These very best vanilla cupcakes are soft, moist, and stay this way even after refrigerating. Decadent crumb and a vanilla flavor complemented by cream cheese frosting, which makes it a great dessert for special occasions.
Ingredients and substitutions
Flour - You can use cake flour for a more tender crumb or all-purpose flour with no more than 10g protein content per 100g of product.
Baking powder - The optimal approach would be to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh your baking powder. The rule of 1 teaspoon of baking powder per one cup of flour is not very accurate. For this vanilla cupcake recipe, we need 6g (around 1 ½ tsp) of baking powder, which is equal to 4% of the total flour weight.
Salt - I use around ½ teaspoon of salt for flavor balance.
Eggs - They should be at room temperature.
Sugar - I use regular white sugar.
Vanilla extract - Obviously, to make this vanilla cupcakes recipe you need vanilla extract or vanilla paste.
Milk - I use whole milk at room temperature.
Oil - This is the key to moist cupcakes. You can use any flavorless vegetable oil you like. Canola oil and sunflower seed oil will work great as well as extra mild olive oil (it really should be flavorless!)
Butter - I didn't want to remove the satisfying buttery flavor from my cupcakes, so I added a little melted butter to the oil before incorporating it into the cupcake batter.
Cream cheese frosting - I used Original Philadelphia cream cheese, heavy cream with 36% fat, and powdered sweeter. This is the easiest frosting you can make for almost any cupcake recipe out there. However, you can use whatever frosting you like. Vanilla buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, or whipped Chocolate ganache - they all fit well with this best vanilla cupcake recipe.
Measure all your ingredients using a digital kitchen scale. You can switch measurements to US cups/oz in the recipe card below, but if you really want to achieve greater results, you have to use grams when baking anything.
All ingredients should be at room temperature.
Sift all your dry ingredients to distribute baking powder evenly through the cupcake batter and break up possible lumps.
Preheat your oven a little bit in advance. This way, the heat will distribute evenly in the oven and your cupcakes will bake at the same rate.
Let the cupcakes cool down completely before decorating with the frosting. Otherwise, your frosting will melt.
Step by step directions
1. Sieve the dry ingredients.
2. Whip the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved completely, the mixture has tripled in volume, and pale yellow.
3. Slowly add the oil and melted butter mixture while whisking on low.
4. Using a rubber spatula, or while the stand mixer is running on the lowest speed, fold in the dry ingredients in three parts alternating with the milk. Start and end with dry ingredients (should look like this: dry/milk/dry/milk/dry).
5. Fill the cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake for 20-22 minutes in the oven preheated to 350F/175C, or until a toothpick is inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
6. Whisk all the frosting ingredients until thick and fluffy.
7. Decorate completely cooled cupcakes (I use Wilton 1M piping nozzle).
Why these cupcakes don't dry out and harden in the fridge
Most cupcake recipes are made of fat-based cake batter. This means that the tender crumb is achieved by incorporating air in the soft butter during the creaming process. However, it also means that we need a lot of butter and butter hardens when refrigerated.
To make moist vanilla cupcakes that stay soft, I used foam-based cake batter. This means that I aerated the eggs instead of butter by whisking them with sugar and then added vegetable oil (which doesn't solidify in the fridge). This way I achieved, in my opinion, perfect vanilla cupcakes without compromising on taste or texture.
How to color cream cheese frosting
You can use paste, powder, or gel food coloring (like this Red soft gel paste). However, make sure that no matter which you choose, it should be water-soluble. If you're worried that you will choose wrong, buy gel food coloring as they're all water-soluble, unlike powder or paste ones.
How to turn vanilla cupcakes into moist chocolate cupcakes
Easy! All you need to do is to replace up to 30% of the total weight of flour with unsweetened cocoa powder and add ¼ teaspoon baking soda to support baking powder. Simply put, use 130g of all-purpose flour and 20g of cocoa powder instead of 150g of flour. Don't forget to sift them and whisk them together with baking soda, baking powder, and salt before folding into the egg mixture.
If not decorated, wrap each cupcake in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. If filled and/or decorated, store in the fridge for up to 3 days in a cake/cupcake box. Alternatively, you can place the cupcakes on a plate and cover them with something like a microwave food cover (clean and dry) or cover lightly with plastic wrap on top if you're not scared of damaging your cupcake tops.
You can only freeze cupcakes that haven't been filled or decorated. Wrap each cupcake with plastic wrap and then with a piece of foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
More delicious dessert recipes
Best vanilla cupcakes
- Digital kitchen scale
- Stand mixer
- Rubber spatula
- Muffin pan
- Cupcake liners
- Wilton 1M piping nozzle
- 150 g all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs around 53-63g each, at room temperature
- 120 g granulated sugar
- 50 g vegetable oil such as canola oil, sunflower seed oil, or extra mild olive oil
- 15 g unsalted butter melted
- 100 ml whole milk at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 400 g cream cheese cold
- 90 g powdered sugar
- 90 ml heavy cream cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and line the muffin pan with paper liners.
- Into a mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- Pour the oil in a microwave save bowl, add the butter, and heat just until the butter has melted. Set aside.
- Place the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). Whip on high until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture turns pale yellow and has tripled in volume. It will take approximately 5 minutes depending on what mixer you use.
- Then, slowly pour in the oil and butter mixture while whisking on low.
- Using a rubber spatula or while the stand mixer is running on low, fold in the dry ingredients in three parts alternating with the milk. Start and end with dry ingredients.
- Fill the cupcake liner ⅔ full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down completely before frosting.
For the frosting
- Place all the ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or you can use a hand mixer) and mix on low until no dry powdered sugar is left. Then, beat on medium until reaching a homogenous consistency. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on high until thick and fluffy.
- Mix the frosting with a rubber spatula to remove air bubbles. Then, place the mixture in a piping bag with your favorite piping nozzle and decorate your cupcakes when they have completely cooled to room temperature.