This easy Vanilla Cupcake recipe makes tender, delicious bakery-style cupcakes from simple ingredients! Perfect for any celebration or dessert treat.

Cupcakes are always a loved dessert for parties or special treats! And this vanilla cupcake recipe is so simple to make and has such a fluffy texture and scrumptious vanilla flavor; it is always a favorite! These are fun and festive, topped with rich Chocolate Buttercream frosting and colorful sprinkles, but they can be frosted any way you like!

A white cake plate holds vanilla cupcakes frosted with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles, wrapped in parchment.

I have made many cupcakes for children’s parties, birthdays, and other get-togethers through the years. I can’t even begin to count how many I have baked and frosted, and there are two cupcake recipes I turn to repeatedly: my chocolate cupcakes and these vanilla cupcakes. Both are essential cupcake recipes that are so simple to make and absolutely scrumptious!

How to Make Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Making these vanilla cupcakes couldn’t be simpler. The recipe uses standard ingredients you most likely have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator. Even though you can use an electric mixer to make your cupcake batter, it is easily mixed by hand with a whisk!

Closeup of cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream frosting and sprinkles in a parchment wrapper.

To make these favorite vanilla cupcakes, you’ll need:

Ingredients

Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.

  • flour – use all-purpose flour. There’s no need for special cake flour, but you can use it if it’s what you have, however, do not use self-rising flour for these cupcakes.
  • sugar – use granulated sugar
  • baking powder and baking soda – you use both in this recipe – they help the cupcakes to rise
  • salt – kosher
  • milk – I use whole milk
  • oil – vegetable oil or another neutral-tasting oil, such as sunflower, canola, avocado, or grapeseed oil. You can also use melted coconut oil, noting there may be a slight taste difference.
  • egg – make sure at room temperature for best mixing and final result for tender, fluffy cupcakes
  • vanilla extract – use this homemade recipe or quality vanilla extract from the store
  • boiling water – don’t skip this – it adds so much moisture to the cupcakes!

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Prep the muffin tin. Preheat the oven and place the cupcake liners in the muffin tin. Spray the liners lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the wet ingredients. Then, add the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla – to the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. Carefully pour in the boiling water and whisk until incorporated and your batter is smooth.
  4. Fill liners and bake. Carefully spoon or scoop the mixed batter into the cupcake liners to half full. Do not overfill. Then bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  5. Cool completely. Remove from the oven, carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes should cool on the wire rack for about an hour to completely cool before storing.
  6. Store or Frost and serve. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, either store them unfrosted if serving later or frost them with your chosen frosting if serving them soon. The cupcakes pictured have been frosted with my rich and delicious Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Frosting Tips

Use a plastic ziplock-type bag to pipe your frosting! There is no need to buy fancy frosting bags and tips unless you want to do so. Simply fill a plastic bag with your frosting, cut a small amount off one of the corners of the bag, and pipe the frosting onto your cupcakes!

Do your made-ahead cupcake tops seem a bit too “sticky” to frost with a spatula without tearing them? If so, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes instead!

How to Store Vanilla Cupcakes

Whether unfrosted or frosted, on the counter or in the refrigerator, it’s important to know how to store your cupcakes for the freshest results. But it’s important to store them correctly so that the frosting doesn’t get hard or the cake gets dry and crumbly. You want to store them the right way so that your freshly baked cupcakes stay moist and delicious!

Store Unfrosted Cupcakes

  • Make certain the cupcakes have completely cooled before covering them. Any bit of heat left in the freshly baked cupcakes will “steam” inside their storage container and cause condensation, making the cupcakes sticky.
  • After they are completely cool, store them in a container with an airtight lid like a cake carrier or a large, deep storage container with an airtight lid to keep them moist and fresh. They can be stored on the countertop, out of direct sunlight, and at room temperature for up to two days.
  • If you bake the cupcakes the night before your event and need to store them, it’s easier to store them Unfrosted. Unfrosted cupcakes are easier to store on the counter to frost within the next day or two, right before you are ready to serve them.
  • Unfrosted cupcakes made according to this recipe do not require refrigeration. If you need to store them in the refrigerator due to a super hot summer day or an added ingredient like an added cream filling, they should remain fresh for 3-4 days when stored properly in an airtight container.

