Yellow Cupcake Recipe

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This Yellow Cupcake Recipe from scratch is a better-than-cake-mix yellow cake. It’s a classic birthday cupcake. This recipe can be used to make a yellow cake or yellow cupcakes with a chocolate fudge frosting. This homemade cake recipe uses oil, sour cream and buttermilk to create the perfect moist, spongy, yellow cupcake.

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A close up shot of a perfect yellow cupcake with a big swirl of chocolate frosting and sprinkles

If you are familiar with the Moist Yellow Cake Recipe, then you know that I tested 4-6 recipes for yellow cake and two cake-mix versions in order to find the perfect yellow cake. You have to read all about my recipe testing if you’re into that sort of thing!

In addition to cake, it had to also be a perfect Yellow Cupcake Recipe as well.

Of course, my yellow cupcakes would be covered with chocolate fudge frosting because DUH! The frosting is rich in chocolate flavor, which is a perfect contrast to the cupcake because it’s not overly sweet.

However, if you thought the chocolate fudge frosting was too thick (i.e. truffle-like) for you, then I would highly recommend a chocolate cream cheese frosting instead. That stuff is GOLD.

A close up of a gorgeous cupcake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I loved, as in past tense, loved a good cake mix. Slowly over the last year, my love for cake mix has slowly been fading away.

When I was testing yellow cake recipes and tasting them next to yellow cake mix, I truly understood how artificial they tasted.

Let’s just be clear, I am not knocking on anyone who loves or uses cake mixes. I have dozens and dozens or recipes on my site that use cake mix, and I will occasionally grab one if needed.

I have just been challenging myself to branch out, learn new techniques and develop different recipes. Are you up for the challenge? If you’re new to making cupcakes, especially from scratch, be sure you reach my tip for baking cupcakes.

A cupcake with a giant bite taken out of it on a teal cake plate. The cupcakes are topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

The last thing I want to tell you is that I truly believe these are better than cake mix, but it is different. This is a more dense and much tighter crumb than you find with a cake mix. They are not light and fluffy cupcake, it’s more of a sponge cake texture.

How to make this Yellow Cupcake Recipe:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated. Then mix in the sour cream until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then add half the dry ingredients and half of the buttermilk and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full.
  • Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Cool Completely before frosting.
  • These are best when eaten within 2 days of baking and should be stored in an airtight container.

An unwrapped yellow cupcake topped with a mouthwatering chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Do I have to use sour cream? Can I use regular sour cream instead of light sour cream?

I truly feel that sour cream is necessary to keep these cupcakes moist for more than 1 day. So, I am going to say YES! You need to use it. Will the cupcakes still turn out okay if you don’t have it? Yes. But they will not be as moist.

If you do not have sour cream, try using non-fat Greek Yogurt instead. If you only have regular sour cream instead of light sour cream, that will be fine.

Do I have to use buttermilk?

I know I’m going to get this question a lot, do I have to use buttermilk? Can I just use regular milk? The answer is yes, you can use regular milk. However, I personally feel that cake is way BETTER with buttermilk and it stays moist for a longer period of time.

Buttermilk isn’t a common ingredient that most people just have laying around in their house, but you can also make homemade buttermilk substitute with some lemon juice or vinegar. I’ve also heard you can freeze leftover buttermilk, but I have never tried it myself.

An overhead shot of a swirl of chocolate frosting with sprinkles on a teal cake plate.

Can I use this Yellow Cupcake Recipe to make 12 cupcakes?

To make 12 cupcakes, half all the dry ingredients and wet ingredients as well. You’ll need 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, 2/3 cups butter milk and 2 tablespoons of sour cream to make 12 cupcakes. You can still bake at 350° for about 15 minutes.

For the frosting, visit my chocolate fudge frosting recipe.

Can I use this recipe to make a cake?

 Yes, this recipe can be made in 9-inch by 13-inch pan. See my Moist Yellow Cake recipe for further instructions.

Can I use this recipe to make a layer cake?

 Yes. While I have not tested the recipe as a layer cake, I make my moist vanilla layer cake all the time.

Generously grease and flour your baking pans, I recommend using 8-inch pans. Bake at 350°F for approximately 18-24 minutes. You’ll likely need additional frosting for a 3 layer 8-inch cake, so 1.5x the recipe included here.

A giant bite taken out of this yellow cupcake covered with chocolate frosting and sprinkles

Top this Yellow Cupcake Recipe with chocolate fudge frosting. For further information about how to make the chocolate fudge frosting, I recommend you check out that video and recipe too!

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Three yellow cupcakes stacked together. These cupcakes are topped with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

Yellow Cupcake Recipe

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14-16 minutes
  • Total Time: 57 minute
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes

Description

This Yellow Cupcake Recipe from scratch is a better-than-cake-mix yellow cake. It’s a classic birthday cupcake. This recipe can be used to make a yellow cake or yellow cupcakes with a chocolate fudge frosting. This homemade cake recipe uses oil, sour cream and buttermilk to create the perfect moist, spongy, yellow cupcake.

Ingredients

For the cupcake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup light sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (or milk)

Instructions

  1. For the cupcakes: 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, egg yolks 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 dry ingredients. Add half the dry ingredients while pouring in half of the buttermilk and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.
  5. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed while pouring in the remaining buttermilk and beating until all of the ingredients are well combined. 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.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full.
  7. 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.
  8. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Cool completely.
  9. For the frosting: In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring each time until the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely smooth. Set aside to cool.
  10. Cut the butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter look light in color. Next, beat the cocoa powder into the butter until well mixed.
  11. Alternate adding 1 cup 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.
  12. Next, pour in the melted chocolate and beat on slow speed until incorporated. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting. Use a large piping bag fitted with a large open star tip to frost the cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles.

Notes

  • To make homemade buttermilk, which can be substituted if needed
  • You can substitute regular milk instead of buttermilk if absolutely necessary
  • This is best if served within 2 days of baking. Store in an airtight container
  • Greek yogurt can be substituted for sour cream
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