Easy vanilla cupcakes

Gone are the days that Vanilla cupcakes were a quick way to serve up treats at Children’s Birthday parties. Today’s cupcakes are popular for any event and can be decorated to be fun, elegant, sophisticated and displayed on cupcake tree’s, tiered cake stands and more. No matter how you plan to serve your cupcakes, the one thing you must always make sure when serving them is that they taste as good as they look. Some bakers like scratch made cupcakes while others are intimidated by the methods involved in making them. If you are one of those bakers ( I was too at one time) but you want to enjoy the taste of a scratch made treat, then you will love this recipe. It’s a popular doctored vanilla cake mix recipe that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen whipping up a batch of fluffy, moist scratch made cupcakes. What I love about this recipe is that it’s fool-proof and they result in a perfect cupcake every time. It’s also very versatile. Try adding orange or lemon extract with zest for a citrus flavor or almost extract in place of the vanilla for wedding cake taste.  Any way you make ’em…they are sure to be delicious!

Want to know the secret of evenly baked cupcakes?
vanilla cupcakes
 Measuring out your batter with a trusty cookie scoop will do the trick.  If you are experiencing cupcakes that brown too quickly on one side then the other then your oven has hot pockets.  If you really get to know your oven, you’ll know where these bad babies are and simply rotating your pans will eliminate your problem.  
A note about rotating pans: Turn your pans from the front to the back.  Only do this once your cupcakes are halfway through baking.  Keep an eye on them, do not walk away while baking.  When some get more golden around the edges then others, it’s time to rotate.  

vanilla cupcakes

Your cupcakes should look like this if you babysit them while baking.  I know, it’s a tough job.  But, someone has to do it.
Top with glorious, fluffy, not too sweet Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
This is a classic American Vanilla Buttercream.   I use this recipe at the Bakehouse and have NEVER received a complaint about it being too sweet.  The trick is to beat the butter for a few minutes before adding the sugar.  This results in a fluffy, whipped buttercream that is light and creamy.  It’s very versatile and goes with any flavor cake.
Keep your cupcakes romantic and simple by using white liners and white pearl sprinkles.  
These would make a Winter Wonderland dessert table dazzle.
Make these vanilla cupcakes special by using the same extracts, tools and ingredients that we used.  you can purchase them through our online shop.  Click HERE or the shop button above to browse around.  Everything highlighted in red can be found in our shop.   

Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes)

1 box white cake mix (I use Betty Crocker supermoist vanilla)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 eggs at room temperature
1 cup (8 oz carton) sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix 
together thoroughly with a whisk. Add the wet ingredients to
the bowl and using a hand mixer, mix on low for about 2 
minutes. Using a large cookie scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3
Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Allow cupcakes to
cool in cupcake tin for one minute.  Then remove and finish 
cooling cooling racks.

Vanilla Buttercream

4 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
1 2lb bag (less 1 cup) confectioners sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons Tablespoons whole milk

pinch of salt

  • Cream the butter until it is really light and fluffy. At least 3 minutes.
  • Gradually add the sugar. I add about 1/2 cup at a time. If you add too much you will be wearing it. It will be pretty thick.  Whip about 1 minute after each addition. I generally do not use the entire bag.  About a cup or so is left in the bag.
  • Add the vanilla or whatever flavoring you are using and zest if you are making a lemon or orange buttercream.
  • Add 4-6 Tablespoons of whole milk and beat the frosting for a few minutes. If the frosting it too thick, add a little more milk until you get the consistency that you like.  


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  1. Boomers Mom says:

    Hi again, What size cake mix do you use? Many brands have decreased from 18.25 to 15.25. If it is the larger size, could you add to it? Thanks

  2. Boomers Mom says:

    Hi, HELP. Making 96 cupcakes for a party next week, and made a batch of these today, they were delicious. I bought pretty white foil liners to use for the party, but didn’t want to waste them. For the test run I used foil liners from the supermarket,and just 1 of the white ones. Filled them 2/3rds and let them cool about a half hour. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough,but cupcake stuck to the nice white one. Is there something I can do differently? I read that by reducing temp to 325 can cause sticking ,and should bake at 350. Half of them will be minis, how do I adjust for them. Also,always use a good vanilla,but they need to be pure white, what do you think about clear vanilla? I’ve never used it. Making the night before,how should I store? Thanks for sharing, they’re solo good.

    • Hi there. Thank you for trying my cupcake recipe for your party. Sometimes cupcakes will stick to the liner and that usually always depends on the liner. See if you can find liners with a wax coating to help prevent this from happening. For baking mini cupcakes you don’t need to adjust the temperature just the baking time. Every oven is different so keep an eye on them after 8 minutes. Generally they should bake in half the time as the original recipe calls for. Always bake one pan at a time to ensure even baking. As for the vanilla, I have used clear vanilla before. As long as it’s not imitation vanilla it should taste just fine. For storing your cupcakes, if you are using regular frosting (not made with egg whites) store at room temperature covered in cupcake carriers or cupcake boxes. As long as your area/home is not super hot or humid they will be fine. If so, store covered in refrigerator. Hope this helps :)

      • Boomers Mom says:

        Hi again, just realized that the size of cake mixes have changed. They used to be 18 oz, and now are 15.25. I’m not sure if this recipe was written before the change. My cupcakes were VERY sticky on top, and the batter was a little thin. My tops also got flat. Is this why? These are so good,I don’t want to use another recipe. The only mix that iI can find is 18oz is Cake Boss. I also made the buttercream it is so nice and smooth,but I could only find clear imitation vanilla, and it doesn’t taste as good. What brand of clear vanilla have you used? I really want the to be white. Thanks for the help.

