Vanilla Cupcakes

| cupcake recipes, Madagascar vanilla beans, recipes, vanilla, vanilla cupcakes

I’ve thought a lot about what makes the perfect vanilla cupcake… will it be moist? dense? crumbly? cakey? white? cream? vanilla beans? extract? I’ve tried a lot of recipes, but none really taste like vanilla… just plain cake.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes  |

I posed this question to you on Facebook & Twitter, “What ingredients make up the perfect vanilla cupcake?”… and this is what you said:

  • vanilla bean powder
  • vanilla beans
  • coconut flour paired with a good vanilla bean extract
  • vinegar
  • homemade vanilla extract
  • whipped egg whites folded into the batter
  • box of vanilla pudding mix

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes  |

Yesterday, I ventured into the kitchen to make a vanilla cupcake that truly tasted like vanilla.  I began with Sweetapolita’s recipe for vanilla cake and added my own spin on it to really bring out the vanilla flavor.  I did things like steep the milk in vanilla beans, use my homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar and of course use the seeds of 2 fresh Madagascar vanilla beans.

And, after tasting them… I’m pretty darn certain that these are one of the most delicious vanilla cupcakes I’ve ever tasted!  I’m definitely adding this recipe to the rotation!

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes  |

PS… Love these liners?  I got them from Sutton Gourmet Paper!!


Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 18-20 cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
  • ¾ cup milk steeped with 2 vanilla beans/pods and strained/cooled
  • ¼ sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla bean extract
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted 3 times
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1⅛ cup Madagascar vanilla bean sugar
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft & at room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable shortening
Vanilla Buttercream
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, SIFTED
  • 1 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla bean extract
  • ¼ cup Madagascar vanilla bean infused milk/cream, room temperature (use same method as used for the cupcakes)
  • pinch of salt

Vanilla Cupcakes
  1. Split 2 Madagascar vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds. Combine the pods and seeds in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of milk and bring to a simmer over med-high heat while whisking constantly. Remove from heat as soon as it begins to bubble and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup for the buttercream.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
  3. In a small bowl , whisk together the egg whites, egg, vanilla extract, ¼ cup of the vanilla milk and sour cream. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, sift the cake flour three times. Add the baking powder, salt and sugar and sift two additional times.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour mixture with the butter and shortening on medium speed for about 30 seconds or until it looks finely clumped.
  6. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining ½ cup vanilla milk and mix until just combined. It will be thick. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.
  7. Add the egg mixture in three parts, mixing for 20 seconds on medium speed and scraping the sides of the bowl between each addition. NOTE: DO NOT OVER MIX the batter. You want it to be smooth with all the ingredients incorporated.
  8. Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full and bake for 17-19 minutes, rotating pan after 12 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean when they are done.
  9. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
  2. One cup at a time, add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on high until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp of the milk and beat on high for 3-4 minutes or until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Add more milk if necessary to reach your desired consistency. NOTE: Make sure to add as many as the vanilla bean seeds as you can to the frosting!



26 Comments on Vanilla Cupcakes

  1. Michelle
    June 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm (3 years ago)

    How do you make your own vanilla sugar?

    • JavaCupcake
      June 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm (3 years ago)

      Split open 2 vanilla beans and place them in the canister with your sugar. After a few days, you’ll have vanilla sugar! YUM!

      • leslie
        June 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm (3 years ago)

        Do you prefer to use your homemade Vanilla sugar, I assume made with regular white sugar? The vanilla sugar I’ve found in stores is a coarse grind and doesn’t seem finely textured enough for inclusion in the baking mix.

        • JavaCupcake
          June 6, 2012 at 7:42 am (3 years ago)

          Yes I do. I split 2 vanilla beans and add them to my canister of sugar. A few days later I have delicious vanilla infused sugar and use it all my baking! Sometimes, when I don’t use the pods for whatever I’m making, I’ll just throw those right into the sugar as well. 4 or 5 beans in my sugar right now making it yummy! I’ve never actually bought vanilla sugar in the store…

  2. Michelle
    June 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm (3 years ago)

    These look and sound amazing!

