Forget the box mix! This easy Vanilla Cupcake recipe really is the best ever. They turn out amazing every time, and the sweet, moist white cupcakes are perfect for everything from birthdays to baby showers, and weekends to weddings!

If you love baking from scratch, be sure to try some of our other favorite tried-and-true dessert recipes like my Classic Pavlova, French Fruit Tart, or my Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies.

An image of a vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream that is cut in half.

Easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

For years my Best Ever Moist Chocolate Cupcakes have been one of the most popular recipes on this site. They have dozens of rave reviews and I often get requests for a vanilla cupcake recipe that can match it in terms of making easy, moist cupcakes that have amazing vanilla flavor all their own.

But it takes me a while to work through cake and cupcake recipes because I only want to share tried-and-true ones that I really consider the best of the best, like my Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting or my Best Red Velvet Cake. I know us food bloggers tend to play fast and loose with terms like "best", but when it comes to these cake and cupcake recipes, I really mean it.

I've tinkered with a bunch of different approaches while coming up with these classic white cupcakes. But I can confidently say that these are the best vanilla cupcakes of my life and I've made them multiple times now with the same great results every time.

I have used both cake flour and a hack for making cake flour at home using all-purpose flour and cornstarch and you can't tell a difference. I also tried a version with oil instead of butter, since I will often use half of each to get truly moist cupcakes. But when the dominant flavor is vanilla, I felt like going the all-butter approach won out because of its supporting buttery flavor.

The batter is thicker than my chocolate cupcake batter, which is normal for a vanilla cupcake, but the top will still be slightly domed instead of flat, provided you use room temperature ingredients and have fresh baking powder to use in the recipe. Those two issues are the usual culprits in flat-topped cupcakes in my experience.

An image of plain vanilla cupcakes without frosting.

What kind of frosting is best with vanilla cupcakes?

Honestly, these cupcakes are so good you don't even need frosting. Does anybody else love plain cupcakes like I do or am I a monster?

We love frosted cupcakes too though! You can't go wrong with a classic vanilla buttercream frosting (what I used in these photos) or homemade rainbow chip frosting.

We also have lots of other fun frosting recipes for you to pick and choose from! I personally love these cupcakes with this amazing guava frosting. Or throw some crushed Oreos in the batter and pair them with my light & fluffy Oreo frosting for a cookies & cream cupcake!

How full should I fill each cupcake liner?

A funny thing about cupcake recipes is that you shouldn't always just assume that you fill the cupcake liner with the same amount.

For my chocolate cupcakes, I only fill them halfway and the thin batter rises to the top perfectly.

For these easy vanilla cupcakes, you fill each cupcake liner just about ⅔ full for the best results. I like to use a medium cookie scoop to do this because it keeps things consistent and tidier.

If you fill the liners more, there is a good chance the batter will go over the edges of the cupcake liners, giving you a little lip around the edges. You will get 14 perfect little cupcakes every time if you are filling them ⅔ full.

It may be tempting to try to just do 12 cupcakes, but trust me, do the two extra. There is room in most ovens for two muffin tins to fit side by side so you can bake them both at the same time anyway.

An image of unfrosted white cupcakes in a muffin tin.

How to make vanilla cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with 14 cupcake liners and set aside.

2. Start by creaming room temperature butter and the granulated sugar in a large bowl using an electric or stand mixer. Let it mix for a minute or two until nice and creamy, then scrape down the bottom and side of the bowl.

3. Add the egg whites and beat again, mixing well and scraping the bottom and side of the bowl again to combine.

4. Add the sour cream and vanilla to the mixer and beat until combined.

A collage of images showing how to make vanilla cupcakes from scratch.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter in the large bowl, mixing just until combined.

6. Add half of the milk and mix again. Then scrape down the bottom and side of the bowl again, and repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk, mixing just until everything is incorporated but being careful not to overmix.

7. Use a medium scoop to divide the batter between 14 cupcake liners, filling them each about ⅔ full. Bake for 19-22 minutes until done, being careful not to overbake.

A collage of images showing how to make white cupcakes from scratch.

