Moist Vanilla Cupcakes

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This Easy Vanilla Cupcake recipe makes moist vanilla cupcakes topped my my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting. This recipe uses oil instead of butter to produce a dense and sponge-like cupcake. The results are perfect cupcakes every time! 

A single vanilla cupcake in a teal polka dot liner topped with beautifully pipped vanilla buttercream and sprinkles

My Best Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

I think everyone needs a quick and easy cupcake recipe that they can make in a pinch. I have made many cupcakes over the years and this, my friends is the the best. You can literally come home from work and have cupcakes in the oven 10 minutes later.

Thousands of readers have made these cupcakes and loved the dense, sponge-like texture. These cupcakes stay moist for several days and they’re packed with vanilla flavor.

I topped these with a classic vanilla buttercream, you can’t go wrong with that combination. But these would also pair well with a Swiss meringue or chocolate buttercream as well.

A close up shot of a moist vanilla cupcake with pretty teal sprinkles. There's a piping bag in the background.

Recipe ingredients and substitutions

  • Granulated sugar:
  • Vegetable oil: Oil makes these cupcakes more moist than a recipe with butter. It also makes the crumb and texture a bit more tender and tighter.
  • Whole eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract: Be sure you get a high-quality REAL vanilla extract
  • Sour cream: helps keeps these cupcakes very moist.
  • Dry ingredients: All-purpose flour, Baking powder, Salt
  • Milk:  I use nonfat because that’s what I keep in my fridge, but you can use any type of milk you have on hand. 

substitutions

  • Sour cream: I recommend substituting with plain or Greek yogurt
  • Butter instead of oil: You can use 1/2 cup of melted butter instead of oil. You can also use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. 
  • Gluten-free flour: I have tested this recipe with a one for one gluten-free flour and it worked out great. 
an overhead shot of ingredients for vanilla cupcakes: milk, sugar, flour, eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla

How to Make Vanilla Cupcakes

Prep: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Combine the sugar with the wet ingredients: Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.

Combine the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the dry ingredients, and beat on low speed while pouring in half of the milk and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat until all ingredients have been added.

an overhead shot of a glass mixing bowl with vanilla cake batter, flour and milk being poured into the bowl

Fill the pan: Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full. 

Bake: Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done.

Seriously the best vanilla buttercream

I promise this will become your new go-to frosting recipe. It’s the perfect consistency for piping, and the texture is amazing.

What makes this frosting so good? My secret is to use cold butter, straight out of the fridge. The butter is whipped in the beginning for several minutes, so the mixture softened the butter for you. This is the most important step in the process.

My other secret? I use heavy whipping cream which helps reduce the sweetness and incorporate air into the frosting. If you don’t have heavy cream, milk will also work.

A small white cake stand with vanilla cupcakes that have teal polka dot liners. The cupcakes are topped with a gorgeous vanilla buttercream

How to Frost a Cupcake Like a Pro

Want to make beautiful bakery style frosted vanilla cupcakes? A simple trick is to use jumbo piping tips for the frosting. Start from the outside edge of the cupcake, working your way up towards the middle, and only fill your piping bag a maximum of 2/3 full. I have shared tons more tips for decorating cupcakes

Tips for the Best Cupcakes

  • Using a cookie scoop or measuring cup will ensure that there’s an even amount of batter in each cupcake liner. This means the baking times will also be consistent. 
  • Use an oven thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your oven.
  • Use a light colored, nonstick pan. Every cupcake pan cooks cupcakes differently. I have several of the Wilton Recipe Right cupcake pans and these are great, inexpensive cupcake pans.
Three vanilla cupcakes stacked on top of one another, the top one has a bite taken out of it

Can I use this recipe to make a cake?

Yes, you can. You can find variations of this cupcakes recipe in my Moist Vanilla Layer Cake, or if you’d like to make a 9×13 inch cake, see this vanilla cake recipe

Cupcakes in a pan with teal polka dot liners

How do I store frosted cupcakes?