  3. Lesli Mark
    June 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm (3 years ago)

    This really, really is the ULTIMATE Vanilla Cupcake!!! I can’t believe we finally found it, but I know in my cupcake-loving heart that we did.

  4. Holly
    September 16, 2012 at 1:30 am (2 years ago)

    I made these today and they taste delicious!! I didn’t have whole milk, so I used heavy whipping cream. The cupcakes were pretty dense (they had large tunnel-holes – over mixing?). I have a feeling it had something to do with the heavy whipping cream. I did try to mix only as long as you directed, but that could’ve been an issue for me as well. I was going to try again, this time with oil instead of butter (maybe to lighten it up a bit?). Should I have sifted my cake flour before measuring it? I thought too much flour may have been something else I did wrong. Rookie mistakes! I understand that without me following the recipe exactly, it’s difficult for you to help me out, but I would love any advice you have for me. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and step-by-step instructions!!

    • Betsy ~ @JavaCupcake
      September 16, 2012 at 8:53 am (2 years ago)

      I sometimes use heavy cream in my cupcakes too… but for these I believe I used skim milk, cause that’s what we drink at home. And yes… they are a hefty cupcake, but that’s what I like about them. They hold up to anything you want to fill inside of them or top them with. I’m not sure how they’d be with oil instead of butter… I don’t typically bake cupcakes with oil. I’m a butter girl. As for the flour… I don’t sift before measuring, but I make sure the flour isn’t packed, so I loosen it up a little bit with a spoon or a cup to add some fluffyness to it. That gives a more accurate “one cup” measurement. I wish I could be in your kitchen and we could bake together!! Just keep practicing!! That’s what I do… I have lots of mix ups and disasters but I just keep at it!! xoxo <3 Betsy

      • Holly
        September 17, 2012 at 1:41 am (2 years ago)

        I’ll definitely give skim milk a try (that’s actually what we drink too, but I thought the lack of fat would cause the cupcakes to taste a little flat- I’m so glad you told me that’s what you used!). I made a second batch- this time subbing the butter/shortening mixture for 5T butter and 5T oil, sifting so many times that I lost count, decreasing the cake flour to 1 3/4 c, and increasing the baking powder to 3t. It was a little lighter (yay for air bubbles!), but more dry than I liked. Topping them with lots of your fabulous icing will suffice until I free up some cupcake tupperware for another trial batch (and perhaps get my butt to the gym). I really appreciate your encouraging reply, and thanks again for everything you do!! I always look forward to the weekend when I can try another one of your amazing recipes ;)

  5. Maureen
    May 8, 2013 at 4:33 am (2 years ago)

    Awesome recipe! I have been finding some really delicious recipes and have had a lot of compliments can’t wait to try this one out! Where do you get your vanilla beans from? I have been ordering from

    • Betsy Eves
      May 8, 2013 at 8:00 am (2 years ago)

      That’s where I order mine from! When they have sales, I get a lot and then store them in a bean jar! :)

  6. Mabel
    September 29, 2014 at 6:43 am (5 months ago)

    This is really the kind of cake I would like to make for my daughter’s birthday. May I know how can I make vanilla milk with vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean? Thank you!

    • Betsy Eves
      September 29, 2014 at 7:23 am (5 months ago)

      Hi Mabel – You won’t get the same strong vanilla flavor by using an extract. The idea behind using the vanilla bean is to infuse the seeds of the beans in the milk. No worries though…. just skip the infusion step. Your cupcake will still be delish! :) Happy baking!

  7. Peggy Summitt
    October 4, 2014 at 5:18 pm (5 months ago)

    Could you tell me what gel food color you used to get the beautiful color on this cupcake? Doing this color for my grandson’s birthday next week and want that exact color. Thanks!

    • Betsy Eves
      October 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm (5 months ago)

      Hi Peggy! I believe I used Wilton Gel Fool Coloring in Sky Blue. Happy Baking!


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