How to tell if cupcakes are done

You can tell if the cupcakes are done by tapping the top of them lightly. If they are done it will bounce right back, but you might get a little dent or impression that doesn't bounce back if the cupcakes need to bake for a minute or two longer.

You can also always use the toothpick approach, although for cupcakes I feel like the tapping method is easier and more reliable.

Tips for making delicious cupcakes

  • Don't pack the flour. Most bakers swear by the "scoop and sweep" approach where you scoop the flour into a measuring cup, then sweep a knife over the top to level it off. If you pack and press the flour into your measuring cup, you will actually end up with denser, drier cupcakes.
  • Room temperature ingredients matter! It really does make a difference to let your butter, eggs, milk, and sour cream come up to temperature when making cake from scratch. You can always cheat this a bit by placing your eggs in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes while you gather the other ingredients and microwaving the butter for 5-10 seconds on one side, then flipping and heating it for 5 seconds on the other side just to soften it.
  • Funfetti Cupcake Variation: You can add ⅓ cup sprinkles to this vanilla cupcake recipe for funfetti cupcakes.
  • Filled Cupcakes: Fill the middle with pastry cream, caramel or dulce de leche, fruit curd, nutella, jam, or other ingredients to make wonderful flavor variations. You can either cut out a plug from the top of each cupcake, then fill and stick the plug back on top before piping frosting over it, or squirt the filling into the center of the cupcake using a piping bag and tip. Just be careful not to overfill and split your cupcakes if using the second approach.

Freezing and storing instructions:

  • Frosted cupcakes are best eaten within 3 days. You can store them at room temperature or in the fridge as long as they are in an airtight container.
  • Unfrosted cupcakes freeze really well. Just place them in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months, then thaw at room temperature and frosting.
  • If you want to make this vanilla cupcake recipe for a crowd, you can easily double or triple the recipe (and so on). But I recommend waiting to frost the cupcakes, whether they are fresh or frozen, until just before the event where you plan to serve them.
An image of a homemade vanilla cupcake with a swirl of vanilla buttercream and sprinkles.

More cake & cupcake recipes that are tried & true!

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Best Ever Moist Vanilla Cupcakes

4.65 from 95 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 14 cupcakes
Forget the box mix, these easy, from-scratch Moist Vanilla Cupcakes really are the best ever. The recipe turns out amazing every time, and the sweet white cupcakes are perfect for everything from birthdays to baby showers, and weekends to weddings!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled (188g)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup salted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract optional
  • ½ cup sour cream at room temperature
  • ½ cup whole milk at room temperature

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Beat the butter and sugar on high speed in a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer for 3 minutes until creamy and light. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Add egg whites and vanilla, beating on medium-high speed until combined. Beat in sour cream.
  • Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed just until combined, then scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, add the milk, stirring just until combined. Do not overmix.
  • Fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ full with batter, then bake for 19-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

Notes

  • Vanilla bean paste is wonderful in these cupcakes because it adds little brown flecks of vanilla throughout the cupcakes. But it tastes the same in my opinion and most bakers won't have it in their cupboards so I typically just use real vanilla extract instead. Use an equal amount of vanilla bean paste as you would vanilla extract if you choose to use it.
Recipe lightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Nutrition

Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 171mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 268IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. I made these cupcakes for dessert tonight -- I can't stay out of them!! I hope there is still some left by tonight! LOL. SO GOOD!!

    1. You can definitely use cake flour in place of all-purpose and cornstarch, but I often don't have cake flour on hand and have had an especially difficult time finding it over the past few months. Sometimes it's just easier for me (and less intimidating for many readers, from what I've been told) to see recipes with common place ingredients like all-purpose flour and cornstarch instead of what some might consider a "specialty" ingredient like cake flour.

      1. So I would use 1 3/4 cup of cake flour, correct? I'm pretty sure that is right but for double checking purposes, thought I would run it by you! Thanks!

  2. Hi Amy! About to make these delicious looking cupcakes and wondering if I'm using cake flour, is it just the 1 1/2 cups or do I need to add the additional 1/4 cup that was cornstarch if I used all-purpose flour?  Thanks for all the great recipes!

  3. Hi! Can I skip the corn starch? I don't have any and would like to try your receipe, Thanks!

    1. Yes, you could skip it. The cupcakes will be slightly more dense, but they will still bake alright. Just replace the amount of cornstarch with additional flour of the same amount.