If you live in a hot and humid environment then I would suggest that you refrigerate cupcakes that are frosted and allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

Since this frosting is all butter based, it will melt in high temperatures or in humid environments. If you are serving this buttercream at an outdoor party, be sure to keep it out of the sun, especially if temperatures are hot that day.

Otherwise I store my cupcakes in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for up to 3 days once they are frosted.

Can I freeze cupcakes?

Personally I don’t freeze cupcakes if I can help it. I don’t think they taste the same when thawed. However, if you need to freeze them, I would suggest to do so unfrosted. Flash-freeze the cupcakes on a baking sheet for 15 minutes than transfer them to an air-tight, freezer-safe container. Thaw to room temperature before frosting.

A moist vanilla cupcake with a vanilla frosting and sprinkles has a big bite taken out of it

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A trip of vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream. The cupcakes have teal polka dot liners and pink, white and teal sprinkles.

Moist Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 24-26 cupcakes

Description

This is a homemade Moist Vanilla Cupcake recipe using oil instead of butter to produce a dense and sponge-like cupcake. The results are perfect cupcakes every time!

Ingredients

For the cupcake:

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ cup(118 ml) light sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (296 ml) milk (I use nonfat)

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cup (339 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 6 cups (780g) powdered sugar
  • 2 ½ (12 ml) tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the dry ingredients, and beat on low speed while pouring in half of the milk and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.
  5. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, and the remaining milk. Beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full. Careful not to overfill.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.
  9. For the frosting: Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally, beating until the butter is very fluffy.
  10. Alternate adding 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients: vanilla extract & heavy cream. Ensure the powdered sugar is well combined, and whip for 1-2 minutes before adding more powdered sugar.
  11. Finally, increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting. Pipe these cupcake with a large piping tip and top with sprinkles.

Notes

  • The batter will be quite thin. It’s important that you stir the batter after mixing, to ensure everything on the bottom of the bowl is well mixed.
  • Sour Cream: You can substitute the light sour cream for Greek yogurt. You can also use full-fat sour cream if needed.
  • Gluten-free option: This recipe has been tested with a one for one cup gluten-free flour that already contains xanthan gum.
  • To make 12-14 cupcakes, halve all the dry and wet ingredients, but use 2 whole eggs, 2/3 cups milk
  • Storage suggestions: If you live in a hot and humid environment then I would suggest that you refrigerate cupcakes that are frosted and allow them to come to room temperature before serving. Otherwise they can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature.
  • Make-ahead: These are best served within 2 days of preparation but will proper storage they can stay fresh for several days.
  • Freezing: If needed, flash-freeze the cupcakes on a baking sheet for 15 minutes than transfer them to an air-tight, freezer-safe container. Thaw to room temperature prior to serving. If possible, it’s best to store them unfrosted.
Nutrition Information:
1 cupcake
400
46.9g
118.6mg
17.9g
11.8g
58.3g
0.4g
3.1g
57.1mg
  • Category: Cupcake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cupcake Recipe, Birthday Cupcakes

Variation Ideas:

This vanilla cupcake recipe is very adaptable. I’ve made this recipe into:

Looking for more cupcake recipes? Here are all my best cupcake recipes.

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219 Responses
  1. Cheryl

    One thing I wish was noted on here is if your wet ingredients were room temp or not. I always hear conflicting things when it comes to room temp vs. not and want to ensure when I make these that they are moist. I’m making them for a baby shower.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Cheryl, totally understand. These do not have to be at room temperature, or at least I never make it that way. For my website, anything that requires room temperature ingredients it should be listed in the recipe card. I hope you enjoy them!

  2. Edain

    This is the only cupcake recipe I like and I cannot find a chocolate cake recipe to compare. Do you know if I could substitute some flour and add cocoa powder to make a chocolate cake?

  3. Samantha

    Just put in the oven! Sure it will taste wonderful but the batter made WAY more than 24 cupcakes! Actually made 24 cupcakes and a 8″ cake, which is probably filled too much… I expected maybe a couple cupcakes difference but not this much. What could I have done wrong?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Samantha- Either you under filled the cupcakes or you’re using a totally different pan size. Otherwise it has to be something off with the recipe prep. When you say 8-inch cake, generally my 8inch layers have 1 2/3 cups of batter in them. Not sure how much batter you have leftover. I bake these quite frequently and never get more than 26.

