Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

Jump to Recipe

Fluffy, soft, light, and simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. They will be your new go-to homemade vanilla cupcake recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Fresh off of a weekend with a bunch of girlfriends celebrating a bride-to-be, it’s back to business this morning. My friend Katy is getting married in a couple months and we hung out up in the poconos, rented a boat, cheers’d to the bride, and laughed the whole darn time. But this morning I’m trading my sunglasses for my nerd glasses…

Are you ready to GEEK OUT about homemade vanilla cupcakes? Let’s get right into it.

Fluffy, soft, light, and simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. They will be your new go-to homemade vanilla cupcake recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Remember the mimosa cupcakes from the other week? It’s a new cupcake base I’ve been trying out. Champagne makes the cupcakes incredibly fluffy and light. I also really loved how soft they were– just as soft as cupcakes made from a box mix, but with a homemade taste. I couldn’t stop thinking about the cupcakes and imagined how they’d be as pure vanilla cupcakes. Take out the champagne (sorry!) and orange flavor and ramp up the vanilla. Could this work?

The answer, my friends, is yes. In fact, it’s HECK YES!!!

These homemade vanilla cupcakes are simply perfect. By far the fluffiest cupcakes I’ve ever made, not to mention soft and cakey with buttery and vanilla notes sprinkled throughout each crumb. In this post, I’m going to explain exactly how they are so jaw-droppingly awesome so you can (1) understand what the heck’s going on inside the batter and (2) be inspired to try them out in your own kitchen.

We’ll begin with the dry ingredients.

Cake flour for simply perfect vanilla cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The base of this recipe comes from my very vanilla cupcakes, which have been my go-to vanilla cupcake for the past 3+ years. I love that recipe because it’s crazy simple. You don’t even need a mixer to make the batter! While they’re soft and fluffy, they’re not as cakey and light as I want vanilla cupcakes to be. So what I did was switch out the all-purpose flour for cake flour. Cake flour helps to produce the softest, lightest cakes and cupcakes you’ll ever eat. It’s sold right there by the regular flour in the baking aisle and I promise that you’ll use up that entire box in no time after you taste these.

We’ve also got baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Baking soda for lift, baking powder for extra lift given the amount of cupcake batter we’re working with. Remember when I explained to you why recipes call for both? It’s interesting what’s happening! (Nerd glasses game is strong right now.)

Ingredients for simply perfect vanilla cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

So that’s the dry ingredients. Now the wet ingredients. Lots of stuff happening here! Unlike my very vanilla cupcakes where you use melted butter, you will cream butter and sugar together here. This helps to produce an all-around cakier cupcake. I mean think about it: a fluffy mixture of butter and sugar is a fantastic base for making FLUFFY cupcakes, right? And then there are the egg whites. No egg yolks allowed. You’ll use 3 egg whites to give the cupcakes their structure, while also keeping them pristine white. Since we are losing a little fat from the missing egg yolks, we can add that back in via sour cream and whole milk. Baking’s so cool isn’t it?!?

Sour cream is a power ingredient here; it lightens up the crumb. Though my fave Greek yogurt could be used in its place, I find that cupcakes made with sour cream are less dense. Light and fluffy is the goal and sour cream is how we’ll reach it.

Vanilla bean is also pretty important. When I was testing these homemade vanilla cupcakes out last week (did you catch it on my Instagram story?), I found the overall flavor was lacking when I just used vanilla extract. Enter vanilla beans. ♥ I’ve gotten a lot of questions about where to purchase vanilla beans. I can usually find them at Whole Foods, but lately I’ve been ordering them offline. So simple.

The batter is moderately thick. Here’s what it will look like when everything’s mixed up. I like to run a whisk through it all a few times when it’s done in the mixer; this helps pick up any pieces of butter that could be at the bottom. Check out all those fancy vanilla beans!

Cupcake batter for simply perfect vanilla cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cupcake batter for simply perfect vanilla cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Rewind to when I was testing this recipe last week. I wasn’t going to post this picture, but thought it would be fun to show you what two cupcake prototypes looked like. This is batch #2 and batch #3. Batch #2 (left) used 3/4 cup whole milk and sifted cake flour. That was way too much liquid and the flour was too airy from sifting. See how squat it is? It was practically wet inside! Batch #3 (right) was just perfect. 1/2 cup whole milk, no sifting the cake flour. Just enough liquid and flour, oh-so-fluffy and divine.