Store Frosted Cupcakes

  • Frosted cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container as well. I like to use a cake carrier, or a cake plate covered with a cake dome, or a large, deep storage container with an airtight lid. They should stay fresh in the storage container for 3-4 days.
  • Again, the frosting you use on the cupcakes will determine whether they require refrigeration. For example, a cream cheese frosting or a whipped cream frosting will require refrigeration. In most cases, a buttercream frosting will be fine left on a cool spot on the countertop in an airtight container.
  • A good rule of thumb is if you add items to the cupcakes or to the frosting that requires refrigeration on its own, those cupcakes will also require refrigeration.
A bite taken from a vanilla cupcake that's frosted with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles.

How to Freeze Vanilla Cupcakes

Freezing the cupcakes helps keep them fresh for up to 3 months if they are prepared for freezing properly.

Freeze Unfrosted Cupcakes

Freezing the cupcakes unfrosted is the best option if possible. (Sometimes, you may have to freeze some leftover frosted cupcakes, so I’ll also cover that later.) Here’s how:

  • Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, wrap each unfrosted cupcake well in plastic wrap.
  • Place each individually wrapped cupcake into a freezer-safe, air-tight zip-top bag or container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Freeze Frosted Cupcakes

If you have some already frosted cupcakes you want to save for later, they can be frozen. I find that unfrosted cupcakes are best to freeze, but sometimes you might need to freeze them frosted. Here’s how:

  • They should be cool if they are already frosted, so it goes without saying that they will be cooled.
  • Put the frosted cupcakes in a single layer without covering them on a baking sheet or freezer-safe dish.
  • Pre-freeze the frosted cupcakes by placing them in the freezer to flash freeze them to “harden” the frosting for about 1 hour until frozen. This should help protect the frosting from getting crushed when they go into the container to freeze for longer.
  • Wrap each flash-frozen frosted cupcake individually with plastic wrap.
  • Use a sturdy and deep airtight container for freezing frosted cupcakes. Place each individually wrapped frosted cupcake into the container and seal it with an airtight lid. It seems to protect the frosted cupcakes better for freezing than a plastic freezer bag does.
  • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Defrost Frozen Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Remove from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap, and let thaw at room temperature.
  • Allow them to reach room temperature before applying the frosting. You should also let the frozen frosted cupcakes come to room temperature before serving them too.
  • Occasionally, the frosting may start to slide from the top of a frosted cupcake as it thaws, so if that happens, use a butter knife or spatula to place it gently back in place.
Vanilla cupcakes topped with swirls of chocolate buttercream frosting and sprinkles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to cool cupcakes after baking?

A wire cooling rack is best for allowing the cupcakes to cool as the air can circulate all around them for even cooling. Only allow the cupcakes to remain in the tin for about 5-10 minutes to cool before removing them onto the wire cooling rack to finish completely cooling. Allowing the cupcakes to remain in the tin for too long before moving to the cooling rack can cause moisture to collect and the cupcakes to stick.

How do you keep cupcakes moist and prevent them from getting dried out?

Store the cooled cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter. There may be a reason, like a heat wave or a frosting that requires refrigeration, but storing them in the refrigerator can cause the cupcakes to dry out faster. So keep them stored on the countertop in the proper container for the most moisture if you can.

Some Favorite Frostings for Cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

Marshmallow Frosting with Coconut

Here’s my Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe. I hope you love them as much as we do!

Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

5 from 7 votes
This easy Vanilla Cupcake recipe makes tender, delicious bakery-style cupcakes from simple ingredients! Perfect for any celebration or dessert treat.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, or another oil, like sunflower, canola, avocado, or grapeseed oil. Or melted coconut oil (may be a slight taste difference)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 325º F.
  • Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Add dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Add wet ingreidents – milk, oil, egg, and vanilla – to the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. Carefully pour in the boiling water and whisk until well combined and the batter is smooth.
  • Evenly distribute the cake batter into the cupcake liners. Each liner should be about 1/2 full.
  • Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 5-10 minutes in the pan. Then carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, frost the cupcakes and serve.

Notes

Nutritional information is for the vanilla cupcakes as listed in the recipes. The frosting is not included in this information. 

Storage Instructions

Unfrosted Cupcakes:
    • Make certain the cupcakes have completely cooled before covering them. Any bit of heat left in the freshly baked cupcakes will cause condensation.
    • After they are completely cool, store them in a container with an airtight lid, like a cake carrier or a large, deep storage container with an airtight lid. They can be stored on the countertop, out of direct sunlight, and at room temperature for up to two days.
    • If you bake the cupcakes the night before your event and need to store them, it’s easier to store them Unfrosted for 1-2 days. Then frost the cupcakes just prior to serving. 
    • Unfrosted cupcakes made according to this recipe do not require refrigeration. If you need to store them in the refrigerator due to summer heat or an added ingredient, they should remain fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator when stored properly in an airtight container.
Frosted Cupcakes:
    • Frosted cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container, such as a cake carrier or a large, deep storage container with an airtight lid. They should stay fresh in the storage container for 3-4 days.
    • The frosting on the cupcakes will determine if they require refrigeration.  A good rule of thumb is if you add items to the cupcakes or to the frosting that requires refrigeration on its own, those cupcakes will also require refrigeration.

Freezing Instructions

Freeze Unfrosted Cupcakes:
Freezing the cupcakes unfrosted is the best option if possible. 
    • Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, wrap each unfrosted cupcake well in plastic wrap.
    • Place each individually wrapped cupcake into a freezer-safe, air-tight zip-top bag or container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Freeze Frosted Cupcakes:
    • Put the frosted cupcakes in a single layer without covering them on a baking sheet or freezer-safe dish.
    • Pre-freeze the frosted cupcakes by placing them in the freezer to flash freeze them to “harden” the frosting for about 1 hour until frozen. 
    • Wrap each flash-frozen frosted cupcake individually with plastic wrap.
    • Use a sturdy and deep airtight container for freezing frosted cupcakes. Place each individually wrapped frosted cupcake into the container and seal it with an airtight lid. 
    • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Defrost Frozen Cupcakes

  • Remove from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap, and let thaw at room temperature.
  • Allow them to reach room temperature before applying the frosting. You should also let the frozen frosted cupcakes come to room temperature before serving them too.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 123mg | Potassium: 56mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

Welcome to Add A Pinch

About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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Recipe Review




38 Comments

  1. Oh my word! Best cupcake recipe! Shocked at how good these are! One bite in and leaving a review 😂💕 I even used water with a bit of butter instead of milk. This is a keeper! Thank you!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Taryn! I love that it only took one bite to know you loved the cupcakes.

  2. 5 stars
    Sooo good ! Huge success with the fam ! I find they get too greasy spraying the liners , does this need to be done? Also have you added any chocolate chips , sprinkles etc?

    1. Leigh-Anne, you don’t have to spray the liners if you don’t wish. I just spray mine very lightly to ensure the cake won’t stick to the liner. I haven’t added chocolate chips or sprinkles to the batter but have added sprinkles to the frosting. So glad you enjoy the cupcakes.

  3. 5 stars
    LOVE these!!! I also love that the recipe doesn’t require a hand/stand mixer. Pretty much no fail. I like Japanese red bean (Adzuki bean) paste, so I added a little batter on the bottom, some red bean paste (that I formed into discs), and then more batter on top. Perfect!!!
    Thank you so much!!!

    1. Kim, I haven’t tried making these with the red bean paste but so glad the cupcakes worked out so well for you. Thanks for the tip.

    1. Denise, you can use an equal amount of melted butter instead of the oil. I hope you enjoy!

  4. Hi! We absolutely loved these cupcakes so my 6 yr old is asking me to make her bday cake with the same recipe, would that bake well as recipe stands? Any suggestions on times? Thank you!

    1. Andrea, you can just double the recipe to make a 2 layer 9-inch round cake. I would bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes. I hope your daughter has a very happy birthday!

  5. 5 stars
    The cupcakes taste amazing but we did something wrong. I have never made cupcakes from scratch before and I am certain it was user error. The batter was super runny – is that normal? The bottoms of the cupcake liners were really moist when they came out of the oven too but everything was cooked. I feel like it had to do with putting the boiling water in at the end. They also didn’t seem to rise a ton. Any thoughts? We love the taste so much we are moving forward with using this recipe for my daughters birthday party and they girls will have a cupcake bake off.

    1. Katie, the batter will be really thin. Make sure you spray the liners before filling with the batter. Allow the cupcakes to cool no more than 5-10 minutes in the tin before removing and placing on a wire cooling rack so the bottoms of the cupcakes and liner won’t retain moisture. I hope this helps and hope the girls have fun with their bakeoff.