Very Vanilla Cupcakes

My favorite homemade very vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix, these are 1000% better!

My favorite homemade very vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix, these are 1,000% better!!

What a week it has been! Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me – my last day at my office job. My job in the corporate financial world has been a part of my life for 4 years. Without the experience learned in my career, I would not be where I am today with my website. I am so thankful for my time there!

A new chapter is about to unfold and you may be seeing a lot more of me. I am a full time website publisher, cookbook author, photographer, and sprinkle lover.

My favorite homemade very vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix, these are 1,000% better!!

Today I’m bringing you something simple. No frills, nothing fancy, just pure tasting goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I love an overloaded cookie more than anything. But sometimes you just need to keep things simple.

After I shared my Easy Homemade Funfetti Cupcake recipe with you, I had many readers write to me and ask for a plain vanilla cupcake recipe.  How do I not have one of those on my website? Challenge accepted!

I took the funfetti cupcake recipe, tossed the egg yolk, added in an extra egg white, used vanilla yogurt, and loaded the batter with fresh vanilla bean.  I topped the pretty white cupcakes with extreme vanilla frosting, which is also loaded with fresh vanilla bean. Look at all the pretty vanilla bean specks!

My favorite homemade very vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix, these are 1,000% better!!

I bought a jar of vanilla beans at Whole Foods for only $6. The are sold in the spice aisle of most major grocery stores.  3 large vanilla beans came in the bottle and today’s recipe will only use one. Their fragrance is unparalleled by anything (pure or imitation) vanilla extract will give you.

Wait until you smell these cupcakes baking in your kitchen…

Today’s cupcakes come from a very simple batter that can be mixed by hand.  Yes, there is no mixer required for the cupcakes! There are 4 ways I included vanilla flavor today: vanilla beans, vanilla extract, vanilla yogurt, and vanilla almond milk. Don’t worry, the only two very important ones are the vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Feel free to use regular yogurt and milk if you need to.

They’re sweetened with granulated sugar, left moist and soft from butter and yogurt, and their color remains impeccably white from using 2 egg whites.  The presence of an egg yolk made these cupcakes a bit too yellow, so I subbed an egg white the second time I made these today.  The yogurt I used is fat free vanilla flavored greek yogurt. Even though there is only 1/4 cup of yogurt in the batter, I still feel good knowing I’m getting a teeny tiny protein punch from its addition. That makes these “healthy”… right?  Of course.

Like I mentioned above, I added vanilla extract to the batter as well as pure vanilla bean. I simply scraped the seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean into the batter. In order to scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean, simply cut it down the middle length wise and use a knife to scrape out all of the black seeds, aka the intense vanilla flavor specks.

Very Vanilla Cupcakes by

After the cupcakes cool, make your frosting. The frosting I used is my very favorite fluffy vanilla frosting. I recently swirled this frosting on top of homemade lemon cupcakes. If you are a fan of lemon, you don’t want to miss those! I made the fluffy vanilla frosting again today and added fresh vanilla bean as I mixed the frosting ingredients together. Yes, I am now in love with vanilla bean seeds.

My favorite homemade very vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix, these are 1,000% better!!

Pure, unadulterated very vanilla flavor. Nothing more, nothing less. If you are a vanilla fan, you are going to love these. If you are a chocolate fan, you are still going to love these. If you have any sort of tastebuds whatsoever, you are going to love these.

Love cupcakes? Add these to your baking list: super moist chocolate cupcakes, ultimate birthday cupcakes, soft & fluffy funfetti cupcakes, pistachio cupcakes with creamy strawberry frosting, party piñata cupcakes, mocha nutella cupcakes, peanut butter & jelly cupcakes, ultimate Snickers cupcakes, strawberry cupcakes with creamy strawberry buttercream, and red velvet cupcakes.


Very Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


My favorite homemade vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix– these taste way better!


Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 and 2/3 cup (210g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (60g) vanilla Greek yogurt*
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vanilla almond milk*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean*

Vanilla Bean Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 split vanilla bean*
  • salt, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in sugar – mixture will be gritty. Whisk in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Split 1 vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise. Scrape seeds from half of the vanilla bean into batter. Reserve other half.
  3. Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick.
  4. Divide batter among 12 cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  5. To make the frosting, beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (1/4 teaspoon). Frost cooled cupcakes (I used Wilton 1M piping tip). There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.
  6. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 7.