  3. Jennifer Houston says:

    Although I am a professional baker and have been for years, I still have some trouble sometimes with vanilla cupcakes pulling away from their liners. I have tried to Dr. my own scratch recipes time and time again achieving great flavor but still not the desired look. I have a very good feeling about this recipe, even though I swore on my life I would never ever use box mix for anything, ha ha. It will be worth it if I achieve perfectly formed little beauties like these. Thank you very much for sharing…really appreciate it

  4. I have to comment on both of these recipes – the cake is delicious and does not taste like a box recipe. I used it to make a two layer cake for my 7 year old’s birthday – I got rave reviews! Plus this frosting just MELTS in your mouth. My favorite frosting is swiss meringue for cakes (or cream cheese frosting – it’s easier to make). But this frosting does not taste like your standard american buttercream – it is outstanding!

    Thanks for these recipes – these are both my go-tos!

  5. If I want chocolate cupcakes, can I just replace the vanilla box mix with a chocolate one? Thanks

  6. Abbie Dennison says:

    I had to bring cupcakes to a cake decorating class. I was rushed, so I made these. They baked up beautifully. I got 24 cupcakes and 12 minis. My cupcakes took 20 minutes to bake – batter was closer to 3/4 full than 2/3 in the liners. They looked exactly like your unfrosted photos. However, l felt like they still had the cake mix flavor. The decorating instructor provided some all-butter buttercream and the cupcakes were better with the buttercream. The butter in the buttercream provides another flavor.

  7. dyasia moore says:

    There is no oil or butter for the recipe?

  8. Can yellow cake mix be substituted for white? I only ask because its what i have at home.

  9. hey, can i substitute the water in the recipe for seltzer water instead?

  10. Yum! I’m wondering, can you substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream? The only reason I ask is because I have all the ingredients on hand with sour cream being the exception.

    • you certainly can. I am not sure how it will taste but if it’s vanilla or plain greek yogurt I can’t imagine much of a difference. Use same amount as called for in the recipe. Thanks

  11. Best cupcakes and frosting recipe ever! I made these for my son’s 1st birthday party. We have a pretty well known cupcake place here in town and everyone thought that’s where they were from! I was very pleased to announce that I made them. I did give your website credit for the recipe and have even passed it on. Thank you for sharing!!

  12. How long should I cook a cake with 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and at what temperature? Thanks. 😉

    • 350 degrees for approx. 25-30 minutes. Test after 20 minutes with a toothpick inserted in the middle of your cake. If it comes out clean and the cake is gently pulling away from the sides, the cake is done. If it still wiggles in the middle when moved, leave it in for another few minutes and test with a toothpick. Keep an eye on it.

  13. Hi, lovely cupcakes but can i skip Betty Crocker supermoist vanilla box mix?

  14. I made these cupcakes and added 1.5 tbs of oil and got 30 cupcakes from the recipe. They were great! This will be my “go to” recipe for vanilla cupcakes from now on. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Do you have to refrigerate the frosting?

    • buttercream bakehouse says:

      Technically because their is milk, some would say yes. However, I know a ton of cake decorators (used to be one myself) that argue the sugar stabilizes the dairy in the buttercream therefore keeping it at room temperature is just fine. I always kept it out with leftovers sealed in a container for up to a week. So my answer to you would be NO!

  16. anonymous says:

    This sounds yummy! Can I make a cake instead of cupcakes? I’m pretty sure I already know the answer! Just checking!

  17. How long can these cupcakes be stored? If I make them say on a Monday and ice them on Tuesday for serving on Wednesday they should be fine?

    • buttercream bakehouse says:

      I would baked them and ice them on Tuesday to serve on Wednesday. Cupcakes dry out quicker. Keep covered tightly in a cupcake carrier for best results.

  18. How much frosting does this make? Enough for how many cupcakes??

  19. Cathy Acton says:

    Has anyone ever used almond extract instead of vanilla? Would I substitute the almond for the vanilla extract(s) in BOTH the cake and frosting recipes?

    • buttercream bakehouse says:

      I have used recipes that call for both the vanilla and the almond. I would use the same extracts in both the cake and the frosting but it certainly would not be wrong to do it any way you see fit. Baking is a science but recipe development is a preference. Make it they way you think you would LOVE it! :)

  20. No, the cupcakes do not have butter or oil added to the recipe. Only butter for the buttercream. :)

  21. Sorry, just make sure, this recipe does not have any butter or oil added to it?

  22. This makes 24 cupcakes. I am sorry I didn’t add that…forgot and adding it now. :)

  23. Anonymous says:

    How many cupcakes can you make from this recipe?

  24. How many copcakes can you make from this recipe?

  25. I’m always looking for a new version of a doctored cake mix to try out, and haven’t seen this one before. Looks great!

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