    2. Christi

      I love this recipe for cakes and made it into cupcakes for them first time today. I agree with you Samantha – it made way more than 24 cupcakes! I used a standard cupcake pan and a large cookie scoop. It made 30! Very delicious. I will be filling them with a homemade strawberry filling.

      1. Beyond Frosting

        I don’t know how you all are getting more than 26 cupcakes out of this recipe LOL, I’ve made it hundreds of times and 26 is the max I get!

      1. Beyond Frosting

        I don’t know how you all are getting more than 26 cupcakes out of this recipe LOL, I’ve made it hundreds of times and 26 is the max I get!

  4. Melissa

    Love this recipe ! I made mine yesterday and used leftover chocolate frosting !
    Very hard to find a vanilla cupcake recipe and this one is amazing !!
    I’m wondering if you could divide this batter into two 8 inch pans to make a cake? What would the cook temp and time be ?
    Looking forward to your reply !
    Thanks again for an amazing recipe !!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hey Melissa, thank you so much for sharing! I am so glad to hear this. So this recipe for 24 cupcakes with make either a 2 layer or 3 layer vanilla cake. Here are the full instructions for the layer cake.

  5. Ashley Bachel

    I have tried many different cake/cupcake recipes and yours is the ONLY one I have liked and its the only one I use for all my cakes, along with the frosting! I’ve been using it for a couple years now and I’m so glad I found it!! Thank you for sharing your awesome recipes!

  6. Ashley Bachel

    I have tried many different cake/cupcake recipes and yours is the ONLY one I have liked and its the only one I use for all my cakes, along with the frosting! I’ve been using it for a couple years now and I’m so glad I found it!! Thank you for sharing your awesome recipes!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Alisha, the oven temperature would be the same yes! However the baking time would be different and dependent on the size of the mini pan. This could be anywhere from 7-12 minutes maybe. I would do a test, baking a couple of them, check after 5 minutes and add additional time as needed.

  7. Shantrell

    I have a KitchenAid stand mixer and a cordless hand mixer can I just use the cordless. Also after I make the cupcakes do I put them in the refrigerator due to using sour cream?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      I’m not familiar with a cordless mixer but I am sure it’s fine. For storage see additional details under the section in the blog post: HOW DO I STORE FROSTED CUPCAKES?

  8. Polina

    I was searching for an ideal recipe of the cupcakes and found it here!!! Thank you so much for sharing! They are fluffy and moist for 4 days or even more, and really delicious 🥰☺️

      1. Rebecca

        This was a great recipe. Love the texture of the cupcakes however it has a very pronounced egg taste which is strange. Can I use 2 eggs in future?

  9. Happy Baker

    I started my vanilla cupcake recipe search about three weeks ago and came across these after two other recipes that I didn’t like- either too involved or not the right texture. I found these and did a test batch and LOVED them! I ended up making these (175 of them!) for my baby shower and THEY ARE PERFECT! They are super duper perfectly moist, have a really satisfying texture, and the frosting is soo light and fluffy and perfect! Did I mention that this recipe is perfect? It totally is! Thank you for all the tips in the blog post- I ended up using greek yogurt because I didn’t have sour cream and they are so moist. The post about frosting advice was also very helpful! My cupcakes look professional!! And thank you for such an easy, quick recipe that tastes and looks like I slaved over them for days (even though start to finish 175 cupcakes was only a few hours!)

    1. Beyond Frosting

      This is so boss!! Thank you! I’ve don several large events and making that many cupcakes is no joke. I am honored that you choose my recipe!

  10. Casey

    The cupcakes were sooo yummy!! Although I have a long way to go to perfect my cupcake skills they were amazing. They were a big hit. I’ve been trying to find a vanilla recipe (Cakes/or cupcakes), and your blog was the best one I’ve found. Easy, and quick. I definitely recommend this recipe. Thank you so much for creating this recipe. I will be using this for my future cake. 😊

  11. Shantel

    I made your vanilla icing and now the cupcakes, and OMIGOSH these are so delicious. This is go to for now.

