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Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes are a classic treat that promises to fill your kitchen with the warm, alluring aroma of vanilla. Perfect for special occasions or no occasion at all!

a vanilla cupcake on a wooden cake stand with more cupcakes behind

My favorite recipes that get made again and again are those that are so simple yet totally enchanting. These vanilla cupcakes are the epitome of homemade comfort: moist and fluffy, with a light, tender crumb that sings with the pure, sweet notes of vanilla. They’re simple and sophisticated all at the same time!

Why You’ll Love This Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

  • Unmatched fluffiness. These vanilla cupcakes are the epitome of softness and tenderness, with a fluffy texture every time.
  • Luxurious frosting. Silky, smooth Swiss meringue buttercream is rich yet perfectly balanced. Its creamy texture and not-too-sweet profile make it the perfect crowning touch for these vanilla cupcakes.
  • Simple ingredients, big flavors. This recipe celebrates the beauty of simplicity, letting the warm, comforting vanilla flavor shine through in every bite.
  • Perfect for any occasion. Whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a random Tuesday night, these cupcakes are dressed to impress. They’re as fitting for a fancy celebration as they are for a cozy night at home.

Looking for more classic cupcakes? Try chocolate cupcakes, confetti cupcakes, and hummingbird cupcakes, too!

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overhead view of ingredients for vanilla cupcakes

What You’ll Need

See the recipe card below for the full recipe, including ingredient quantities. Here are some notes about the ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight or use the spoon and sweep method. If you aren’t measuring by weight, sift the flour after measuring. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Eggs – Let these come to room temperature so they’ll mix more easily and make a smoother batter. I recommend baking with large eggs.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Milk – I prefer whole milk in these cupcakes for the best flavor and texture.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vanilla extract – Use a good quality store-bought vanilla extract or use homemade vanilla.
  • Unsalted butter – Melt the butter and let it cool slightly before mixing it into the batter.

For the frosting:

  • Egg whites – Eggs separate more easily when they’re cold, so do that first before letting them come to room temperature for mixing.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Unsalted butter – Cut the butter into cubes and let it soften so it will mix into the frosting more easily.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Sprinkles – These are, of course, optional, but they’re a great way to dress up these cupcakes. From just a bit of white sparkling sugar to rainbow sprinkles, there are so many fun options!
several vanilla cupcakes on a white cake stand

How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes

Make the Cupcakes

  • Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
  • Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Mix eggs and sugar. Beat the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, and mix on medium-high speed until tripled in volume and white. This should take about 5 minutes.
  • Finish mixing. Slowly add the flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Gently mix in the milk, oil, vanilla, and melted butter until incorporated.
  • Portion and bake. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges of the cupcakes are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  • Cook the eggs and sugar. Combine them in a heatproof glass bowl, and then place it over a pot of simmering water so that the bottom doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160°F. The mixture will be smooth and white. This will take about 7 minutes.
  • Finish mixing. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Switch to the paddle attachment, and gradually add the cubed butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
  • Frost the cupcakes. Place the frosting in a piping bag with a large star tip. (If necessary, refrigerate the frosting for 15 minutes to make it firm enough to frost.) Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Tips for Success

  • Temperature matters. Ensure all your ingredients, especially the eggs and butter, are at room temperature (or almost to room temp for the butter) before mixing. This helps to create a smoother batter and frosting, as the ingredients will combine more easily and uniformly.
  • Don’t over-mix. Mix the batter just until the ingredients are combined. Over-mixing can develop the gluten in the flour, leading to tough cupcakes.
  • Consistent sizing. Use an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup to fill the cupcake liners. This ensures that all cupcakes are the same size and will bake evenly. Remember, you’re aiming to fill the cups about two-thirds full.
  • Use a stand mixer for the frosting. It makes mixing much easier. You can use a hand mixer if you don’t mind the extra elbow grease. Bonus points if you have an immersion blender – it can be a wonderful tool for whipping the egg whites and sugar over the double boiler!
  • Be patient. If your frosting appears curdled after adding butter, keep mixing. It will come together into a smooth, creamy texture. If it’s too runny, chilling it for a bit before mixing again can help it reach the right consistency.
  • Piping technique. Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the top of the cupcake and apply steady pressure on the top of the bag. In a circular motion, from the outside edge to the center, move steadily, and lift your tip as you go in a fluid motion. Ease off pressure and flick the tip in an upwards motion to end the flow of frosting.  
overhead view of frosted vanilla cupcakes on a wire rack


  • Try a flavor twist. Use a bit of another extract in place of some of the vanilla in the cupcakes. Almond extract is a great choice, but try experimenting with others like orange or coconut.
  • Boozy twist. Infuse the cupcakes or frosting with a tablespoon of your favorite liqueur, like Baileys for a creamy twist, or Amaretto for a nutty flavor.
  • Change the frosting. This Swiss meringue buttercream frosting is a dream, but you can swap it out for another vanilla frosting like American vanilla buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, or marshmallow frosting. Or steer away from vanilla with chocolate or dulce de leche!
  • Add a splash of color. Use a bit of gel food coloring to tint the frosting to suit the occasion.
vanilla cupcakes on a white cake stand

How to Store

After the cupcakes have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in the container at room temperature up to 2 days.

The frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated if not serving within a few hours. Place them in an airtight container to prevent them from absorbing odors from the fridge and to keep the frosting from drying out. Set out the cupcakes about 30 minutes before serving to allow them to come to room temperature. This ensures the frosting softens and the cupcakes have the best flavor and texture.

You can also make the Swiss meringue frosting the day before baking the cupcakes. Cover and refrigerate, and then set out at room temperature for 15 minutes before re-whipping to revive before frosting the cupcakes.

Can These Cupcakes Be Frozen?

For longer storage, the unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen. Wrap each cupcake individually in plastic wrap, then place them in a zip-top freezer bag or an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

While you can freeze the frosted cupcakes, the frosting might lose some of its silky texture upon thawing. If you choose to freeze the frosted cupcakes, first place them in the freezer uncovered until the frosting is firm (2 to 3 hours), then wrap them individually in plastic wrap and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then bring to room temperature before serving.

a partially unwrapped vanilla cupcake

Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield 24 cupcakes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Indulge in the timeless charm of these vanilla cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream, where simplicity meets elegance in every bite!

a vanilla cupcake on a wooden cake stand with more cupcakes behind


For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the frosting:

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (339g) unsalted butter, softened and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkles, for garnish (optional)


To make the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat for about 5 minutes or until tripled in volume and pure white in color. 
  4. Gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Add the milk, oil, vanilla and melted butter. Gently stir until incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter equally into the prepared muffin tins, filling each one no more than two-thirds full. (You should still be able to see about 1/4 inch of the cupcake liner.)
  6. Bake for 23 to 27 minutes, or until the cupcakes are slightly browned on the edges and a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.

To make the frosting:

  1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof glass bowl. Create a double boiler by placing the bowl over a pot of simmering water. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160°F. (This will take about 7 minutes.) The mixture will be silky smooth and pure white in color.
  3. Transfer the egg the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk the egg white mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  4. Switch to a paddle attachment, then gradually add a few of the cubes of softened butter at a time, while continually mixing on medium speed. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and salt, and mix until well combined.
  5. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. If needed, chill the frosting in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up before frosting the cupcakes.
  6. Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles if desired.

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