Yellow Birthday Cupcakes (Recipe Solved!)

These are my new & improved yellow birthday cupcakes. Adapted from my original recipe, I use sour cream, cake flour, and extra vanilla to guarantee each cupcake is soft, buttery, and moist. Topped with chocolate buttercream, these updated yellow cupcakes are super flavorful and much easier to prepare than the originals!

Yellow birthday cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Yesterday was my birthday! May 27th usually falls around Memorial Day weekend, so I’m grateful to always enjoy a long birthday weekend. I did some baking, slept in, went to mommy & me gym class with Noelle, we played outside, and our neighbors had a pool party. It was the wonderfully relaxing weekend I craved after a busy spring!

Speaking of birthdays, I have a recipe in need of a major update. I published a yellow cupcake recipe in 2014, a cupcake I found delicious at the time. Fast forward a few years and the recipe is still good, but the cupcakes often taste bland and dry out quickly. The reviews are mixed– bakers report either great results or disappointing results. I knew I could revamp this recipe because yellow birthday cupcakes deserve more than mediocre results.

After playing around with the recipe, I produced an even better version that promises consistent results. In a taste comparison, my taste testers (hi friends!) heavily preferred this newer recipe. They’re buttery, moist, and taste even better than they look!

Yellow birthday cupcakes on blue cake stand

Recipe Fix: Yellow Cupcakes

Old Yellow Cupcakes Recipe:

  • Loose & airy crumb
  • Too much flour weighed them down
  • Too much sugar diluted the flavor
  • Beaten egg whites made them fluffy, but dried them out
  • Not enough flavor

The original cupcakes were overly sweet, which overpowered the buttery flavor. When compared to the newer version, the originals were pretty squishy and crumbly– often falling apart in the cupcake wrapper after one bite. Simply put, the cupcakes were underwhelming. It wasn’t a recipe I was proud of anymore, so I made a few notable changes.

Yellow birthday cupcake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

As soon as I took the first bite, I knew the new yellow cupcakes would be much better than the originals. Here’s a list of everything I did differently.

New Yellow Birthday Cupcakes Recipe:

  • Cake flour instead of all-purpose flour
  • Reduced the sugar
  • 2 full eggs – no need to separate
  • Sour cream for moisture

Cake flour produces that bakery-style cakey structure, while sour cream adds plenty of creamy moisture. The yellow birthday cupcakes have a tight crumb like pound cake, but taste super soft with a bouncy light texture. They’re more flavorful than the originals, using more butter and vanilla per ounce of flour. We also skip whipping the egg whites separately. This is something I do with my red velvet cake to make it extra fluffy, but the added step just isn’t necessary here. Cake flour and sour cream get the job done.

The cupcake batter is creamy, silky, and velvet rich. Steal a taste because this batter is divine. You know you’re on the right track even before the cupcakes go into the oven!

Yellow cupcake batter

Cupcake batter in muffin pan

Tip: To avoid overflowing, only fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

3 yellow cupcakes in a stack

These Yellow Birthday Cupcakes Are:

  • Made with basic baking ingredients
  • Moist and buttery
  • Soft with a tight crumb
  • Cakey & creamy
  • Very simple and straightforward
  • Better than the original!

But there’s one thing I’d never change: my favorite chocolate buttercream. The room temperature butter for the pictured frosting was super soft, so I added a little extra cocoa powder to avoid a greasy situation. As a result, the color and flavor were a little deeper but the frosting was just as silky and decadent as the recipe states. This is the perfect chocolate frosting– it literally tastes like a piece of creamy chocolate fudge.

 

 

Chocolate frosting in glass bowl

Yellow birthday cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

I used the big Ateco 849 piping tip for the pictured cupcakes. You can watch me use it in the video tutorial for my confetti cupcakes— very easy. Start in the center of the cupcake and swirl upward. It’s super simple, even if you’re a piping tip beginner.

Never celebrate another birthday without a batch!! PS: I revamped another cupcake recipe lately too. See my new and mega flavorful peanut butter cupcakes. 🙂

Yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and birthday candle

More Birthday Recipes

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Yellow birthday cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Yellow Birthday Cupcakes (Recipe Solved!)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12-14 cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These yellow birthday cupcakes are adapted from my original recipe. In this improved version, use sour cream, cake flour, and extra vanilla to guarantee each cupcake is soft, buttery, and extra moist. Decorate with chocolate buttercream and plenty of sprinkles!


Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • frosting: chocolate buttercream and sprinkles for garnish, or any of these frostings

Instructions

  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, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. 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 over-mix. 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 chocolate buttercream. I used Ateco 849 piping tip. Top with sprinkles, if desired.
  6. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days.

