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!
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 heavily preferred this newer recipe. They’re buttery, moist, and taste even better than they look!
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.
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 and even my layered yellow cake too. Why? Well, it helps produce an extra fluffy texture in layer cakes that can otherwise become dense from being squished down. I don’t find that added step necessary for these cupcakes.
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!
Tip: To avoid overflowing, only fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
These Yellow Birthday Cupcakes Are:
- Made with basic baking ingredients
- Moist and buttery like my yellow cake
- 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.
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!
More Birthday Recipes
- Confetti Cupcakes
- Vanilla Cake
- Yellow Sheet Cake and Layered Yellow Cake
- Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Easy Sprinkle Cake
- Piñata Cupcakes and Piñata Cake
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!
- 1 and 3/4 cups (207g) cake flour (spooned & leveled)
- 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
- 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.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Frost cooled cupcakes with chocolate buttercream. I used Ateco 849 piping tip. Top with sprinkles, if desired.
- Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 12-cup Muffin Pan | Cupcake Liners | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Ateco 849 Piping Tip | Piping Bag (Reusable or Disposable)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Yellow Cake: I suggest following my yellow sheet cake recipe or my layered yellow cake recipe. I have a vanilla cake recipe as well.
- 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.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!
Keywords: birthday, chocolate frosting, sprinkles