Simply perfect vanilla cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Batch #3 is the winner! Don’t they look fabulous inside? This is the texture all homemade vanilla cupcakes should be!

Simply perfect vanilla cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

For the frosting, you can use anything. Pictured here is my go-to vanilla buttercream frosting. I tinted some of it pink with 2 drops of red food coloring. But your frosting options are essentially endless. Here are some suggestions: rainbow chip frosting, chocolate buttercreamstrawberry buttercream, marshmallow frosting, white chocolate frosting, raspberry frosting, or cream cheese frosting.

Sprinkles not optional, but you already knew that.

Alright, time to quickly recap and take these nerd glasses off. Here are the power ingredients making these the most simply perfect vanilla cupcakes ever:

  • Cake flour
  • Sour cream
  • 3 egg whites
  • Whole milk (1/2 cup, no more)
  • Vanilla bean

Fluffy, soft, light, and simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. They will be your new go-to homemade vanilla cupcake recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here are my favorite chocolate cupcakes if you’re interested 🙂

Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk at room temperature
  • vanilla buttercream and sprinkles for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners - this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. 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 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. I simply used an icing knife.

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. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  2. For best flavor, pure vanilla extract is strongly recommended. If using imitation, increase to 1 Tablespoon (3 teaspoons). If you can't get your hands on vanilla bean, simply leave it out or replace with an extra 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
  3. Whole milk and sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© 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. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe. The sprinkles are by Sweetapolita called the Masquerade twinkle sprinkle medley.

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer | Vanilla Beans | Flex Edge Beater | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Bowl | Cupcake Pan | Icing Knife | Cupcake Liners

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Fluffy, soft, light, and simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. They will be your new go-to homemade vanilla cupcake recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com
Fluffy, soft, light, and simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. They will be your new go-to homemade vanilla cupcake recipe! sallysbakingaddiction.com

329 Comments

All Comments

  1. Hi Sally, just wanted to say thank you for your guidance and lovely recipes. I made these cupcakes today for Mother’s Day. I added blueberries and lemon like in your Meyer lemon and blueberry cupcake recipe and it turned out great. All finished off with your favorite cream cheese frosting. Just delicious!! Thanks again 🙂

    1. Miss Sally, wondering if I can substitute King Arthur’s Gluten Free flour for the cake flour in this recipe and also for the “super moist chocolate cupcakes” recipe?
      xoxo

      1. I haven’t personally tested this particular flour in these recipes but I know other readers have made the substitution with success!

  2. Hi Sally!

    I’m so interested in the vanilla bean, but I can’t find it in any store and don’t have enough time to order it online.

    If vanilla bean can’t be used, would you add more vanilla extract?

    Thank you!

  3. Hi Sally,

    I made these cupcakes recently, and the flavor was great but the cake texture came out quite dense and many of them sank while cooling. What should I do differently next time?

  4. I’d live to make these cupcakes for my daughter’s baby shower. Do you think your strawberry icing would pair well with these? Thanks!

  5. Have you tried making these with buttermilk, Sally? Think this is a possibility? Love your recipes and tips and suggestions!! TIA!

  6. HI sally. My son is requesting strawberry cupcakes for his birthday. Could i use this recipe as the base and add pureed strawberries into the mix?

  7. I’ve made these cupcakes about 6 times now trying to figure out what the problem is. Every time they come out dense and a little wet inside, almost like pancakey. I mix just enough to incorporate ingredients, everything is room temp, oven temp is spot on. I use bobs red mill cake flour, maybe that’s the problem? I’m afraid to waste anymore ingredients to try a different brand. I love all the other recipes on the blog but this one has been an epic fail for me personally.

  8. I made these as a test batch of cupcakes since I’m trying to decide if I’m brave enough to make the cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday or if I need to order something. I’m an accomplished baker, but not so much a decorator!

    However, these with the buttercream frosting came out perfectly. And piped well, too! I thought they were great, my husband a bit dry, but I don’t know what he was thinking.

    I subbed out the last half teaspoon of vanilla for orange extract — really I should have added more since it was the perfect light note in the batter but so much in the baked cupcake.