    1. I use salted butter AND salt in almost all of my baking recipes, as it is listed in the ingredient list above. You could use unsalted butter and just increase the amount of salt by 1/4 teaspoon for each 1/2 cup stick of unsalted butter called for in a recipe if that's all you have on hand though!

  4. Hi there! Can I use buttermilk instead of sour cream? If I use the buttermilk do I need to add in the half cup of milk separately as well? 

    1. Buttermilk isn't a perfect substitute for sour cream in this recipe and won't give the same flavor. But if you want to use it, you could decrease the amount of milk by a couple of tablespoons, but not eliminate it entirely.

  5. Hi there, I’ve been test baking different vanilla cupcake recipes to try to find the “perfect” one.

    I noticed that in your recipe you only used egg whites in the batter and not the whole egg?

    Is this because your recipe has sour cream in it?
    What would happen if I were to use the whole egg along with the sour cream?

    Thank you!

    1. The biggest reason for using only egg whites and not the whole egg is that if you add the yolk it will start to turn the batter from white to more yellow. You could use whole eggs though if you don't want to bother separating them!

  6. Would you be able to add a pink lemonade dry powder mix into this recipe while keeping everything the same. Would it turn out okay taste wise?

  7. I have made these cupcakes 3 times in the past month. Flavor is GREAT but each time I make them, they are dense. What am I doing wrong? I follow the recipe to a T.

    1. Hmm, it is a fairly tight crumb to these cupcakes, but I don't think I would describe them as dense. I would make sure the egg whites and sour cream are both room temperature, as those tend to be the biggest culprits behind unusual results when making these cupcakes.

  8. Not sure what I did wrong but the cupcakes didnt dome and I felt like my ending batter looked grainy, like it wasnt fully mixing. I also had enough batter to make 18 cupcakes! Wondering if you could help or offer suggestions where I might have went wrong?

    1. If it was looking grainy, I would try creaming the butter and sugar a bit longer next time. Also, making sure that the ingredients are all room temperature (especially the sour cream for some reason) tends to make a big difference for me. And if you had enough batter for 18 cupcakes, I also wonder if perhaps there was some mismeasurement at some point with one of the ingredients (like possibly the sour cream?).

  9. Looking for some help. Not sure why but my ending batter didnt look homogenous and they didn't end with a round top, they were flat. Taste was amazing, just want to figure out where I went wrong so I can make them again!! Thanks!

    1. If the batter didn't look homogenous and the tops were flat, it sounds like some of the ingredients might have been a bit too cold when mixing the batter. It really does make a difference for all of the ingredients to be at room temperature with this recipe.

    1. No, that's actually correct, Debra. Using that much cornstarch is a replacement for using actual cake flour. Since I know lots of people don't always have cake flour on hand, I was experimenting with substitutes and found that I get just as good of results with all-purpose flour and that much cornstarch, rather than buying cake flour. Alternately, you could omit the cornstarch and use an equal amount of cake flour for the all-purpose flour AND cornstarch in this recipe. Does that make sense?

  10. I need to make a train cake and one car needs to be vanilla. I want to try this recipe! I assume I can put it in a loaf pan instead of muffin tins. What do you think?  I will obviously alter the baking time. The other cars and engine will be Oreo cake.  Thanks!

  11. So I followed everything the recipe stated but my cupcakes came out flat rather than fluffy like your picture ? Why ? It taste amazing just that part really sucks ! It is flat 

    1. Bummer! Usually that's one of two things: either the ingredients weren't all the way room temperature when mixed together, or you want to replace your baking powder with a fresh bottle.

  12. Thank you for this recipe! I never leave comments, but I wanted to let you know we made the cupcakes dairy-free (due to allergies) with just a few simple substitutions, and they still came out amazing! we used miyokos DF butter, tofutti DF sour cream, and whatever milk I had which I think was Trader Joe’s unsweetened hemp milk. Subbed everything 1:1 and they came out perfect for my son’s tenth bday! 

  13. I loved this cupcake recipe and I wanted to make it for my niece’s birthday, but she wants a cake and not cupcakes.  Would this recipe work for a two layered cake also?

