Classic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Remember the cupcake craze of the 2010s? It seems that cupcakeries sprang up on every street corner, and the proprietors were all vying with one another to see who could come up with the quirkiest flavor combos: lavender/rhubarb crumble, chocolate bacon, and red wine were the type of thing you might find on offer, all of them baked in oversized pans, piled with towering heaps of frosting, and clocking in at around 1,000 calories a bite. Perhaps we're exaggerating a teensy bit, but there were some over-the-top cupcakes.

But putting that fad behind us, it's time to bring back classic desserts such as these standard-sized, classic vanilla cupcakes. Recipe developer Catherine Brookes feels that the vanilla flavor is a sure-fire crowd pleaser and tells us "This easy recipe makes the ultimate sweet, fluffy, and moist cakes." As to how she achieves this texture, she explains that her secret ingredient, yogurt, "helps to keep the cake super moist."

Gather the ingredients for classic vanilla cupcakes

To make these cupcakes, you'll need some pretty standard pantry staples: flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract, and two types of sugar — granulated for the cupcakes and powdered for the frosting. You should also check your fridge to make sure you have butter, eggs, milk, and yogurt. Brookes uses the Greek kind, but if you have regular yogurt on-hand, an equal amount of any type of yogurt (plain or vanilla-flavored) can be substituted.

Make the cake batter

Set the oven to 350 F so it can preheat while you make the batter. Also, go ahead and place paper or foil cupcake liners in a standard-sized muffin pan (muffins and cupcakes, although slightly different, use the exact same pan).

Beat 1 stick (½ cup) butter with the granulated sugar at a medium speed until it's smooth and fluffy. Brookes uses a stand mixer, but a handheld one will work fine, as well. Using either appliance, it may take about 4 minutes to reach the fluffy stage. At this point, add 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla plus one egg. Beat in the egg, add another, beat it in, then add the last egg. Beat that in, then add the yogurt into the mix. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder and salt, then sift these ingredients into the batter and stir until they're just combined.

Bake the cupcakes

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan until each liner is about ⅔ full and you've used up all of the batter. Bake the cupcakes for 18-22 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick or skewer into the middle of each cupcake and have it come out clean. 

When the cupcakes are out of the oven, let them stay in the pan for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove them. Brookes recommends allowing them to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before you attempt to frost them.

Make the frosting

If you're using a stand mixer, you might want to clean out the bowl now. If not, just grab another bowl. Either way, put the remaining butter and vanilla in a bowl, then beat them at medium speed until they're smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar a bit at a time, beating in each new addition. When the frosting starts to become dry, add a little milk. Keep adding milk, as needed, each time you sift in the powdered sugar.

When the frosting has reached the proper consistency — Brookes says it should be "smooth and spreadable," but should keep its shape, as well — beat it at a medium-high speed for 3 more minutes. This final beating, Brookes says, should make the frosting "super fluffy and smooth."

Frost the cupcakes

Frost the cupcakes when they're completely cool, finishing off with decorations, if you like. Brookes likes to top her frosted cupcakes with sprinkles, but suggests chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or a caramel drizzle as alternatives. Fresh fruit also makes a lovely garnish, or you could even use fresh flowers as long as the blossoms are non-toxic.

Classic Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
There's no need to opt for trendy cupcakes with wild flavor combos — this classic vanilla cupcake recipe is easy to make and will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Prep Time
Cook Time
batch of vanilla-frosted cupcakes
Total time: 48 minutes
  • 1 ½ cup butter, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup milk
Optional Ingredients
  • sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and prep a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners..
  2. Beat ½ cup (1 stick) butter with the granulated sugar at a medium speed for about 4 minutes or until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract to the butter.
  4. Add the eggs to the butter one at a time, beating after each addition.
  5. Mix the yogurt into the butter.
  6. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, then sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
  7. Mix the cake batter until just combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the cupcake pan so each liner is about ⅔ full.
  9. Bake the cupcakes anywhere from 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer poked into the centers comes out clean.
  10. Let the cupcakes sit in the pan for 10 minutes.
  11. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack for about 2 hours.
  12. Beat the remaining butter and vanilla at a medium speed until smooth.
  13. Sift the powdered sugar into the butter a little at a time, beating after each addition.
  14. If the mixture gets dry, add a little milk until the desired consistency is reached.
  15. Once the frosting reaches your desired consistency — it should be spreadable/pipe-able, but also hold its shape — beat it at a medium-high speed for about 3 minutes to get it fluffy and smooth.
  16. Frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool, finishing them off with sprinkles or other decorations, if desired.
Calories per Serving 475
Total Fat 25.0 g
Saturated Fat 15.5 g
Trans Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 94.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 59.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Total Sugars 47.1 g
Sodium 127.9 mg
Protein 4.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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