  9. Hello sally
    Thank you for sharing your great recipes
    I was wondering if can I subustitute the butter with oil?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Baria! I don’t recommend it. The creamed butter/sugar is the base of this recipe and you can’t cream oil. You could try solid coconut oil though!

  10. Hi there! We have successfully made a few of your cupcake recipes for my daughter’s birthday parties, and she’s requested vanilla for this year. If I have to make 3-4 dozen cupcakes, is it ok to triple or quadruple the recipe to make a giant bowl of batter, or do you recommend making one batch at a time?

    1. Hi Bridget! To avoid over or under-mixing, which could ruin the whole big batch, I strongly recommend making the batter a few different times.

  11. Fantastic! This is my new favourite vanilla cupcake recipe. I’m not a huge fan of vanilla cake but I absoloutley love these! The only thing is that it definitely made more than 14, but it’s possible that I didn’t fill them up as much. I made a double batch and ended up with 36 regular cupcakes and 24 minis (not that anyone in my house is complaining, lol)

  12. These were SUPERB. The only vanilla cake batter I have ever felt compelled to lick out of the bowl–and the baked cupcakes were even more delicious. And that’s without having vanilla bean on hand! I can’t wait to try it with the bean, as I would have loved more profound vanilla flavor.
    I was short on some ingredients so I ended up using 1 1/4c cake flour and 1/2c pastry flour; and instead of the whole milk, I used a mixture of heavy cream and almond milk when I discovered my milk had gone past! XD whoops…but no harm done, even with these haphazard alterations they were SO DELICIOUS. Definitely becoming a staple recipe.

  13. I just pulled my first batch out of the oven and they are divine! Fluffy and light with a beautiful vanilla flavor, I couldn’t be happier. Thank you so much ☺️

  14. Hi Sally,

    This is the first time I’ve tried your recipes as I’m an avid baker myself and usually strive for my own ideas. I was online however and found you and thought “ I’ve been able to make any flavour of cake and cupcakes really, but vanilla has always disappointed me. Not the family, but I’m picky about how my baking turns out” anyways I decided to try your vanilla cupcake recipe and am I ever happy I did. The sour cream and whole milk makes them so devine. I pared it with a strawberry buttercream that I love and they sold out at my daughters first bake sale of the school year. Thanks again and I may have to big you from time to time when what I’m working on doesn’t work.

    Véronique
    Alberta, Canada

  15. Hi sally,

    I’ve been a huge fan of your blog since 2015 n I’m so happy n excited using all of your recipes!!! Please since I’m new to this white vanilla cupcakes, can I use chocolate chips filled in it? Instead of plain. Please I would appreciate your answer soon today. Thank you.

      1. Wowwwww!!!!! Thank u so much! I love all of your recipe especially carrot cake n red velvet are the best of all!!!! Chocolate cupcakes!!!! I’m think which cake shall I do for my brother in law’s baby birthday next month!!!! I did add chocolate chip in vanilla cupcake n turned out perfect! ❤️❤️❤️

  16. Hi Sally,

    When making cakes/cupcakes with egg whites in the batter is it better to use the whisk attachment rather than the paddle? I made these a couple of days ago and I dont believe I overmixed the batter but i did use a paddle attachment and was thinking that may have affected the amount of air that goes into it.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Joshua! I use either the paddle or whisk attachment. I prefer the whisk attachment for these as I find it really whips those whites and rids the batter of tiny lumps.

  17. You use whisk attachment for ” Favorite white layer cake” recipe.
    How about using whisk attachment for this recipe? Is it bad idea?

  18. Sally, I just finished making a batch of these cupcakes and OMGosh, they are so yummy. Light and fluffy and completely white inside with the tops being very lightly tanned in color. Just PERFECTION!! Mine only took 12 mins to bake up and my batter made 15. The only ingredient I didn’t use was the vanilla bean so as you suggested, I added that extra 1/2 tsp. I can’t wait to make them with the bean. Never used them before but I can’t wait to taste these with that stronger vanilla flavor.

    I plan to use your strawberry marshmallow frosting (hubby’s not a fan of cream cheese) and the left over strawberry cream cheese frosting I have from making the cake. Because these were SO easy to make, I plan to make another batch tomorrow.

