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

vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream

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.

stack of vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream

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!

vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream

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.

jar of Madagascar vanilla beans

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.

vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream with a bite taken from it

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: 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.

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vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream

Very Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 and 2/3 cup (209g) 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

Instructions

  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 days.

Notes

  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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. This recipe was SO easy and delicious! I didn’t have vanilla beans so I just added an extra tsp of vanilla extract. Since I didn’t have heavy cream on hand I just used milk and extra powdered sugar and the frosting still turned out extremely thick and rich! I was short on time so I popped the cakes in the fridge to cool. My new go-to for vanilla cupcakes. Thanks!

  2. Hi, can cake flour be used for this recipe, If so do i need to
    Change anything?….My family really enjoyed thé cupcakes.

    1. Cake flour would be just fine – I use it often for these cupcakes without changing anything else about the recipe.

  3. Just made these for my sister-in-law’s birthday. Man, they were good! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  4. I’ve been searching high and low for that perfect vanilla cupcake recipe, and I’ve finally found it! Thank you, Sally, for posting this delicious, versatile recipe… I’ve saved it to my favorites, and I’ll be using it often.

    – Cindy

  5. Hi Sally,

    Can I use this recipe as a base for rainbow cupcakes? 🙂

    -Michelle

  6. Do you have any recommendations for use of vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans? I’m using this recipe to make tie dye cupcakes to take to school for my son’s birthday. While I totally appreciate the use of real vanilla beans, I do not have any on hand and frankly, it’s probably a waste given the audience.

    1. I would simply use 1 extra teaspoon vanilla. So 3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon). Enjoy!

  7. I took these to friends as a dessert last night. They were all in agreement that the cupcakes were delicious! Especially the frosting! Yes, they truly are “very vanilla”! Thanks for another awesome recipe to add to my collection!

  8. Can I use vanilla bean paste instead of the vanilla beans and how much?
    Thank you.

  9. Hi Sally! I have been searching for the perfect vanilla cupcake recipe for about 6 months now – and thanks to you, I have finally found it! These cupcakes are delicious! I prefer mine with chocolate frosting (and I love frosting by the way) but these were so good I didn’t even frost them. Thank you for the recipe!

  10. I made these cupcakes last night…delicious! They’re perfect in consistency and taste amazing! Great recipe! I had to use vanilla bean paste because I did not have any vanilla beans, but it still turned out wonderfully. Definitely making these again.

  11. Hi Sally, I’m making this for my husband’s birthday, and wanted to make sure that the frosting recipe is enough for frosting the 9″ cake? He doesn’t eat a lot of sweets but when he does he likes a good frosting to cake ratio, I have had a lot of luck with all of your other recipes and I am sure this one will not disappoint.

    1. Hi Courtney– this will be plenty of frosting for a single layer 9-inch cake.

  12. Hi Sally,

    If I use this as a layer cake, you think it’s sturdy enough to be covered in fondant? My sister recommended your site. She is a great fan:)

  13. Hi,
    I’m hoping to make these for my daughter’s first birthday. I tried another vanilla cupcakes recipe and it was a complete flop!! I found this recipe and rembered a friend of mine who loooves your blog!! ( she made your cranberry-orange scones and they were seriously the BEST scones I’ve ever had; just thinking about them make my mouth water : ) ) Anyways, so I was wondering if I could cream the butter and sugar together instead of using melted butter? I saw another vanilla cupcake recipe on here that you creamed the butter and sugar together. Just curious what’s the difference in the end result? Thanks so much!

  14. Hi Sally! I love your recipes. I was wondering if the eggs, milk, and yogurt need to be at room temperature?

  15. These are amazing! I used cake flour but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. So moist and yummy! Perfect vanilla flavor without being boring, I’ll definitely make these again!

  16. Hi Sally!

    Firstly I’d like to say THANK YOU – your recipes are so amazing. I have tried so many of your recipes, and I have never had a fail with your recipes. You are my go-to for baking recipes!

    The very vanilla cupcakes have become a favourite in my house, and I would love to attempt a double-layer cake with it. Would the batter be suitable for that? Or is a single layer safer?

    1. You can! 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 – and repeat for more layers. Or try my white layer cake for a double layer cake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/new-favorite-white-layer-cake/

  17. Will this cupcake recipe be able to be used as a 6 inch cake (using three round six inch pans) recipe?

  18. WOW. These cupcakes are ridiculously good! They mound nicely and the flavor is out of this world. And the frosting! Tastes just like our favorite vanilla bean ice cream. The vanilla beans are expensive (2 for $13!) but they make all the difference! Thank you, Sally!!

  19. Hi Sally, I’ve made your very vanilla cupcakes a few times, (once as mini cupcakes and they were PERFECT) but anytime I try making regular cupcakes they peak, crack and start to Brown on top, the cake is still delicious and fluffy, it’s just the tops that aren’t quite right, do you have any tips to get a more even finish? Im using a fan forced oven at 170°C. I’ve tested the oven with a thermometer and I’ve tried using top and bottom racks in the oven.
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Hayley, I’m happy to help and glad you love these! Try lowering the oven rack and slightly lowering the oven temperature, too. The bake time may be longer but the cupcakes should bake more evenly.

  20. I used this frosting recipe for 80 macarons. I had plenty left over, but not too much at all, just enough to save some for my next baking escapade! I ended up splitting the icing into 3 parts before adding the heavy cream/liquid. I just substituted the liquid according to which flavour I was making. I made lemon, espresso and vanilla icing out of this recipe for my macarons. Thank you Sally!!

  21. Absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing your fabulous recipes!

  22. Hi sally! I plan on making your vanilla cake and wanted use this vanilla bean frosting. Would doubling the frosting be enough for three 9 inch cakes?

  23. Hi,
    If I wanna make a half batch (6 cupcakes), should I reduce the baking time as well?

    1. The bake time should remain about the same as each individual cupcake will be the same size (just fewer cupcakes).

  24. Hi Sally,

    Can I use whole eggs if I don’t care about the color?

    1. Hi Tamara, I don’t recommend it. The addition of egg yolks leads to an egg-y flavor and very dense texture. For best results, stick to fresh egg whites! Here are all of our recipes with egg yolks for any leftover.

  25. Hi Sally,

    Do these cupcakes taste the same as your vanilla cake?

  26. If I want to make 24 cupcakes should I double the recipe or just make one batch of 12 and then do the next one after?

    1. Hi Karen, For the best texture it’s always best to make a recipe twice instead of doubling.

  27. I have tried many vanilla cupcake recipes and this is the best one. Cake is light and turned out perfect!

  28. Hi Sally, do you need to whisk the egg whites until peaks form before adding them to the mixture or just add them in raw and mix with the other ingredients with a hand whisk?

    1. Hi Sarah, No need to whisk the egg whites first – just add them as directed in step 2. Happy baking!

    1. Hi Krista, you could certainly add chocolate chips to these cupcakes- use about 3/4 cup – 1 cup of chocolate chips. We haven’t tested this recipe with cocoa powder. For chocolate cupcakes, I recommend our chocolate cupcakes recipe!

  29. I love the flavors of these! The vanilla bean really does make a difference! But I had some issues with how mine came out because while generally light they had a rubbery texture. I cant tell if its because my ingredients were not room temperature or if I somehow whisked too much?

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