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

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  1. Hot dam, these are good. I used a different frosting (essentially whipped chocolate ganache made with heavy cream and dark chocolate), but followed the cake recipe exactly and they were perfect. Moist, perfectly puffed, nice toasty crispety edge where it spread over the top. Made exactly 16. Thank you!

  2. I found that it makes a lot more than 16. Not sure if I had the wrong size pans or something but I ended up with 16 cupcakes that were overflowing like crazy! Regardless, these taste great! The Icing is really tasty, too! Next time I’ll make sure I don’t put too much in the cups, because I’ll definitely be trying these again! 🙂

  3. Could this recipe be used to make a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake? If so, would the baking temperature and time be different?

  4. Your recipes are amazing! I made some of them and my officemates and i loved it! God bless you, Miss Sally! Love from the Philippines <3

  5. I’m so sad, my attempt did not turN out. My cupcakes crumble when you try to remove them from the paper. They simply fall apart. They taste great! I have no idea what I could have done wrong, I make cupcakes all the time. Regardless, they taste yummy, and I’ll try again. Love your recipes 🙂

  6. I was so happy to find a recipe so detailed as yours. Most recipes I tested ended up dry, or heavy, or both. But I managed to ruin your lovely recipe by opening the oven too soon (to take a tray of chocolate cupcake off)… I literally saw my cupcakes sinking one by one… 🙁 So sad and frustrating….
    I’ll try again this wweek, but let my mistake be an example by other clumsy cooks 😛

  7. Hi Sally,

    I tried making this into a cake last night and failed =( The cake looked and tasted amazing but stuck to the bottom of my pans and when I tried to take them out just turned into a mess; I sprayed them thoroughly with Pam so I’m not sure what else to do. I want to try again tonight; do you have any suggestions on how to prevent my cake from sticking?

    Thanks!!
    -Kimie

    1. Hi Kimie. I would spray with Pam and lightly dust the inside of the pans with flour. This should help.

  8. I made these last night as mini-cupcakes for a party and they were absolutely delicious. Followed the recipe to a T. Had no problem with sticking (make sure not to overbake!). Thanks for the great recipe!

  9. These cupcakes were AMAZING! I made them for my church’s youth group…and they were a hit! I even heard one boy ask “Whoever made those cupcakes, will you be my wife?” I found that to be hilarious… I also did some with both vanilla and chocoate icing so they looked like yin and yang cupcakes. Very cute and yummy! This recipe is definitely a keeper! 🙂

  10. I have been looking for a yellow cupcake recipe from scratch and am so happy I found this one! I normally would have followed the recipe to a T but after my butter had softened I realized I was almost out of all purpose flour, so I subbed one cup whole wheat flour and they still turned out so amazing! I also only had 2% milk so I subbed it with a half heavy cream/ half half & half (that’s alot of halves lol) mix. I don’t know why I thought that would be ok but they are delicious so it worked! I can’t wait to make them again the way the recipe calls for. Thank you a million times for this recipe!

  11. This recipe is absolutely fabulous. I have never had a good chocolate buttercream. You have renewed my faith! Thank you so much!

  12. Hi Sally! I have been obsessed with your recipes for a while now. I want to make all of them! But i have only made your famous chocolate chip cookies and these yellow cupcakes so far. I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe! At my school, we have a Culinary Arts class and we made yellow cupcakes from a different recipe, but ours turned out dry and crispy on the edges, it was terrible. So I wanted to try out your recipe at home and they were tasty and easy to make! I cannot stop making cupcakes now, haha. Again, thank you! 🙂

  13. Would you have any concerns or advice in tripling the recipe? I know some baking recipes require a little bit of tweaking. I need a good yellow cupcake for a charity event this weekend. Thanks. -Baked For You

    1. For cupcakes, I usually recommend making separate batches. Working with smaller portions of batter helps avoid the chance of overmixing (dense cupcakes).

  14. Hi Sally, I just tried these cupcakes and they are amazing. I am a very popular gal now both at work and at home. I have started a blog to practice my photography, writing and baking. I would love for you to check out how my version of your cupcakes turned out 🙂 The cupcake batter is a winner! thank you again. x

  15. Delicious! Mine turned out great except they weren’t as yellow as yours…but they taste good and I love the frosting!

  16. This the BEST cupcake recipe, I have tried many before and the cakes were dense. This has truly restored my faith in making cupcakes. In fact a guy at work wanted some cakes for his girlfriend Bparty I used this recipe and was given high praise for texture and taste. I was out of icing sugar, so I used store bought.

    I too was so impressed by its taste I and my daughter made another batch last night with milk chocolate frosting ( I made sure and stop over at the supermarket and buy the icing sugar). The frosting recipe yielded so much that I have for another batch.

    My second batch yielded 20 cupcakes standard size.
    Thanks for making me fantastic tried tested and excellent cupcake recipe .

  17. I just want to say that i love your recipes and i love you! You are the best! I did want to ask can this recipe be doubled or even tripled? Will that alter the taste? I want to make a tiered cake and ive been searching high and low for the ultimate yellow recipe! Also if this is a cake made in advance how can it be stored?

    1. Keira, use this yellow/vanilla cake recipe instead because it is developed to make much more batter: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/04/29/how-to-make-a-pinata-cake/

    1. Absolutely! You can try this frosting. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/06/03/classic-chocolate-cupcakes-with-vanilla-frosting/

  18. These did not turn out for me. I had flat, spread out tops that resembeled sugar cookies. We loved the batter, but may need to make some adjustments. Thanks for the advice above, I’ll give it another try. Like many others have commented, your recipes have never failed before including the pastry that is a family favorite.

  19. Hi Sally! I can’t tell you how much I loooooove this recipe! It’s been my go-to non-chocolate cupcake recipe. So moist and so delicious even without frosting! My husband and kids love it too and sometimes I only get to frost a few pieces because they have already devoured some right out of the oven. 😀 I have observed that you changed the amount of all-purpose flour from 2 1/3 cups to 2 1/4 cups.  I made this recently and they came out too sweet (1 3/4 cups sugar), so I reviewed the recipe and noticed the change.  Do you think the reduced flour amout is better (and must be sifted)? Should I just reduce the sugar? Do the baking powder and salt need adjustment too?
    Hope you can address my questions. I love your recipes, and thank you for sharing them!! 🙂

    1. I find the cupcakes are a little lighter in texture with just a little less flour (using 2 and 1/4 cups). And yes, I prefer to sift it. The baking powder and salt do not need adjustment. You can reduce the sugar to 1 and 1/2 cups. This should help Kara! Thank you.

  20. I am making cupcakes for my niece’s birthday and am doing some research. She is going to have a flower themed party, so I though I would make cupcakes and pipe flowers for the frosting. It seems that butter cream is the favorite for piping, do you think that is a good pair for this recipe or do you have suggestions?

  21. Hi Sally,

    I am glad I’ve found you. I love how you separate eggs for this recipe. Do you think it will work if I add cocoa for this recipe for chocolate cupcakes? It’s just your other chocolate recipes do not have the eggs separation method, expect for the red velvet recipe. I really want to good moist not dense chocolate cake recipe. 

    1. I do not recommend turning this into a chocolate batter. You can separate the eggs in my chocolate cupcake recipes if you prefer that method.

  22. This is the best recipe for yellow cake I have ever made, they were so moist and light and very flavorful.  I made them with fresh strawberry frosting.  Thanks so much for sharing!

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