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. Freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make this cake flour substitute. 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.
  3. Whole Milk & Sour Cream: 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.
  4. Why is everything at room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information.
  5. Yellow Cake: I suggest following my yellow sheet cake recipe or my piñata cake recipe (but skip the piñata assembly). I also have a vanilla cake recipe as well.
  6. Chocolate Buttercream: I use and recommend my chocolate buttercream recipe. The room temperature butter for the pictured frosting was super soft, so I added a little extra cocoa powder. As a result, the color and flavor were a little deeper! Avoid over-whipping the chocolate buttercream as that will lighten the texture and color.
  7. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand MixerCupcake PanCupcake Liners, Piping TipPiping Bags
  8. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: birthday, chocolate frosting, sprinkles

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88 Comments

  1. Happy birthday Sally!!! I hope you had an amazing day 😉
    And these cupcakes look so good…..so fluffy and moist and just delicious! Birthday baking is always fun, and these little guys are definitely showing up at all our birthdays in the future!!

  2. Happy birthday Sally!!! I remembered from previous posts that your birthday was in May (mine too! May 2) but I didn’t know the exact day, so was wondering when you’d mention it. I’m glad you had a wonderful, relaxing weekend! You certainly deserved it 🙂 These cupcaked look amazing! I love regular yellow cake with chocolate frosting as much as I love more complicated combos and flavours. These cupcakes look so good, I’ll have to make them sometime! I like how you go back and revamp old recipes; it’s so interesting to see what you’ve changed and why. Thanks for posting all these lovely recipes! 😀

    1. YAY birthday month twins! So sweet, thank you Erin! Let me know if you end up trying them- would love to hear what you think 🙂

  3. Hi Sally!
    Happy Birthday! Glad you had a lovely and relaxing weekend. These cupcakes look so good! I think I might just make a batch for my birthday 😉 I love it when you revamp your older recipes Amazingly only my sister and I really enjoy simple vanilla cupcakes! Complex or simple, I love ’em all. Thanks for posting another great recipe!

  4. Happy birthday Sally! Thank you for helping our birthday celebrations turn our wonderful with your well-researched, tested, and delicious recipes!! ❤️❤️

  5. Happiest of Birthdays to you sweet Sally 🙂
    These cupcakes look amazing!!!
    I just have a question, it might sound silly, but why are they called yellow cupcakes?
    I am based outside of the USA and I am from what I can see, they look a lot like vanilla cupcakes.
    Is it because of the butter?
    I noticed that the yellow sheet cake which you linked below does indeed look yellow so I was just curious.
    Thank you for sharing your incredible recipes with us all.

    1. Honestly, they’re called “yellow” cupcakes because of their color. They’re also known as butter cupcakes, too. They taste like vanilla cupcakes, but aren’t quite as pristine white and fluffy as my favorite vanilla cupcakes recipe. These taste a tad more buttery, too.

  6. Happy Birthday Sally…these cupcakes look wonderful and will definitely make them. You have by far the best recipes!! I have made many and many more to come.
    Thank you!!!

  7. Happy Belated Birthday Sally! Hope you enjoyed every second of your special day! These cupcakes look extra special, I know they are delicious, my family will devour them.

  8. Hi! Just curious why you don’t bake them as some of your other cupcake and muffin recipes, where you bake at a high temp for 5 minutes and then lower for the rest of the baking time. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kelly! I don’t apply the initial high oven temperature trick to my cupcake recipes, only muffins. I use that trick to create a high domed top for muffins. For cupcakes, I prefer a flatter top to make room for frosting.

      1. Thank you! I made these today with your chocolate buttercream and they were delicious and easy!

  9. Happy belated Birthday Sally! Glad that you had such a relaxing long weekend. These cupcakes would be an excellent way to celebrate, I love that you are looking back at older recipes and updating us on how to make them better.

  10. Are you finding that you are using cake flour more often to update your recipes and when developing new cake recipes? Seems so to me. But have not gone back in your blogs to really check.

    1. YES! Oh my goodness, yes! Cake flour makes all the difference in yellow cake, white cake, and vanilla cake recipes. Not so much for recipes that have another over-powering flavor and require more structure from all-purpose flour.

  11. Happy belated birthday, Sally! Lucky you with a nice spring birthday – can we please trade?! Lol!

    Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is my FAVORITE! I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’m an absolute beginner at piping frosting, so I’m thankful you have a video.

    I also appreciate your graciousness in listening to to the occasional not so good reviews of your recipes, and your willingness to review and revamp recipes based on those reviews. I think that really sets you apart from many other food bloggers. You are definitely among my favorites!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Laura! I’m always trying to share only the best- and have learned so much since I began blogging many years ago 🙂 I’m thrilled you love these revamped recipes!

  12. Hi Sally, I’m a big fan of your recipes, how can I get your book? I live in Thailand but I can ask my friend to bring them for me from the US if I have to.
    Your old yellow cupcakes recipe is already very good, I just put the same amount of sugar as the flour in grams. But I will definitely try the updated version. Thanks sooo much for the recipes ❤❤❤

    1. Thanks Rika! Looking back, I find the sugar and flour ratio was a tad off in those. I still enjoy that recipe, but I definitely prefer these. My books are available wherever cookbooks are sold, including Amazon. Your friend can find them here in the US, but I would call around to your bookstores to see if it’s available first.

  13. I see that you recommend using different recipes to make a cake instead of cupcakes which this recipe calls for. Is there a specific reason for that?

    1. Hi Sara! The other recipes use these same ingredients, but in different ratios to make a larger cake. You could also try doubling this recipe for a larger cake, too!

