The Best Vanilla Cupcakes, According to Me

I know that recipes are titled the best this and the best that all the time. But unlike those other liars I mean it! (I am kidding, mostly)

I don't want to make unrealistic promises. This recipe is not going to revolutionize the way that cake tastes or the way that you eat it. It isn't a NEW flavor of cake. But if you're looking for a solid, reliable, perfectly fluffy and flavorful every time vanilla cupcake recipe? HERE YOU GO. IT IS PERFECT. 

This is my go-to classic birthday cake recipe, in cupcake form. The key to its success is in the mixing. Mixing the egg yolks and whites separately, then adding the egg whites in to the batter at the last minute, creates a beautiful fluffy yet rich cake. Using a little brown sugar doesn't hurt, adding a slight caramelly note to the cupcakes.

These cakes work well with just about any type of frosting you could imagine, from a rich Baci buttercream to a pretty in pink cherry morsel buttercream to my personal favorite classic buttercream

I hope you enjoy this recipe - it's a keeper! 

My favorite vanilla cupcakes (and therefore the best)

Printable recipe here

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Adjust an oven rack in the middle position; preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two 12-cup cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set to the side.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Transfer the mixture to a bowl for the moment, and set to the side.
  4. Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a rotary beater. In the bowl (it’s fine to use the same bowl you just used for the egg whites; no need to wash), cream the butter until fluffy and light, 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.
  5. Add the sugar(s), and mix until combined and smooth, about another 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately, in 2-3 additions each. Mix until the batter is smooth and lump-free, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The batter will be fairly thick.
  7. By hand, fold the egg whites into the batter, stirring gently and only until no streaks of white remain.
  8. Fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ full; do not overfill, as the batter may bubble over the sides.
  9. Place the cupcake tins in the preheated oven. Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the pans at the 10 minute mark to ensure even baking. To test for doneness, you can insert a toothpick or cake tester in the center of a cupcake; it should come out mostly clean.
  10. Remove the tins from the oven, and place on wire racks to cool completely.

Frost them however you'd like! My suggestions: 

CakeSpy's favorite buttercream

Baci buttercream (as seen in this recipe

Do you have a go-to vanilla cupcake recipe?