    Anyone trying to decide whether or not to make these I say… GO FOR IT!! Just make sure to follow the recipe as follows and you too will be successful. I read a few reviews and I have to agree with Sally. Using the whisk was the way to go. Thanks again for another amazing recipe… 😉

  19. Hi sally,

    I was just wondering if I can half some of your recipes? This recipe, the chocolate cupcake, red velvet cupcake, and your spice cupcakes. Sorry if thats an overload but im just wanting to make a smaller quantity of each recipe.

    Thank you

1 4 5 6

Reviews

  1. Hi Sally, just wanted to say thank you for your guidance and lovely recipes. I made these cupcakes today for Mother’s Day. I added blueberries and lemon like in your Meyer lemon and blueberry cupcake recipe and it turned out great. All finished off with your favorite cream cheese frosting. Just delicious!! Thanks again 🙂

  2. I’ve made these cupcakes about 6 times now trying to figure out what the problem is. Every time they come out dense and a little wet inside, almost like pancakey. I mix just enough to incorporate ingredients, everything is room temp, oven temp is spot on. I use bobs red mill cake flour, maybe that’s the problem? I’m afraid to waste anymore ingredients to try a different brand. I love all the other recipes on the blog but this one has been an epic fail for me personally.

  3. These were SUPERB. The only vanilla cake batter I have ever felt compelled to lick out of the bowl–and the baked cupcakes were even more delicious. And that’s without having vanilla bean on hand! I can’t wait to try it with the bean, as I would have loved more profound vanilla flavor.
    I was short on some ingredients so I ended up using 1 1/4c cake flour and 1/2c pastry flour; and instead of the whole milk, I used a mixture of heavy cream and almond milk when I discovered my milk had gone past! XD whoops…but no harm done, even with these haphazard alterations they were SO DELICIOUS. Definitely becoming a staple recipe.

  4. Sally, I just finished making a batch of these cupcakes and OMGosh, they are so yummy. Light and fluffy and completely white inside with the tops being very lightly tanned in color. Just PERFECTION!! Mine only took 12 mins to bake up and my batter made 15. The only ingredient I didn’t use was the vanilla bean so as you suggested, I added that extra 1/2 tsp. I can’t wait to make them with the bean. Never used them before but I can’t wait to taste these with that stronger vanilla flavor.

    I plan to use your strawberry marshmallow frosting (hubby’s not a fan of cream cheese) and the left over strawberry cream cheese frosting I have from making the cake. Because these were SO easy to make, I plan to make another batch tomorrow.

    Anyone trying to decide whether or not to make these I say… GO FOR IT!! Just make sure to follow the recipe as follows and you too will be successful. I read a few reviews and I have to agree with Sally. Using the whisk was the way to go. Thanks again for another amazing recipe… 😉

Questions

  1. Hi Sally!

    I’m so interested in the vanilla bean, but I can’t find it in any store and don’t have enough time to order it online.

    If vanilla bean can’t be used, would you add more vanilla extract?

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Sally,

    I made these cupcakes recently, and the flavor was great but the cake texture came out quite dense and many of them sank while cooling. What should I do differently next time?

  3. I’d live to make these cupcakes for my daughter’s baby shower. Do you think your strawberry icing would pair well with these? Thanks!

  4. Have you tried making these with buttermilk, Sally? Think this is a possibility? Love your recipes and tips and suggestions!! TIA!

  5. HI sally. My son is requesting strawberry cupcakes for his birthday. Could i use this recipe as the base and add pureed strawberries into the mix?

  6. Hi Sally,

    When making cakes/cupcakes with egg whites in the batter is it better to use the whisk attachment rather than the paddle? I made these a couple of days ago and I dont believe I overmixed the batter but i did use a paddle attachment and was thinking that may have affected the amount of air that goes into it.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Joshua! I use either the paddle or whisk attachment. I prefer the whisk attachment for these as I find it really whips those whites and rids the batter of tiny lumps.

  7. Hi sally,

    I was just wondering if I can half some of your recipes? This recipe, the chocolate cupcake, red velvet cupcake, and your spice cupcakes. Sorry if thats an overload but im just wanting to make a smaller quantity of each recipe.

    Thank you

  8. Miss Sally, wondering if I can substitute King Arthur’s Gluten Free flour for the cake flour in this recipe and also for the “super moist chocolate cupcakes” recipe?
    xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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

×