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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

Homemade Yellow Cupcakes Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

Enjoy, cupcake lovers.

Print

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

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

279 Comments

Comments are closed.

    1. I have an egg separator, but simply cracking the egg white into 1 bowl while holding the egg yolk in the shell works just fine here.

  1. Yellow cake + chocolate frosting is a heavenly combination. Can’t wait to try your new recipe!

  2. These cupcakes look so perfect! I’ve been on the hunt for a yellow cupcake recipe, I just might have to try yours!! Pinned!

  3. Hi Sally,
    These look amazing. Just 2 questions I have.
    1) while the first batch is baking should I keep the batter in tHe fridge?
    2) once iced, should I keep the cupcakes in the fridge overnight cos of the milk in the frosting?
    Thanks so much. I love your blog. Wishing you the best for your big day.

    1. The batter may be left at room temperature. Please see storing instructions in my recipe for the cupcakes. Enjoy!

      1. Just thought I would follow-up. I made these for a picnic with a few families attending. I managed to get 18 cupcakes out of the batter, and I halved the icing as we only like a thin layer. It was so great. Demolished by adults and kids. A really yummy yellow cupcake, and the icing complemented it great. Thank you Sally. I love the fact that all your recipes work so well.

  4. hi sally, this frosting looks delicious <3 i have one doubt the frosting..
    you've mentioned "Turn mixer to medium speed and add the vanilla and cream"
    but in india heavy cream isn't available easily.. so i should the milk instead of cream, right?
    awaiting your reply.
    thanks, nishita

  5. I just made these, and I wasn’t super thrilled with them. They were fine, just not as excellent as lot of other recipes. The cupcakes were whiter than I expected from a yellow cake, and they were very fragile. I wouldn’t recommend trying to travel with these cupcakes. They had a great flavor though, and the icing was awesome. If you’re looking for a very light and airy cupcake, this is a good choice. If you’re looking for something for a kids’ birthday party, I recommend trying a different recipe.

  6. Hi, love your recipes!
    One question though, does granulated sugar mean castor sugar (uk) or normal everyday sugar?
    Thank you

    1. Granulated sugar is just everyday white sugar. What you would spoon into coffee. Castor sugar is much more fine.

  7. These look amazing! I am a classic dessert kind of gal, and these definitely rank as a classic. My sister-in-law is coming to visit for a few days, and I think I’ll have a batch of these yummy, beautiful, cupcakes waiting. I love that everything is from scratch, cause that’s how I roll.

  8. Oh, these are GOOOOD! I made them just the way you wrote the recipe, and they are delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Soooooo a tip…don’t over fill the cupcakes! I’m making them now for my daughter’s first birthday party!

  10. So I just made these today and I followed the recipe to the T! I was able to get 24 standard size cupcakes from the recipe. I’m not a fan of these, which made me sad cause i love the other recipes on here. Mine came out a little too sweet tasting for me. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or if they should be sweet. help?

    Question: can you substitute the milk for sour cream? Im just wondering if the sour cream will help keep it moist and maybe help with downplaying the sweetness.

    1. Hi Stefanie. Yep, these cupcakes are supposed to be sweet. However, feel free to reduce the sugar to your liking. It’s an easy recipe to adapt to fit your tastes. I don’t suggest 1 whole cup of sour cream. The cupcakes may be a little heavy tasting. How about 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup milk.

  11. Hi Sally, welcome back – congratulations on your marriage! Your honeymoon sounds fantastic! I wanted to let you know that I have made this cake several ways, mostly as 9-inch cakes; frosted with icing, crusted with sliced almonds & currants (awesome “plain” cake with coffee), swirled with Nutella etc. This is a keeper recipe for a yellow cake – it is moist and flavorful and simply yummy! I love it best with buttermilk in lieu of the whole milk. Thank you for yet another killer basic recipe!

  12. I always halve a cupcake recipe when I try it for the first time, just in case they are sub-par. I halved this one, and I went against my better judgement and filled 8 cupcake liners (since that is half of 16, and that’s what the recipe says), even though the batter could have filled 9 or even 10 liners. They were a little over-filled and came out of the oven a little over the sides of the liners. But they are cooling and smell divine – I added a little extra vanilla in the form of vanilla paste. I’ll let you know how they taste! 🙂

    1. They tasted great! Not what I thought a yellow cake would taste like – I thought it would be more dense and buttery and a little more yellow, but a very delicious cupcake. Moist, soft, fluffy, and delicate. 🙂 Next time I will use whole milk – all I had was our standard household 1%. 😛

  13. I’m an amateur and totally loving this new world of baking (thank you for all the inspiration) .. so I’m wondering why my egg whites haven’t become fluffy and thick like yours??? What could I be doing wrong?

