexpensive and easy to use.

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

In addition to the 4 notes above, I wrote lots of helpful notes for you at the bottom of the recipe. Be sure to read them before beginning. I want your cupcakes to be a huge success! I also took a few step-by-step photos for you as a guide. See them below the recipe.

Enjoy, cupcake lovers.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

Moist Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting

These super moist yellow cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting reign supreme in the dessert world. Soft, fluffy, and bursting with buttery flavor. Homemade tastes 1,000x better than a box!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) sifted all-purpose flour1 (measured correctly)
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (180g) unsalted butter, softened too room temperature2
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, room temperature3

 Milk Chocolate Frosting4

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
  • rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe only makes 16-18 cupcakes, so you will have 4-6 cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch. Please read notes about mini cupcakes.
  2. Make the cupcakes: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat 2 egg whites on high speed in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. You want them very fluffy; no liquid at the bottom of the bowl (which makes for too much liquid in the batter). See photo at the bottom of this post for a visual. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add two egg yolks and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold whipped egg whites into cupcake batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  5. Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling halfway full. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine usually take 21 minutes. Don't overbake; your cupcakes will dry out. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 2 full minutes. This creates a creamy base for the frosting. Turn speed to low and slowly add 3 cups of confectioners' sugar, the cocoa powder, and salt. Beat until sugar/cocoa are absorbed into the butter, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to medium speed and add the vanilla and cream. Once added, turn the mixer to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add the last 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar if you'd like to increase the frosting's thickness. Pipe or spread the frosting onto cooled cupcakes. I used this cupcake icing knife. Decorate with sprinkles.
  7. Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Decorate/assemble cupcakes immediately before serving. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3 days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Readers have asked if cake flour can be used instead of all-purpose flour. Yes, absolutely! I recommend 2 and 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (you'll need a little more than if you were using all-purpose).
  2. Do not try speeding up the process of allowing your butter to come to room temperature by microwaving. I never suggest doing this! Butter must be softened, but not melty in the slightest. You should be able to press your finger into the stick of butter and make an indent easily, without your finger sliding anywhere. Firm, but not cold. Like this. Simply set out 1 hour before beginning.
  3. If you want your cupcakes to taste like mine, use whole milk. Not skim, 1%, 2%, almond, soy, etc. Buttermilk would be the only other acceptable liquid.
  4. Instead of milk chocolate frosting, try my dark chocolate frosting, coconut frosting, vanilla frosting, Nutella frosting, peanut butter frosting, or chocolate peanut butter swirl frosting.

Layer cake: You can easily turn this into a yellow layer cake. Simply pour batter into two greased and (lightly) floured 9-inch cake pans and bake for 27-35 minutes. Cakes are done when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Frost as desired.

Mini cupcakes: For around 40 mini cupcakes, line mini cupcake pans with liners or spray with nonstick spray. Prepare cupcakes and frosting as directed. Bake mini cupcakes for 12-13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Make sure your egg whites are thick and foamy after beating and before folding into the cupcake batter. Like this:

How to make Homemade Yellow Cupcakes

The cupcake batter is smooth, velvety, and slightly thick. It is very easy to spoon into the cupcake liners.

How to make Homemade Yellow Cupcakes

The yellow cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and when the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched.

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

313 comments

  1. This recipe is my absolute go to! Its so versatile, I’ve used it for the normal yellow cake, the base for cookies dough cupcakes, orange creamsicle cupcakes and just finished some watermelon cupcakes! It is SO perfect every single time. I always use almond milk with a splash of heavy cream in place of the whole milk and it is just as great. I look forward to trying more of your suggestions, thank you for sharing!!

  2. I was so looking forward to these cupcakes for my daughters baby shower yesterday.  I made them on Saturday following the recipe exactly as written and they were a disaster.  They were not only flat, they stuck to the cupcake liners and were extremely greasy.  I could not use them at all.  I wondered if the ingredient measurements are off.  What a disappointment not to mention a waste of time.  Luckily I was able to locate a similar recipe in my King Arthur cookbook which saved me.  The King Arthur cupcakes turned out fine so I know it wasn’t my baking powder.  So, I guess I just wonder what could have been wrong with this recipe?  I’ve made other things from this website and have been pleased.  Any ideas on what the problem could have been would be appreciated so I can avoid this from ever happening in the future.

    • So sad to hear that, but there’s actually a rescue to your cupcakes, if you don’t let it go to the trash. Break your cupcakes into crumbs and add some white frosting into it, until it turns into a wet sand that holds shape well, form it into balls, chill, and dip it into some melted chocolate! And now you have delicious cake pops to rescue your cupcakes.

  3. Another homerun, Sally! I had to make cupcakes for a luncheon for the children getting promoted at church & instantly thought of yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing. Like you, they take me right back to my childhood. They were a huge hit with the children & adults alike!
    Your recipes never disappoint!

  4. It sounds lovely!!!

  5. BEST cupcakes ever! Sally, thank you so much for this recipe. I made two batches last weekend for a birthday party and several people asked me for the recipe. I love how soft the cupcakes are. And the flavor is outstanding.

  6. These were sooooooooo good slight question though: am I the only one who got WAY more then 18 cupcakes? I ended up with 30 cupcakes and 20 mini cupcakes! (Not that I’m complaining) I would recommend to anyone else to make half batch if you actually want 18 haha

    • That happens to me too. I thought I was doing something wrong. I’m not sure how others only get 12-18. So I cut the recipe in half usually.

  7. hi, sally! I made this cupcakes yesterday and even though they tasted beautiful, the had a crack in the middle and it didn’t rise evenly. it always happens to me with cupcakes. is it because the oven is too hot? i’ll try to buy an oven thermometer. thank you and have a lovely day!

  8. Hi Sally,
    I love these cupcakes but am looking to make a sheet cake in the same combination.  Do you think this recipe would work for that? 

    Thanks!

  9. I forgot to tell you Sally, that we made these cupcakes on Friday night! It was my niece’s birthday and the birthday girl herself wanted to help out in the kitchen. We all had a ball making these from scratch. The cupcakes are moist and light as your describe. Thank you for sharing this one!
    I saw one commenter say the cupcakes turned out greasy. Ours weren’t like that at all but I wonder if her softened butter was melted. I mean even the smallest bit melted. I like to only have butter out for 30 minutes before creaming it. Any more than that and the creamed sugar/butter becomes greasy. 

  10. These cupcakes are divine! They are defintely going to be my go-to cupcakes. I frosted them with the leftover orange buttercream I had and ran out of frosting midway, but that’s okay because these babies taste delicious on its own. In fact, they are so wonderful that I’m planning to make another batch next week with your salted caramel frosting recipe! 

  11. Hi Sally,

    I love this recipe! The cupcakes come out fluffy and moist every time. I do have a lot trouble with the frosting though. My frosting always comes out very light brown which ruins the presentation. Any idea what I might be doing wrong? Also there is always a slight salty aftertaste with the frosting. Am I not mixing it long enough? 

    • Hi Nit! Mixing wouldn’t be the issue. You can try adding more cocoa powder and, as a result of the extra, you can add an extra Tablespoon of cream. Or you can switch out some of the confectioners’ sugar for cocoa. And feel free to leave out the salt.

  12. hey Sally, well I’m planning to bake these vanilla cupcakes for my friends birthday, am I instead of whole milk can I use buttermilk? did I understand your notes right? 🙂 thank you! 😀

  13. Is there a chocolate cake variant to this?  My son has asked for a half yellow/half chocolate sheet cake for his birthday.  If I could keep the base recipes consistent, that would help with baking, taste, and presentation.  Thanks!

  14. I made the two layer cake and followed the recipe but I found two problems with mine; 
    1. The batter was kind of thick, it was smooth but very hard to get into the pan. 
    2. When the cake came was done I tried it and it was moist but broke apart very easily. 

    Do you have any suggestions to what I did wrong or could do differently ? 

    • Karissa- I’m concerned about how thick your batter was. It’s supposed to be thick, but still manageable to easily transfer to the pans. I recommend spooning and leveling your flour and perhaps reduce by 2-3 Tbsp total. A dry cake resulting from too much flour would make it crumbly.

  15. My son has severe peanut/tree nut allergies so for the last 3 years I have had to bake cupcakes for every party at school/home/outings and this is by far the best cupcake recipe I have found yet, thank you for your detailed instructions and the amazing recipe!

  16. Would I be able to add food coloring to this cupcake recipe and also to your vanilla frosting recipe?

  17. Followed the recipe to a T. These were EXCELLENT. Not as yellow as yellow box cakes, but still, perfect. Thanks for a great recipe!

  18. While tasty, these did not turn out as expected. They taste like sugar cookies, and not yellow cake. They also fell in the center. I have the second tray in the oven now. I used a hand mixer on he left over batter to try and activate the gluten…. See if that helps with the fall 

  19. I just made these and for some reason they are over flowing.  I made about 18.  They are all sunken in and still not done with even 18 min of baking.  I think it’s the egg whites that I just don’t do well with. Going out to get a box mix which never fails.  I’m so bummed!  🙁

    • Same thing happened to me, made these yesterday and they were a disaster. They basically boiled over on to the pan and then sunk. Personally I thinkthe recipe   has too much moisture. I also had to break out the box mix and I’m sad that I wasted my ingredients and time on this one. I wish I would have read through the comments before starting!

      • I think you softened the butter for too long, because the slightest melted butter will make the cupcakes greasy. Do you microwaved your butter to fasten the  softening procces?

  20. By far the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. Box cake mixes do not compare! I just read that others have problems with the cupcakes sinking. I’ve had that happen to me as a result of not whipping the egg whites long enough. Fluffy beaten egg whites are necessary. Thanks for sharing,. I want to try these with your white chocolate frosting next.

  21. I am disappointed in this recipe and I am wondering what went wrong! I wound up baking these cupcakes for about 23 minutes, and I let them sit for 5 minutes after. They were difficult to get out of the muffin tin without breaking oh smashing! I feel like they are still a bit dense and underdone. What do you think went wrong? I did not tweak the recipe at all. I

    • Did you use cupcake liners or not? For making cupcakes, you should always use cupcake liners to not to let them stick to the pan. I’ve tried making another cupcake recipe without the liners and it sticks like crazy, just like yours.

  22. What would be the conversion for cake flour?

  23. This was one of the best yellow cake recipes I have ever tried!  I made a cake instead of cupcakes and it was a hit!

  24. This is what I have been looking for! I was just about to come to the conclusion that maybe you could get great flavor from scratch yellow cupcakes, but not great texture. You saved me from thinking I would always end up having to tweak a box. I was so tired of testing recipes and wasting ingredients. I saw your pics and thought I’d give it one more shot., and I’m so glad I did. I just made them, and they are excellent! They are delicious, moist and fluffy and not at all dense or “cornbready.”  I’m so glad I came across this recipe before throwing in the towel!

  25. Hi Sally,

    I love your Yellow Cupcake Recipe! I want to use your recipe for my daughter’s Smash Cake, but I want to bake using a 6″ round cake pan. Would you happen to know how long I should bake the cake for? 

    • I’m not 100% sure, but I’d say about 30ish minutes @ 350F, give or take.

      • Thank you, Sally. One more question please; Is it ok to make the chocolate frosting more than one day in advance? If so, how many days in advance can I make the frosting?

  26. Hi Sally. I have just tried this recipe and 28 cupcakes, they look delicious, kinda flat topped, but I’m hoping they’ll taste as wonderful as they look. I am about to start the frosting. These cupcakes are for a kiddies party tomorrow. Can I frost the cupcakes following this recipe, freeze till tomorrow morning to take to the party, which is 2 hrs away, so will have thawed?
    I must say this, I have followed your chocolate fudge brownies and it’s been a great hit! My friends and colleagues absolutely love it. 

  27. I just made these cupcakes and was sad about the outcome! 🙁 I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, but I found that the cupcake was sticking to the liner cups so that when I went to peel off the cup the cupcake crumbled! Any tips would be appreciated!

  28. I was super disappointed with how these turned out. I followed the directions exactly, made 18 cupcakes, and they were a MESS coming out of the oven. To me, this recipe should have made 24 cupcakes to look the pictures. Mine were flat, spilled out over the liners, and burned onto the pan. I made them for my gender reveal, so I needed something tasty AND pretty, but they’re easily the worst looking thing I’ve ever made. 

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