Easy and elegant Vanilla Cupcakes with a classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. These Vanilla Cupcakes contain sour cream to help keep them tender and moist for days. Full recipe with step-by-step photos, plus tips on baking cupcakes in large batches.
I love a classic vanilla cupcake with a simple buttercream frosting. They always look so elegant and understated as they are, yet they lend themselves so well to fun sprinkles and other decorations.
One year, for my daughter’s birthday party, I baked and frosted four dozen vanilla cupcakes for all of the kids to decorate to their hearts’ content, and which they could take home as their party favours.
The kids had an absolute blast decorating with the various sprinkles and lollies on offer, even if it got a bit messy with sprinkles everywhere!
Baking so many cupcakes felt like a daunting task at first, but this vanilla cupcake recipe is so easy to make and reliable, that the baking part was honestly a breeze!
Why This Recipe Works
- Just put all of the ingredients into the food processor, blitz, and your batter is made!
- This recipe is great for doubling or tripling (or more!), for those times when you are in cupcake-factory-mode.
- The cupcake batter contains sour cream to help keep the cupcakes moist for days, so you can make the cupcakes ahead of time.
Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
For many years, I tried countless vanilla cupcake recipes in search of “the one”; the one that would be soft and moist, but still have enough structure to stand up to any heavy frosting. The one that was not too dry and could keep for several days if need be, especially if I needed to make them in advance of a birthday party. The one that the kids would actually like to eat, and not just pick at because they lost interest after eating the frosting first!
And I think this vanilla cupcake recipe is “the one”.
This vanilla cupcake recipe is very similar to my recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes, but … minus the chocolate! My Chocolate Cupcake recipe is based on a Sour Cream Chocolate Cake recipe which I am very faithful to for all birthday parties and celebrations.
One year, I lamented about the fact that I couldn’t find an equally good vanilla cake recipe, that if only there could be a vanilla cake which tasted just as good as the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, but without the chocolate. And so I tried it, and it worked!!
Moist Vanilla Cupcakes
There are different types of vanilla cupcakes. This one is soft and moist, dense yet light. It is not a fluffy cake, but it is not a heavy cake either. The sour cream in the batter keeps the cake tender and moist and gives it a good crumb.
In fact, these vanilla cupcakes keep well for several days on a covered cake stand, thanks to the sour cream. Which is handy to know because you can make these cupcakes up to a few days ahead of time and they will still taste perfectly fresh upon serving.
I used to think it was just the adults who would reach for the vanilla cupcakes, but I know many kids (my daughter included) who prefer this vanilla cupcake to the chocolate version.
How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes
Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature before baking.
Blitz until all of the ingredients are combined and you have a thick and smooth batter.
Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases (this recipe makes 12-15 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pan).
Divide the batter evenly between the paper cases, and use a small off-set spatula to gently spread the batter in the paper cases.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C (350°F) (without fan), or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
How to Make Mini Vanilla Cupcakes
Follow the same recipe below as for larger cupcakes.
Line a mini cupcake pan with paper cases. Mini cupcake pans vary in size, but the recipe below makes 24-30 mini cupcakes.
For mini cupcakes, bake for 12-15 minutes at 180°C (350°F) (without fan), or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
How to Make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Using the flat paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is pale yellow in colour and lightly whipped.
Slowly beat in the icing sugar (powdered sugar), one tablespoon at a time. Keep beating until all of the icing sugar is incorporated.
If you plan to make a plain and undecorated buttercream frosting, I think it’s worth using vanilla bean powder (about 1/4 teaspoon) so that you can see the flecks of vanilla in the frosting.
But if you plan to decorate with sprinkles, normal vanilla extract would suffice.
Add the vanilla extract (or vanilla bean powder to the frosting) and hot water.
Keep beating until the frosting is thick and smooth.
Tips for Making Vanilla Cupcakes in Large Batches
When making large batches of cupcakes, I am always looking for ways to make the process efficient and stress-free.
Here are my tips for making cupcakes in large batches:
- I recommend making the batter in two or more batches at a time. Much depends on the capacity of your food processor. My food processor has a 3 litre/12 cup capacity, which is just enough to make a double batch of this recipe.
- Make all of the cupcakes first. Once all of the cupcakes are baked and cooled, you can then frost them all at the same time.
- Ideally, you should have multiple cupcake pans (at least two sets) so that while one is being used in the oven, another is available for the next batch.
- Make sure you have enough wire racks to cool all of the cupcakes.
- When frosting the cupcakes, I recommend frosting 6 or so at a time before adding the sprinkles or decorations. The frosting needs to be moist (and not set) so that the sprinkles can adhere properly.
- Use disposable piping bags* to pipe the cupcake batter. An ice-cream scoop works well too, but I find piping the batter to be quicker, plus I don’t need to level out the batter with a spatula afterwards.
- Use disposable piping bags to pipe the frosting. For large batches, I don’t usually bother with piping nozzles; I simply snip off the ends to pipe smooth swirls on the cupcakes.
- If you find yourself making cupcakes regularly to bring to school or elsewhere, I highly recommend investing in a proper cupcake carrier, which can also double as a regular cake carrier or other food carrier. If you have gone to the trouble of nicely frosting your cupcakes, you want them to stay nice and intact at their destination. My cupcake carrier gets used a few times a year, but I regularly lend it to friends and neighbours, so it has been a good investment.
* I do my best to be environmentally friendly and try to avoid using disposable plastic bags. But for the few times a year when I have to do a lot of intensive baking in a short period, finding ways to cut down on the dishwashing (which has its own environmental impact) helps to maintain my sanity.
More Cupcake RecipesPrint
Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 12-15 cupcakes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Australian, American, British
Easy and elegant Vanilla Cupcakes with a classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. These Vanilla Cupcakes contain sour cream to help keep them tender and moist for days.
For the Vanilla Cupcakes
- 200 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g (1 cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 250 g (1 2/3 cups) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 150 ml or 170 g (2/3 cup) sour cream or crème fraîche
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
To make the Vanilla Cupcakes
Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature before starting.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (without fan).
- Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases (this recipe makes 12-15 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pans).
- Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture is well-combined. The batter should be thick and smooth.
- Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor:
- Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment.
- Slowly beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
- In a small bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla.
- Slowly add the wet ingredients to the mixer, and beat until the batter is thoroughly mixed.
- Divid the batter evenly between the paper cases. I like to use an ice-cream scoop for this task.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Place the butter into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
- Using the flat paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is pale yellow and lightly whipped.
- Beat in the icing sugar (powdered sugar) one tablespoon at a time.
- Keep beating until you have a smooth mixture.
- Add the vanilla and hot water.
- Beat until the frosting is smooth.
To assemble the Vanilla Cupcakes
- Fit a large star nozzle into a large piping bag. You can also omit the nozzle for a smooth, piped frosting.
- Fill the piping bag with the frosting.
- Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
- Decorate the cupcakes as you wish. If you are using sprinkles, add them while the frosting is still moist, otherwise the sprinkles will not adhere to the frosting.
- Alternatively, skip the piping bag and instead spread some frosting onto each cupcake with a small spatula.
MAKE AHEAD TIPS
The cupcakes can be 1-2 days before serving. Simply keep them covered and at room temperature. The frosted cupcakes also keep well for several days, covered and at room temperature.
QUANTITY OF FROSTING
This recipe makes enough frosting to pipe 15 cupcakes as shown in the photos. I used a 14 mm star nozzle in these photos. If you plan to use a larger nozzle or to use even more frosting on the cupcakes, I recommend making extra frosting (maybe 1.5 times the recipe).
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.