Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting

This was a favorite yellow cupcake recipe a few years back. Since then, I’ve worked to perfect them. My updated yellow cupcakes recipe is extra moist, soft, and packed with buttery vanilla flavor. Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, adding sour cream, and skipping the fluffy egg whites are the secrets. I would love to know if you try either recipe!

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes

Nothing beats a classic yellow cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream. And I know I’m pretty biased because sprinkles is middle name (*wishes*), but yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting taste 1,000x better when there are rainbow sprinkles on top. Am I right or am I right?

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on

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. 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.

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’s easy to make buttery, rich, moist yellow cake from scratch! And you can do it with everyday ingredients like milk, flour, sugar, and eggs. 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.

Update: And you know what? I have an even better yellow cupcakes recipe on my blog now. After seeing mixed reviews about the yellow cupcake recipe below, I worked to improve them. I’m so pleased with the new peanut butter cupcake recipe, so let me know if you try them! I’m leaving the original yellow cupcake recipe below too.

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on

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

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 2-3 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.
  3. For the richest tasting cupcakes, use whole milk or even buttermilk.
  4. This chocolate buttercream frosting is a favorite. It makes several appearances in my cookbook, too! I give some suggestions for other frostings you can use in the recipe notes, so take a peek.

No piping tip for these cupcakes, just a simple swirl using a knife.

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on

Enjoy, cupcake lovers.


Moist Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 16-18 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This was a favorite yellow cupcake recipe a few years back. Since then, I’ve worked to perfect them. My updated yellow cupcakes recipe is extra moist, soft, and packed with buttery vanilla flavor. Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, adding sour cream, and skipping the fluffy egg whites are the secrets. I would love to know if you try either recipe!


  • 2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) sifted all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (180g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • chocolate buttercream and sprinkles for decoration


  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’ll have 4-6 cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch.
  2. 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 2-3 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 over-mix. 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 over-bake.. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Prepare chocolate buttercream. Pipe or spread the frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Cake Flour: 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).
  3. Room Temperature Butter: 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. Set out 1 hour before beginning. See more about room temperature butter.
  4. Milk: For richest tasting cupcakes, I recommend whole milk or buttermilk.
  5. Frosting: Instead of chocolate buttercream, try my dark chocolate frosting, coconut frosting, vanilla frosting, Nutella frosting, peanut butter frosting, or chocolate peanut butter swirl frosting.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: yellow cupcakes

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


Comments are closed.

  1. Sally–what do you use to edit your photos? For example, on the very last picture, how you put the pink strip saying, “Homemade Yellow Cupcakes”.

  2. Hi Sally. I am sorry if this is a really stupid and blunt question, but what is the difference between a yellow cake compared to a normal cake, for example, a plain cupcake or pound cake? Is it the addition of the egg yolks, the egg white whipping or the creamed butter?
    And also, they look too good to eat *almost*!

    1. Hi Eve – I tried explaining this in the post. I find yellow cupcakes to be a little more tender, richer, more buttery in flavor than vanilla. While still buttery tasting, pound cakes have a tight, dense crumb.

  3. My work team was wanting some cupcakes and these look delicious! Have you ever made these in mini cupcakes? Just curious on the cooking time for them.

  4. Love these classic yellow cupcakes Sally! Craving for that chocolate frosting now!

  5. I haven’t been able to find the perfect yellow cake recipe, so I am definitely trying this one! It’s crazy, but I bet I’ve been through a million recipes and haven’t found it. Yours look absolutely perfect! I can never resist a classic yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. 🙂

  6. It’s pretty ironic that you posted this recipe today, since my birthday is in 3 days. These cupcakes look so cute!!! They look like they came from a bakery. I’ll have to make these. Thanks for posting, Sally!

  7. I love this classic cupcake! I often overlook yellow cake, which is surprising since I loved it as a kid. Homemade is always 100% better, and I love the technique of creaming the yolks with the butter and sugar and folding in whipped egg whites. These must be super fluffy!

