The Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipes Compared

Want to find the one vanilla cupcake that trumps all others? You’re in luck! I’m here to share every detail about the Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipes and why you need each one in your life.

Four frosted vanilla cupcakes on a marble countertop with a matching marble backdrop

The Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipes

It’s no secret that I love vanilla cupcakes. If you’ve hung around here long enough or done a little searching, then you probably know that I have multiple vanilla cupcake recipes on this site. And I don’t know if I’ll ever stop creating new versions of this quintessential treat.

One thing I’ve learned throughout the years of sharing my recipes is that it’s impossible to please everyone. All of my vanilla cupcakes have received plenty of raving reviews, but there are always a few individuals who aren’t as enthusiastic for whatever reason. Everybody’s taste is unique, so I like to give people options – especially when it comes to something as essential as a vanilla cupcake

In total, I have shared 4 different vanilla cupcake recipes (so far). Each variation has its own flair, and one of them is bound to become your new go-to! Let’s get into the details.

Four different kinds of vanilla cupcakes on a countertop with a label floating above each one
The top view of four different homemade vanilla cupcakes

Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes

This simple recipe is a wonderful option for beginners. It has a special place in my heart, as it was the first vanilla cupcake recipe I ever developed back in 2014. Since then, I’ve given it a little upgrade.

I originally used room temperature butter, which reportedly tended to leave some lumps of butter in the batter, so now the recipe calls for melted butter. The process of making these cupcakes might seem a bit unusual, but it works like a charm. I will say that these are on the denser side of the cupcake spectrum, but once you take a bite, you’ll find that they have a lovely tenderness to them.

If you’re looking for an easy and tasty option, this recipe is more than worth a try. It’s really no more work than making cupcakes with a cake mix. And the result isn’t something you can get from a box!

A close-up shot of half of a fluffy vanilla cupcake on top of a marble counter

Moist Vanilla Cupcakes

As my first vanilla cupcake recipe garnered more and more readers, I got quite a few people who weren’t into sour cream and wanted to use whole eggs rather than egg whites. So I decided to create a whole new recipe.

Published in 2017, this version is arguably my most popular vanilla cupcake. It’s just as easy as my original one, but it’s oil-based rather than butter-based, which is known to make for even moister baked goods. It’s the vanilla version of my Best Chocolate Cake, which I’m asked for a lot. It also only uses baking powder rather than both baking powder and baking soda.

The people who love this recipe are downright obsessed with it, but there’s an unusual number of people who have trouble with it for reasons I can’t figure out. When I realized that people were getting inconsistent results, I once again set out to create something new.

A moist vanilla cupcake cut in half to reveal its interior

My Favorite Vanilla Cupcakes

If you have my cookbook, this is the cupcake version of the vanilla cake in there. Clearly, I think very highly of it. That said, there are some notable differences in this recipe as opposed to the previous two. The first is the method.

Since I wanted to create a lighter cupcake, I decided to go with the creaming method this time. As a result, these cupcakes are butter-based. I also added the sour cream back in because I personally enjoy the flavor it gives. It kind of combines my first two versions by using just egg whites and only baking powder.

Sadly, this cupcake recipe hasn’t ever really gotten the attention it deserves and has mostly been overlooked. I know it’s well-loved in my cookbook, but it just doesn’t seem to grab people’s attention on the site. It’s a wonderfully moist, tender, and delicious cupcake though –and it’s actually the base for a number of fan-favorite cupcakes and cakes on my site.

A halved vanilla cupcake made using my favorite recipe sitting on a kitchen countertop

Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes

Like the last version, these cupcakes are made using the creaming method. They use a combination of butter and oil to give them both the great flavor of the butter and the extra moisture from the oil. They also use whole eggs. To me, these are the most ideal of all the cupcakes. They just check off every box!

This recipe easily yields the most consistent results and seems to be most pleasing to people. There’s no sour cream or water, and it uses only baking powder. This is that good old reliable cupcake that always turns out great. It’s light, moist, tender—you can’t go wrong. It’s the one I use most often these days.

Lately, I’ve been testing this recipe with a touch of baking soda included. I’m really digging it, so don’t be surprised if it sneaks its way into the recipe!

An easy homemade vanilla cupcake on a countertop that has been cut in half with a knife

Frosting Ideas

No matter which recipe you follow, you’re going to end up with some awesome cupcakes. Now let’s talk about a few equally awesome frostings to put on top of them!

  • Vanilla Buttercream: Keep your vanilla cupcakes classic by topping them with this fail-proof Vanilla Buttercream. This is typically what you’ll find attached to each recipe.
  • Fudgy Chocolate Frosting: Want a rich cocoa version of my velvety vanilla buttercream? This Fudgy Chocolate Frosting won’t disappoint. Whenever I go this route, I like to fold some chocolate chips into my cupcake batter as well.
  • Strawberry Frosting: This flavorful Strawberry Buttercream can be made with either freeze-dried berries or strawberries that have been reduced over the stove. Either way, it’s a winner. I like to add strawberry chunks to my vanilla cupcakes when I top them with this delight.
  • Pumpkin Spice Buttercream: Even when it’s far from fall, you can never have too much pumpkin spice. Try finishing off your next batch of vanilla cupcakes with this lovely Pumpkin Spice Frosting!
Four unfrosted cupcakes on a cutting board with a frosted cupcake directly behind each one

More Crave-Worthy Cupcake Recipes

Looking for something other than vanilla? You’re sure to enjoy the cupcakes below.

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  1. Veronica

    I love this post! It is genius really. I am looking for a great vanilla cupcake recipe for my son’s birthday party. I’ve made him cupcakes for almost every birthday and for the past 3 years they came from your website. This year he personally asked me to make him vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. Melted my heart! So as I read through your vanilla options, the one question I had in mind was, which version would be a hit for kids? I can see fluffy being great for more calorie conscious adults. Maybe I’ll go more moist for kids? I’m just thinking out loud but at the same time I thought it could be helpful to add to your already helpful post, a recommendation or suitable for different target audience?

    I also made your Favorite Vanilla Cupcakes in the past, and it is fantastic.

  2. Sara

    I appreciate this post and the comparison of these recipes! There is nothing like a vanilla vanilla cupcake. I just wanted to say that the Favorite Vanilla Cupcakes are perfection. I am SUPER picky about my cake, especially vanilla, and this is the absolute best I have ever had. I wanted to be sure I let you know, since you said it tends to get overlooked. I have received nothing but the BEST compliments every time I make them. I’m sure the others are delicious, but I can’t bring myself to make vanilla cupcakes and not use the “Favorite” recipe!!

    1. Lindsay

      You have no idea how helpful it is to hear that. People who don’t like something are often the ones that comment most and then I never know if someone loved something and I may change it one day. So glad to hear you love it!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29