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. I’ve been searching for a recipe to bake for my birthday this Sunday… and I think I have just found it in these cupcakes. They’re beautiful! Can’t wait to try them. Have been studying this all morning. Hope I nail it!

  2. Hey! I was wondering if I could make this recipe into a cake and not cupcakes? If so, would I double the recipe in order to get a two layer cake or no?

  3. Hi Sally! This recipe is amazing – such buttery, vanilla goodness!! One question though, I’ve tried the recipe twice now and my cupcakes are dense and moist rather than light and fluffy. They’ve got more of a pound cake like texture. Any idea where I’m going wrong that’s causing them to be that way? Thanks!!

    1. you may be overmeasuring your flour. an easy mistake to fix! be extra cautious and use the spoon and level method– if you are sure you are measuring correctly, feel free to reduce by 2 Tablespoons.

  4. Hello sally, is it okay to use powdered buttermilk? i dont know how much water to incorporate though. thanks.

  5. Hey Sally! I love love love your blog! Your recipes are absolutely delicious! I have a quick question. Can this milk chocolate frosting be used on top of your classic chocolate cupcakes? Thanks!

  6. So excited to try your recipe 🙂 thank you for posting this! Do you think it would work if I plop a little rafaello chocolate in the middle of the cake (so it baked inside the cupcake)?

    1. Hmm.. I think that would work! Worth a shot. You can always try it with one cupcake first. Bake it (just one in the pan!) and then see how it is. Then, bake the rest.

  7. Taste great but definitely not as pictured. You shouldn’t fill the cupcake liners even half full or you will end up with excess over the top and sides. And I made 18 cupcakes. You probably can get 20 cupcakes out of this recipe. Also experienced issues with the texture being too light and crumbly when trying to frost them. They were falling apart but I made it work. Will have to be extra careful if use this recipe again. And I followed the recipe to a tee!

  8. Great recipe however the kids complained the frosting was too salty and I have to agree! I would scale back to 1/8 tsp if I make this frosting again.

  9. Hi, Sally!! I love your recipes!! Especially the red velvet cupcakes!! I also love this recipe! I made this today and it was so moist and fluffy! Perfect yellow cupcakes! I was wondering if I can add sprinkles in the batter like in your funfetti cupcakes recipe? Really hoping for your answer!! Thank you, Sally! Please post more cupcakes and cakes recipes!

    1. Yep, you may absolutely add sprinkles to the batter. Stir them in lightly; you don’t want them to bleed their color.

  10. made these today. Half a batch just to check the flavor.
    Plan to serve this next month for my daughter’s 6th birthday.

    I love how its very fluffy, springy and yet still buttery.

    Wont be making the frosting, just a plain buttercream bec i want colored frosting to coincide with the theme of the party.

    Coincidentally, i made your funfetti cupcakes for last year’s rainbow theme.

  11. Just made these for the first time as a trial run for my son’s 5th birthday party this upcoming Saturday. OMG, so GOOD!!! So light and buttery. Absolute winner! Thanks for this recipe Sally!

  12. Hey Sally, this recipe looks great, and I’ve already started it however the recipe calls for 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar that seems like an awful lot of sugar, am I meant to use all of that in the cupcakes?

    1. Yes. This recipe makes 16 cupcakes; that amount of sugar is relatively normal for a large batch recipe.

  13. These were a fail for me. The batter was perfect but I must have overfilled the cupcake liners because they completely overflowed while baking even though I made 20 cupcakes. After I tried to take them out of the pan, they completely broke away form the liner. This is the first recipe that didn’t work for me from this website 🙁 I will be using the cake to make cape pops.

  14. Hi Sally!
    I love your blog. Really enjoy reading all your recipes.
    I’ve tried to make these cupcakes twice but mines seem to cave in the middle of the cupcake. Where as yours are nice and fluffy and curve shape.
    Do you know what I can do to fix this problem?
    Thank you

    1. Bonnie, your cupcakes could be underbaked. I would (1) check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer. They are very inexpensive and will save many, many failed batches of cookies, cakes, cupcakes, etc. It’s the most important tool in my kitchen. (2) Bake for a couple minutes longer.

  15. Hi Sally! I can’t wait to try these cupcakes! Hey, I heard that you can substitute oil for melted butter, which I actually often do. Yes,yes I know you’re not supposed to do that for softened butter, but… well, Ill only have 100 grams of butter left after making the frosting. So can I just add some oil to the butter? Will it turn out fine?Thanks, Amy James.

  16. Sally,
    I made way to much batter and don’t have time to bake all of it tonight. Can I refrigerate or freeze the batter? For how long?

    Thanks from sunny Israel!

    1. The batter can be covered and refrigerated but not for too long. I would bake the rest of the cupcakes as soon as you can.

  17. These cupcakes are my favourite! Though the sponge is a little too moist.. What can I do for that? I beat the batter for above 3 mins but still the sponge wasn’t that light like it looks in your pictures. Taste is great though

  18. Sally, I want to use this recipe to make two cakes, using 8 inch x 3 inch pans. Should I double the recipe?

  19. I really wanted to make a coconut cake, but I only use your recipes! Would I be able to make this but substitute the milk with coconut milk and then add a coconut frosting? Would it work?

    1. That should work! Here is my favorite coconut frosting recipe:

    1. I’m unsure. Here is my recipe for apple upside down cake.

      1. What about substituting all purpose flour with cake flour. I like cake flour for my pound cakes because it makes a lighter crumb. But I have never tried it for a regular cake.

  20. I made these tonight for a Valentines treat for my nine kiddos. I topped them with a pink cream-cheese icing. They are very yummy and taste somewhere between a sugar cookie and an airy scone. Very light and fluffy!

  21. Hi……your recipes are really awesome……I always make cake with ready mix but know tried three of your cupcake recipe including this one and they all turned very very very good…….thank you…..

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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