  1. Yogurt: You can also use plain Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, or sour cream.
  2. Milk: You can also use regular milk, soy milk, or plain almond milk.
  3. Vanilla Beans: If you can’t get your hands on vanilla beans, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract instead.
  4. Frosting: Strongly urged to use heavy cream. You may use milk or half-and-half, but heavy cream will give the frosting a thicker texture. I recommend it!
  5. Mini Cupcakes: For about 24 mini cupcakes, bake for 8-9 minutes at 350°F (177°C) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Vanilla Cake: Simply bake in a 9-inch cake pan (I recommend a springform pan because this will be a taller cake) and bake for 30-34 minutes. Or try my white layer cake for a double layer cake.
  7. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: homemade vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes

My favorite homemade very vanilla cupcake recipe. Ditch that boxed mix, these are 1,000% better!!


  1. Congratulations Sally, on quitting the day job, the new apartment, the new camera, all of it! I am so impressed by how far you’ve come with your blog in such a relatively short time. I am excited to see how the site and your career develops as you embark on this new adventure. Seems like 2013 is YOUR year!

  2. I probably won’t make these because they look way way too fancy for me to even try, plus the vanilla bean business sounds a little too complicated for me. But let me ask you this – as I was looking at the glorious pictures that you never cease to amaze me with, how in the world do your cupcake liners stay so pretty?? Mine are always all greased out looking. Not sure why, but yours looks beautiful.

    1. Hey Donna! Using vanilla beans is so easy! Just scrape out the seeds. Not too complicated at all. The cupcake recipe isn’t too oily, so the liners stay quite clean.

  3. These look so fluffy and delicious! Baking with the real stuff (vanilla) makes it so much more decadent…don’t you think? These cupcakes especially! Pinning these on to my Cupcake Board… Hope you’re having a great weekend, Sally!

    1. Yes! Gloria, I wish I could afford to use vanilla bean in every recipe! Thanks for pinning and I certainly hope your weekend is wonderful too.

  4. I am so excited about this cupcake recipe!! Your blog has become my go-to for recipes and the more cupcakes, the better! 🙂 Congratulations on your exciting news! I’m already looking forward to more recipes and your cookbook 🙂

  5. WOW! Congratulations! SO awesome to hear that you are chasing your dreams! Hope you celebrated with lots of treats 🙂
    These cupcakes look so delicious! A must-have staple in a baker’s world. So excited to try!

    1. Hi Lauren! Are you asking how moist are these? Very moist! The butter and yogurt do a fine job keeping them tender.

  6. These are gorgeous looking cupcakes, I can practically taste the vanilla through the screen. Good luck with your shift of job, that’s so exciting (though I can imagine it’s quite overwhelming as well)! I completely understand how that, combined with all the chaos in Boston, would lead you to want a comfortingly simple cupcake. 🙂

    1. A little overwhelming, yes! Thanks Emilia, your good luck wishes mean a lot. I always appreciate your comments and support!

  7. Best of luck! Just thrilled that you will be sharing your outstanding recipes full time!
    I have been on a totally vanilla baking spree lately, so I am super excited to try these next. I love, love vanilla bean extract-haven’t tried the full bean yet.

  8. I just bottled my first batch of finished vanilla this week–just in time to give a bottle to my Dad for his birthday (he is the Fall Fair “Baking King”, so he was pleased and mentioned making up some butter tarts tomorrow!) I also have lot’s left over for myself–guess what I will be making very, very soon–some very yummy sounding cupcakes! 🙂

      1. My birthday is this weekend! My 16 year old son said he would decorate my cake for me, but that he needed two round chocolate cakes and some vanilla cupcakes. Guess what recipe I am trying out today? Can’t wait to start, gotta go!

      2. Happy almost birthday, Tasha! I hope you enjoy these cupcakes! That’s so sweet of your son.

  9. Wow, that’s great news! Change can be so exciting, especially when it promises more time for going after your dreams. 🙂 Congratulations! And these cupcakes look fabulous… vanilla cake is my favorite base to add tasty frostings to, and I’m so glad I can now use one of your recipes for it!

  10. I’m running out of adjectives to compliment your photographs, Sally! 😉 These are just FABULOUS! I love the mixture of clarity and blur, the background touches, and just the composition in general! You really captured textures (crumbs, FrOsTiNg!!, the vanilla beans, even the cupcake wrappers) and such bright colors. I feel like the vanilla bean specks are coming out of the screen at me…or that I need to clean my screen. 😉 It was definitely a hard week in America, and it sounds like you had a roller-coaster week of your own, but this post is great and I love the recipe. Congratulations on all your life changes of late! 😀

    1. Caley! I knew you’d love these photos. I bought a new camera and I am loving it so far. It’s an adjustment though. And I love how pronounced the vanilla bean specks are too. The mark iii really captures every detail. And thank you so much for the congrats – and ALL the support you give me. I always, always, always look forward to your comments!

