Perfect Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes

These vanilla cupcakes are the perfect soft and fluffy vanilla cupcake! I have done a lot of testing and am proud to say that I finally have my favorite version to share with you!

vanilla cupcakes with multicolored sprinkles on wood and marble cake stand

vanilla cupcake with a bite taken on a cake stand

I’m quite picky about vanilla cupcakes. You can’t get by with a mediocre one, you know? They might be one of the most important flavors to get right. Next to chocolate, that is. If you don’t have a good vanilla cupcake, you’ve got a problem.

I have tried numerous vanilla recipes over the past few years and this White on White Buttermilk Cake from BakeSpace was a fave. Problem was, it was a cake recipe. And while many cake and cupcake recipes are interchangeable, this one was not.

When I tried to use it for cupcakes, the wrappers would come off as the cupcakes cooled. Not good. Not good at all.

They also didn’t puff up quite like I wanted. They had pretty flat tops. Too flat.

I also tend to think sour cream gives terrific moisture and flavor to a vanilla cupcake. And I think that even more now, after all my testing. Plus, it can easily be switched up to allow fun flavor variations.

vanilla sprinkles with multicolored sprinkles

So I decided to take that tasty cake recipe and turn it into the perfect cupcake! Starting by adding sour cream.

Did you see the Instagram photo of all the cupcakes I ended up freezing on my way to the perfect one? It was insane.

I played with the amount of eggs, just egg whites, amounts of milk, sour cream, flour, butter. I thought I was going to drown in cupcakes.

I also wanted to try and use the more common version of ingredients – all purpose flour instead of cake flour, regular milk instead of buttermilk, etc. Just to make it easier. 🙂

Aaaand to make it even easier, you only need one bowl! Woot woot!

I got a number of opinions along the way. Including when I had 6 women from my small group together and they tested what I thought would be my final 3 versions. I knew which my faves were, but wanted their opinions.

They totally agreed that one version had better flavor and one had better texture. The third was out!

So I decided to give it one more try.

Magic! Perfection! And sheer happiness!

My very own Perfect Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cupcake! It is so wonderful, you guys! You have to try it!

vanilla cupcakes with multicolored sprinkles on marble stand
vanilla cupcakes on wood and marble cake stand with blue napkin underneath

It is not too dense, but not too airy. Moist, but maintains structure. Rises, but not too much. And the sour cream really amplifies the vanilla flavor. Love, love, love it!

Plus, I’m kind of proud of myself for persevering. 🙂

As for the icing, it is my go-to vanilla icing.

It uses half butter, half shortening. In any of my icing recipes were I use half butter and half shortening, you can use all butter. But truly, I stand by using half shortening. Shortening can seem gross, but it will give a more stable icing, particularly if it’s warm out. And I really prefer the final flavor. I find all-butter icing to be too buttery and not enough vanilla flavor.

You might disagree in the end, but I encourage you to at least try it first. Either way, the cupcake that the icing will sit on will rock your socks off. And together, they will make a fabulous cupcake party.

So do me a favor, will you? I worked extra hard on this one and burned through a lot of butter, so make sure you give it a try. I know you’ll love it!

Print
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vanilla cupcakes with multicolored sprinkles on wood and marble cake stand
Recipe

Perfect Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These vanilla cupcakes are the perfect soft and fluffy vanilla cupcake! I have done a lot of testing and am proud to say that I finally have my favorite version to share with you!


Ingredients

CUPCAKES

  • 1 2/3 cups (217g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (115g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk

FROSTING

  • 1 cup (115g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (460g) powdered sugar
  • 23 tbsp (30-45ml) water or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

CUPCAKES

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and prepare a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add butter, egg whites, vanilla, sour cream and milk and mix on medium speed just until well combined and smooth. Do not over mix.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners a little more than half way and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove cupcakes from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.

FROSTING

  1. Add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Carefully pour in about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and 1-2 tablespoons of the water or milk and the salt to the frosting and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional milk or water as needed to get the right consistency.
  5. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I used Ateco tip 844.
  6. Cupcakes are best when stored well covered for 2-3 days.

Notes

See my newest Vanilla Cupcake Recipe.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Cupcake
  • Calories: 459
  • Sugar: 42.9 g
  • Sodium: 176 mg
  • Fat: 25.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 56.2 g
  • Protein: 3.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 46.6 mg

Keywords: vanilla cupcakes recipes, vanilla icing recipe, easy vanilla dessert recipe, best cupcake recipes

Enjoy!

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Some treats from friends:
Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake by Java Cupcake
Triple Coconut Poke Cake from Beyond Frosting
White Chocolate Funfetti Chip Cake from Inside BruCrew Life

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Recipe rating

563 Comments
  1. Elena

    I am an experienced baker. I followed the recipe but they came out almost like crumpets inside. Light and fluffy but an odd texture. Any reason why this happened?

  2. Hannah

    This was so oily! It literally leaked butter. And filling half full was not enough. Really vanilla cake needs cake flour. I can’t get a good vanilla cake without it.

  3. Lynette

    A favourite recipe that is used for all birthdays! My whole
    Family loves how moist these cupcakes are and they work with all my various frostings! 

  4. Louise Rowe

    My daughter wanted to make these for fathers day. Despite following the recipe they came out like sunken doughy dumplings and were inedible. Still don’t know what we did wrong but we won’t be making them again.

    1. Jane

      Was your baking powder nice and fresh? I like to buy smaller containers of baking powder because it stops working as it gets older. Weak baking powder will turn any quick bread/cake into dumplings.

  5. devyn

    all i have at home is lactose free 2% milk as my husband has a lactose allergy. will that work the same as regular milk?

  6. Katie

    As a chocolate cake lover myself I don’t usually make vanilla anything but I thought I’d try something different for my daughters birthday and found this recipe. This recipe was easy to follow and I was curious to see how cupcakes with sour cream in them and shortening in the frosting would turn out. Honestly they were very tasty and the frosting was so good too although I cut it in half. I didn’t have cupcake papers but these still cooked up nice although my first batch fell flat perhaps I over mixed them but they were still moist and delicious and with frosting on top who cares if they were flat!!! So all in all I’d say great recipe even for being vanilla ???? the only thing I would say is I used the cheap imitation vanilla and I’m guessing these would be that much better with real vanilla extract so next time I’ll spurge and use real vanilla. 

  7. Tammy Linck

    I followed this recipe to the letter. They had craters in the tops, they stuck to the cupcake liners and they taste like salty butter cookie. I’m not sure what happened. Can you please advise?

    1. Lindsay

      I would recommend storing in an air tight container. I usually keep them on the counter, but if you choose to use an all butter frosting, they are probably best refrigerated.

  8. Bryony

    Hiya,
    I’m currently making these cupcakes as I stumbled across the recipe online. I followed the instructions to the letter (I think!) and when I take them out of the oven they are swimming in butter. Once they cool a little they do soak it back up and they taste amazing but they are very grease. I’m in the Uk and I really appreciated your grams conversion but just trying to figure out what I did wrong ????!
    They definitely passed the kids text though my two loved them! Thanks so much for taking the time to develop this receipe xx

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not necessarily sure you didn’t anything wrong. I don’t recall them having this issue, but several others have reported the same thing. You could try reducing the butter slightly. I also have several other newer vanilla cupcake recipes if you’d like to try them – here and here.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12