  14. Hey so I tried this recipe & I got so scared because my mixture with the butter, sour cream was grainy and once I added the flour and milk it came together and it was delicious I added crushed Oreos ! So good ! But I have a question can I add the whole egg instead of egg whites ? 

  15. Flavor is amazing. However, the recipe seems to be on the lighter side which I love but a tad drier. I have decided to make a 2nd time and use buttermilk instead of the milk and added a pack of vanilla pudding. I will let you know if the consistency changes to what I desire. 

    1. I don't usually but I just bought a scale and plan to start weighing ingredients more so I can include measurements in grams! Will work on this for you!

  16. Recipe calls for three egg whites.  In one of the comments, you said it’s okay to use whole eggs instead of just the whites.  How many whole eggs would I be using?  

  17. I just love this recipe , made a few times for birthdays and got excellent feedback. 
    I’ve read that cupcakes made with butter refrigerate denser that cupcakes made with oil. So I was wondering if I could use oil instead of butter and what measurements ? 

  18. Can I double the recipe to make a double batch or do you recommend make to separate batches?

    1. Yes, you can double the batch just fine. I don't think there is a need to make separate batches for this recipes as long as your mixer can handle the volume, which most stand mixers can.

  19. Hi there! I’d like to use whole eggs for this recipe. Can I use three whole eggs or should I decrease the amount of eggs? TIA

  20. Can you make these into cake? Using 9 inch round cake pans?? I’m having trouble finding a vanilla cake recipe! 

    1. Yes, although you will probably need to double the batch to have enough for more than one layer if using 9-inch round cake pans.

  21. The batter looked perfect before I added the milk, it turned almost grainy. What did i do wrong??

  22. Hi, have you ever made this into a large batch? Same with your chocolate cupcake recipe. I need to make 50 of each. I have made a double batch no problem. But I know sometimes as you go bigger they’re not the same. Can I quadruple the recipe?! Or any tips? TIA

  23. If I wanted to make this in a cake pan, how long would you bake it for? This recipe looks perfect for my sons 1st birthday smash cake!

  24. I never comment, but I had to this time. This is the best recipe! I have tried SO many vanilla cupcake recipes and been disappointed every time. I'm so glad I tried yours! Moist, fine-textured, great flavor. Thanks so much!

  25. Do you know how well these store? Need to make several ahead of time for a baby shower and want to make sure they're still moist if made a couple of days in advance. Thanks

  26. Made these tonight, they are wonderful! Can you tell me why my cupcakes would have deflated a little after they cooled. They looked exactly like yours domed in the oven. I pressed the top gently and they sprung up. Thank you!

    1. Hmm, that's an interesting question. If they sank in the center then my guess is that even if they bounced back they might have needed another minute of baking.

  27. 5 stars
    Hi, I’m planning on making mini cupcakes and I was wondering if any thing needed to be altered besides baking time? Wonderful recipe! Thanks!

  28. These cupcakes are wonderful! My husband (quite picky) said they are the BEST he’s ever had! (Unfrosted)
    Thanks!

  29. 5 stars
    I just started baking from scratch this past year & a half and this vanilla cake recipe is the 1st one I tired & I've stuck with it! They are always so fluffy & delicious! My mom loves them so much she'll get one within minutes of me taking them out of the oven... she doesn't even want frosting. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!!!

  30. 5 stars
    Delicious! They came out great but I’m wondering if it’s normal that the batter curdles when the eggs are added? Once all the other ingredients were in, it stayed together okay but you could def tell it was weird in the beginning.

  31. 5 stars
    I love this cupcake recipe. Thank you so much! If I want to make layer cake for birthdays or any other special occasions, what size of cake pan should I use for this recipe? 6”?

    1. Yes, I would use 6" cake pans. You could do 2 thickers layers and bake for 20-22 minutes, or 3 thinner layers and bake for 18-20 minutes.

  32. 5 stars
    These really are the best vanilla cupcakes!! Seriously…these are the best tasting cupcakes I’ve ever had. I immediately printed off the chocolate cupcake recipe too, and will be trying those out real soon 😂😂. Thanks for sharing these delicious recipes!!!