  11. Congratulations on being able to devote more time to being a blogger/baker! The cupcakes look fabulous as always – I’ve never used real vanilla bean but it sounds so much more vanilla-y and I love those specks! I love the endless varieties of cupcakes but never get tired of vanilla!

    1. I never get tired of vanilla, either Megan. It’s actually one of my favorite flavors! Thanks for the congrats, that means a lot.

  12. These sound amazing! I love how adding greek yogurt to cupcakes helps to make them so moist. I love that this recipe seems relatively simple and other than real vanilla beans I almost always have all these ingredients on hand 🙂

  13. Beautiful cupcakes, Sally! They look simply heavenly! And congrats on making your dreams come true! So looking forward to more posts and of course your cookbook soon 🙂 I work in a bookstore, so just know that I will be recommending it to EVERYONE when it finally comes out. 😀

  14. Congrats on all the important changes in your life, Sally! I’m glad I found your website and happy there’ll be lots to look forward to in the future. And I totally agree with you – this has been a surreal week and intense. I’ve just been craving comfort food and simple is usually best.

  15. Wow, you have a lot of sources of vanilla in those cupcakes! They look very ‘comfort food’ which is really what I am in the mood for right now. I never thought of using both vanilla extract and vanilla beans in the same recipe but why not? I can see the vanilla bean specks in the frosting– yum!

  16. Congratulations on beginning a new chapter in your life! You’re very good at what you do here, obviously, so that’s great you get to put more time into it! These cupcakes look so light and delicious. I’m head over heels for specks of vanilla bean!

  17. Did you take these images with the Mark iii? They look pretty amazing to me, whatever camera you used! Adjusting to a new camera, new oven, and new life without your corp job. So…what’s been going on for you lately? 🙂

    I actually think it’s good that your new apt/new camera come at the same time b/c you can just learn it all, once, from scratch, what to do. Rather than have gotten the new camera, and adjust. Then move, and adjust again. All the while you’re not sure what your oven is going to do to the food. FUN! Girl. Major transitions for you. When you make your living with your oven and your camera (and now no dayjob), getting those things down pat is of prime importance and I can imagine it’s nerve-racking.

    On the cupcakes. They’re stunning. I actually love vanilla or yellow cupcakes more than any other kind. Even more than chocolate. The pureness of a light-colored cupcake, when the flavors are there, is second to none.


    1. Averie! Yes, I took most of them with the mark iii. And you are right – getting the new camera and new light at once is probably best. Even though it is stressful, I know it would’ve been even harder if I got the camera back at the old place. I just need patience! I love vanilla cupcakes too – more than any other kind. And yes, even more than chocolate!!

  18. Congratulations on this exciting new chapter in your life, Sally! These cupcakes look like the perfect little treats to celebrate with. Looking forward to following along as you continue to make this blog even more outstanding every day! Btw, are you coming to BlogHer Food this June? 🙂

    1. Thanks for everything Georgia – you are one of the first bloggers to comment on my posts when I first started. I have always appreciated reading them! I can’t make it to BlogHer this year. 🙁 MY friend is getting married that same weekend!

  19. Congrats Sally! The new apartment, the new job (well, sort of new), the new camera, the BOOK! I am so happy for you! I am excited to following along in your journey! You are going to do great!

    These cupcake look so yummy. I need to make more vanilla recipes!

    1. THank you SO SO much for the congrats, Tieghan! You are the sweetest and I always appreciate all of the comments you leave me. 🙂

  20. Hooray! I need a wonderful vanilla cupcake recipe and these look terrific. My youngest’s birthday is next weekend…and I need to make a special cupcake delivery to him at college 🙂 So many great options!

  21. Good luck on your new ventures! I can’t wait to see what you have in store.
    Sometimes a plain old vanilla cupcake is the way to go! Love the vanilla bean specs in the frosting…yummy. Pinning and trying asap. 🙂

  22. Wow! What a week! Congratulations on all the fun new things that you are experiencing! You are such an inspiration to all of us!!! Those cupcakes…I swear I could almost smell them as I was reading! They are gorgeous with all those vanilla specks. The 1M is my favorite frosting tip to use too!!!

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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