    1. Hi Zone, just read your comment and if I can make a suggestion; if any fat at all got into the egg whites they will not whip up. (residue in bowl or best, egg yolk by accident etc… ) hope this helps

  14. Hi Sally,
    I love many of your recipes. I made these cupcakes today. I love the flavor, but they stuck so badly to the liner, I only got about 1.5 bites out of it. I feel bad because I sent them to my son’s preschool class before realizing this problem! Is this due to an error I made with the batter? Or bad liners? If I had known, I would have sprayed them, but I don’t typically have to spray liners for cupcakes. Just wondering what you think. Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    1. Hmm. I don’t think the cupcakes are the issue – I’ve never had this problem and I use all sorts of liners. So sorry Kristina. I would spray them next time. Thank you!

  15. Thank you for this frosting recipe! Needed something a bit more richer than just some chocolate buttercream; this tastes like frosting out of the can, which I love!!

  16. I just made these cupcakes, the cake part was SUPER good ! They were very moist, however the frosting wasn’t that great, I only added a 1/4 tsp of salt because I thought 1/2 tsp of salt was way to much..it probably only needed a PINCH of salt, I think taking out the salt completely would make the cupcakes overall taste much better.

  17. hi Sally! The first time I made this recipe came out perfect, but when I made them yesterday they all sloped down in the middle so there was a big dent in the center of the cupcake. I retried after the first time but then it happened again. I checked and double checked so I’m fairly certain I used all the right ingredients and measurements… Do you have any idea what might have gone wrong?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Olivia, sounds like they were underbaked. If you try again, tack on a couple more minutes of bake time. Also, replacing baking powder would be a good idea. It expires after 6 months, but I replace every 3. Fresh is best.

  18. These are amazing!!! Really delicious. I look forward to trying your other recipes 🙂 I have a question, did I overcook mine that they’re crunchy on the top,? Yours look nice & soft. How do I do that?! Ps..appreciate the metric conversion 🙂

      1. Great thanks 🙂 is your temp based on a fan oven? I used fan & converted to C so I did 165c.. maybe that caused an issue too if I was wrong there

  19. so i did these cupcakes today i just tweaked it a bit and used splenda instead of sugar so it was more of a white then a yellow which is fine for i baked half the recipe in the shape of bones for my doggie’s 2nd birthday!!!!

  20. just made the icing tonight for some Halloween cupcakes. I added a tsp of espresso powder and the icing is delicious. I love the consistency to: easy to spread but has enough body to stand up. This may become my go to milk chocolate frosting recipe from now on.

  21. Absolutely marvellous cupcakes. So moist! So fluffy!! I added orange dye to mine, and orange flavouring. With chocolate chips and the frosting it was scrummy for Halloween:-) I made them with buttermilk (rather, semi skimmed with vinegar) and reduced the sugar. Definitely my go to for all cakes now (your classic chocolate cupcake is my go to for choccy cake. I made my daughter one covered in pink frosting for her second birthday!)

  22. Sally I love you!
    I made this recipe because im starting to sell mini cupcakes in college to save some $$
    I added only 1 and 2/4 cups of sugar and added an extra egg yolk because eggs here are tiny (Nicaragua, yes you have a fan here! lol)
    The combination of the moist cake and chocolate frosting is amazing! everyone loved them and sold them all! thanks for sharing!
    – Andrea

  23. Hey Sally!
    I’m going to try to kill two birds with one stone with this comment, hopefully that’s okay. First off, I’m making these cupcakes as a 8in round cake later this week. I’m supposed to be giving it away on Friday but do not have time Thursday night to make the entire cake (at most I would have time to frost). Would you approve of baking the cake on Wednesday and storing it in an air tight container until Friday afternoon? And would you refrigerate or just leave out?

    Secondly, I’m also making some raisinet oatmeal cookies soon (my boyfriend almost drools over the thought of these). I’ve read three of your oatmeal cookie recipes and two of them call for molasses and one (the raisinet recipe) doesn’t. What is the reasoning for this?

    1. Paula, you can make the yellow cake two days in advance. Cover tightly and store at room temperature. You can also make the frosting in advance, cover, refrigerate, let it soften at room temperature for 1 hour and then frost the day before. I’ve recently started to add a slight touch of molasses to oatmeal cookies in the past year- I like its flavor.

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