  8. I love cupcakes and I totally agree: store-bought/box-mixes don’t stand a chance against homemade goodies!

  9. I’m loving your flashback to the iPhone photos you took when starting out and how you’re so transparent when you write. Your pictures, even from back than, along with your post always tell what you want to convey so well. I adore yellow cupcakes and am going to pin these and then send the pin to my daughter in the hopes that she’ll make them for my upcoming birthday(but with your peanut butter frosting, since it’s my favorite):)

  10. Hi Sally

    I love your recipes! Question about the milk. I have the lowfat buttermilk that is sold in stores. When you state that buttermilk will be the only other acceptable substitute for whole milk, are you referring to the lowfat cultured buttermilk or the bulgarian buttermilk that has more fat in it? Also, will buttermilk alter the taste or texture at all? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lisette. Either buttermilks will be fine, though higher fat is best since that will help the cupcakes become and stay moist and tender.

  11. Yes! Homemade always tastes better than the boxed stuff. These look like the perfect cupcakes with the best combination of yellow cake and milk chocolate frosting!

  12. Hi Sally! These look fantastic! I have a question about the milk chocolate frosting. I have always been a fan of the fudgy chocolate canned frosting, like Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. I am determined to not use them anymore because of the awful ingredient list. Does this frosting taste similar to that? And congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

  13. These look soooo good! You can’t beat the classic yellow cake, right? And of course the chocolate frosting!

  14. I agree. There is absolutely nothing that beats a moist yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting! Definitely my favorite dessert of all time and I can’t wait to try this recipe, Sally!

  15. I love your recipes! While I was making these today, I realized I only had a bit less than 1 cup of sugar.

  16. Hi Sally! Would heavy cream or full fat half and half work in the cake batter recipe?? I have both off these, but not the whole milk. Just curious what your thoughts are. Thanks! ; )

    1. heavy cream would make the cupcakes MUCH too heavy. I would mix half-and-half with half 1% or 2% because again, the cupcakes may be too heavy.

      1. Thank you soooo much for responding to my question! I am so glad I asked you. I haven’t made them yet because I wanted to get your thoughts first….whew! Glad I waited!

        Ok, I am just gonna get the whole milk and do it the right way (your way!); I don’t wanna screw them up by changing stuff or substituting. I’d rather just follow your directions precisely and have them turn out delicious than mess with the recipe and have them come out heavy and just wrong. Thanks again. Much appreciated. ; )


  17. I love these photos Sally! The cupcakes look perfect, exactly like the classic ones. I’m excited for you for the wedding coming soon! Congrats!

  18. Hi Sally

    I love your recipes – esp the carrot cake one – its a HIT of note.
    Can I double this recipe?? I need to make 40 cupcakes for my kid to take to school on his birthday.

    Thanks Shana

  19. Yum! There can never be too many yellow cupcake recipes for me to try. Love all of your detailed instructions. Thanks for sharing Sally!

  20. These look so yummy. I would love to add a mini cupcake to my kids lunches for a little treat. Do you know how well they freeze?

  21. I’m a chocolate loving girl, but my husband goes for vanilla treats. I think these lovely yellow cupcakes might be the perfect dessert compromise for us. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Hi Sally !
    Can you tell me the recepie of frosting which should be only of a cup in quantity not more than that as whenever i making frosting its too much in quantity and gets waste eventually

    1. I’ve actually never measured how much frosting this recipe makes. If you fear there will be way too much, simply halve the recipe.

  23. Okay, after following your blog for as long as I have, I really have no idea how I am not 300 pounds yet 😛 These look soooo good!

  24. You have inspired me to make these homemade treats for my twins upcoming birthday party instead of boxed!! Party is Sunday, if I bake them sat night and store in the fridge overnight will they be just as good? Can I make the frosting and frost on Sat too or would you wait until Sunday morn? Thanks! Cant wait!!

    1. I would frost right before serving. They are best on day 1, but stored and covered tightly at room temperature for 1 night is fine.

  25. Genuinely the most amazing Yellow Cupcakes I have ever tasted! 😀
    I find it so hard to bake a moist yellow cake, it’s always dry and crumbly.
    These are insanely good and a complete hit with my Fiancé!
    Thank you so much for sharing X

  26. Sally,

    I wanted to make my mom a bday cake using this recipe. Would a 3 qt Pyrex horizontal pan work?


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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally