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Learn how to make the best vanilla cupcake recipe from scratch! This is my go-to recipe for moist and fluffy cupcakes.

I’m sharing a simple filling plus different frosting options so you can make the most fantastic vanilla cupcakes. Plus, you can make them gluten-free or dairy-free!

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Perfect vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and rainbow sprinkles on top

Watch How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes VIDEO TUTORIAL

The Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Of all the thousands (millions?!) of cupcakes I’ve made, these vanilla cupcakes have always been at the top of my list of favorites. I’m a big believer that everyone needs a perfect vanilla cupcake recipe, and this is it. They’re light, fluffy, moist with the perfect amount of vanilla.

I’ve made this recipe more times than I can count, and they always come out amazing. You know how a box mix always produces consistent results? This recipe is just like that, except it’s homemade and tastes so much better – you don’t have to worry about the cupcakes being too dry, too delicate, or tough. They have the most wonderful texture. 

If you’ve been looking for a classic vanilla cupcake recipe to try, this is the one! You are going to love them!

EASY Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

This is an easy vanilla cupcake recipe that is super versatile – you can make simple, plain vanilla cupcakes or dress them up with filling and frosting.  

Cupcakes: What makes my recipe special is vanilla bean paste in the batter. It’s easier than scraping seeds out of a pod but has an amazing flavor that’s better than vanilla extract. Plus, you get the little flecks of vanilla in the cupcakes.

Filling: This is optional, but when I make these, I love to add a simple vanilla-flavored whipped cream as a filling. 

Frosting: You can use pretty much any frosting you like (I’m sharing a few different options!), but sometimes, my simple vanilla buttercream frosting is all you need. When you add it, you get classic vanilla cupcakes!

Six photos showing how to make the batter for perfect vanilla cupcakes

Ingredients in the Perfect Cupcakes

The ingredients in vanilla cupcakes are simple, but, as I mentioned, it’s the vanilla bean paste that makes the big difference! You can find it on Amazon or at stores like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table.

Here’s what you need to make them:

  • All-purpose flour – use the spoon and level method to measure it accurately.
  • Baking powder and Salt – typical cake ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – I start with it melted to keep the cupcakes moist
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla bean paste – I love the flavor of the paste, but you can substitute extract
  • ButtermilkLearn how to make your own buttermilk or use ¾ cup of milk combined with one teaspoon white vinegar. Let it sit for five minutes, and you get DIY buttermilk.

How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes

1. Whisk: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Mix: Combine the melted butter and sugar in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer for 30 seconds or until the mixture is thick and yellow. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add the vanilla bean paste and beat until combined.

3. Combine: Add the flour and buttermilk to the butter mixture in batches alternating each. So start with flour, followed by the milk, and end with the flour. The key is not to overmix the batter. Mix only until the flour is absorbed.

4. Bake: Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. You should able to get 12-15 cupcakes. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F. Be sure to check on them at the 15-minute mark – once a toothpick comes out clean, they’re done!

Perfect vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream cut in half to show fluffy inside

Optional Filling

Okay, so the cupcake filling is optional, but I suggest giving it a try. Imagine biting into a soft and fluffy cupcake with a creamy vanilla whipped cream center. Sounds pretty good, right? 

It’s simple to make, too. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla bean paste

Using a hand mixer, beat the cream and sugar together until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla paste.

There are a couple of different ways to fill the cupcakes:

  • Scoop the filling into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and poke it into the center of each cupcake to pipe the filling in.
  • If you don’t have a bag, you can cut a hole in the center and spoon in the filling.

What do you put on top of a vanilla cupcake?

Every cupcake needs frosting! With vanilla cupcakes, you have a lot of options. I’ve included my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe in the recipe card, but here are some of my other favorite frosting recipes you could try:

I like to pipe the frosting using a 1M tip to make pretty swirls. Add some sprinkles to dress it up!

Close up of perfect vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream and topped with rainbow sprinkles

What ingredients make a cupcake moist?

The eggs and buttermilk in this recipe give the vanilla cupcakes lots of moisture. It’s not just about the ingredients, though. Using a light hand and not overmixing the flour is the key to this moist vanilla cupcake recipe. 

What makes a cupcake light and fluffy?

Always measure the flour using the spoon and level method – this ensures you don’t add too much flour, which will make your cupcakes light and fluffy. Too much flour will make them tough and dense.

Not overmixing the batter is important, too! Mix it long enough to incorporate the flour, and that’s it.

Recipe Substitutions

Flour: You can substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour for regular flour in this recipe.

Buttermilk: You can use regular milk or non-dairy milk and add one teaspoon of white vinegar to make your own buttermilk substitute. Let it sit for five minutes before adding it to the dry ingredients.

Butter: No butter on hand? You can use the same amount of oil! Whether you dress them up to the nines with a filling, frosting, and sprinkles or keep them simple, one thing is for sure: you are going to LOVE this vanilla cupcake recipe. If you’ve been looking for the best recipe, your search ends here!

Vanilla Bean Paste: just substitute vanilla extract.

More Cupcake Recipes You’ll Love

Close up of perfect vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream and topped with rainbow sprinkles

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

5 from 32 votes
This is the most perfect Vanilla Cupcake Recipe ever! It's an easy recipe from scratch, homemade, moist and fluffy and simple. You can make this gluten free or dairy free and it's the perfect all-purpose cupcake recipe that's amazing with vanilla buttercream.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 14 cupcakes
Serving Size 1 cupcake


For the cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups (186g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter , melted
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • ¾ cup (178ml) buttermilk (or combine 3/4 cup milk + 1 teaspoon white vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)

For the filling (OPTIONAL):

  • ½ cup (119ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup (113g) unsalted butter , softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (452g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
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  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake tins with liners (makes 12-15).
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Add melted butter to a large bowl and mix in sugar with a hand mixer for 30 seconds until thick and yellow. Add eggs one at at time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Don’t over mix!
  • Divide batter among liners, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine took less than 20, so check at 15!) Cool completely before frosting!
  • To make the filling, if using: beat heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Whisk in both extracts.
  • To make the frosting: Beat butter until creamy. Beat in salt and 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until crumbly. Beat in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. Add more cream as needed for desired consistency.
  • To fill cupcakes: you can either fill a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and poke it into the center of the cupcake to fill, or you can carefully cut out a hole in the center and fill with a spoon.
  • Frost cupcakes by placing frosting in a pastry bag. I like the 1M tip, it gives pretty swirls. Add sprinkles for fun!
  • Note: you can make the frosting the day before, but let it come to room temperature before using.

Recipe Notes

No need to fill the cupcakes, I just wanted a little extra. These cupcakes would be great with chocolate frosting, and the vanilla buttercream would be good with any flavor cupcake!
If you make the frosting alone, without the cupcakes, you can use salted butter if that’s what you have on hand. Just leave out the salt!
Cupcake Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 159mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 51g | Vitamin A: 821IU | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Close up of perfect vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream and topped with rainbow sprinkles and recipe title on top of image

This is the most perfect Vanilla Cupcake Recipe ever! It’s an easy recipe from scratch, homemade, moist and fluffy and simple. You can make this gluten free or dairy free and it’s the perfect all-purpose cupcake recipe that’s amazing with vanilla buttercream.

Last Updated on February 2, 2023

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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Recipe Rating


  1. These cupcakes are moist and delicious. They bake up perfectly and don’t dry out like some of the other cupcake recipes I’ve tried. Winner!!

  2. The directions for the filling says to whisk in both extracts. There is only one extract listed, which is vanilla bean paste. What needs to be edited, the ingredients or directions?