  14. Happy Belated Birthday!
    Glad to hear you had a nice weekend!
    I’m soooo into cupcakes, especially lemon ones.
    I’ve made these cupcakes from your list…..Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting, Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes & Meyer Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes.
    All bake up nicely, never a problem with these recipes.
    I’m thinking of using cake flour in them instead of APF….thoughts?
    Have a nice day Sally!

    1. Thank you so much Dalila! You can certainly play around with these recipes and swap in cake flour. I would honestly just use the SAME amount of cake flour. No need to add more.

  15. Hi Sally. Was wondering if one could use the reverse creaming method for these cupcakes. I made your one layer strawberry shortcake recipe and it is wonderful!

  16. I’m thinking about making mini cupcakes with this recipe – grandson’s high school grad party and there will be lots of people and lots of food. I think a bitesize version would be great. Do you have any suggestions other than reducing baking time?

    1. Hi Susan! For mini cupcakes, use mini liners. Fill them about 2/3 or 3/4 full. They’re done when a toothpick comes out clean or when the tops bounce back when lightly poked.

  17. Hi Sally! I’m SO happy that you posted an updated version of these! I had wanted to try them for my own birthday last month, but the extra step of whipping the egg whites wasn’t something I had wanted to do.

    I was wondering- if I wanted to make these into funfetti cupcakes, could I just add some sprinkles to the batter? 1 or 1-1/2 cups? Of course, not the little ball ones, since I know those bleed. 🙂 Would crushed Oreos weigh the batter down if I were to add those?

    Another note- I am obsessed with your chocolate frosting. I made it to top some cupcakes and I had to stop myself from eating it from the bowl with a spoon. Thanks for the great recipes!

    1. Hi Lydia! I’m happy to have an easier recipe for yellow cupcakes now. The others were good, but were a bit inconvenient to make with that extra step!
      For sprinkles, I recommend no more than 2/3 cup. Crushed Oreos would be great! You’d likely need around 1 cup.

  18. Happy Birthday!! Also wanted to say I appreciate you always reworking reciepes and trying to make them even better. This blog is my go to for baking inspiration and anytime I’m looking for something new to try

  19. Hey Sally, Happy Birthday! I happen to have full fat buttermilk, and only 2% milk, but would love to make these today. Which substitute do you think would work best? I’m leaning toward the buttermilk… ??

  20. Hi! I’m super excited to try this yellow cupcake recipe for my son’s 2nd birthday this weekend. He asked me for “green cupcakes” 🙂 so if I add a bunch of food coloring to try to achieve as deep of a green as possible, would it impact the batter at all (in terms of extra liquid)? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. I recommend that you use a gel food color (not the liquid drops). You don’t need as much to achieve a darker color!

    1. Hi Tiffany! For best taste and texture, I recommend making the batter twice instead of doubling it in one bowl.

  21. Hi sally These look great.
    Happy late birthday. I have a birthday in May also, my birthday is May 9th. I will be pinning this to write down and make.
    I am going check out your confetti cupcakes next. Have a good day.

  22. I just made these today preparing for a birthday party and the recipe turned out really well as far as texture goes! The cupcakes were so light and fluffy and the finished cupcake was almost like angel food cake but denser… not sure else how to describe it haha. However the cupcakes had a very dominate egg-flavor to them.. like kind of scrambled eggy. I’m hoping that flavor becomes less noticeable with icing on them but I’m confused why the flavor was so strange when I added just the right amount of eggs! Has anyone else had this happen? Otherwise awesome texture!

    1. Hey Alyssa! I’m so glad you tried these cupcakes, thank you for taking the time to share how they went. Did you taste them warm? Because some cupcakes have that egg-y flavor as they cool.

  23. Just tried this recipie and had a lot of fun! This is my first attempt at baking any type of cake. The cake turned out a bit rubbery. They don’t look overbaked though. I’m wondering what might have caused this texture??

      1. I made these last night and they are seriously the most perfect cupcake ever!! I’m so impressed. Sally is making me look REALLY good.

  24. Sally, these cupcakes are wonderdul! Certainly a new favourite. The flavour and texture are divine, and I love that these don’t leave me with excess egg yolks like some other vanilla cupcake recipes do! Mine still turned out to be whiter than I had expected, so in truth I found them quite similar to the vanilla cupcakes, but with a more buttery flavour and a yellow-ish hue. All in all, I absolutely love these cupcakes, and will definitely be making them again! Also, your chocolate frosting is delicious! Pairs so well with the cupcakes. Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Sally! 🙂

  25. Hi, Sally. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I tried it out twice last night. The first batch never browned. They were so soft but very dry. The second also never browned. They were still soft but a little less dry. What am I doing wrong? The first batch, I measured the ingredients. The second batch, I weighed the dry ingredients.

  26. Hi Sally! I made these last week and they were gone in one day! I am wanting to make a three layer cake and I see in your notes that you refer to the sheet cake recipe or piñata cake recipe. I noticed neither includes sour cream like this revamped recipe and the piñata cake is for 4 tiers. Would you recommend doubling this recipe or any other tweaks for the cake ones?

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