  12. Julie

    I used this recipe (cupcakes only because I did not have enough powdered sugar for the icing) as the base for “firecracker” cupcakes. Very easy, moist, and still soft 4 days later stored in the fridge. This recipe is a keeper!!

  13. Lauren

    My son and I have made these several times and they have been consistently delicious! This is my go-to recipe for cupcakes!

  14. Krystin Petras

    On July 1, I wanted to make cupcakes to celebrate Canada Day and this recipe was the first one that came up in my search and I must say this is hands down the BEST recipe I have ever used. The cupcakes came out absolutely perfect!
    I didnt have any sour cream so I substituted with greek yogurt and they were incredible.

    Thank you for such an amazing recipe.

  15. Lesia Joukova

    Great recipe! Thank you so much! I had to leave them a bit longer in the oven (about 23 minutes or so) but my god did they turn out delicious and that was the first time in my life that I made cupcakes! Thank you so much!! YUM!

  16. Dominique

    I had never made cupcakes from scratch and these were great. It was pretty messy with my Kitchenaid mixer though haha! I used less than 1 cup of milk because I was worried the batter was getting too thin. And it actually took me 20-25 minutes of baking. This recipe made 24 cupcakes for me!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Dominique- I am glad to hear you tried this recipe for the first time. Don’t worry the batter is VERY thin and should be. So if you used these than 1 1/4 cups milk, you batter would have been very thick and that’s why your cupcakes needed to bake for much longer. I recommend trying it again and following the actual recipe, you can compare the two you made!

  17. GR

    Can I use this for a cake? Will it affect the texture if cooked in an 8in pan or something similar?
    I made cupcakes and filled with caramel and another batch added lemon zest and they were delicious. Great Recipe!

  18. Cindi

    Hi this recipe looks absolutely amazing!!! Want to try but was wondering how well do they freeze I have to bake 4 dozen cupcakes for a friends birthday and I work ft so I wanted to bake week ahead and freeze them but not sure how to properly thaw or how they will taste after

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Cindi- Can you make the cupcakes, freeze them and then frost them the day you’re serving? That would be my recommendation. As opposed to frosting and freezing them. You can make the cupcakes, freeze them in an airtight container. You can prepare the frosting in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. However, you need to let the frosting come to room temperature and rewhip it prior to frosting your cupcakes.

  19. Michelle

    Julianne, thank you for posting this recipe. Mine came out really well *I used 1-1/2 cups of sugar instead of the 2…tasted great!” There’s something always exciting about the top of the cupcake springing back up once you touch it! ???
    I’ll definitely try out your other recipes! Merry Christmas to you and yours! ❤????

  20. Heather

    The flavor of these cupcakes was good. But they seemed a little chewy. I did add food coloring gel (my daughter wanted tie-dye colors) do don’t know if that made a difference. I also used cake flour. Any insight on what they might be chewy?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Heather- Cake flour and all-purpose flour are not a 1:1 substitute, and not meant to be used interchangeably- so that is likely the issue. Did you make any other adjustments or variations from the recipe?

  21. Amanda

    I love this recipe, even better my mom does. She has celiac disease so I make it gluten free and only other change I make is I use 2% milk. Cupcakes are the best! Stay so moist which is always an issue with gluten free flour.

  22. Pam

    I can say I have never found a vanilla cake/cupcake recipe that I have like, UNTIL NOW. This recipe is wonderful. The flavor and texture turned out perfect. I am so happy to have found your recipe and I just wanted to thank you for sharing.

  23. Hannah

    I have tried this recipe on two different occasions now and have been disappointed both… The middle of my cupcakes have sank in both time, are very sticky on top, and take an additional 6 to 8 minutes to cook completely through. The taste is plesant but not great enough to overlook the frustration of having to start over to make presentable cupcakes.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Hannah, I am sorry this recipe did not work for you. A couple of things that might have caused this- over beating the batter, overfilling the cupcake liners- especially if you had to bake it an extra 6-8 minutes, that a lot. Is your internal oven temperature correct and are you emsuring it’s fully preheated before you start? You may have also pulled them out of the oven too soon, or your leavening agent might have gone bad. Did you make any substitutions to the recipe? Lots and Lots of people have made this recipe and loved it- but I understand how frustrating it can be when something doesn’t work out for you.

