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Light, soft vanilla cupcakes that stay moist for 5 days, have a rich vanilla flavor and only use pantry ingredients! These delicious cupcakes are frosted with my ermine frosting recipe that is light and airy like whipped cream.

soft moist vanilla cupcakes with fluffy frosting interior texture.

I created this moist vanilla cupcake recipe out of necessity. I had planned to make cupcakes out of my perfect moist vanilla cake recipe, but I have a toddler and I over-baked a batch. My vanilla cake recipe calls for sour cream but I had already used all of my sour cream. I didn’t have any passible substitutes like Greek yogurt, kefir or even buttermilk.

So I threw caution to the wind and experimented. I adjusted the amount of wet ingredients to use just one egg and all milk. And the results were SPECTACULAR! The resulting vanilla cupcakes were light, fluffy and incredibly moist.

Why These are the Best Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Pantry ingredients. You probably have all the ingredients for these cupcakes on hand. No buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream or kefir here! Just milk, eggs, vanilla and dry ingredients. This also allows the vanilla flavor to shine!
  • Soft cupcakes that stay moist for a week! These easy cupcakes stayed moist for 5 days at room temperature, a week in the refrigerator and 2 months frozen! Adding frosting as soon as they cool will help lock in the moisture.
  • Perfectly scaled for 12 cupcakes. Sometimes you just need 12 and you don’t want to pull out another cupcake tin. No need with this recipe. A professional chef has perfectly created this recipe to yield 12 flat-topped cupcakes.
  • Pillowy soft vanilla frosting. The cupcakes themselves are awesome, but ermine frosting makes these vanilla cupcakes a knockout! It is less sweet than other frostings but just as stable as Italian meringue buttercream! Pile it high and add a few sprinkles to make it a party.
piped frosting with sprinkles on vanilla cupcakes.
These Caramel Apple Cupcakes are a moist cinnamon cake filled with a spiced apple compote and are frosted with an easy salted caramel buttercream!
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Professional Tips for Making Moist Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Room temperature ingredients make a difference. Having all your ingredients at room temperature will make the most emulsified cake batter and best textured cupcakes; however, I used cold ingredients for the cupcakes pictured and they were still pretty phenomenal!
  • Use double liners. You can see in my pictures that these cupcakes each have 2 thin cupcake liners. It wasn’t an accident (well, the first time I did it in 2013 it was!). Two liners will still allow the cupcakes to bake evenly and expand, but they will keep them moist for days!
  • Portion evenly. Whether you are using a cookie scoop, a large spoon, or pouring from the mixing bowl, try to evenly distribute the cupcake batter between the cupcake liners. This will mean that all 12 cupcakes bake evenly. No deciding between half over-baked and half under-baked cupcakes!
  • Be careful not to overbake. Even overbaking vanilla cupcakes by 1 minutes can be the difference between good and amazing cupcakes! Bake just until the top springs back, they are a light golden brown, a toothpick comes out with clinging crumbs, or the top looks matte rather than glossy.

Ingredients & Substitutions

ingredients for vanilla cupcakes on marble.
  • Unsalted Butter: Cool but pliable butter will incorporate well in the batter and allow you the time to add volume to the cake by trapping air between the molecules of sugar.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Large Egg: I use one whole egg for this recipe because they add moisture and fat as well as aid in the leavening. Since it is a butter based cake, I don’t need to lighten it with whipped egg whites like I do in my classic white cake. There is only one egg, so it is actually a very white cupcake.
  • Vanilla Extract: This is the main flavor so choose a pure vanilla extract that you enjoy. I love Nielson Massey’s vanilla extract. You could also add vanilla bean paste or a scraped vanilla bean to either the cake or the frosting.
  • Almond Extract: A hint of almond extract takes this great from “great” to “WOW!” You can omit if you do not like it.
  • Whole Milk: The fat in whole milk adds flavor and contributes to the moist, tender texture.
  • Cake Flour: Cake flour is ideal in this vanilla cupcake recipe. You can use all-purpose flour but the texture will be slightly less tender and fluffy.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: I use a combination of baking powder and baking soda to get the initial intense volume from the soda in combination with the even, slow rise of the double acting baking powder.
  • Kosher Salt: Do be sure you use kosher salt or reduce the salt in the recipe by half. Kosher salt has larger granules and is less salty than sea salt or table salt by the teaspoon.
  • Sprinkles: I added a few Funfetti sprinkles on top. You could always dive deeper into the fun-pond and add ½ cup sprinkles to the batter!