    2. Elizabeth Goode

      Mine have been in the oven 18 minutes and still sticky on my toothpick. They are close to finished. Preheated, all new ingredients and no over beating. So idk…

      1. Beyond Frosting

        Hi Elizabeth, it’s possible you overfilled the liners and they need to bake for longer. But keep in mind that the baking time will not always be exactly the same as it’s dependent on the oven, true oven temp and even the pans you’re using.

  24. Celia

    Brilliant recipe. I made it in muffin sized patty pans and it made 18 big cupcakes. I made another batch and replaced the vanilla with lemon zest and 4 drops of pure lemon oil (food grade). I used your vanilla frosting recipe to ice the vanilla ones and a glacé drizzle lemon icing for the lemon ones. Everyone at work raved about them. This will be my new go to recipe for cupcakes. Will be trying the chocolate recipe next. Thanks ?

  25. Carolina

    I have used this recipe many times and it it by far my favorite. The cupcakes come out so yummy and moist and not too sweet, but this time around I have someone attending a party who is allergic to eggs. Is there something I can do to substitute the eggs?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Carolina, I am so glad you like it! I unfortunately am not familiar with egg free baking, I’d probably start with a Goggle search and try a couple options to see what you like. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  26. Ali

    This recipe is amazing! But I have a silly question, is sour cream the same as soured cream? And also could anyone shed any light on why at the bottom, my cakes are doming inwardly? What could I be doing wrong? I’d really appreciate the help

      1. Ali

        Soured cream is sold in the dairy section in the UK, I can’t find sour cream other than that in the Mexican aisle! I’m really struggling to find light sour/soured cream any ideas? I made this recipe a few times and they were so light and moist, and recently when I’ve used normal soured cream they are so dense and not as soft. I would love your help!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      It is recommend to freeze them unfrosted and allow them to come to room temperature before frosting. Flash freeze for 15 minutes and then transfer to an airtight container.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      I think it’s as a result of the moist cupcake, but it also could be the room temperature or if they were stored in an airtight container before they were completely cooled. Mine definitely aren’t dry on top by any means.

  27. Santana

    Made this recipe after making a gross batch from Martha Stewarts website. This one was wayyyyy better! I made the vanilla frosting from this site as well. Perfect 🙂

  28. Siobhan

    After experimenting with numerous recipes we are rapt to have found this one!! They are simply the best!! As we have a dairy free in our household, we replace the sour cream and milk with a separated refrigerated can of coconut milk . So fluffy and delicious! Love your site and excited to try more of your recipes ?.

  29. Kim

    I only made the cupcakes and used whole milk and regular sour cream. They came out great! Love them! Will definitely make again!

  30. Arlene

    Hi. I made this earlier well I suppose it came a flop. I didn’t have Fat Free Milk then weren’t sure if I could use Almond Milk but instead I use full cream milk.
    It baked for 40 mins raised like cupcakes should then I left it in the oven after I turned it off. A few minutes later it flopped. I’ll give it another try. Please let me know if it could be the Full Cream Milk that caused it to flop. Thank you.

    1. Arlene

      Hi used Electric Oven 350 deg like I would normally bake my bakes in. The reason for have to bake it for 40mins was that it weren’t baked at 16mins. The mixture was still raw and soft. I will try the recipe once more.
      Thank you for your response.

  31. Nancy Silvas

    If I wanted to make half of this recipe into strawberry cupcakes what should I add? Since you said it is very adaptable 🙂 I really don’t want to make 2 batches

  32. Kay

    Hello
    I made your cupcakes today
    Came out moist and delicious
    I made regular and mini cupcakes
    I think you may want to consider the amount of sugar.
    I would use less sugar next time but recipe is a keeper.

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