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

cupcakes on white marble cake stand.
The double liner to lock in moisture!

Possible Variations

How to Make the Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Use these instructions to make easy vanilla cupcakes that stay moist for 5 days! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Make the batter:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F (either convection or regular). Line a standard 12 cupcake pan (muffin tins) with cupcake liners.

Step 2: Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. You could also whisk them together in a large bowl and it would be fine!

Step 3: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Step 4: Add the egg and extracts, beating well.

sifted dry ingredients for cupcakes.
creamed butter and sugar for vanilla cupcakes.
emulsified eggs into butter and sugar.

Step 5: Alternately add milk and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry. I often finish folding by hand.

Step 6: Scoop batter into prepared cupcake tins. I used a medium cookie scoop to make this task easier.  

Step 7: Bake immediately in preheated oven until a cake tester or toothpick comes out with a few clinging crumbs, approximately 15-18 minutes. Be careful not to over bake or they dry out. Mine baked 18 minutes in a convection oven.

Step 8: Remove from tins and cool completely on a wire rack. I pop them out with a small offset spatula to avoid burning my fingertips.

Step 9: Frost with your favorite frosting. I used an Ateco 868 piping tip for the pictured cupcakes.

portioning vanilla cake batter.
baked vanilla cupcakes in metal tin.
vanilla cupcakes frosted with ermine frosting in vintage tin.

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

I used an Ateco 868 piping tip, which is also called a French star tip. You could use a closed star tip (Ateco 849 or 848) or a round tip like the Ateco 809. Just choose a tip that is large. That is the secret to professional looking cupcakes!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store vanilla cupcakes?

Store frosted vanilla cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap unfrosted cupcakes tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen. They are best iced the day they are made. This helps lock in the moisture and keep them tasting fresh. If you must make them ahead, I recommend freezing them.

Can you freeze these vanilla cupcakes?

These cupcakes freeze excellently! I have been testing one in the freezer for over 2 months and its texture is still perfect. Store frosted or unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Can you bake this cupcake recipe into a cake?

Yes, you absolutely can bake this same recipe in a 9×13 inch pan or into 2, 8-inch round cake layers like my vanilla cake recipe. You can also bake it in 2, 9-inch pans but the resulting layers will be thinner. This recipe uses less egg and also less wet ingredients, which means there isn’t as much batter as the cake recipe.

How to serve vanilla cupcakes?

Serve vanilla cupcakes as their own special dessert with or without birthday candle, but you can also serve these cupcakes as you would a slice of cake! Try adding a spoonful of crème anglaise, a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or chocolate ice cream, a drizzle of hot fudge or salted maple caramel sauce, or fresh berries.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

soft moist vanilla cupcakes with fluffy frosting.
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Vanilla Cupcakes

Light, soft vanilla cupcakes that stay moist for 5 days and only use pantry ingredients! These delicious cupcakes are frosted with my ermine frosting recipe that is light and airy like whipped cream.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 33 minutes
Servings: 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (either convection or regular). Line a standard 12 cupcake pan (muffin tins) with cupcake liners.
  • Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and extracts, beating well.
  • Alternately add milk and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry. I often finish folding by hand.
  • Scoop batter into cupcake liners. I used a medium cookie scoop to make this task easier.
  • Bake immediately in preheated oven until a cake tester or toothpick comes out with a few clinging crumbs, approximately 15-18 minutes. Be careful not to over bake or they dry out. Mine baked 18 minutes in a convection oven.
  • Remove from tins and cool completely on a wire rack. I pop them out with a small offset spatula to avoid burning my fingertips.
  • Frost with your favorite frosting. I used an Ateco 868 piping tip with my ermine frosting for the pictured cupcakes.

Notes

Yield – 12 cupcakes
Presentation – I used an Ateco 868 piping tip, which is also called a French star tip. You could use a closed star tip (Ateco 849 or 848) or a round tip like the Ateco 809. Just choose a tip that is large. That is the secret to professional looking cupcakes!
Storage – Store frosted vanilla cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap unfrosted cupcakes tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen. They are best iced the day they are made. This helps lock in the moisture and keep them tasting fresh. If you must make them ahead, I recommend freezing them.
Note – the calories are for just the cupcakes and will vary depending on the buttercream you choose. 

Nutrition

Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 196mg | Potassium: 36mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 158
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Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef created recipe. Check out all our cupcake recipes, cake recipes or just dive straight into desserts with these lemon cupcakes or enjoy more vanilla with this homemade vanilla pudding recipe!

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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